Critically Evaluating "Sustainable" Investments

I caught the WSJ headline and hoped it would be talking about the dubious nature of many "green investments." Many are not particularly "green" and others are absolutely stupid business models. Funds normally have little expertise is judging either. If they hire expert support, it is often just some "woke" yuppies will no critical skill set or experience.

      The financial studies that praise the economic value in "sustainable investment" fail to sort out the noise. Large, well-run companies find it necessary for the PR to claim "sustainable" policies. Most of this stuff is "green wash" which is the short-hand for saying environmental spin. This is harmless enough on its own. Although experts have struggled for years to show that the even adoption of  actual environmental management systems (i.e. ISO) has a positive correlation with actual environmental performance of a company. Any occasional modest correlation can nor…

Why travel restrictions and social distancing are important: the Long Game in the Wuhan virus Battle

I don't think that there is very wide understanding of what the travel restrictions and social distancing actually do to help the Wuhan virus crisis. The key to the battle is to halt the exponential growth of the infected population. That allows the natural process of the virus to run its course, but significantly provides the opportunity to treat the affected population within the limits of the healthcare infrastructure.

As the virus dies off in the affected population, it is then not reproduced in people newly infected due to the isolation. During this period, we will devise better treatment approaches and a vaccine. If the virus grows in the population unchecked, the healthcare system is over-whelmed and ultimate control is more complicated and costly in the form of more people adversely affected or killed. Travel restrictions start having an effect after about 12 days based on the Chinese experience: the incubation period. Another another couple of weeks, those already …

Where Phytoremediation Can Be Practical and Effective, Even Profitable

The new company Phytoremedia (www,phytoremedia) is the first truly commercial scale phytoremediation company in Eastern Europe and one of the few such companies in the world. Phytoremedia has gathered a panel of experts from all over the world to advise on projects and offers a full turn-key solution. Its experts come from Poland, the US, India, Taiwan and Belgium and the team is growing. This approach offers cleanup to regulatory levels for many polluted sites, but has been underutilized due to lack of information among regulators and the affected site owners. It also has a disadvantage of taking several years to implement and many remedial situations occur in the middle of a developers' building schedule. Nevertheless there is a major role that can be played by this attractive technology.
 The company is exploring the best alternatives for phytoremediation: idle land that has been rendered pretty much of little commercial value due to contamination. This can be "real estate…

Using Phytoremediation to Optimize the Resale Value of Your Industrial Site

Contaminated land issues in Poland and other countries mainly arise when a new owner decides that they want to build something, usually in a hurry. The quickest way to address their construction schedule is to "dig an dump." The consequences of this are normally that the seller has to take a huge hit in their sale price to accommodate the remediation bill. Intelligent owners of contaminated land can use their period of ownership to start phytoremediation where it is feasible, get a plan approved, and then not face discounting of their sale based on a hurry-up and expensive cleanup. In Poland and most of the EU, the cleanup standard is locked to current land use only. This means that the risk assessment may give a site a pass on residual contamination if the site has controlled-access and there are no exposure pathways. Later, the sale of the land can likely be to a developer who wants to do more with it as a commercial property. The cleanup issue will have to be revisited a…


Green wash is the artificial use of pro-environment messaging to deceptively convey to the public that a product, policy, or service has major environmental benefits.

     It is routine in corporate culture now and also is a major feature of public policy. Some examples:

     -  This product is made from "recyclable materials" - the user thinks that it is recycled. Almost anything can be technically recycled. But almost all materials are not economical to recycle and, in fact, are never recycled.

     -  Ban on plastics straws - the public thinks that this will reduce plastics pollution in the oceans, a serious problem. But virtually all plastics that end up in he oceans come from China and a handful of less developed countries. Plastics in industrialized countries go to landfills, waste-to-energy plants and even recycling. Ending plastic straws is a gimmick to make the consumer feel good or for the company or government sponsor to "virtue-signal."

     - Elec…

Pragmatic Environmentalist: Watching the Public Fall for Environmental "Feel Good" Scams and Spam

A couple of years ago I wrote this post. Everyone seems to be in a general state of denial about this problem with charging these vehicles in Poland. This is classic "green wash" (the superficial appearance of being environmentally- conscious). The latest green wash is plastic straw bans. Most all of the plastic in the ocean comes from emerging economies where there is often not even household waste service (everyone dumps everything). Plastic in the EU and US will end up in landfill, waste recovery plant or being recycled. Only a small fraction is capable of being recycled, which itself uses more energy than it saves. Plastic bans in the West will do nothing about plastics in the ocean except make people feel good about themselves, i.e. more virtue-signaling. Just like eliminating all US carbon emissions will only reduce temperature by 0.03 degrees under the UN IPCC's own model: a change that will be quickly swept away by events. The full achievement of the Paris Accor…
The EU Commission continues its battle with Poland over air pollution.  The air in Poland makes up 33 of the 50 worst urban areas in the EU. Emissions from coal plants, old cars, and household burning are the culprits.

Changing things will require a lot more than electric cars now being encouraged, since they remain charged by coal fired power plants and actually increase emissions.

I don't think that it really any plan in Poland to do anything different. If there is, it is not clearly in public right now and certainly will not be dramatic enough to work any time soon.