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Old Dogs, New Tricks: Can Corporations Really Help Fight Climate Change?

The future of the planet lies in our hands – but whose hands most of all?

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The future of the planet lies in our hands – but whose hands most of all?

Karen K. Ho, a journalist at Business Insider, spends a lot of her time researching and reporting on the business side of sustainability. I was very lucky to be able to have her on for a segment talking about some of the intricacies of that very subject! She is thorough and thoughtful – an example of how we should all be moving forward when it comes to readying ourselves for life on Earth as climate change becomes not just unavoidable but a part of our every day.

Most folks hear the word “sustainability” and either roll their eyes or feel daunted. Ms. Ho deftly broke down the definition of the concept. Although its definitions are continuously being negotiated, she argues that sustainability is fundamentally about whether “something survive into the future and how long into the future.”

Ms. Ho expressed also that at its core, sustainability is about reevaluating how we do anything. Big ask. Especially for those who commit the most extensive environmental transgressions: corporations.

AP Photo/Olivia Zhang, File

According to reports from 2017, 71 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by a list 100 companies, made up of coal, gas and oil corporations and conglomerates.

This in the face of decades of irreversible damage and the fact that we have roughly twenty-something years to try to limit the dangerously rapid rise in temperature that is already causing extreme weather and other disastrous effects.

It can feel hopeless. But Ms. Ho became a source of hope, explaining how effective whistleblowing and corporate transparency, coupled with public policy plus a focus on accessibility can help shift the tides a bit.

It is good news that President Biden’s infrastructure bill is putting Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria at the forefront of the minds of investors and big companies alike. This focus, however, does call for changes in the way that for-profit companies operate – a lot of them.

Ms. Ho shared with us that while there is money to be spent, there is also quite a bit of money to be made.

Sustainability is about understanding intersectionality as well because climate change will affect those of us at the bottom of the socio-economic hierarchy first and most severely. Thus, it behooves those most privileged from financiers to established corporations to make the biggest moves, not just from a moral standpoint but a fiscal one too. It requires a concentrated effort of individual responsibility and corporate attention.

After all, as Ms. Ho so astutely summed up, “at the end of the day, a planet inhospitable to human and plant life has very little shareholder value.”

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Delta 8 THC- What’s Behind the Suddenly Very Available but Questionable Products?

“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis”

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AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo, File

The hemp boom is over, and now we’re seeing the results of an industry chasing profit margins.

“The industry is rolling into a green rush derivative,” explains pharmacologist and neuroscientist, Dr. Greg Gerdeman. He wants to educate the public on cannabis, especially when it comes to the latest fads. For instance, products containing Delta-8 THC have become popular, especially in states where cannabis is still prohibited. Delta-8′ s legality is a bit murky because its a synthetic compound, something Dr. Gerdeman says is a misdirection from the promises of both cannabis flower and industrial hemp.

In our recent conversation on the Erupt app, Gerdeman talked about Delta-8, reminding us that “D-8” is not a specific strain.

“Delta-8 flower is hemp flower that’s been sprayed with synthetic D-8, that’s what D-8 flower is.”

“D-8 occurs in very low concentrations in cannabis plants, as far as has been discovered to date,” says Gerdeman. None of it is being extracted directly, it’s being converted from something else in a synthetic process, and there’s no D-8 producing strains. Any flower you get that’s sold as D-8 flower is hemp that was sprayed with D-8 that was made in somebody’s lab.”

Gerdeman compared the current D-8 craze to the CBD boom of the past few years. There was a massive amount of CBD produced in 2019 after the farming of hemp became legal.

A farm field near Sisters, Oregon is readied for another hemp crop (AP Photo/Don Ryan)

“Farmers were promised the moon as though they were gonna make tens of thousands of dollars per acre growing CBD, and it was a false premise,” Gerdeman says.

Due to a skyrocketing hemp supply, with little infrastructure to turn the newly-legal crop around, the industry took a nose-dive, and experts say it could take years for the hemp market to mature.

In the meantime, all the extra hemp that was produced without a market to buy it, is being cooked and boiled into CBD products.

“It is a significant, real world public health risk for patients who think these products are as safe and effective as natural cannabis,” said Dr. Gerdeman.

You can watch our full conversation below and on the Erupt app.

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Alphabet Mafia: The Necessary Difficulty of Building Queer Spaces

With the launch of Serif, a new type of queer space is beginning to take shape, but it is harder than ever.

