Business & Technology

Fantasy games

Disaster contingency plans are ‘fantasy documents’ when it comes to big oil spills

Lee Clarke.Am I the only one mystified — and, OK, horrified — by British Petroleum’s apparent failure to have a contingency plan in place for just the kind of worst-case scenario that happened in the Gulf on April 20? Thankfully not. “Fantasy documents” is how author and sociologist Lee Clarke describes most corporate contingency plans in his book Mission Impossible: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster. Clarke is a professor at Rutgers University who studies (how perfect?) disasters and organizational failure. He is also the author of six books on breezy topics such as risk, catastrophes, terrorism, and worst-case scenarios. …

Dodge a trois

A three-way blame game at oil-spill hearing

Here’s your 30-second wrap of the first congressional hearing on the BP Gulf oil disaster: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hauled in executives from BP America, which leased the Deepwater Horizon rig; Transocean, which owned the rig; and America’s favorite, Halliburton, which laid cement for the rig. Executives from the three companies — shockingly — blamed each other for the ongoing disaster. BP America’s Lamar McKay focused on Transocean’s failed blowout preventer. Transocean’s Steven Newman talked about the failed Halliburton cement. Halliburton’s Tim Probert said a drilling contractor misused a cement plug (it’s unclear if he was blaming …

Criticizing Cap-and-Dividend by inventing something worse

Sean Casten’s  criticism of Cap-and-dividend[1] seems to indicate that he had a really bad day. Implying that former  former CEO Peter Barnes, and former software corporate executive Senator Maria Cantwell are Marxists is simply not a propitious way to begin a critique or proposal.  The substance does not seem any better. One of his criticisms of the Cantwell-Collins bill: “The closer an incentive/penalty to the behavior, the more efficient the incentive/penalty. In the Cantwell-Collins bill, CO2 is not taxed at the point of CO2 release, but rather at the point of fossil fuel extraction/import. The theory says that these prices …

An inconvenient ad

Poorly timed Sodexo ad boasts ‘safer’ oil rigs [UPDATE]

UPDATE: Only a few hours after I posted this, Sodexo took down the video. Sorry if you weren’t able to have the same WTF?! moment I had, but Sodexo made the right decision. UPDATE: We tracked down a file of the original video for your viewing pleasure. Call it bad timing, tone deaf PR, or just plain dumb, but Sodexo, a “leading integrated facilities management services company” — better known to me as the corporation that provided all my crappy college food — released a new ad Tuesday promoting “safer” oil rigs. Watch the video below (especially nine seconds in): …

Follow the money

BP’s donations to Congress are more worrying than its donations to Obama

The Sunlight Foundation reports on the slick of BP money that’s already spread far and wide through the American political system. The oil and gas giant is a major campaign contributor, giving more than $6 million to federal candidates over the past 20 years. President Obama has received the most — $77,051 — which might seem surprising at first blush. But presidential candidates receive a lot more than everybody else, and most major donors, including energy companies, spread their donations between Republicans and Democrats. So it’s not shocking that Obama’s among the very top recipients, although I would’ve expected McCain …

Car and away

Does ‘sustainable transportation’ mean better cars or fewer cars?

Ohio State University’s excellent Moving Ahead 2010 conference wrapped up with an impromptu panel on the oil spill and oil addiction. (White House energy adviser Carol Browner was supposed to do the final keynote, but got pulled away. Apparently there’s something going on in Louisiana.) I’ll wrap up my coverage by making a point I made on that panel, about a divide I noticed at the conference, and in the sustainable transportation world more broadly. On one side, you have people like Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology, Geoff Anderson of Smart Growth America, or Tom Murphy of …


Colbert and Letterman mock BP for wrecking the Gulf

Personally, I think it’s a time to be sober and try to comfort our beleaguered oil companies. But here are two other approaches. Stephen Colbert’s oil cleanup plan goes awry:   And Letterman provides the Top Ten BP Excuses (listed out below the video): TOP TEN BP EXCUSES 10. The Gulf of Mexico was overdue for its 3,000-mile oil change. 9. We promise we’ll get around to it by Labor Day. 8. Relax, it’s only leaking 210,000 gallons a day. 7. Giving everyone a free BP travel mug. 6. Louisiana hasn’t had a disaster in 5 years. 5. Guy from …

I have a green job

A new café owner forages and finds a fresh take on sustainability

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! A lemongrass elk meatball sandwich at Nettletown.Photo courtesy Christina ChoiThe newly opened Seattle café Nettletown sources ingredients from …

beyond awful

Jon Stewart slams BP, oil-defending politicians, more usual suspects

Our customer research department tell us that some of you enjoy humorous video, watchdog journalism, holding politicians accountable, and biting media criticism. If that’s the case, we think you should know about this guy Jon Stewart: The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c Beyond Awful Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

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