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One Green Thing: Millennials the Indoor Gardening Generation

I (Miro) am guilty as charged of hoarding house plants. But hey, they’re easier to keep alive than dogs and don’t need to be walked 🙂

Millennials get accused of a lot of things but killing plants isn’t one of them. As Bloomberg reported, this generation is responsible for reviving the once-moribund market for houseplants. In the past three years, U.S. sales have surged almost 50 percent to $1.7 billion, according to the National Gardening Association. With many Millennials delaying parenthood, plants have become the new pets, fulfilling a desire to connect to nature and the blossoming “wellness” movement.

Even Progressives View the Path to 100% Renewables With Pragmatism

Image: GTM

One of the biggest points of contention among likely Democratic voters when it comes to climate change has been the timeline in which the United States should transition to 100% emissions-free energy. But whether that date is 2030 (as Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed) or 2050 (such as what Beto O’Rourke outlined) another critical factor that pollsters are trying to understand is how voters–and especially young voters–view zero-emissions energy sources like nuclear fitting into broader emissions reductions goals. Centrist think tank Third Way along with Change Research partners recently conducted a poll of likely Democratic primary voters in the early primary states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, as well as the Super Tuesday states of California and Texas and found that 55% of progressive, digitally-engaged voters in these states are in favor of a path that includes nuclear versus 36% who are for the narrow path of renewables only. 

Here are a few key findings:

  • 55% of Extremely Online likely Democratic voters want the U.S. to focus on transitioning to 100% clean energy, which means renewables but also nuclear power and carbon capture, while just 36% want renewables only.
    • Among voters who identify climate as their top issue, this preference for 100% clean energy jumps four points to 59%.
  • 74% of respondents say they would be more likely to support a candidate with a climate plan that included nuclear and carbon capture alongside renewables like wind and solar.
    • Only 14% say they would be less likely to support a candidate with a technology-inclusive climate plan.
  • 82% of these Extremely Online voters express “strong support” for getting to 100% clean power in thirty years, but this dips to 70% when the timeline is cut to ten years.
    • They view the former as credible and the latter as unattainable.

Even progressive Democrats value pragmatism: Despite this sense of urgency, these voters know that the crisis cannot be solved in a few short years.

  • 47% are optimistic the crisis can be solved, but they believe it won’t happen until the next generation’s lifetime.
  • By comparison, just 19% say it can be done in their lifetime.
  • But only 26% are pessimistic that we can solve the crisis at all.

Most know this crisis can be solved, but also that it will require profound, structural changes to our way of life that will stretch over decades not years.  Third Way and Change Research’s poll shows that these voters are supportive of technology that can feasibly put the United States on a path to rapidly curb emissions and abate climate change.

But but but: Other experts like Jigar Shah of Generate Capital have pointed out that renewables and nuclear energy aren’t competing energy technologies, rather nuclear is competing with coal and natural gas and is, therefore, a bridge energy until 100% renewable energy can be achieved.

Why This Matters: This poll shows that the Democratic primary electorate views climate change as a top issue in the race to pick the party’s nominee (previous polls this year have echoed this as well). Millennials (even Millennial Trump supporters) are the most climate-motivated voters in the Democratic party and GenZ (the generation behind them) could perhaps be even motivated by the issue. This underscores the need for all candidates to have a solid climate message because in the 2018 midterm elections, GenZ, Millennials, and GenX outvoted older generations for the first time.

Climate Crisis Is Impacting How Millennials Think About Having Kids

By Alexandra Patel

For the first time in history, people who want to have kids are having to face the hard truth that the world is undoubtedly going to be a worse place for their children because of climate change. The cascading effects of global warming, rising sea levels, and diminishing resources, while important issues now, will be even more relevant to those coming into the world a couple of decades down the line, when the full extent of today’s mistakes will be felt and known.

Why This Matters: The extent to which the impacts of global climate change will be felt in the US for future generations to come is largely dependent on the actions we take now to adapt and mitigate these changes. When you combine rising world populations with the potential growth in species extinction that scientists now says is underway, many people doubt that the planet will be able to sustain our growing needs. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and preventing global warming from reaching 2 degrees Celsius is the only way the United States, and the rest of the world can stop these future predicted disasters from becoming a reality.

