Making social and political change sometimes feels like walking down a long corridor and knocking on door after door; there is no way of knowing in advance which will open, and many turn out to be locked. But if you keep knocking long, hard, and creatively enough, a door will eventually spring open, and if you seize that moment, you can make the change you seek. Read More
Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on McDonald’s Door: How UCS and Others Helped Secure Deforestation-Free Palm Oil Commitments
April 21st, 2015
April 2nd, 2015
Every time I visit my hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I go out for pizza with my parents. You’d think I’d be jonesing for a local pizza joint, but the truth is I want Pizza Hut. I grew up on their pan crust cheese pizza and it will always have a special place in my heart (and stomach!). So when I heard that Yum! Brands, Inc (Yum!), owner of Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell and America’s second largest fast food chain had come out with a new palm oil commitment, I was pretty happy. Read More
Not Where You Expected to Find Deforestation?: Examining the Palm Oil Commitments of 40 of America’s Top Companies
April 1st, 2015
A lot can change in a year.
Thirteen months ago, UCS released a report scoring 30 of America’s top companies’ palm oil commitments. Since that time a lot of things have happened, both good and bad. Back then, nobody knew that Meghan Trainor was all about that bass or how fancy Iggy Azalea is. We are one step closer to buying Cuban cigars on American soil and a machine landed on a comet! Read More
March 26th, 2015
Growing up, Back to the Future Part II epitomized what the future would look like. I dreamed of owning a hoverboard or riding in a flying car (it didn’t have to be a DeLorean, I wasn’t that picky). Well, that distant future of flying cars, dehydrated food, and self-drying clothes takes place in 2015, so the future is now.
However, on a recent viewing of the film what caught my attention wasn’t the hoverboards or holograms but a drink that Marty McFly orders at a diner. That drink: Pepsi Perfect. Through the work I’ve done investigating companies’ links between deforestation and palm oil, I’ve learned a lot about PepsiCo’s policies and asked myself how close is the real PepsiCo to being “Pepsi Perfect”? Read More
March 4th, 2015
On a recent trip to Singapore, after the day’s discussion about how best to stop deforestation in Southeast Asia had ceased and the jet-lag was just beginning to take a hold of me, I hopped into bed to fall asleep. Or probably more accurately, I collapsed into bed. I turned on the television and what I saw on the screen was surprising. Read More
February 26th, 2015
For many years, small farmers in developing countries have been blamed for deforestation because of the way that they make breakfast. While in developed countries nearly everyone cooks with fossil fuels, or with electricity generated by fossil fuels or hydroelectricity, in developing countries firewood still predominates, especially among the poorest people in rural areas. But is this really an important driver of deforestation—and thus a major contributor to global warming? A new study—the most in-depth and comprehensive look at the subject yet—says no.
Co-founder, Borneo Futures Initiative
January 30th, 2015
The word “Borneo” has always evoked Jungle Book-like images for me: an idyllic place free of human intervention, covered with endless tropical virgin jungles and majestic trees, inhabited by amazing creatures, especially the “people of the forest” or orang-utan. Read More
January 27th, 2015
Today we’re releasing an important report on what the world’s largest emitters of greenhouse gases could do to reduce the global warming pollution released by their land sectors—that is, their agriculture and forests. It’s called Halfway There? What the Land Sector Can Contribute to Closing the Emissions Gap.
December 10th, 2014
You hear the phrase “we’re number one!” from Americans fairly often, usually in relation to sports or politics. Now new research from the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that there’s another domain where it applies. It’s not as an assertion of superiority, and probably never will lead to a chant at the Olympics, the World Cup or even the UN climate negotiations. Rather, it’s in terms of our potential to use our land sector – that is, agriculture and forests – to reduce our global warming pollution and avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
December 4th, 2014