Archive for the ‘sustainability for nations’ Category

Israel Excels in Use of Sustainable Energy and Water Conservation Technologies

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

Israel is a tiny country, two-thirds of which is inhospitable desert, with few natural resources, a population of less than 7.5 million, and it has been surrounded by intractably hostile neighbors ever since its founding 60 years ago. Israel sees sustainable energy use as a key to survival and has become a leader in the development of green technologies with some 1000 clean technology start-up companies.

Some examples:

 Better Place was founded by Shai Agassi who conceived the idea that the negatives attached to all-electric cars (eg. limited 140 mile range and battery cost) could be overcome by renting the batteries and having a country-wide network of re-charging stations, to complement at-home charging. To cover situations when there isn’t time to re-charge, there is a country-wide network of swap stations where you exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one in the same time as it takes to fill a tank of gasoline.

In 2013 an all-electric car network is to open in Israel and they are being set up in Australia, Canada, Denmark, California, and Hawaii. The cars are built by Renault-Nissan while the batteries are provided by Better Place,

It has been long known that certain materials, including asphalt and concrete, generate electric current when they are deformed. Innowattech has patented a new breed of piezoelectric generators that can harvest mechanical energy, resulting from the deformation of roadway surfaces by the traffic passing over, by converting the mechanical energy to electrical energy. The more traffic and the heavier the vehicles, the more electricity is generated. The piezoelectric generators are installed inches beneath the upper layer of highway asphalt in a new roadway or during resurfacing of an existing roadway. It is also testing prototypes for airport runways and railways.

The company estimates that its generators placed along a half-mile stretch of a four-lane motorway would yield enough electricity to power 2,500 households. It is noteworthy that this is pure energy harvesting (parasitic energy), that it functions in all weather conditions, and that it can be utilized locally or routed into the grid. Just imagine, cars powered by electricity generated by their passage over the highway.

Much of Israel is desert and her main water sources are controlled by Syria and the Hezbollah in Lebanon. The risk of this geographic and political situation is mitigated by Israel’s recycling 70 percent of its waste water, and this is used for agriculture and fish farms in the desert.

More than 40 years ago, Israeli farmers revolutionized the manner of watering crops withthe introduction of drip irrigation. Water is transported directly to the roots of the plants through small tubes with tiny holes. The watering is set on timers that prevent excess water being delivered. This not only conserves water but also suppresses weeds and mold.

Netafim markets the technology to some 110 countries. The process has created self-sustaining agricultural communities in drought stricken countries particularly in Africa.

These technologies are both tools for Israel’s survival and they promote the ethical standards of sustainable use of natural resources. Other countries may adopt them for various reasons, including a preference for sustainable technology.

HOORAY FOR THE “HEALTH CARE FOR AMERICANS ACT”

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

We should all be celebrating the US Supreme Court’s historic decision affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act that finally will provide health care for all Americans. It will further provide many innovations for better coverage for those fortunate enough to already have insurance, and provides for those who do not. The law was passed by Congress in 2009 after strong urging by President Obama and now after many inconclusive federal court challenges, has finally become the law of the land. IPPA maintains that, after decades of effort,what has been realized is that health care for all American citizens is a moral imperative. This places our country, finally, in concert with the other industrialized countries of the world.

Hooray! for the “ Health Care for Americans Act”: IPPA suggests  a new name for the Affordable Care Act.  The new name–Health Care for Americans Act–conveys the metaphor that health care for all is patriotic, and that we’re all affected by public health. It stresses that it benefits the entire country, and that it’s in the long tradition of Americans helping one another1.

Now let’s stop agonizing and grumbling over what is not in the bill and celebrate the many important benefits that are in the Health Care for Americans Act:

1. Perhaps the least understood and discussed, as far as a benefit to our whole society, is the provision for health care for the 30 million previously uninsured American citizens.

This represents a moral victory, the simple decency of providing health security for millions of American families. It also has  the potential for improving public health at large, and is a huge benefit for society as a whole2.

