Business & Technology


Holiday weekend brings good news — and bad — for clean energy

The Fourth of July isn’t quite Earth Day but it’s becoming a favored holiday for companies and policymakers to declare energy independence, as was the case this past weekend. Cypress Semiconductor, kicked things off when T.J. Rodgers, the company’s chief executive, declared at a press conference that the Silicon Valley chipmaker would go completely off the grid by 2015. Not go carbon neutral — the favored strategy of many companies that buy carbon credits to supposedly offset their greenhouse gas emissions — but to actually cut the power cord. On Friday, Rodgers, one of the Valley’s more iconoclastic iconoclasts, unveiled …

a barrel full of family fun

BP offshore oil board game: Seemed like a fun idea at the time?

Back in the ’70s, BP decided to market a family board game by the name of “Offshore Oil Strike,” boasting the “thrills of drilling” as well as the “hazards and rewards.” I mean, Monopoly worked out pretty well for the Wall Street tycoons even in the midst of the Great Depression, right? On the other hand, if you drew one of the game’s Hazard Cards, even little Suzy could probably predict what might happen in the Gulf of Mexico one day: “Blow-out! Rig damaged. Oil slick clean-up costs. Pay $1 million.” It appears the BP execs who lacked the foresight …

Good News From the Past and the Dump

In a week that saw more oil wash over Gulf of Mexico shores and more oil lobbying money wash over Congress – – both with predictable results – – I thought we could all use some good news and reasons to be hopeful. I found that inspiration on a trip to Germany and the UK inside two companies that have very unique perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that the world faces today. Of course the continuing debacle in the Gulf speaks for itself, shouts from the headlines with failure upon failure to stop the oil gusher and from the …

Giving BP twit for tat

The mystery BP Twitterer revealed!

Leroy Stick is the brains behind a fake BP Twitter account called BPGlobalPR that’s racked up more than 180,000 followers. Need to Know‘s Erin Chapman grabbed an exclusive on-camera interview with him at the TEDxOilSpill conference. Stick (an alias) began feeding his updates to humor-starved news junkies on May 19 and — like the oil — hasn’t slowed since. Some of his recent status reports include: As long as we can get loaded potato skins at T.G.I.Friday’s, seafood can suck it. Tropical Storms = 1/2 days. Anyone accusing us of tarring and feathering pelicans is ignorant. They feathered themselves. In …

Independence Thinking

10 fresh ideas that can help set you free (from oil)

With the Fourth of July approaching, let us pause and consider the words of that great patriot Sarah Palin: “Americans are not addicted to oil, Americans are addicted to freedom — the freedom to move freely and independently where and when we want.” Makes you want to go out and drive a Hummer in circles, no? But since, let’s face it, we are addicted to oil, here are 10 ideas that have popped up in the past month, which provide a glimpse of fossil-fuel freedom. 1. Power to the pedal: Sure, bike lanes are nice, but peddlers still have to …

Deficit hacks

Feed the economy, or starve it? The answer’s clear.

Photo: greenforall.orgIn economic-policy circles, a debate rages around what medicine might cure the ailing economy. The topic doesn’t draw much attention in environmental media, but I would argue that the direction of economic policy is at least as important as the hopelessly vexed question of energy policy. Before I get to the green implications, let’s look at how the economic-policy debate is playing out. On one side, you’ve got the champions of fiscal austerity. They look at the national budget deficit — puffed up by war spending, the Bush tax cuts, the bank bailouts, and the ’09-’10 stimulus — and …

BP in the Gulf -- The Persian Gulf

How BP helped destroy democracy in Iran

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission. To frustrated Americans who have begun boycotting BP: Welcome to the club. It’s great not to be the only member any more! Does boycotting BP really make sense? Perhaps not. After all, many BP filling stations are actually owned by local people, not the corporation itself. Besides, when you’re filling up at a Shell or ExxonMobil station, it’s hard to feel much sense of moral triumph. Nonetheless, I reserve my right to drive by BP stations. I started doing it long before this year’s oil …

Partying like it's 2008

Green tech investment surges

President Obama examines a solar panel with Solyndra executives.Photo and caption: The White HouseGreen tech is back in the green. Global venture capital investment in green technology companies reached $4.04 billion in the first half of 2010, exceeding — slightly — the record set in the boom year of 2008, according to a preliminary report released Thursday by the Cleantech Group and Deloitte. Venture investment in the second quarter rose to $2.02 billion, up 43 percent from the year-ago quarter. Investments in the first half of the year spiked 65 percent from the same period in 2009. “There’s been a …

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. …

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