Business & Technology

Weeking havoc

The worst week ever, brought to you by the fossil-fuel industry

It’s a week to remember — or better yet, forget.  Who could have imagined such a confluence of terrible, horrible, no-good, very-bad events, rounding up what has to be the most disheartening “Earth Month” ever?  In what may soon be the worst oil spill in U.S. history, crude is gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and bleeding into Louisiana wetlands. The situation is so dire that our best environmental option is to set it ablaze. Eleven workers died when the rig blew up. Economic disaster may follow ecological and human disaster, with the fishing, shrimping, and tourism industries likely to …

Put the moves on

Take note, companies: Young workers want urban jobs

Downtown ChicagoPhoto: Chicago Man via FlickrBusinesses ought to consider locating in walkable, culturally diverse city centers because that’s where young workers want to be, according to some liberal commie rag printed on recycled draft cards. No, scratch that, this argument comes from the Harvard Business Review. An article in the May issue opens with the news that United Airlines is moving its headquarters to downtown Chicago from the outer-ring suburb Elk Grove, while Quicken Loans plans to build headquarters in downtown Detroit.  “These companies are getting a jump on a major cultural and demographic shift away from suburban sprawl,” writes …

It's a breeze

Cape Wind decision may take green power national

Offshore wind turbinePhoto courtesy phault via FlickrWhen Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced federal approval of the Cape Wind project on Wednesday, the media coverage tended to focus on the denouement of a nearly decade-long battle over the United States’ first offshore wind farm. And indeed, our East Coast cousins put Californians to shame when it comes to green NIMBYism. (Not to dismiss legitimate environmental concerns over offshore wind farms, but the nine-year struggle to put 130 wind turbines in the Kennedy’s backyard in Nantucket Sound makes the permitting of Mojave Desert solar power plants look like a breeze by comparison.) …

dirty south

The story of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill [PHOTOS]

Photo: Transocean The Deepwater Horizon oil rig, owned by the Houston company Transocean, drilled the deepest oil well in history (35,050 feet) in September 2009 in the Gulf of Mexico. In January, the rig moved to a British Petroleum project 120 miles southeast of New Orleans.

Great Coal Debate had some false information

Peabody Energy exec misleads during coal debate

Last night I debated the role of coal in our country’s energy future with Peabody Energy VP of Government Relations Fred Palmer on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis. The debate took place in front of more than 500 students and community members at Graham Chapel on campus, and was watched live online by nearly 4,700 additional interested observers. Here are four minutes of highlights: If you want to watch the full debate, click here. The debate was a great conversation about the dangers presented by coal and there was frank dialogue between Mr. Palmer and I about …

Grapes of Wrath

What climate change means for the wine industry

John Williams has been making wine in California’s Napa Valley for nearly 30 years, and he farms so ecologically that his peers call him Mr. Green. But if you ask him how climate change will affect Napa’s world famous wines, he gets irritated, almost insulted. “You know, I’ve been getting that question a lot recently, and I feel we need to keep this issue in perspective,” he told me. “When I hear about global warming in the news, I hear that it’s going to melt the Arctic, inundate coastal cities, displace millions and millions of people, spread tropical diseases and …

Water into wine

Interview with ‘Growing Green’ water steward Mike Benziger

An April 13, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) announced the four winners of its second annual “Growing Green” awards, which honor leaders in the sustainable-food world in four categories: “thought leader,” “producer,” business leader,” and “water steward.” I interviewed “thought leader” Fred Kirschenmann here and “business leader” Karl Kupers of Shepherd’s Grain here. Now I turn my attention to Mike Benziger, who brought home the “water steward” prize for his work at Benziger Family Winery. ————- Mike Benziger on the family farm. When Mike Benziger and his family began growing grapes and making wine in 1970s-era Sonoma County, the …


Oil rig leak and the week in fossil-fuel industry disasters

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill.Photo: NASA’s Earth ObservatoryThe oil and coal industries have been making themselves look so bad lately, it’s almost as if they want to help out their clean-energy competitors. It’s time for another damage report: About 42,000 gallons of oil a day are leaking into the Gulf of Mexico after an explosion sunk the oil rig Deepwater Horizon and left 11 workers missing (the rescue search for them has been called off) and three others critically injured. Responders are trying three methods to stop the flow — one that would take hours, one that would take …

he's redefining green

Rob Jones

Art: Nat Damm Rob Jones Cofounder, Crop Mob Carrboro, N.C. Like a growing number of young folks across the country, Rob Jones, 27, likes to get his hands in the dirt, making his foodshed and community more robust and vibrant. Once each month, Jones and a band of young agrarians alight upon an area farm. Calling themselves the Crop Mob, they do a big project together—say, break new ground for raised beds or harvest a labor-intensive crop like sweet potatoes. The host farmers make a big meal, and everyone eats together. Sustainable agriculture is “way, way, way more labor-intensive than …

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