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Growing up, Serif CEO Brian Tran never found himself at home inside of gay bars. He found it alienating that bars are the central hub of queerness.

“It really starts with what I first experienced when I first came out… I was constantly looking at what was around me… I do remember the first feeling was like, ‘I know I am gay but I just can’t identify with what I am seeing.’”

Continuing, he beckons the question that is echoed by Serif’s executive producer, Kristen Laffey, around how to build alternative queer spaces. Within our conversation, Laffey consistently reminds us about the necessity of furthering the scope of focus for queer spaces.

The undeniable truth, which both Laffey and Tran mention, is that gay bars have historically been the center of orbit of queer life. The three of us also agree that this reality has bred toxicity in the community.

Serif exists to rid of this toxicity and to replace it with a new way of community building.

“Serif is designed to be a space where LGBTQIA+ people can have meaningful connections through experiences that we produce. Through these experiences we can form connections through conversations that happen right in front of you and then you get to connect afterwards.”

Serif members are encouraged to take part in a spectrum of both virtual and in-person events. Each experience is catered to unique subsets of the community and attempts to shine a light on specific areas that are often underrepresented.

This attempt to truly create safety and equity for the entire community, as Tran points out, is at the core of the brand’s mission. We all agree that a majority of queer spaces give centralized importance to cis-gendered, gay men. Serif wants to change that.

Tran and Laffey each vocalize how exciting it is to be able to build something unique in its focus, particularly when more and more of the community becomes disenchanted with the idea of queer spaces.

But how does one manage that while attempting to launch a business? I bring up The Wing, an organization creating safe spaces for women in business, as a potential harbinger for how these spaces may collapse in on themselves. Over time, The Wing began to face endless challenges with sustainable equity, particularly for trans women. As I bring this up, the Serif leaders admit these challenges are inevitable for them as well. Tran knows Serif’s every move is being watched and dissected by the community. But this does not scare him. In fact, Serif encourages this feedback and a sense of community led evolution.

Find out more about how Serif plans to tackle this issue and more on our latest episode of Alphabet Mafia. You can watch this episode of Alphabet Mafia below as well as many others on the Erupt app.

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Striketober May Be Step One in the Employee Revolution

October is seeing more strikes than any month in recent memory, prompting many to consider the power of the employee and the future of corporate business.

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Talk to anyone about the labor market and two words will immediately enter the conversation: shortages and strikes.

Although the Hollywood IATSE strike was averted over the weekend, the United States is currently seeing an uptick in strikes in almost every field. As the BBC reported last week, more than 100,000 U.S. employees are currently striking. From John Deere workers to school bus drivers to symphony musicians to Kaiser employees, strikes are taking place all over the country.

While strikes are not uncommon, this month’s strikes are notable for their labor power. The strike by John Deere employees in multiple states encompasses more on 10,000 workers who are dissatisfied with their current pay and the pay raises handed to executives.

More than 28,000 workers at Kaiser Permanente in California and Oregon are also striking in hopes of having their new contract demands approved.

The Kaiser workers are only the latest in the health care sector to strike. More than 2,000 healthcare employees in Buffalo conducted a walkout at the beginning of the month. Those workers also cited better pay and conditions as rationales for their strike.

The strikes are arriving as the entire U.S. economy is struggling to return to pre-pandemic employment levels.

Are these strikes the beginning of an employment revolution?

Throughout the pandemic, the American zeitgeist around work and employees seems to have shifted. For most of the summer, labor shortages were the highlight of economic conversation, even as more businesses began to return to work. After a sequence of government stimulus packages and expanded unemployment benefits, finding employees willing to return to pre-pandemic wages was nearly impossible in a wide range of sectors.

There appears to be a new status quo for the everyday American worker and that may prove to be a reckoning for corporate business.

On top of that, according to a Gallup poll conducted in September, opinions of unions also seem to be shifting. Union support is now officially at its highest point since 1965.

Another key element in the labor shortage and resulting strikes is the complexity of immigration. Currently, more than nine million qualified immigrants are awaiting to permanent residence in the U.S. With the U.S. Labor Department’s most recent jobs report showing nearly 10.5 million job openings, immigrants could play a key role in solving the current crises.

But solving the labor shortage issue will not alleviate the pressure placed on large businesses. As strikes continue and more voices come together to demand change for employees, the corporate world will have to respond. Its response may trigger further strikes or may bring forth a new wave of employee rights.

For now, what direction this situation heads next is to be determined.

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