Some Facts:

  • The government reported last year that U.S. birth rates had hit a 30-year low (attributed partly to millennials who felt they were under economic duress)
  • 30 percent of Americans agree, at least somewhat, that the potentially life-threatening effects of climate change should be factored into decisions about whether to have children.
  • Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in an Instagram live video, asked “Is it okay to still have children?” and declares that this is a legitimate question given the looming crisis of climate change – the scientific consensus is that the lives of children are going to be very difficult.

Damning Reports: In a federal report released in 2018, the effect of climate change in the near future on the U.S. economy is predicted to be severely and crippling. It is estimated that the damage could cost hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century if things continue as they are now. From increased wildfires in California and powerful hurricanes in the South, to fuel shortages and increased power outages nationwide, climate change threatens not just the economy, but human security. More than anyone or anything, it is the future generations who will feel the brunt of this burden. It is these issues Millennials today are thinking long and hard about when considering the life-changing decisions to have kids.

BirthStrike: A UK-based voluntary organization called BirthStrike is part of a growing movement that is encouraging future parents to reconsider their decision to conceive and instead vow not to procreate in the face of climate change. Already 200 members globally have declared that they will not have children in response to the “civilization collapse” as a result of climate change.

Millennials Worldwide Taking Their Climate Grievances to Court

All around the world, Millennials and Gen Zers are starting to bring lawsuits against their governments challenging the “legality” of years of climate inaction using similar theories as being alleged in the U.S. “kids” climate case pending in the U.S.  That case is currently under review by an appeals court in Oregon, which heard arguments two weeks ago on whether it can go forward — the judges were reported to be sympathetic but skeptical because of the novelty of the young plaintiffs’ arguments.  A decision in the U.S. case is expected by the end of the summer.

Why This Matters:  Young people are the force behind the most impactful social movements, and this one is no exception.  But they are not stopping at marching and school strikes, these young people are availing themselves of all the ways of forcing government change, including litigation.  These legal actions are coordinated by the organization Our Children’s Trust, which is helping to streamline the cases and ensure the best science and advocacy are brought to bear in each country.  They are starting to have successes in several countries, which is good news for the global climate crisis, and according to legal experts, could even have a positive impact on U.S. litigation.

A Few Examples of Active Litigation Globally:

Similar legal challenges have been filed in Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, and Switzerland.  Michael Burger, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School told Sierra Magazine that “American judges do pay attention to what happens abroad. “Judges who get these [climate change] cases and the clerks who work for them become aware of other cases in the U.S. and around the world,” he said.

Experts Predict Huge Dead Zone in Gulf of Mexico this Summer

Source: NOAA

Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its annual prediction of the size of the Gulf of Mexico hypoxic or “dead” zone and it is expected to be nearly 8,000 square miles (roughly the size of the State of Massachusetts) and could rival the largest one ever, which happened in 2017.  This year’s “abnormally high amount of spring rainfall in many parts of the Mississippi River watershed, which led to record high river flows and much larger nutrient loading to the Gulf of Mexico” is a major factor in the huge size of this year’s dead zone.

Why This Matters:  The dead zone is caused in great measure by current agricultural practices — fertilizers flow off farmlands and into small drainage ditches and streams and eventually make their way into the rivers that flow into the Mississippi River, but also by urban runoff.  This type of pollution really adds up — this year 156,000 metric tons of nitrate and 25,300 metric tons of phosphorus flowed into the Gulf of Mexico in May alone. This volume of nitrogen pollution is 18 percent above the long-term average, and phosphorus loads are about 49 percent above the long-term average, according to NOAA’s press releaseOnce it reaches the Gulf of Mexico, all that nitrogen creates a huge amount of algae that eventually dies, then sinks and decomposes in the water and causing marine life there to “choke” and die or move away from the area.  They call it a “dead zone” for a reason.  Scientists are hoping to change agricultural practices and shrink it to an annual average of only 2000 square miles, which still seems huge, and we are a long way from achieving this goal.

