Humans need to work more in tandem in order to survive in the long run. This site is a small effort to contribute to that direction. Stand As One is not a call for everyone to be the same, or follow the government, or lose their individuality or freedom. Nor is it related in any way to the End Times.

We can all agree, hopefully, that we would like the Earth to continue to support humans for as long as possible, at the highest standard of living as possible. Assuming that's the goal, this site is a small effort to present ideas to help anyone interested to work towards that goal in their own way. That's all Stand As One means. We have one planet that we've evolved to live on. If we screw this one up - there is no place left to go in the foreseeable future.

It ain't no doom and gloom - it's about challenges and opportunities.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Brief Summary of Unsustainable Farming

(Concepts from the book Biomimicry).

With the documentary Dirt: The Movie coming out, it seems relevant to throw around some topsoil ideas. Well, at least to me anyway. Humans started farming 10,000 years ago, and over that time we've co-evolved with our crops, to where they are now mostly dependent on us for their survival, and us on them. Over that time and especially in the last 100 years, we've inadvertently made them weak by using pesticides, we've isolated them from other biodiversity, and stripped the topsoil of most of its nutrients, replacing them with fertilizer.

I was surprised to learn that topsoil is not a renewable resource (in the relevant near-term). Once it is washed away or poisoned with pesticides and herbicides, it takes thousands of years to rebuild. Each time the soil is plowed, its complexity is diminished, and it is less rich. It also loses its ability to clump, which, in normal topsoil, allows water to run down to roots. Instead, farmed topsoil packs tight and cannot hold water. The ground dries and the topsoil blows away as dust. Since the rain can't go into the dirt, it pulls the soil with it to the streams and rivers. Worldwide, from 5 to 100 tons of topsoil per acre per year are lost.

Most topsoil on farms today is just a shadow of its former black, rich prairie or forest soil. Most of the fungi and microorganisms are gone. In many places we're already mixing into the layer of subsoil beneath the topsoil. So we add fertilizer, which runs off into our estuaries and poisons them. We attack insects and weeds with chemicals, something that worked in the short term but today insects and weeds are evolving around the chemicals. Each year a few survive, and those come back so that the more chemicals you use, the more chemicals you need to use. Since 1945, for example, pesticide use has gone up 3,300% to 2.2 billion pounds of pesticides each year - and crop loss from pests has increased 20% since then. So to boost production, we throw on 20 million tons of anhydrous ammonium fertilizer each year. All of this activity makes agriculture the number 1 polluting industry in the USA - doesn't that seem a bit odd? Growing food is the most damaging thing to our nation's land. Amazing, ain't it?

More later.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Confessions of a Radical Industrialist

From base year 1996 through 2008, Interface cut net greenhouse gas emissions not by Kyoto's 7%, but by 71% in absolute tons. During the same time period, their sales increased by two-thirds and their earnings doubled.

Do you consider yourself a "successful" business person? Are you a "cutthroat" industrialist? A cold-eyed, shrewd, bottom-line, profit-driven capitalist? Great! Now, are you tuned in to sustainable business, what it is, and how it works? If you're thinking "not so much," or "treehugger bullcrap," or "Al Gore," then you definitely need to stop thinking those things and check out this book - or you won't be competitive for long and you'll be easily outmaneuvered in the market.

Ray Anderson is the founder and leader of Interface Global, a $1B+ company that has been manufacturing floor carpet tiles since 1973. Making carpet is an industry that relies heavily on oil for petrochemicals and transportation, and on fossil fuels that run manufacturing equipment. For 20 years Interface ran like any other manufacturer, using cheap oil and adhering to the required governmental environmental regulations, which it saw as a pain and a liability. It polluted and did not consider any environmental factors in its production cycle. If you're familiar with manufacturing or business in general, you know that this is the norm.

In 1994, however, Anderson set the goal of being completely sustainable by 2020. They didn't have a clue where they were going, or if the technology existed or not, or even what they meant by sustainable at the time. They knew it had to do with their raw materials, the energy they used, materials they wasted or threw away, scrap, and where their product ended up (landfills). Anderson set high level, general goals for all Interface associates. "We need to be 100% sustainable by 2020." By harnessing the creative power of the people at Interface who are intimate with every aspect of day-to-day business, they are almost there. From base year 1996 through 2008, Interface cut net greenhouse gas emissions not by Kyoto's 7%, but by 71% in absolute tons. During the same time period, their sales increased by two-thirds and their earnings doubled. The main financial drivers for their increased ability to compete in their market have been driven by their sustainability goals.

Anderson has written a road map for any business to follow, based on nearly 20 years of proven bottom line results in the pursuit of sustainability. Do you hear people say a manufacturing plant can't run on solar power for a profit? They already are. How about a plant that harnesses landfill/methane gas from under a landfill at a profit? Interface is doing it in Georgia, turning a government liability into a local government revenue stream and a for-profit power source for manufacturing. Have you accepted the fact that business has to pollute to make a profit? It's interesting to note, then, that there are manufacturing plants today where the water leaving the plant is cleaner than the water entering.

Interface has also looked to the discipline biomimicry - examining nature for engineering solutions - to solve engineering challenges, and have come up with far-reaching new products that opened up new markets and new revenue streams, such as eliminating the need for glue during carpet installation by researching how geckos walk on glass and ceilings.

For those that might think that this is just some freak $1B+ company, Interface has been instrumental in influencing companies like Walmart, who are now starting to walk down the same path to sustainable operations. Walmart is the third largest company in the world, and few if any would argue that they are not profit-minded and profit-central in their outlook. So when Walmart decides to change (and change all of its suppliers), then it has far-reaching implications in how business is done. And luckily there are many more examples each year. Sustainability makes a company lean, tight, more competitive, more marketable, a better place to work (thus drawing the best talent), and years ahead of any government regulations, even decades. Sustainability looks at the people who live where your materials come from, the people that work for you, your customers, and all the people you impact in any way.

The bottom line is that when a company looks at sustainability variables, they find new revenue streams and more efficient operations. If you're in business, whether in an office, or manufacturing, or service, then this book is a must read to keep your long term competitive edge.