This is the majestic view I have from my window on this, the longest day of the year
Qaanaaq – Today was the longest day of the year. Up here, since the sun has not set for many weeks, this means that the sun reaches its highest rotational zenith; if there were a night, it would have been the shortest. And given the splendid sunny weather we have had all day, this really did feel like a long day!
Summer solstice coincides, not by accident, with Greenland’s national day. It is a national holiday marked by local community celebrations. In Qaanaaq, the whole village gathers for some recitations, singing and food for everyone.
Qaanaaq is a town of six hundred people (a correction from my earlier description: there are approximately two hundred dwellings here, and not fifty); all of them came out to celebrate. Some wore the traditional seal or bear skin outfits–just the pants or jacket: given the 10C degrees, they might have suffocated had they worn the entire outfit. The food served was raw whale; I took a pass, having tried it before… but they seemed to enjoy it.
I spoke with a few of them and discussed how early thaws and a changing climate is affecting Inuit culture. Life is tough for an Inuit to whom hunting and fishing on the ice is virtually the only means of survival. With an early thaw, their very existence is endangered. It isn’t just the bears…
An ice fog shrouded the sea ice on and off all day, but never went past the beach. Only the peaks of the tallest icebergs were visible above the white sheet, and I sat on a rock for an hour contemplating the extraordinary views. It was silent and peaceful; a welcomed calm to follow the intense focus of the last forty days. And a great way to rest my sore legs! The fog eventually cleared revealing some new large cracks in the bay, and considerably more water by the shore than two days ago. I am relieved to have ventured when I did–our first night here–in spite of the fatigue and hesitation I felt then. The weather has not been like then again since, in the way that I like to shoot ice: overcast. And given the accelerated melt, it is unlikely that I could get out now. I got it by a narrow margin, and the photo result– arresting! As they say: why plan for tomorrow what you can do today… READ MORE on Sebastian’s BLOG…
Sebastian on an archeological dig: somewhere under there are two disgruntled kite skiers!
The day started in the manner which we have grown accustomed to in the last few–the last five, to be exact: howling winds, tent flapping, and some measure of discouragement. No breaking news there. This would make it day six of being pinned down inside the tent, sheltered from a nasty and persistent wind storm that has hurled snow drift at our thin nylon walls, and cranked up the decibels for what amounts to 126 uninterrupted hours! Aside from time lost, I had a growing concern: we were slowly being entombed by rising walls of snow drift! By now, our sixth day, they reached almost three feet to the leeway side. If someone were to have come upon our campsite, they might have thought that we had dug a hole to pitch our tent inside of it! This was certainly not threatening; it just meant that we would have a hell of a time digging ourselves out of it!
Building a Green Economy: Connecting Sustainability to Business and Job Creation
A Successful Spring Day of Salons and Solar Powered Possibilities
On April 6th, LABC held the 4th Annual Sustainability Summit at the Getty Center. Key players from the public and private sectors converged, making our Summit prescient and brimming with powerful ideas about, as the summit’s title suggests, Building a Green Economy: Connecting Sustainability to Business and Job Creation.
A Solar Plan That’s a Perfect FiT for LA:
LABC Releases a Much Needed Solar Study at the 2010 Sustainability Summit
A centerpiece of the Summit was the release of our Study, Designing an effective Feed-in Tariff for Greater Los Angeles (LINK UPDATED:Click for PDF). This study, the result of a partnership between LABC and the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, and a working group of local businesses and public-sector institutions, examines the potential for solar Feed-in Tariff (FiT) programs in Los Angeles County. The study details how a 500 megawatt FiT program in LA would allow businesses and residents to install solar panels on their roofs and parking lots and sell the power generated back to the local utility. For each kilowatt-hour fed back into the power grid, participants would receive a payment back from the utility.
Relying on advanced economic modeling and interviews with businesses and residents in Los Angeles County, the study finds that regional FiT programs would unleash a new source of cost-effective solar energy and spur significant economic growth. The LABC policy recommends a 10 year Solar FiT that would generate 500 megawatts of electricity. This program would meet three percent of the city’s energy needs, create more than 11,000 local green jobs and produce long-term cost savings for businesses, ratepayers and the LADWP.
UCLA Professor J.R. DeShazo, who authored the study and serves as the Director of the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, presented key findings of the report at the Summit. “If the correct design guidelines are put in place, ratepayers will save money over the life of a ten-year FiT program as the cost of installing solar panels continues to fall and the price of fossil fuels rises,” said DeShazo. “Moreover, developing the country’s largest Feed-in Tariff would signal a long-term political commitment to greening Los Angeles that could be used as an incentive to attract cleantech firms to our region and keep them here.”
