Recent stories

Switzerland’s First Zero-Carbon Technology Park

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – Square glass buildings are silhouetted against a green city park and glistening blue pond. They are towered over by a building whose sides are equipped with prominent solar cells. An old redbrick chimney stands in the middle of modern architecture. This is what Switzerland’s first completely zero-carbon technology park could look like in a few years. The park is located in Fribourg, halfway between Zurich and Geneva.

The Making of South Pole Carbon: How to Become a Social Entrepreneur?

ZURICH, Switzerland – Many people dream of starting their own business. Some do it to make money and some want to make a difference to the social and environmental issues that matter to them. How does one then become a social entrepreneur? What is the story behind those who managed to do it? The path of the successful entrepreneur, Renat Heuberger, is a perfect Hollywood story.

From Leeds to Beijing by Train!

Flying. It’s convenient and quick but let’s face it – it’s a big environmental headache. And worldwide ecological conferences aren’t helping in that matter. As argued by my editor, Claudio Ruch, in the above linked article, we have to sometimes look beyond the carbon footprint to see what value we’re getting. After all, if there hadn’t been a global conference, I would still be sitting in Switzerland and Samuel Pickard in the United Kingdom, we would have never met and there would have been no extraordinary story to report.

Going Beyond the Carbon Footprint Calculator

The World Resources Forum has officially opened and the student reporters are reporting live. This is reason enough to shed light on some of our activities from an ecological point of view. Since we’ll be sleeping, breathing, and talking resources for the next three days, we thought it’d be interesting to see the resource footprint of getting our team to Beijing. We’re only looking at the carbon footprint for now, and using an easily accessible online calculator, we came up with a quick calculation. 6.68 tonnes CO2e (4 people from Zürich to Beijing, return)
4.63 tonnes CO2e (2 people from Philadelphia to Beijing, return)
1.53 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Budapest to Beijing, return)
0.47 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Hong Kong to Beijing, return)
1.71 tonnes CO2e (1 person from London to Beijing, return)
1.72 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Geneva to Beijing, return)
1.80 tonnes CO2e (1 person from Zürich to Beijing via Helsinki, return)

This results in 18.54 tonnes CO2e for transporting 12 student reporters.

Measuring Impact: What’s the beef with beer?

Whenever I go backpacking, I choose a flask of liquor over beer, even though I prefer beer. Why? Because the flask is lighter than a few bottles of beer. But in the ecological backpack, beer is among the lighter items you can bring! An ecological backpack, or rucksack if you prefer,  measures a product’s impact by expressing its natural resource consumption in ratio of how many kilograms of natural resources are used to make one kilogram of the product.

A Carbon Confession

Here’s the dirty secret behind my attendance at the World Resources Forum 2011: I caused 1.12 metric tons of CO2 emissions to come here from the US. (Roundtrip, all calculations from Four hundred people have flown in from around the world for WRF2011; can we do enough good to outweigh our collective and individual carbon harms? From a personal carbon standpoint, flying is by far the worst thing I do to the atmosphere, followed by a distant 2nd of occasional driving.  My estimated 2011 flying carbon footprint alone adds up to more than 6 metric tons.   For comparison’s sake, the average U.K. citizen emits fewer than 10 metric tons of CO2 per year, and on average, each person in the world produces around 4 tons/year. How guilty am I of climate harm right now?