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Auden Schendler and Mark Trexler's Posts


Reality bites

The coming climate panic?

One morning in the not too distant future, you might wake up and walk to your mailbox. The newspaper is in there and it's covered with shocking headlines: Coal Plants Shut Down! Airline Travel Down 50 Percent! New Federal Carbon Restrictions in Place! Governor Kicked Out of Office for Climate Indolence! Sometimes change is abrupt and unsettling. History shows that societies in crisis too often leap from calm reaction to outright panic.The only thing your bath-robed, flip-flopped, weed-eating neighbor wants to talk about over the fence isn't the Yankees, but, of all things ... climate change. Shaking your head, you …


Requested: Insight into the Human Condition

'Chunking' Trash Out the Window, Texas Style

Last night I left a fancy party in Aspen. I had stuck out like a sore thumb in a blue blazer while everyone else had long flowing scarves and ponytails. Later, standing on the front steps of a mansion and waiting to pick up my car, I started talking to a woman I'd already met that night but who didn't remember me. She asked what I did and I said I was the environmental guy for the ski resort. And she said: "Boy, my family, we have come a long way. We're from Texas, and you will hate to hear …

Read more: Living


Real People Know It's All Baloney...

The culture wars become the climate wars

I've been wading through hate mail for the last week after referring to the governor of Utah's "raging ignorance" on climate science in an AP news story. The mail doesn't come from defenders of the governor, (he's denying climate science in a state known for, and economically supported by, some of the best powder west of Aspen) but from the climate denial community. One of the common themes in the hate mail has been that solving climate change is a plot by East Coast liberal elites to stay employed, push their agenda, etc. The subtext is that to understand climate science, …


REC-ing the Planet

Why buying cheap energy certificates worsens climate change I just received an email from a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) vendor called Carbon Solutions Group ( that took my already high (but controlled) blood pressure to new heights. RECs represent clean energy and can be purchased by entities wanting to claim to be powered by renewable energy. The gist of the Carbon Solutions e-mail (posted at the bottom of this blog) is that there is a misconception about their cost. RECs, the e-mail argues, are portrayed as way too expensive. Further, the U.S. Green Building Council is providing a misleadingly high number for the cost of powering your …


Outdoor Industry CEOs Weigh in on Climate

The North Face, Aspen, and climate policy

When North Faces start melting, and Aspens start dying, it gets the attention of two CEOs from namesake companies. Today, the CEOs of The North Face and Aspen Skiing Company weigh in on the urgency of climate policy action. Here's a piece of the essay, followed by a link to the full text on High Country News: As CEOs of two of the most widely known consumer brands in the outdoor recreation market -- Aspen Skiing Company and The North Face -- it gets our attention when our companies' namesakes start to vanish before our eyes. Although we operate different …


Grace, Dignity, Climate and a New Book on Warming in the West

Climate change and God

There's a great new book out called How the West Was Warmed (, about responding to climate change in the Rockies. It's got intros and conclusions from two of the nation's leading implementers/rock stars of the new green economy--Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. It also offers readers a candy store of great essays by excellent writers and thinkers in the West, including Outside contributor/N.Y. Times journalist Florence Williams, Water and drought expert Brad Udall, and editor Beth Conover, who has been in the green trenches for 20 years. The book includes an essay I originally …

Read more: Climate & Energy


How to Actually Solve Climate Change, Part Whatever

Energy Trust and the Big Hope

If you're like me, and spend a lot of the day drinking coffee and getting increasingly paranoid with the creeping suspicion that solving climate may not be possible, it's good when you find glimmers of hope in the wreckage. One of those glimmers (actually more like a tractor beam) is called Energy Trust, an organization in Oregon that, if widely copied, would move us well on the way to solving climate change. I recently spent a few hours with my friend Greg Stiles, who helps run their business sector programs, and I was blown away by their creativity and success. …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy


Green Colleges Make Green

Colleges without rocking enviro programs are failed businesses

Every time Sierra Magazine comes out with its top green colleges list I get pissed off that my alma mater, Bowdoin College, doesn't make the cut.  And the reason I'm pissed is that it seems to me that even if you didn't care one little tiny bit about climate or environment--if all you cared about was endowment, physical plant, and US News ranking--as an undergraduate institution you'd create a killer Enviornmental Studies program with a climate focus simply to recruit students and make money as a business. Why? Because people are banging down the doors, almost literally, to study the …


How to Make Green Conferences Feel Less Like Capital Punishment

Sustainability conferences can be boring and terrible

If you're reading this post, you know that sustainability conferences are now so ubiquitious that you can't swing a cat without hitting one. This is so cool--because it means the word is getting out big time. But as is my nature, I find myself massively dissatisfied by most (though not all) events, which typically bore the crap out of me. (An exception was a recent "Green Boot Camp" put on at Harvard by Living Cities, the goal of which was to actually figure out how to implement deep energy retrofits in buildings. It rocked becuase it tried hard to solve …


Why I LIke to Do Battle With the Deniers

The climate science fight club

So a guy writes in to our local paper saying climate change is a big scam, nobody ever shows the actual data, blah blah blah. I usually ignore these things like I ignore the moon landing deniers and the flat earthers, but this time I had a second in the morning and so I sent him a few things I keep on my desk like a soldier keeps weapons nearby: Naomi Oreskes Science article from 2004 (2004!) that shows that there are NO peer reviewed scientific papers that say anything other than that the climate is warming and it's human caused; …

Read more: Climate & Energy