Business & Technology

Oil and Vinegar Redressing

BP should be like Newman’s Own

After the BP Gulf disaster is ancient history, I want that company to thrive. I want it to be vastly more profitable than ExxonMobil. It should continue exploration and drilling all over the world, including offshore. And I’m asking for just one broad change in how the company operates: BP should donate all its profits for the rest of its corporate life. The only fair way out of the gulf spill would be for BP to become just like Newman’s Own, a corporation that donates all profits to charity — in this case, to reparations for damage done by the spill. And by staying …

VIDEO: Is Gulf seafood safe to eat after oil spill?

New Orleans is world-famous for its seafood, but the Gulf Coast oil spill has left the future of the industry and those who rely on it for their livelihoods in jeopardy as fishing grounds close and diners fear for the safety of their meals. In this video, OnEarth magazine examines the impact of the Deepwater Horizon disaster on the New Orleans seafood scene and local culture.

when the drilling gets tough

Snapshots of the ‘tough oil’ era

There are vigorous debates about when we reached, or will soon reach, peak oil, the stage at which we’ve used more of the planet’s oil than we have left in supply. But it’s plenty clear that we’re deep into the age of tough oil, in which the most easily accessible oil has long since been retrieved and burned. Remaining reserves are increasingly difficult to reach and extract.  This graphic shows how we’ve been forced to drill deeper and deeper in the Gulf of Mexico:   Daniel Gross at Slate offers a good overview of the era of “extreme energy” — …

Welfare reform we can believe in

IEA stunner: global subsidies to dirty energy top $550 billion a year

File this one under “news that ought to be the top headline across the world but will likely be ignored.” An early draft of a comprehensive new study from the International Energy Agency reveals that total global subsidies to dirty fossil-fuel energy amount to $550 billion a year — about 75 percent more than previously thought. The Financial Times got a peak at the draft and covers it today, soliciting this absolutely fabulous quote from chief IEA economist Faith Birol: “I see fossil fuel subsidies as the appendicitis of the global energy system, which needs to be removed for a …

Birminghamburgers

How food micro-entrepreneurs nourish cities

In her book The Economy of Cities, the great urban theorist Jane Jacobs praised what she called the “valuable inefficiencies and impracticalities of cities.” To explain her point, she invited readers to consider two examples from 19th century England: Manchester and Birmingham — or as she put it, “Efficient Manchester” and “Inefficient Birmingham.” As I have written before, efficient Manchester specialized in textiles, building a world-beating industry dominated by a few large, streamlined companies. Inefficient Birmingham, by contrast, housed dozens of different trades. And in place of a few big companies, most of Birmingham’s manufacturing was performed by small organizations …

Fuelish behavior

The little black box that could save both lives and fuel

I recently took the Chevrolet Volt for a spin near San Francisco’s ballpark, checking another item off my electric-car life list. (Getting to drive pre-production EVs is one fringe benefit of covering green tech.) Then the other week, I took a drive in another car that promised to help cut greenhouse gas emissions. The car itself was unremarkable — a Lexus RX hybrid that anyone with a spare $42,000 can buy. What was potentially revolutionary was the little black box sitting on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel. The box had three lights and when the car’s …

48% of Americans Think BP Knowingly Violated Oil Drilling Regulations

The new Economist/YouGov poll is out (previous polls here), and it includes several questions on the disaster in the Gulf and offshore drilling. Of particular interest, 48% of those who are familiar with the spill think BP knowingly violated oil drilling regulations in advance of the disaster. Just 20% disagreed and 32% were not sure. As the DOJ’s investigation unfolds, we can expect a good portion of those who were not sure to move over to the ‘knowingly violated regulations’ camp. Coupled with the company’s dismal favorability ratings among Americans, this does not bode well for the future of BP …

Shoot'em down

Junk-food advertising moves online

One of several games for kids on the Trix websiteHere’s more compelling evidence that food companies, putative key “partners” in the battle against obesity, aren’t exactly acting in good faith. They may talk about calorie-cutting partnerships and donate money to healthy-living initiatives — but they don’t put their real money where their collective mouth is. I’m referring, of course, to the billions of dollars in advertising that Big Food directs at children every year. Even as pressure continues to grow for government restrictions, Big Food has already moved on. A study out of UC Davis (via Science Daily) shows that …

Slick move, BP

BP oil heading toward Atlantic? Looks that way

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo: This nightmarish model comes from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, which predicts that BP oil “might soon extend along thousands of miles of the Atlantic coast and open ocean as early as this summer.” “I’ve had a lot of people ask me, ‘Will the oil reach Florida?'” NCAR scientist Synte Peacock said in a statement today. “Actually, our best knowledge says the scope of this environmental disaster is likely to reach far beyond Florida, with impacts that have yet to be understood.” NCAR’s statement also addresses whether the slick could reach Europe and concludes that it will have …