Business & Technology

Bill & TED's excellent adventure

Bill Gates and our innovation addiction: A recipe for climate inaction

Bill Gates’ recent entry into the discussion about climate action and technology is welcome. Not only is Gates a very smart guy and one of the world’s leading philanthropists, but he also has at least the reputation of knowing what he is talking about when it comes to technology and innovation. That being said, his opening moves in this discussion — his speech at the TED conference and a post on his blog — are not beyond criticism. Though by no means his intention, Gates is encouraging a peculiar type of 21st century passivity by government officials, investors, and activists …

mississippi's burning

Trouble mounts for Entergy following radioactive leaks at Vermont nuclear plant

New Orleans-based power giant Entergy is in hot water following revelations that its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has leaked radioactive contamination to the environment — and its trouble isn’t limited to Vermont. The Mississippi State Attorney General is also taking aim at the company, questioning Entergy’s recent transfer of more than $1 billion from its parent company that oversees its Mississippi operations to its troubled nuclear division. Some background: In January of this year, it was reported that groundwater monitoring wells at Entergy’s Vermont Yankee plant in Vernon, Vt. were contaminated with tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen routinely created …

Chemical burned

Dow trying to have it both ways on climate?

Does Dow Chemical support climate action? Or think it would destroy America? Depends on which Dow Chemical you’re listening to. Is it the Dow Chemical that’s a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership? That Dow made a major investment in clean energy in Michigan last week. From MLive.com’s The Mudpuppy: Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm says it was a great week for Michigan and the Dow Chemical Co., with Dow announcing three clean-energy projects in the state that will create up to 6,900 new jobs. “Dow announced a combined investment of almost $1.3 billion in three clean-energy projects that’ll create …

Better than sliced bread?

Bloom: Thinking inside the box

The Bloom Energy Servers installed at eBay’s headquarters in San Jose. Photo: Todd WoodyGreen tech had its Google moment this week in Silicon Valley when one of the most secretive and well-funded startups around, Bloom Energy, literally lifted the curtain on what it claims is a breakthrough in fuel cell technology: affordable electricity! Fewer greenhouse gas emissions! And that’s all before they throw in the bamboo steamer.    After eight years in stealth mode — until this week, Bloom’s website featured the company’s name and little else — the startup pulled out the stops in a carefully stage-managed media blitz that …

matter of factories

Making sense of Wal-Mart’s big green announcement

Wal-Mart made big news today with a major commitment to trim its greenhouse-gas emissions. Here’s the context: Over the past five years the retail giant has taken big, splashy steps to save energy, reduce waste, and sell cleaner products, like compact-fluorescent light bulbs. It’s given less focus to the impact of the factories that churn all over the world to keep the chain’s shelves and display cases full. Today’s announcement—a goal to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse-gas emissions by the end 2015—focuses on those factories. Wall Street Journal reporter Miguel Bustillo reads this as a cop-out, which is …

jet fools

British Airways plans to get wasted on future flights

Being a good stewardess of resources Next time the state of the planet has you down in the dumps, remember you’ve got a reason to look up. By 2014 British Airways will be filling up with 10% waste to keep landfilling down. Sure, they have airways to go in green, but it’s plane to see why one person’s trash should be another person’s travel. Top: Francois Roche Bottom: D’arcy Norman (Flickr)

the sensitive sovereign

King Corn airs complaints about USDA

Obama’s ag policy has come under justifiable criticism from the sustainable food movement–see here and here–for its aggressive pro-biotechnology and pro-trade policies. But it has also managed to enrage industrial-ag interests, too, with its “Know your Farmer” program and other gestures toward alternative food. King Corn, it turns out, is a sensitive sovereign. Check this out, from the farm journal Brownfield: The chairman of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board is expressing concern about the USDA’s shift in emphasis toward locally grown and organic foods. Oh, oh–a corn guy’s getting pissed. In addition to leading his state’s Corn Promotion board, Tim …

fuel sell

The economics of the Bloom Box

Bloom Energy at the eBay headquaters. Photo courtesy BloomEnergy via Flickr Cross-posted from WattHead. With all the hype today around the release of the “breakthrough” Bloom Energy fuel cell (which has become known as the “Bloom box” and is referred to by Bloom as an “Energy Server“), it’s good to find a couple of posts looking at some real details: Todd Woody, writing for the NYTimes GreenInc blog, has some details on the design of the Bloom Box solid oxide fuel cells from his look inside the Bloom Energy facilities this week. And Lux Research has this post looking at …

Rust in pieces

Hummer to hum along no more?

Crash course General Motors has decided to park the ultimate gas guzzler in that big garage in the sky. GM thought its plans to sell Hummer to a Chinese company had the green light, but got run off the road this week by the Chinese government, ironically, over fears of pollution. Enviros who say fuH2 may be cheering, but what will they make fun of now? UPDATE: The pearly garage doors may not have shut on Hummer quite yet, as two previously shunned suitors have come a-callin’ to GM. Photo: blmurch via Flickr

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