Business & Technology

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 …

Charged Up

San Diego utility charges ahead with electric-car plan

A Nissan Leaf being charged.Photo: NissanWith the first mass-market electric cars set to hit California roads later this year, the state’s utilities have been working to ensure that early adopters — who tend to be clustered in places like Berkeley and Santa Monica — don’t overload neighborhood transformers and trigger local blackouts. One way to do that is to encourage drivers not to plug in all at the same time — say, when they arrive home from work and also crank up the air conditioning — by setting variable electricity rates that reward those who postpone charging until demand falls …

I CAN CHANGE

MMS gets a makeover, smell lingers

Newly appointed Bureau of Ocean Energy Director Michael Bromwich and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar testify before the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee regarding reforms to strengthen offshore oil and gas oversight and enforcement.Photo and caption: U.S. Department of the InteriorIt’s a classic Washington paint job: new name, new leader, new promises about tossing bad apples. And so Minerals Management Services, the Interior Department agency that’s become the poster child of government corruption and ineptitude has been disappeared. We now have the Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE), with a fresh director — Michael Bromwich, a former inspector general in the …

BP: Bad PR

BP’s most ironic ads ever [SLIDESHOW]

Sometimes you can only fully appreciate something if you look at it many years later. Pictures of celebrities before they were famous, for example. BP’s case, however, is less “Wow! Look at how cute and awkward they were” and more “Wow! Look at how they tried to sucker us!” If you go back far enough, you’ll find they’ve been positioning themselves as a shiny, happy company for decades — even before their 2000 brand shift when they merged with Amoco, took over Arco, and famously changed their tagline to “Beyond Petroleum.” That’s also when the company embraced the sun/star happy …

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