Business & Technology

we're not gaffe-ing, we're crying

The three stupidest things said about the BP oil spill

Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig went down in the Gulf last month, there have been two unstoppable gushes: one from the ocean floor and the other from the mouth of BP’s top executive, Tony Hayward. Here are three of his worst: 1. “The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” — Tony Hayward, May 13, 2010 2. “I think the environmental impact of this disaster is likely to be very, very modest.” — Hayward, May 18, …

Battle of the carbon titans

As summer approaches, so do the action-fantasy movies. Last week, the venue was not the local cineplex, but another location noted for outlandish egos, special effects, and scripts that require substantial amounts of imagination to fill in the gaps — Washington D.C. Two titans of the wars to tackle climate change and modernize the nation’s energy supply released their blockbusters to mixed reviews. First, the U.S. EPA released rules under existing law (doesn’t everyone love a good sequel?) that would mandate carbon cuts from the largest facilities — those responsible for about 70 percent of U.S. carbon emissions — after …

rice rack

Boost your support for urban agriculture with a rice-growing bra

AFPEager to show your full support for urban farming, ladies? Then try this over-the-shoulder rice-paddy holder: a bra that double-A’s a pot to grow rice, complete with irrigation system (the watering hose is a belt that holds seedlings). The concept was inspired by the recent boom of interest in boob food security. It’s not Victoria’s secret that the maker, Japanese lingerie company Triumph, has a history of busting out unique bras. Its line-up has frequently stayed abreast with environmental issues, having offered bras with a place to keep reusable chopsticks, with solar panels, and with the ability to hold the …

A Green Cure for the Blues

Home Star: Let’s move past the talk and get to the action

Now that it has passed the House of Representatives with flying colors (246 to 161), we are thisclose to making Home Star a reality. This is the plan, supported on both sides of the aisle, that would give U.S. homeowners rebates for energy-efficiency improvements that cut energy consumption. Most importantly, Home Star will put many of the country’s construction folks and blue-collar wage earners back to work, so let’s get it passed in the Senate and on President Obama’s desk already! The bill has unique bipartisan support and is backed by one of the largest coalitions to hit Washington in …

A new oil rush endangers the Gulf of Mexico and the planet

The oil spill viewed from NASA’s Terra satellite on May 17.Photo: NASA’s Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team Cross-posted from TomDispatch. Yes, the oil spewing up from the floor of the Gulf of Mexico in staggering quantities could prove one of the great ecological disasters of human history. Think of it, though, as just the prelude to the Age of Tough Oil, a time of ever increasing reliance on problematic, hard-to-reach energy sources. Make no mistake: we’re entering the danger zone. And brace yourself, the fate of the planet could be at stake.  It may never be possible to pin …

Good news, for a change

Nestle to save orangutans, tropical forests, and our climate

Photo courtesy Frank Peters via FlickrFinally … some good news! Today, Nestle, the world’s biggest food and drinks company, announced that it will cease using products that drive the tropical rainforest destruction. This is great news for our environment in what has otherwise been a bleak few weeks. President Obama continues to dig in (or drill in) and stand firm behind his plans to increase offshore oil drilling despite the BP Deepwater oil disaster and continues to work to lift the ban on commercial whaling. In the midst of it all, Nestle’s recent act is a refreshing act of leadership. …

American PRIDE Alternative to Lieberman-Kerry Climate bill -short executive summary

This is the executive summary(doc) of the American PRIDE (Promote Renewable Infrastructure & Develop Efficiency) proposal.  The PRIDE(doc) proposal is a two decade ~400 billion a year jobs bill that makes a profit, while creating two to five million new jobs per year, reducing U.S. oil use by a third within ten years, and reducing U.S. greenhouse gases around 60% by 2020. It phases out close to 90% of U.S. emissions by 2030 and reduces greenhouse gas pollution to around zero by 2040.   Possible technical means To show that this political proposal is reality based, it includes one feasible …

A hot technology

Feds push solar solution to coal addiction

Infinia’s PowerDishPhoto: PowerPlay SolarThe Obama administration last week gave a $62 million boost to efforts to make solar power truly competitive with coal. “The projects announced today will seek to improve component and system designs to extend operation [of concentrated solar power projects] to an average of about 18 hours per day, a level of production that would make it possible for these plants to displace traditional coal-burning power plants,” the Department of Energy said in a statement announcing cash grants that are being doled out over the next five years. The recipients are companies developing technology to store energy …

Sinking chips

Agribiz giant ADM gets taste of Hugo Chavez’s wrath

Longtime Grist readers might recall reading here about a Mexico-based transnational company called Gruma. I’ve written two articles (in 2006 and 2007) about how, after Mexico’s privatization bonanza in the early ’90s, this well-connected company managed to industrialize one of the world’s greatest foodstuffs, the tortilla, strip it of its flavor and much of its nutrition, and gain a near-monopoly over its production in Mexico. The company’s canny owner, Roberto González Barrera, did so by using top-level political connections to manipulate policies designed to protect Mexican farmers and consumers. By the time he was done, those protections were gone — …