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Business & Technology


Eco:nomics: Fail

Conference treats press like crap; treats CEOs like butt buddies; doesn't give me a beer

I've been thinking a bit about how to get another post or two out of the Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference. But you know what? The Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference can blow me. I've never been to a conference where the press was more walled off. And this was a conference by a media company! First off, laptops weren't allowed in the main presentation room -- too "distracting." (Who's distracted by a guy with a laptop in the back of the room?) So there was no way to post real-time updates from the main room. That meant we were …


Ford inFusion

Ford starts marketing campaign to emphasize fuel economy in new hybrid

During American Idol Tuesday evening, Ford launched the "We Speak Car" marketing campaign to sell the 2010 Fusion and Fusion Hybrid. The ads tout the Fusion Hybrid as "America's most fuel efficient mid-size sedan," which is awfully misleading because the 2010 Prius (50 mpg combined) is technically the most fuel efficient mid-size vehicle. It's just not classified as a sedan. Still, the Fusion Hybrid gets 41 mpg in the city and 36 mpg highway, which is higher than other hybrid sedans in its class like the Toyota Camry Hybrid (33 city/34 highway). Below is the ad, which emphasizes the Fusion …


'We can't do this anymore'

A one-time cheerleader for hyper-consumerism lays down his pom-pom

Thomas Friedman : We have created a system for growth that depended on our building more and more stores to sell more and more stuff made in more and more factories in China, powered by more and more coal that would cause more and more climate change but earn China more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills so America would have more and more money to build more and more stores and sell more and more stuff that would employ more and more Chinese ... We can't do this anymore.


Capture the eco flag

The specs and the dish on the 2010 third generation Prius

UPDATE: This story was changed to reflect updated EPA mileage estimates. Photo courtesy of Toyota. Toyota's newest hybrid is almost here. Last week, the car company invited a group of journalists and bloggers to the third generation Prius preview in Napa, Calif. The deal was we could road test the 2010 model to our heart's content, but we needed to stay mum about our impressions of the car and mileage readings until the end of March. Sigh. So I have been figuratively bound and gagged, but the Toyota folks did provide more detailed technical specs than those announced in January …


Eco:nomics: green color blindness

In the face of all evidence, some folks just can't see green as anything but a cost

It's always difficult to write (non-boring) posts on conferences. People come on stage, discuss wonky issues, and leave. There's rarely any "news." If people really wanted to hear my running commentary, they would do what With-It People do and follow my tweets. So, just a broad observation on today's events. One of the earliest sessions of the day was Bjorn Lomborg, delivering his increasingly ridiculous message that we have to prioritize social spending (banal) and that spending to avert climate change just doesn't pass the cost-benefit analysis test (absurd). Underlying Lomborg's nonsense is an assumption so common (in some circles) …


Eco:nomics: Mulally tales

Ford Motor Co. CEO says everything's going to be juuust fine

Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally. The kick-off discussion here at Eco:nomics was with Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally. (Which you'd know if you were following my tweeteriffic tweets!) Last year's kick-off session was with GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, who was 50 percent drunk and 100 percent entertaining -- frank, blunt, and occasionally profane. The contrast this time around could not have been more stark. Mulally, looking like Mr. Rogers in his sleeveless red sweater vest, murmured the corporate line in soothing tones, assuring us all that Ford is great, its new goal is to make great cars that …


Notable quotable

Sierra Club partners up to make green … luggage?

"We look forward to increasing the presence of eco-friendly travel and accessories in the luggage and travel industries." -- Johanna O'Kelley, director of licensing for the Sierra Club, on the organization's new partnership with Ricardo Beverly Hills



Your intrepid blogger heads to yet another green conference; promises to twitter some tweets

I'm at the airport, getting ready to head out to Santa Barbara for the second annual Wall Street Journal Eco:nomics conference. (Yes, flying on planes makes me a big fat hypocrite earthf*cker -- I eagerly await my NYT profile.) The WSJ conference is interesting, mainly due to the contrasting influences of the top-notch WSJ news team and the WSJ editorial board, world headquarters for unrepentant far-right fruitcakes. So you get Al Gore and Amory Lovins, but then you also get Bjorn Lomborg and Vaclav Klaus. (Klaus gets the last word, with his session titled "Global Reality Check: From Europe to …


A concentrating solar breakthrough

Sheer number of solar advancements suggests that cheap solar electricity is coming soon

Concentrating solar power is a well-known approach to lowering the cost of solar electricity. You focus sunlight from a large area onto a small one, the same way a magnifying glass can set a piece of newspaper on fire, using one small, high-quality solar cell and a concentrator for a lower total cost than hundreds of slightly cheaper cells. (Or you can use the concentrated heat to drive a heat engine, but not in the example we are about to discuss.) Morgan Solar has a smart variation on this under development. They start with a clever acrylic concentrator that uses …


Algal biodiesel -- also a magic pony

High energy requirements make the manufacture of algal biofuel prohibitive

Robert Rapier has an important post on the prospects for algal biodiesel: [Algal biodiesel] will be subject to the Law of Receding Horizons, which simply means that energy sources that require high energy inputs will always see their point of economic viability pushed farther out as energy prices rise. Remember when oil was $20 a barrel, and oil shale was going to be viable at $40 oil? By the time oil got to $100, I was hearing that it would be viable at $120 oil. This won't stop people from throwing money at algal biodiesel. As John Benemann once said …