Business & Technology

Little boy BP, go blow your horn

Let’s resolve the oil spill by annoying BP to death

Photo: Adam Quirk Even if you haven’t been paying attention to major events in the news lately, you still might have picked up on two things. There’s a huge, ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and BP is bungling it up taking the heat for it. The rest of the planet is obsessed with the World Cup and the long plastic horns (used for cheering or irritating, depending on how you feel about them) known as vuvuzelas. It was only a matter of time before those two things converged, and we have Adam Quirk to thank for that. …

Chemical retraction

Taking the petro out of petrochemicals

Genomatica’s pilot green chemical plant.Photo courtesy of GenomaticaYou can buy green jeans, green greens (at the farmer’s market), and green beer. But the reality is that many, if not most, products in our industrial society contain some petroleum-based chemicals. In fact, up to a quarter of the oil consumed in some regions of the United States — such as on the Gulf Coast — goes into petrochemical production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A number of startups, however, are working to develop green chemicals that take the petro out of petrochemicals and eliminate the environmental and safety hazards …

Girl's lawn wild

An ode to my new push reel lawn mower

I heart the Fiskars Momentum.It is a truth universally acknowledged that a new homeowner in possession of a good lawn must be in want of a lawn mower.  Unless you have access to a herd of goats, or you’re an aggressive gardener with immediate plans to xeriscape or cover all terrain with edible plants.   My significant other and I have started off with modest ambitions at our new homestead: keeping our small parcel of grass from degenerating into a weedy jungle. A gas-powered mower was out from the start.  Smelly, dirty, hugely polluting, and a pain to operate and …

High on the hog

If JBS gobbles up Smithfield, three companies will own U.S. meat market

(Grist illo; Carlossg/Flickr) A typical supermarket’s meat counter displays a landscape of easy bounty: shrink-wrapped chops, cutlets, steaks, roasts, loins, burger meat, and more, almost all of it priced to move. But the dizzying variety cloaks a disturbing uniformity. As the chart below shows, the great bulk of the meat consumed in the United States comes from just four large, powerful companies. These companies wield tremendous power to dictate not just what meat is available, but how that meat is raised. For these “meat titans,” turning a profit selling cheap meat means slashing the cost of doing business. And that …

Green state, brown state

‘The Climate War’ comes to California

Eric Pooley came to San Francisco last Tuesday to talk about his new book, The Climate War, at the offices of the Environmental Defense Fund. The book, subtitled “True Believers, Power Brokers and the Fight to Save the Earth,” is a riveting tale of the battle to pass climate change legislation in the United States. Pooley, deputy editor of Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the former editor of Fortune magazine, embedded himself with key combatants in the climate war, including Fred Krupp, EDF’s president. (Read a review by Grist’s David Roberts here.) It is, of course, a book without an ending as …

not just spinning wheels

I Have a Green Job: A green fitness center that lets you supply the energy

From activists to politicians, everybody loves to talk about the promise of green jobs. But in reality, who the heck actually has a green job, and how do you get one? In our new column, “I Have a Green Job,” Grist will be regularly profiling one of the lucky employed who has landed a job in the new green economy, or a green job in the old economy. Know someone with a green job and a good story? Tell us about them! Could bikes like these help burn calories without wasting watts too?Photo: janeyeseeyou via FlickrTo plenty of people in …

we're in deep

What would happen if we admitted to the high risk of deepwater drilling?

Was the Obama administration “arbitrary and capricious” in imposing a six-month moratorium on deepwater oil drilling? U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman thought so. His June 22 order reversed the moratorium, citing the “immeasurable harm” to “the local economy, the Gulf region, and the critical present-day aspect of the availability of domestic energy in this country.” By immeasurable harm to the Gulf region, he meant the loss of oil industry jobs, not the loss of oil-free water and beaches. How could anyone be opposed to a time-out to figure out what went wrong in the Gulf of Mexico? Others close to …

Where the Smart Money Goes Next

As thousands of young scholars bid farewell to familiar homes and high schools to enter college in the fall, it made me wonder where the smart money will be going (other than the contents of my son’s 529 account, which I know is headed to Penn) as it leaves the old economy behind and moves into the 21st Century. Ernst & Young may have the answer. A new survey from the Big Four accounting firm shows that more than two thirds of major corporations globally plan to spend up to 5% of their revenues on carbon cutting initiatives over the …

A walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Who wants to be a climate scientist?!

First things first: Tuesday night Rolling Stone magazine unveiled to a limited audience its new article called “The Runaway General.” But when something “goes viral” in the Internet age, there’s no such thing as a limited audience. In the piece, General Stanley McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, derides and criticizes the president, vice president, and other key senior members of the administration. It caused a media-wide storm and led to McChrystal’s resignation within about 12 hours. President Barack Obama replaced him with General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command. The story has little …