Since introducing the FiT study at the Summit, we have been presenting its findings to key policymakers in the city from the Mayor’s Office, City Hall, and the DWP Board of Commissioners. For informaiton on LABC’s Solar FiT initiatives, please contact SolarFiTLA@labusinesscouncil.org
2010 LABC Sustainability Summit:
The Summit focused on topics relating to sustainability, each addressed by panels comprised of public and private sector leaders. Below is a recap of what the panelists had to say:
Panel 1: Salon of Masters—Discussion of Best Practices Among Sustainable Industry Pioneers
From left: The Honorable Jerry Brown, California Attorney General; Lauralee Martin, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Operating and Financial Officer, Jones Lang LaSalle; Scott Lyle, Senior Vice President of Operations, GE/Arden Realty, Inc.; Kevin Ratner, President, Forest City Residential West; Joseph Pettus, Senior Vice President of Fuel and Energy, Safeway, Inc.
Moderated by Scott Lyle of Arden Realty, the “Salon of Masters” was a discussion among innovators of Sustainability. California Attorney General (and Gubanatorial candidate) Jerry Brown and Forest City West’s president, Kevin Ratner reflected upon the obstacles surmounted and in-roads made in their respective roles in revitalizing downtown Oakland. Ratner was the project’s developer and Brown was the Mayor at the time. Both, in the words of Brown, worked to “create vitality” by sending thousands of people to live in Downtown Oakland to revitalize it, and create “elegant density.”
Joseph Pettus, Safeway’s Senior Vice President of Fuel and Energy, described Safeway’s path to sustainability from the purview of a company that is one of California’s largest employers and the largest consumer of electricity in the state. Pettus explained that Safeway was one of the first organizations to support AB 32 as well as support cap and trade. They reduced their carbon footprint by more than 10% in just a year, and changed their truck fleet to biodiesel fuel—all this was done to lower costs. Lauralee Martin, Global Chief Operating and Financial Officer, Jones Lang LaSalle reflected upon her “long passion for the environment” and described key questions her company asks with regards to sustainability (whose footprint should we measure – the consumers’ or the producers’?) while identifying the challenges and opportunities when it comes to sustainable business practices. Focusing on key words, “Passion” and “Confusion,” she illustrated how passion relates to the fact that people care and confusion relates to the fact that being a leader in sustainability requires you to do things that have not yet been done, meaning success might not be easy to measure.
Panel 2: Finding Incentives for Renewables that Work
From left: Paul Gipe, Founder, Wind Works; J.R. DeShazo, Professor of Public Policy and Director, UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation; Randy Britt, Director of Sustainability Initiatives, Los Angeles Unified School District; Mary Nichols, Chairman, California Air Resources Board; The Honorable Paul Krekorian, Los Angeles City Councilmember; Steve Hill, President, Kyocera Solar Inc.; Pedro Pizarro, Executive Vice President of Power Operations, Southern California Edison
The second panel, moderated by Mary Nichols, focused on incentives for implementing renewable energy. The conversation among this group of public and private sector experts touched upon the need for, as Councilmember Paul Krekorian put it, “market driven policies,” and each offered observations from their diverse perspectives as private and public leaders in the field of sustainability. Paul Gipe, Founder, Wind Works,and an expert in renewable energy, explained the need for big solar goals and the importance of community involvement and education on the issue (See Gipe’s report on the Summit and the LABC Solar Study here/ and his NYT story on our FiT Study). Steve Hill, President, Kyocera Solar, spoke from his experience as the President of Kyocera Solar, a manufacturer of photovoltaic solar panels, describing the importance of keeping manufacturing close to the market and the importance of flexibility and transparency in business and in policy.
Panel 3: Financing and Developing Green Business
From left: Greg Medeiros, Vice President of Community Development, Centennial Founders; Adam Werbach, Global Chief Executive Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi S; Alan Rothenberg, President, Board of Airport Commissioners, Los Angeles World Airports; Tom Roell, Group Executive, Parsons; Bill Black, Director of Strategic Solutions, Haworth, Inc.; Tom Unterman, Founder and Managing Partner, Rustic Canyon Partners
Alan Rothenberg, President, Board of Airport Commissioners, Los Angeles World Airports, led this broad discussion with a diverse panel of green business leaders by explaining the incredible progress made at LAX with the Tom Bradley Terminal that will be LEED certified , completed on time and on budget, and that also happens to be the largest public works project in LA. The panelists spoke of ways they have met the worthy challenges of green business, from Greg Maderios’ eco-conscious and sustainable development in Tejon Ranch, to Adam Warbach, Global CEO, Satchi & Satchi S’s call for us to rethink the prevailing approaches to environmentalism, rooted in 1970s thinking. Part of that relates to his client, Walmart (a perceived enemy of environmentalism in the past), and its incredible goal to eventually run operations on 100 renewable energy, produce zero waste, and have 100 percent sustainable products on their shelves.