By The Numbers: 

How Do We Know?

  • NOAA will confirm the size of the 2019 Gulf dead zone in early August, a key test of the accuracy of the models on which the forecast is based — this is only the second year NOAA has created the forecast on its own.
  • One other caveat — the NOAA forecast assumes typical coastal weather conditions, but the measured dead zone size could change by major wind events, hurricanes and tropical storms which mix ocean waters.
  • Ecowatch reported that researchers from Louisiana State University (LSU) also predicted a large dead zone this year according to a statement on Monday predicting this year’s dead zone to be 8,717 square miles, making it nearly the same size as the largest ever.

Talking Renewable Energy with Cloverly Co-Founder Dave Folk

Dave Folk is the co-founder of a company called Cloverly which calculates the carbon impact of common internet activities — like e-commerce shipments, rideshare, and on-demand deliveries — and then purchases carbon offsets to make those activities carbon neutral. Cloverly shows the buyer, in real time, the source of the offset and through its algorithm matches customers with the closest source of renewable energy for localized impact.

ODP: Before founding Cloverly you worked in marketing for an electric utility, what need did you see for a company like Cloverly to democratize how people can buy carbon offsets? What did it take for you to leave a secure job and found this start-up? 

DF: It always felt somewhat esoteric to participate in that market; and we saw that there were very few companies effectively making it simple and easy for the average person to decrease the carbon impacts from modern conveniences like e-commerce. Environmentally conscious consumers want to lower their carbon footprint, but sometimes that’s not easy. Cloverly decreases the friction for those customers looking to buy offsets, and we hope that by making it easy more people will participate. You often need to take risks to make a difference, but if we believe that we can truly have an impact than any risk is worth it.

ODP: As a Millennial, you’ve grown up in the midst of a rapidly warming and changing planet. Did the urgency of climate change at all affect the career path you chose? 

DF: It’s really the desire to have purpose in my work that’s driven my career decisions. I feel like our generation doesn’t mind looking at the status quo and asking: “is there a better way to do this?” The solutions that will help us mitigate climate change are opportunities to do things better, and that’s a great purpose to get up in the morning for.

ODP: Cloverly provides data about the specific local renewable energy projects that folks who use your platform are supporting. Why was it important for you to provide such a granular piece of information?

DF: We want to bring transparency to what has often been an opaque market. If you’re choosing to offset your purchase online with Cloverly we want you to know exactly where the carbon offset or Renewable Energy Credit came from, when it was created etc. This is table stakes for us, and how we believe the market should operate.


Millennials Putting Their Money Where Their Mouths Are

 As NBC News explained, “ESG investing” (environmental, social and governance), “SRI” (socially responsible investing), “CSR investing” (corporate social responsibility) or simply “impact investing,” is a concept has been around for years, but Millennials are charting new territory when it comes to doing good with their money. A rising group of Millennials is changing the way investors utilize their capital – for them, making a social impact is just as important as making a positive return.

By The Numbers:

What Can Impact Investing Do? Impact investments are made with the intention to generate positive, measurable social and environmental impact alongside a financial return. Instead of forcing an investor to choose between wanting to make a difference and wanting to make money, unlike past mechanisms for social change like charity, impact investing synergizes the two. Watch this video to learn more about the specifics of what impact investment can achieve. 

Rising Returns: The 8th Annual Impact Investor Survey ran by the Global Impact Investing Network found that since just 2016, impact investment deals have gone up 58%, from $22.1 billion across 7,951 deals to $35.5 billion across 11,136.

Sustainable Development Goals As a Guide: In 2017, 76% of respondents across a spectrum of 225 investors said they tracked or planned to track their investment performance using the SDGs set forth by the United Nations. 

Why Millennials?: As Forbes explained, “The younger generation may see billionaires such as Bill Gates and the legendary Rockefellers as inspirational business people, but they may question the old guard style of first spending precious time trying to make billions of dollars and then endeavoring to better the lives of others. The concept of impact investing, or pursuing both a financial return at the same time as a positive social impact, allows young people to strive toward both simultaneously.”

