Business & Technology

I have a green job

A bee wrangler shows you how to mind your own beeswax

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! Michael Thompson has the sticky — but deeply satisfying — job of wrangling bees on Chicago’s west side.Rachel …

uncle scam

Taxpayer dollars subsidizing destruction

One way to correct market failures is tax shifting — raising taxes on activities that harm the environment so that their prices begin to reflect their true cost and offsetting this with a reduction in income taxes. A complementary way to achieve this goal is subsidy shifting. Each year the world’s taxpayers provide at least $700 billion in subsidies for environmentally destructive activities, such as fossil fuel burning, overpumping aquifers, clearcutting forests, and overfishing. As the Earth Council study Subsidizing Unsustainable Development observes, “There’s something unbelievable about the world spending hundreds of billions of dollars annually to subsidize its own …

Blow say can you see

Wind industry growing in blue and red states alike

Photo: NREL/Iberdrola RenewablesAs Paul Krugman’s New York Times Magazine cover story on environmental economics, “Building the Green Economy,” was ricocheting around the enviro blogosphere last week, the American Wind Energy Association released its annual report [PDF] on the state of the wind industry. It was an interesting juxtaposition — Krugman’s deep dive into the macroeconomics of an aggressive cap-and-trade or carbon-tax policy to limit greenhouse-gas emissions alongside a report from the frontlines where the green economy is actually under construction. What’s striking is that the wind farm–building boom continued through the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, with a …

The New Bottom Line

As the economy begins to rebound, businesses are again focused on commodities that may be in short supply when manufacturing shifts back into high gear. Oil, refined fuels, steel, and electricity are among many things that may be harder to get or just harder to afford. But what about the one commodity that is needed by almost every part of the supply chain, including the workforce – – water? According to the World Health Organization, more than one billion people live without a reliable water supply and at least another billion drink from unsanitary water resources that result in catastrophic …

The proof is in the soda

HFCS, the precautionary principle, and the myth of absolute certainty

This is Part 2 of 2 posts of in-depth analysis into the breakthrough work on High Fructose Corn Syrup and weight gain by Princeton researchers. _______________ How much “proof” do we need that the pervasiveness of cheap, HFCS-sweetened junk is making us ill? As a follow-up to my email exchange with Princeton HFCS study lead author Dr. Bart Hoebel, I thought I might dig into some of the underlying issues surrounding the HFCS Wars. I understand and accept that a healthy skepticism is necessary in scientific debate. But reading the responses from “independent” voices (i.e. people not affiliated with Big …

I see you baby, shakin' that Massey

Grist: hating on Don Blankenship before hating on Don Blankenship was cool

Rachel Maddow absolutely nailed the Massey mine story, with some help from Jeff Goodell: The tragedy at the Upper Big Branch Mine has prompted lots of folks in the national media to take a close look at Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship for the first time, but I wrote my first post on Blankenship (“Massey Energy CEO is a really bad dude“) in 2006, and Goodell wrote about Blankenship is his 2007 book Big Coal, and so all I can say is: we told you so. I consider myself a fair and balanced kind of journalist. I like to let …

The bitter with the sweet

A high-fructose corn syrup researcher answers his critics

This is Part 1 of 2 posts of in-depth analysis into the breakthrough work on high-fructose corn syrup and weight gain by Princeton researchers. _______________ I have to admit that I was fascinated to watch the fallout over the Princeton HFCS study. What I thought would generate a “oh, look, another great reason to avoid HFCS!” reaction swiftly turned into “that study doesn’t prove a thing!!” — a sentiment that nutritionists, food business columnists and the Corn Refiners Association all, remarkably, shared. Still, several questions raised by critics are worth addressing. We contacted the lead author of the Princeton study, …

Meat wagon

Rotten eggs, stampeded rain forests, and more

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. ————- Nasty, brutish, and short: the facts of life for hens in an egg factory. Moral of this story on inhumane practices in the egg industry: when a few huge companies dominate production of a commodity in a low-profit-margin industry, they zealously cut costs at every level of production. The key goal is to maximize output. Above a certain level, the company churns out a profit. Below that level, it loses cascading amounts of money for its shareholders. If you happen to be a cog …

Circle of live(savers)

Wal-Mart stores are littered with wasteful products this month

This month, in honor of Earth Day, Wal-Mart is selling garbage next to the garbage already on the shelves. The only difference is that these new products have been reincarnated into useful items thanks to the upcycling company TerraCycle. Until April 29, these kites, pots, and bags made from waste are being sold right next to the products they come from. For example, this Oreo-branded backpack is on sale next to boxes of real Oreos:               As an added bonus, some kids might even pick up the backpacks thinking they’re full of Oreos. (The …

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