Read & Hear: Recent coverage of the Earth Genome
"Dan Hammer, a UC Berkeley doctoral candidate who has worked to make information about the environment accessible and understandable for journalists, was honored with the first-ever Pritzker Emerging Environmental Genius Award.
Hammer is an environmental economist and data expert, and the co-founder of Earth Genome, a nonprofit that seeks to provide environmental data to decision makers. His current project, Overview News, would give journalists and other storytellers easy access to satellite imagery and help them understand it — all in order to support lucid, reliable news about the environment."
STEVE MCCORMICK: how THE EARTH GENOME helps markets & Corporations price The True Costs of natural capital (4.22.2016)
"It's our belief that in many if not most cases the investment in a sustainable project will be at least as good if not better over time than a traditional, non-sustainable investment...As more and more companies realize that true costs are going to show up in some fashion -- whether through regulation or through consumer demand -- they are increasingly aware of the materiality of sustainability. It's not just simply a good thing to do."
Hear An Interview With Steve McCormick on the Earth Genome and its work with dow (3.21.2016)
"Dow is evaluating Earth Genome’s software to see if GIST can help the company make good water infrastructure decisions that conserve resources, control long term water costs, and help it avoid future competition with farmers and cities.
[Dow Director of Sustainability and Enterprise Risk Management Mark] Weick feels that most other natural capital valuation techniques fail to provide guidance that is specific enough to support those types of goals, because they generate natural capital values that are too broad. For example, a valuation tool might say the natural capital of a wetland is worth between $1m and $10m, and 'that is very difficult for me to use in a business decision,' he says.
Earth Genome, on the other hand, generates a more specific guidance on what, say, restoring a particular wetland in a particular place will generate in terms of natural capital. Beyond that, it estimates the impact this decision will have on the company’s long term water costs and the quality and availability of the water source."
How to Tell Your Sustainability Story (3.3.2016)
"In 2015, NASA offered the first photo of the earth since the famous 1972 'blue marble' image taken from Apollo 17. While beautiful, it 'doesn’t tell you what has happened to our world and what has happened to us,' said Glen Low, co-founder of the Earth Genome. 'This photo served as inspiration but not information.'
Low, among others, hopes that Big Data can solve the biggest environmental challenges. However, he said, 'People get fixated on the data, not the insight it can provide to a company.' And many companies have come to believe Big Data is neither findable, usable nor relevant.
That’s why the Earth Genome created a Green Infrastructure Support Tool to visualize mass amounts of data. The platform lets users see the potential ecological and business benefits of green infrastructure projects. It layers maps to help visualize the potential size, cost, final value, ROI and payback period of projects to enhance water quality."
Earth Genome Aims to Help Companies Sequence Nature's Big Data (3.1.2016)
"With early corporate partners such as chemical giant Dow, Monsanto, PepsiCo and engineering conglomerate CH2M, former Bain & Co. principal Glen Low isn't starting small. The roster also reflects ongoing efforts among some sustainable business advocates to dispel the perception that, as the New Yorker put it, "environmental organizations rely on fuzzy science and fail to harness the power of markets."
An initial Earth Genome pilot project focused on water scarcity issues surrounding Dow's Freeport, Texas, plant. Where the company already was considering expensive gray water solutions in response to the area's alternate drought and acute flooding risk, the tool helped the company explore the potential of investment in wetlands.
'You can enable anyone to find a needle in a haystack,' Low said, 'the few places where it makes sense to make an investment that affects the entire watershed.'"
"Our intention is to enable decision making by corporations, and by government and NGOs, for that matter, to take into account true environmental costs. There are massive data sets, lots of which have been created by government and many of which have come out of universities or NGOs, all about natural systems. They’re open source. But they are impenetrable. It’s like having the Internet without a search engine. An infrastructure can be created to make that data much more understandable and accessible. We’re building a set of initial tools around a handful of really high-priority or critical natural resource issues and finding a set of users."
"Big companies have the ability to act quickly and at scale, which is something we don’t often see in sustainability. So working with companies to get to solutions that scale is the way we’re going to find big solutions in the future...In the early days sustainability was a green stamp you could use to boost your public reputation. More and more, companies are realizing that they can tap sustainability solutions to meet their bottom line — and that’s a win-win for everybody.”