New documentary: Before the Flood

From Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Fisher Stevens and Academy Award-winning actor, and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio, BEFORE THE FLOOD presents a riveting account of the dramatic changes now occurring around the world due to climate change. BEFORE THE FLOOD will be in theaters in NYC and LA starting October 21, and air globally on the National Geographic Channel starting October 30.Here is a direct video link.

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Food waste: fresh policies needed

France has made it illegal for supermarkets to waste food, and Italy is offering tax breaks when businesses donate leftovers.  Some U.S. states are tackling waste. In the past two years Massachusetts and California banned businesses from wasting food.

Internationally, the UN has made cutting food waste one of its sustainable development goals, adopted by world leaders and signed onto in 2015.  The goal is to cut retail and consumer food waste in half by 2030.  A policy that addresses food waste is so far lacking in Canada.  Although activists, charitable groups and entrepreneurs have rolled out initiatives designed to help.  The federal government says that food waste is part of the food policy that they will be updating within the next year or two.   Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay told CBC News this week:

“In 2017, we will be open to discussions in public right across the country. Anybody involved — nutritionists, food groups, retailers, perhaps seniors homes, whatever — anybody that can add to the policy is [who] we want to hear from.”

See A $31B problem: how Canada sucks at reducing food waste:

In Canada, $31 billion worth of food ends up in landfills or composters each year, according to a 2014 report from Value Chain Management International.

It’s part of a global problem where 1.3 billion tonnes of food gets thrown out each year, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Yet 850,000 Canadians use food banks every month.

CBC Marketplace spent six months investigating the food thrown out by supermarkets. Marketplace staff found dozens of bins full of food behind two Toronto-area Walmart locations. See: Walmart vows change amid concerns over food waste.
Here is a direct video link.

This type of systemic waste and inefficiency must be changed through new tax incentives that encourage sustainable, smart food behaviors and discourage wasteful, destructive ones.  In a world of finite resources, and an epidemic of ill health and reduced productivity born of bad diets, we can’t afford these dumb, health-destructive models to continue.

Forty-seven per cent of food waste is happening in the home.  Individuals must take back responsibility and care to manage the food they prepare and consume.  Little is more important for the health of our families.  Just on a pure cash flow management basis, consumers that are under-saved and carrying the highest household debt levels in history, can’t afford to waste half of their food budget or destroy their health through poor choices.

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Germany votes to ban sale of ‘ICE’ vehicles within 13 years

Thanks to the leadership of Elon Musk and Tesla–who history will undoubtedly record as a hero–the world is moving into an ICE- free (internal combustion engine) future at last.

Germany-the country who has led the world in automotive engineering since the 1870’s- has voted to embrace the superior efficiency, speed, and clean air of alternative fuel vehicles.  See: Germany votes against the internal combustion engine. The ramifications for oil demand are game-changing:

Whatever OPEC can agree at its next meeting on November 30 in Vienna, it is likely to have an impact only in the short term. They should take note of a vote to ban oil-fired car engines in a country that has been and remains at the forefront of the development of the internal combustion engine. The climate change clock suggests a free for all, in which OPEC can only maximize revenue by maximizing volume and that means displacing non-OPEC supply through competition.

So much for price support from an OPEC agreement to freeze output near all time highs in November.  Secular demand-decline is underway.  Time for oil producers to retool themselves to a world of alternative energy options.  This is happening, might as well get on board.  Also see  Quebec becomes latest market to adopt ZEV market:

Some countries, like Norway and the Netherlands, are exploring much more aggressive ideas for ZEVs (zero emission vehicles) having a 100 percent market share within the same timeframe (2025). All those countries, states and provinces, including Quebec, are part of the International Zero-Emission Vehicle Alliance, which aims at making all passenger vehicles emission-free by 2050.

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China: vendor-take-back financier to global debt bubble

China has provided several forms of vendor-take-back financing for the western credit/consumption bubble 2005-2015.  First by recycling its export profits back into US and European treasury bonds (which kept rates low and allowed more borrowing in the west), then by funding the world’s largest stimulus program in 2008 to boost global demand in the short run, and lastly in recent years, with capital fleeing China (some legal and some not) to buy up property and businesses in the west.

All of these actions have China debt iif_0helped boost official demand numbers and asset prices, but with it, also more superfluous inventories, inefficient allocations of capital, and of course debt on debt on debt.  Officially China now has a debt to GDP ratio of 275%+ as charted here.  Fitch estimates that loans are going bad in China today at 10x the officially reported rate.

As with all extend and pretend strategies that throw good money after bad, they delay, but also magnify, the underlying fundamental problems which require structural reform, debt write-offs and lower prices to clear the excesses of the prior boom.

The below discussion focuses on the steps the Chinese government has taken to paper over growing losses in the banking system while “peer to peer” market place lending (MPL) has ballooned on top of official debt totals. Of course all of the comments made by Cornish are also words of warning to the other countries who have been adding more debt (now globally 35% higher than in 2008) rather than allowing the economy and financial markets to reprice and heal.

Jonathan Cornish, head of north Asia bank ratings at Fitch Ratings, discusses China’s latest debt for equity swap, China’s non-performing loans and the outlook for the credit market. Here is a direct video link.

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TED: What a driverless world could look like

What if traffic flowed through our streets as smoothly and efficiently as blood flows through our veins? Transportation geek Wanis Kabbaj thinks we can find inspiration in the genius of our biology to design the transit systems of the future. In this forward-thinking talk, preview exciting concepts like modular, detachable buses, flying taxis and networks of suspended magnetic pods that could help make the dream of a dynamic, driverless world into a reality.  Here is a direct video link.

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The Behavioral Economics of Recycling

When I was very young, there was no municipal garbage pick up in our village, people were required to take their own garbage to the dump. This caused us to care about how much trash we created. My farmer grandparents naturally composted and sorted waste into recyclables. Pop, beer and milk bottles all had return deposits when you took them back to the stores that sold them. The focus was intuitively on how to reduce and reuse. Then in the 1980’s consumer goods manufacturing moved to Asia, and started shipping to us from overseas. Suddenly packaging refuse exploded.

Today our family is so programed to sort our trash and compost that we are frequently shocked and grossed out when we travel to countries like America and the Caribbean to see still how little trash management is even attempted. Same goes for businesses like Starbucks who hand out tons of packaging and yet often provide no recycling receptacles for customers to sort their trash into. Once it is in your behavior to reduce, reuse and recycle it feels disgusting, rude and unintelligent to toss everything into one trash bag. These behavior patterns are learned. We need more individuals and business owners to help lead change. One easy start is that businesses should not be allowed to sell products in packaging they do not collect or sort for recycling. Full stop.

recycleHere is an interesting article about the behaviors that drive decisions to recycle or not, and how it effects our tendencies to consume. Food for thought.

See: The Behavioral Economics of Recycling: there’s more happening than you think.

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