In addition, the new law3:

2. Terminates the “doughnut hole” in medicare drug coverage for millions of Americans.

3. Provides a long-overdue expansion of mental health care.

4. There is an end to limits on lifetime and annual benefits in existing and future health insurance coverage.

5. There can be no rejection in new or renewable health insurance policies for pre- existing conditions.

6. Children up to age 26 may stay on their parents’ health  insurance.

7. There is a requirement that medium and large size businesses provide essential coverage and pay at least 60% of the cost.

8. Health insurance policies must contain free access to preventive care including  immunizations, mammograms, and pregnancy prevention [formally called birth control]4.

9. Some additional benefits specifically for women include; elimination of gender rating, pap tests, domestic violence screening and assurances of continuation of maternity benefits and special considerations for nursing mothers at work5.

As an added benefit, in the Health Care for Americans Act are  many incentives for reducing future health care costs such as the one that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80% of premium cost on direct patient care. Also there are many pilot proposals to explore ways to control costs by changing existing fee for service payments and assisting changes in their organization so that health care institutions can be more efficient and responsive. There is also a premium placed on implementing patient safety throughout the health care system.

IPPA strongly encourages all of us to celebrate this historic progress in health care for all Americans.

1. Lakoff, George and Wehling, Elisabeth, The Little Blue Book, Free Press, New York             2012, p.116.

2. Too Quiet Again on Health Care. Editorial in NYTimes [NYT] July4, 2012

3. NYT July 4, 2012

4. Lakoff p.125

5. forbes.com/sites/brycecovert/2012/06/28/obamacare-decision-why-women-are-the-big-winners-health-care-supreme-court/

A WORLD VIEW SUSTAINABILITY INDEX

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Since its inception in 2005, IPPA has been interested in both discussing and promoting the idea that enhanced business success  may result because of the inclusion, in the business model, of values now associated with the term “sustainability.” We have claimed that these values may coexist with the profit/loss bottom line, though we insist on a long-range rather than short term perspective on gain/loss. Among other concepts, sustainability includes the idea of global responsibility. Any such discussion would also include consideration of the associated ethical values and    resulting social benefits. A previous blog entry [dated 9/20/09] made reference to the book The Triple Bottom Line,  It discussed the increased success of corporations who have included the concepts of social benefit and global responsibility, along with profitability in their business model Other blog entries have described Fluor Corporation [Feb 11, 2009] and Wal-Mart [Feb. 16, 2009] as examples of enhanced success due to the inclusion of sustainability.
Since the concept of sustainability has become so important in evaluating business success, questions arise as to how it can be measured and can be applied, even to entire countries. This entry is to flag a website that documents a successful methodology to accomplish this. The sponsoring organization is the Sustainable Society Foundation.com which sponsors the Sustainable Society Index [SSI] and the link is http://www.sustainablesocietyindex.com Click on SSI concept and you can view description of the index.
The foundation defines a sustainable society as one that meets the needs of the present generation, that does not compromise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, and in which each individual has the opportunity to develop herself or himself in freedom, within a well- balanced society, in harmony with its surroundings. This definition is the foundation of the 5 categories that make up the framework of the index and that are consistent with the core principles of IPPA.
1. Personal Development
2. Healthy Environment
3. Well Balanced Society
4. Sustainable Use of Resources
5. Sustainable World
There is general agreement that sustainable development is important for the healthy future of our world, and most of the living species within it. However, there has not been a generally accepted standard by which we can measure our society’s sustainability or have a measure by which it would be possible to compare it with other societies on a global scale. The SSI serves this purpose by including all aspects of a sustainable society, by being simple, clear and transparent and by the fact that is regularly updated.
Another source of information about the SSI is found on the Encyclopedia of Earth.org website, www.eoearth.org/article/Sustainable_Society_Index.
There you can find information on the calculation methodology as well as updated results applying to the index to 151 countries.