Why This Matters: The growing impact investment market provides capital to address the world’s most pressing challenges in sectors such as sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, conservation, microfinance, and affordable and accessible basic services including housing, healthcare, and education. This commitment to implementing social change combined with the estimated $30 billion intergenerational wealth transfer soon to go to Millennials over the next 30 years speaks volumes to how beneficial this new type of investor consciousness could be for the health of our society and our planet.


The Week Ahead: June 17th-23rd

Hope everyone had a great weekend and got to celebrate their dads. We’re so glad you’re starting your Monday morning with us, here’s what should be on your radar for this week:

Capitol Hill: On Wednesday the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on “Restoring Community Input and Public Participation” during the oil and gas leasing and development process. On Thursday the Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing to explore the Trump Administration’s efforts to roll back Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards and carbon pollution regulations from light-duty cars and trucks.
Politics: On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to officially announce his second campaign at a rally in Orlando, FL. While it’s not likely that he will mention the climate crisis in his speech (as many other Democratic candidates have done), we hope he does!
Celestial Happenings: The Summer solstice is on Friday, read what you should know about the longest day of the year.

ICYMI: Just in time for Juneteenth (happening on Wednesday), prosecutors dropped all criminal charges filed against a group of eight government officials implicated in the Flint water crisis–one of the most public examples of environmental injustice in America. Prosecutors promised a new trial.


Climate Change Is Impacting Millennial Consumer Habits

By Alexandra Patel and Monica Medina

About half of Millennials say they research brands before buying and actively look for more sustainable practices in their consumerism. This is causing drastic changes in the consumer market – all the way from food manufacturing to the luxury goods industry.

Why This Matters: Millennials are revolutionizing what it means to consume. More than any other generation before them, Millennials are considering the sustainability, climate change, and other social impacts of a business, not just an individual product. As Millennials mature and earn more, their share of the consumer market continues to grow.  Moreover, with increased interconnectedness across the world and rapidly expanding technologies, the powerful combination of consumer consciousness and environmentally sustainable business practices can increasingly have an impact.  And when one company increases its market share through improving its sustainability, others notice and try to do the same.

Not Just Healthier Foods, But ‘Healthier’ Practices: “Healthy” has a new meaning for this generation, going beyond purely nutritional factors and demanding that foods also be locally and sustainably sourced.

Revolutionizing the luxury industry: By 2050, millennials are expected to make up 50% of the 1.3 trillion global luxury market. Since 2013, however, luxury consumers’ purchase decisions have shifted dramatically by their concerns about sustainability and social responsibility. According to a piece by the Renewal Project, Millennials “are active in the causes that matter to them from climate control to civil rights” and “are putting their money where their mouth is.” One-way luxury is reaching the Millennial consumer is through the secondhand re-sale market. According to Harvard Business School’s Digital Initiative, “This is the way to eliminate waste in the fashion industry and to reduce fashion’s environmental impact.

Adapt or Die Out: In response to these changes in consumer consciousness, one company has embraced this new environment and thrived. Everlane, an online apparel brand, includes within each product description information on who made it, what it is made of, and where the materials come from, down to the very factory the clothing was sourced.

One Pride Thing: Denver Zoo’s Hottest New Couple

Freddie is on left and Lance is on right    Photo: Denver Zoo 

In honor of Pride Month, the Denver Zoo introduced a same-sex flamingo couple they have named  Lance Bass and Freddie Mercury.  The couple has been “together” since 2014, according to the zookeepers there.  Apparently, the zoo names all its flamingos after musicians and they wanted to name these two after LGBTQ+ icons.  According to Live Science, Flamingos are believed to mate for life.  Zookeepers in Denver noticed them spending a lot of time together, then saw them participating in courtship behaviors, and when the pair finally built a nest together, the zookeepers knew,  Lance Bass celebrated the news in a post on Facebook, saying: “This is the best!! I hope Lance is the one w the frosted tips!! #HappyPride!”  Happy Pride Month, indeed!