Social Good Blueprint

Social Good Blueprint | Sunshine

[1] Solar Trains

Riding Sunbeams, in addition to being one of the coolest company names I’ve heard in a while, is a social enterprise working to build and connect the world’s first-ever full-scale community & commuter-owned solar farm to power UK railways… reducing costs and creating cleaner transit. But is global warming going to bring more sunshine to the UK? As I recall the island is under cloud cover for a good chunk of the year…

[2] Verdict on Solar Panel Roads

It is not a green light. I loved the Solar Freakin’ Roadways kickstarted… it was an innovative idea with cool possibilities. But after their tests, they found that solar roads are prone to much more shade, dust and dirt than expected, making it an order of magnitude more efficient and cost-effective to build solar power plants than integrate it into roads. Fortunately, the costs of solar are dropping and becoming an affordable alternative. It’s still unfriendly to manufacture, but the long-time efficiencies are worth it.

[3] Ending the War on Drugs

Incarceration has had little impact on narcotics, so Seattle tried a different and unique approach – instead of locking people up for small infractions, they developed a program to steer them towards social services. In 2011 they started a program called LEAD, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, where officers direct those who are nonviolent (and want help) to social service programs with intensive case management. Their results are stunning – 58% are less likely to be re-arrested and are 46% more likely to get employed or job training. But this approach is expensive, and Seattle has struggled to finance the public health programs to keep pace with the reduction of incarceration.

As a side note, Portgual took the approach of decriminalizing possession of drugs in 2001, and their overdose death rate plunged… and now are 50 times lower than in the US.

[4] It’s not just Seattle

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo put in place a Raise the Age reform law targeted at 16 & 17-year-olds, to focus on rehabilitation instead of detention. The change has led to a 25% drop in overall arrests. Although, part of the problem was that they had to turn away some arrests due to lack of space, not having the resources to implement the Raise the Age reform… but at least some of the improvements comes from a shift in seeing these youth as deserving a second chance as opposed to treating them as irredeemable.

[5] The Amazon Is Not Earth’s Lungs

Apparently burning down the entire Amazon will not make a dent in the world’s oxygen supply, in a read which debunks the catchy phrase that the Amazon is the Earth’s Lungs. Burning fossil fuels is much worse than what’s happening the Amazon in the context of oxygen supply, but even fossil fuel burning won’t make a significant impact.

But don’t be deceived… they make no mention of the effect on global warming or the predicted change in weather that could impact our ability to grow food, and survive without drastic changes… which is the real threat. It’s more about evapotranspiration and the volatile organic compounds that stimulate important rainfall.

I guess the phrase “Amazon is the Earth’s Shower” just doesn’t have the same emotional impact.

[6] Aligned Incentives

You can now ride the subway in Rome, Italy, using plastic bottles as currency. Collect and deposit 30 plastic bottles, and you’ve got one ride. It’s an initiative to increase recycling, and also encourage people to use public transit. Rome is one of the 12 cities taking part in the C40 pledge to be carbon-free by 2030… and an ambitious goal to lead the way towards sustainability. Recycling is just a small part… eliminating single-use plastics is about more than recycling, and a lot of corporations need to get on board to make this happen. Still, it’s cool when you can line up incentives to increase recycling and using public transportation.

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