Business & Technology

Green doesn’t sell to mouth-breathing Americans, says CEO of GE

GE is making billions of dollars selling the world wind turbines and energy-efficient technology, so it's a little surprising to hear that the biggest regret of its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, is all that hippy-dippy talk at the center of the company's Ecomagination campaign. "If I had one thing to do over again I would not have talked so much about green," Immelt said at an event sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Even though I believe in global warming and I believe in the science … it just took on a connotation that was too elitist; it was too …

How to profit from the coming ecopocalypse

While a quarter of Americans have a net worth of zero, Jeremy Grantham controls a hedge fund worth $107 billion, and he has a message for the world: Resource scarcity, peak oil, and climate change could mean big bucks for those who can get out ahead of the disaster. Well, okay, not BIG bucks — just nonzero bucks. "Our goal should be to get everyone out of abject poverty, even if it necessitates some income redistribution," Grantham says in his latest quarterly letter. Hippie! But even that level of success, he argues, will depend on us reconfiguring our expectations to …

Better Place taps China in bid to take over the world, more or less

If a supervillain wanted to roll out a plan to turn the planet's car infrastructure on its head, he could hardly do better than the deal that Israeli company Better Place just announced with the China Southern Power Grid Co. Better Place is a company that wants to replace filling stations with battery swapping stations. (The batteries are swapped by robots.) If it works, the concept eliminates the range anxiety, long charging times, and battery ownership headaches that come with driving an electric car. The first pilot station is in Israel, and its CEO has estimated that he can cover the …

Portland, Maine, to save 50,000 gallons of oil a year with geothermal heating and cooling

Portland, Maine's new airport expansion is to be the first in the country to use a dead-simple but often overlooked technology to significantly reduce its heating and cooling bills. They're calling it a geothermal system, but it's not like the kind that produce power in Iceland; it's more properly called a "ground-source heat pump." The system will use the ground beneath an employee parking lot as a giant heat sink. To transport energy to and from the sink, the system will run fluid through pipes snaking through 120 wells dug 500 feet into the ground. Below a meter or two, …

Green Living Tips

Care about the forest? Here’s what you can do

Who cares about the forest? That’s the question author/artist Franke James explores in this creative personal story commissioned by the Forest Stewardship Council of Canada. Check out the visual essay below, or watch it as an animated video.

Meet the world’s most high-tech bike

It's pretty impressive that we're still chugging along on human-powered vehicles only a step more high-tech than a velocipede — olde-tyme bikes look basically like the ones we've got today. Why improve on perfection, right? Well, maybe just for the sheer badassery of it. At least, that seems to be the theory behind the Alpha, a high-tech bike designed by UPenn students that is basically a jetpack on wheels. The Alpha is an engineer's wet dream. Among its features: Lightweight carbon-fiber frame (lighter than a steel frame, even with all the added gadgetry) Onboard computer and handlebar display with real-time …

Solar Power

On Coachella’s solar stage

It was a sunny year at the 2011 Coachella Music Festival, and the stage is set for the town’s new concentrating photovoltaic farm.Photo: Paige K. ParsonsAn interesting solar development got buried by Thursday’s big news that French fossil fuel conglomerate Total had agreed to acquire a majority stake in SunPower, the Silicon Valley photovoltaic panel maker and power plant development. That $1.37 billion Total is spending on SunPower naturally overshadowed the Southern California desert community of Coachella’s announcement that it had flipped the switch on a 420-kilowatt concentrating photovoltaic farm at its water reclamation plant. Don’t yawn. Here’s why the …

Climate Change

Want to save the planet? Al Gore has an app for that

An Inconvenient Truth started out as a book and became an Oscar-winning movie. Al Gore’s follow-up book, Our Choice, has now gone multimedia too, but in a whole new way, as a first-of-its-kind app complete with documentary footage and even a trailer set to swelling, melodramatic music. Watch it here: After Our Choice was published in 2009, Gore — a Mac geek who sits on Apple’s board —  wondered how he could take advantage of the fledgling app craze. He teamed up with two former Apple employees, Mike Matas and Kimon Tsinteris, to adapt the book for iPhone and iPad, …

Green Cars

Chamber of Commerce and auto dealer group lose last-gasp lawsuit to stop clean cars

Cross-posted from the Natural Resources Defense Council. The federal court of appeals in Washington today rejected the last legal attack on California’s landmark greenhouse-gas standards for new cars built in model years 2012-16.  The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sought to overturn EPA’s waiver giving California the green light to set its greenhouse-gas standards. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson granted California the waiver in June 2009, reversing her predecessor’s unprecedented attempt to block California’s program.    The appeals court ruled that neither NADA nor the chamber had demonstrated injury necessary to support their standing. NADA had …