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Auden Schendler's Posts


Oil and Vinegar Redressing

BP should be like Newman’s Own

After the BP Gulf disaster is ancient history, I want that company to thrive. I want it to be vastly more profitable than ExxonMobil. It should continue exploration and drilling all over the world, including offshore. And I'm asking for just one broad change in how the company operates: BP should donate all its profits for the rest of its corporate life. The only fair way out of the gulf spill would be for BP to become just like Newman's Own, a corporation that donates all profits to charity -- in this case, to reparations for damage done by the spill. And by staying …


The choices we'll have to make to save the world

I was in the rec center pool on a snowy May afternoon recently talking to my friend Dave as my kids sloshed around in what struck me as a massive inoculation tank. As usual, nerds that we are, we talked about energy efficiency in our houses. Dave recently had an energy an audit, and like me, he's got a roof made out of two-by-fours, an insulation rating of R-12. Code here for roofs is R-37, and best practice is R-49. The auditor told him: the best thing to do would be to insulate between the interior beams, and then plywood …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Beyond Petroleum

My friend Dean was mostly drunk rowing his raft down the Grand Canyon. He was also naked most of the time, except for a piece of climbing webbing around his waist, ostensibly to help him if the raft flipped. As he headed into the huge rapids of the Inner Gorge, Dean used to cackle and yell out: “I think I can make it!”   He was, of course, quoting Joseph Hazelwood, the captain of the Exxon Valdez.  I wonder if BP’s approach to this spill is going be a hybrid of Hazelwood’s and Dean’s: hoping for the best, but knowing …

Read more: Politics


Coal Mining's Doubly Sad Legacy

Before the Massey mine disaster, there was Crandall Canyon

I'm reposting an essay I wrote in 2007 about another mine disaster. It's relevant to what's happening now in West Virginia. In March 2007, I testified before a House subcommittee on energy and mineral resources about the impact of climate change on public lands. There were seven witnesses, and one was Robert Murray, founder of Murray Energy and owner of the Crandall Canyon Mine in Utah. This, as everyone knows, is the mine that later collapsed, burying six miners; then it killed three men who were attempting a rescue when the mine collapsed again. Murray, who sat next to me, shouted most of …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Stealing home: James Hansen’s audacious battle to save the planet

My gut reaction to all new sustainable business and climate change books is: "Eck. Get me some Percocet and vodka." I already know what they're going to say: the business books say green is green, sustainability is profitable, and here are some examples. The climate book says we are hosed, and we are going to have to tax and sequester carbon, and build windmills. I can't take the climate books because they're boring and depressing. I can't take the green business books because they're redundant and they lie, making it all look so easy. So why did I eagerly pick …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Polar Bears Endangered, But Cute

Olympic broadcast wins gold for vapidity

While eagerly watching Bode Miller and the men's downhill Olympic race two days ago, I was treated to an unbelievably vapid interlude by Mary Carillo on the Polar Bears of Churchill, Manitoba, which she showed to Bob Costas. The whole time I was waiting for someone to take this great opportunity to talk about climate change in front of a massive audience. After all, with the bears, there's really obvious stuff going on. Carillo was talking about how the Polar Bears wait for the ice to show up, and how they can then hunt seals, and what a great event that is …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Dispatches from the Flat Earth

Utah solves climate change by voting it down

This post is reprinted from Climate Progress.  Utah: still the right wing placeWhen you drive into Utah from Colorado, there's a sign that says: "Utah: Still the Right Place." For years, the sign has been edited with red spray paint to read: "Utah, Still the Right Wing." New word from the Beehive State suggests the grafitti should remain. Here's a report from Tuesday's Salt Lake Tribune: [Utah] House OKs resolution doubting climate change The House adopted a sternly worded resolution declaring the body's deep skepticism over current climate science and called for the federal government to halt carbon dioxide reduction …


A Twenty-Something Riffs on GreenBuild

Dispatches from the Phoenix Green Building Conference

Recently, an interior designer and massage therapist named Becky Anderson helped me certify an Aspen Skiing Company building (Sam's Restaurant) to LEED Gold. As a reward for her remarkable work, we sent her to the U.S. Green Building Council's enormous, happening-like, and increasingly burning-man scale annual conference, which took place in Phoenix this fall and attracted some 40,000 people into the teeth of a depression. Her dispatch is below. A few notes: on reading this, I worried that my overly-critical and sometimes cynnical take on the green building movement (which played out in Grist over the years) had tarnished Becky's …

Read more: Cities


Dispatches From Someone Who Got Lucky

How do I find a green job?

This is the time-honored question, one I get asked so frequently, from very qualified individuals, that I decided to answer it online. It is heartbreaking (and encouraging) how many skilled and interested people are looking for work in the sustainability field. The good news is the sector is growing exponentially. If you ask anyone in the field they'll probably tell you they got there by luck. That's certainly true for me. I'm less smart, strong, and fast than other candidates, and much less skilled. But I happened to be in the right place at the right time. That said, there …


Where to Donate Your Money

Breathtaking last minute philanthropy ideas

Most of us should be giving away more money. (Yes, you should be. If you have any doubt, please stop reading this blog and pick up Peter Singer's book The Life You Can Save.) And many of us WANT to give but can't pull the trigger for a host of reasons: basic cheapness (guilty!), a feeling that you don't know where to give, a sense that most charities waste your money. So I'm going to make it simple by telling you where you should give your money away. Or, more generously, I'm going to offer some good suggestions based on …

Read more: Living