In my grad program, we've spent a lot of time talking about Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren's IPAT equation. It's pretty simple: Impact = Population x Environment English translation: A society's environmental impact is proportional to its population, its wealth, and its technological capacity to mitigate the impacts of its population and its wealth. So how do you reduce impact? Well, it's too ethically and politically dicey to do a whole lot about population -- at least beyond educating women. Affluence? Let's put it this way: How would you like to be the one to tell El Salvador or Namibia to stay poor because the world has all the rich countries it can take?
I admit it -- the vestigial high school girl in me loves celebrity gossip. Still, I can't help but cringe in sympathy every time the tabloids metaphorically draw and quarter some poor, stylistically challenged starlet for mismatching her bag and shoes or stepping out of her house in sweat pants on a Sunday morning. I happen to be a major fan of sweat pants on Sunday mornings. In fact, if I had the eff-you fortitude to walk down to my local coffee shop in pajama bottoms, I would.
Talking about climate change, that is. More evidence that it's the hot political topic of the moment -- even the muckety-mucks at Davos are all abuzz over greenhouse gas emissions:
Um ... literally. Come to think of it, this little gizmo (scroll to the bottom of the page) might just come in handy during my nightly 3 a.m. stumble to the bathroom.
While we're on the topic of Oscar travesties, how about that Best Animated Feature nod for Happy Feet? Don't get me wrong, I'm psyched that two movies with obvious environmental themes are up for big awards (can't wait for Ellen's climate-change jokes), but it would be nice if they were both good movies. Oh jeez. Just had a horrible thought. Are they going to make poor Ellen dance with an animated penguin on national TV?
Tonight, you watched a herd of mildly to wildly intoxicated beautiful people congratulating themselves on their artistry, but take heart. At least a small group of them continued the self-celebration responsibly at the "Greenest Party on Earth," sponsored by the Environmental Media Association and E! Television.
I've mostly resisted the siren call of viewer-created video content. (One of the most-watched files on YouTube this month was of a guy sledgehammering a PS3 in front of a Best Buy. Really, America? Really?) And then Thursday night I went to the Seeds of Tolerance Awards in Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the Third Millennium Foundation and Current TV. Current TV is Al Gore's just-over-a-year-old cable channel, and a third of its programming is viewer-created content. Now, way back in 2005, everyone seemed to be talking about how crazy Al was for letting the public and its digital video cameras run amok on cable television. Then You-know-who-Tube exploded into pop culture in all its OK Go-breaking, PS3-smashing glory. Who's crazy now, suckas?
Trucks with a green hue? GM is in heaven. What a difference three bucks a gallon makes. In the past year, General Motors has rallied state and federal support to get more E85 (an 85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline blend) pumps at U.S. gas stations, launched a corn-hued marketing blitz, and announced that it is increasing production of its flex-fuel vehicles by 25 percent. Mary Beth Stanek, GM’s director of environment and energy, talked to Grist about ethanol’s role in GM’s fuel portfolio, SUVs’ bad rap, and future eclecticism at the pump. How did E85 become one of …
Cultivating change? Photo: iStockphoto Like his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather before him, Brian Miles spends his days working the family farm. Unlike his forebears, however, he also sits on the board of Mid-Missouri Energy, a farmer-owned ethanol cooperative in Malta Bend, Mo. Grist talked to Miles about the present ethanol boom, the potential for an ethanol bust, and the many splendors of fresh corn on the cob. How did you get involved in the ethanol biz? Our state corn growers association had a meeting a few years ago, because they had isolated this area as a good spot for …