Business & Technology

Snidely Q. Blankenship

This week in comically evil corporate behavior

Updated It’s only Wednesday and we’ve already got way more than a week’s worth of comically evil behavior from the fossil-fuel sector. Item the first: A Chinese coal freighter tried to take a shortcut through Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and rammed into the world-reknowned ecological treasure. The stranded ship remains in danger of breaking apart and spilling its 1,075 tons of heavy engine fuel into the marine park (2.5 tons have already leaked). Captain Wang Jichan, of the Chinese state-controlled conglomerate Cosco, doesn’t get it. He told authorities the leak is “not serious” and that he’s more worried …

we're number one

Americans eat more processed food than, well, anyone

The New York Times had a small article and a big graphic recently on America’s love affair with processed, packaged food: Americans eat 31 percent more packaged food than fresh food, and they consume more packaged food per person than their counterparts in nearly all other countries. A sizable part of the American diet is ready-to-eat meals, like frozen pizzas and microwave dinners, and sweet or salty snack foods. This probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone, especially given our outsized obesity rates compared to other countries. But the accompanying graphic helpfully illustrates a most unfortunate …

Larry Summers serves up compelling economic case for comprehensive energy and climate legislation

Larry Summers, the Director of the National Economic Council, used his luncheon speech at today’s Energy Information Administration Annual Energy Outlook Conference to lay out a compelling case for comprehensive energy and climate legislation. The text of his remarks should be posted on the conference website soon and will be worth a read as he positioned his points about energy and climate in the context of an expansive overview of the economic crisis and the Obama administration’s strategy to get the U.S. economy back on track. In the meantime, here is an outline of the five key points he made …

Chewing the Scenery

Farm saved by community featured on CNN

In “Chewing the Scenery,” we round up interesting food-related video from around the Web. ——— Back in November, Grist’s own Bonnie Powell wrote a piece for the Ethicurean about the plight of Soul Food Farm, a Bay Area farm destroyed by a wildfire: Around 1:30 a.m. on the night of September 3, engineer-turned-chicken farmer Eric Koefed awoke thirsty, then saw a terrifying orange glow through the windows. A couple hundred yards away, just past the creek behind the house, a wall of fire was devouring the trees and back pasture of Soul Food Farm. “The farm is burning!” he screamed. …

trimming the pledges

America’s most bike-friendly cities and big green pledges

Bicycling Magazine released its annual list of America’s most bike-friendly cities today, and Grist’s hometown Seattle comes in at No. 4. Great, right? Well, sort of: The mag bases its praise on the city’s 10-year, $240-million bike master plan, which is intended to triple the number of journeys made by bike and add 450 miles of bike paths. But that lovely plan is currently underfunded by nearly $165 million, or 70 percent. While the local media caught the discrepancy, Bicycling Magazine didn’t, and Seattle is once again praised based on its promises, not its actions. I haven’t fact-checked the rest …

they bread the writing on the wall

KFC: Who needs buns when a chicken-bacon-chicken sandwich will do?

The buns should have bread the writing on the wall: They’re nothing but the vehicle for Americans’ daily meat-to-mouth resuscitation. Which is why KFC said buh-bye to bread in order to shove even more gross industrial chicken Double Down hungry throats. KFC is shooting for a more manly vehicle for getting meat to the gullet, opting for the Hummer of the food world: more meat. The recipe for total organ failure? Two slabs of bacon, along with Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheese, between two fillets of chicken (this is where the buns get the middle finger), all slathered with …

Deadly Record

Massey’s mine in Montcoal has been cited for over 3,000 violations, over $2.2 million in fines

Cross-posted from Think Progress. Massey Energy is actively contesting millions of dollars of fines for safety violations at its West Virginia coal mine where disaster struck yesterday afternoon. Twenty-five miners were killed and another four are missing after a explosion took place at 3 pm Monday at Massey subsidiary Performance Coal Co.’s Upper Big Branch Mine-South between the towns of Montcoal and Naoma. It is “the most people killed in a U.S. mine since 1984, when 27 died in a fire at Emery Mining Corp.’s mine in Orangeville, Utah.” This deadly mine has been cited for over 3,000 violations by …


Sustainable urban farming ideas that think inside the box

Photo via .hello foto of FlickrIn my last Green State column, I wrote about Agriculture 2.0. The conference, held in Silicon Valley recently, brought together venture capitalists and sustainable ag startups in an effort to jump start a market for the regional distribution of fresh food. This week I take a closer look at some of the companies that tried to catch the ear and checkbooks of the high-profile investors who packed that confab at the Four Seasons in Palo Alto. One of the more intriguing ideas came from startups thinking outside the agribusiness box by developing urban farms in …

Obama’s Tootsie Roll Energy Policy

Filling our short-term fossil-fuel needs

Like many Americans, I battle with my waistline, watching the same twenty pounds come and go year after year. Eating everything from Tootsie Rolls to asparagus, at times the healthy fare wins over the junk food, but usually the other way around. No food is either good or bad, because consumption isn’t measured against a real plan to lose weight and get fit. It now appears that President Obama has adopted this Tootsie Roll approach to the nation’s energy needs. Last week the President said he would facilitate more oil drilling in U.S. coastal waters. Acknowledging critics, he said it …

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