Business & Technology

Urba-culture

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 …

I'm tweetin' it!

McDonald’s responds to April Fools’ story (via Twitter)

It looks like McDonald’s has a Big Mac–sized sense of humor. The official McDonald’s Twitter account responded to readers’ questions about our April Fools’ Day report saying that McDonald’s is scrapping a composting plan because its food won’t decompose. While some people didn’t realize it was fake news, McDonald’s did, and responded to a tweet from Edible San Francisco saying: @EdibleSF: This one had us laughing :) It’s an #AprilFools joke! And here’s another: @aarieff: They say April Fools jokes are a form of flattery! This one had us laughing too! ^Mol @aarief responded: “But what r u doing about …

April Fuel

Everything you need to know about Obama’s new fuel-economy rules

The federal government rolled out new auto fuel-efficiency standards today, capping more than a year of planning and, as the New York Times notes, a 30-year battle between regulators and automakers. The new standards are a big deal—they’ll do more to cut the pollution of heat-trapping gasses than anything the Obama administration has done so far. But if it seems like you’ve heard about them before, you probably have—the regs got lots of press when they were first proposed last May. Thursday’s action puts that plan into effect, for 2012-2016 vehicles. So I’m reposting our cheat sheet from last May, …

A Fast Food Nation's Dilemma

What to make of the Pollan/Schlosser agreement with Wendy’s?

UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! As a food politics commenter, I get paid to have strong opinions on the issues of the day. This ass will be eating grass?racineur via FlickrBut this one’s got me flummoxed. First, fast-food giant Wendy’s rolls out its new “pasture on a bun” burger, made with “100% grass-fed beef.” That sort of thing always leaves me cold. Of course, I want mega-corporations like Wendy’s to make more responsible buying decisions. But what I really want to see are new food economies that retain food dollars within communities, and don’t siphon them to distant shareholders. Do …

scrap that

McDonald’s scraps composting program because food won’t decompose [April Fools]

A McDonald’s composting initiative is going to the dump.Photo: bhamsandwich via Flickr UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! We’ve pulled your leg. Look who else is laughing: McDonald’s on Twitter. McDonald’s announced this morning that it would discontinue plans for a worldwide composting initiative after scientists confirmed that no item on the McDonald’s menu is compostable. The plan to keep food waste — more than 1.5 billion tons a month — out of landfills would have been the largest composting program in the world, with bright green composting bins at all the 31,000-plus restaurants around the world. But McDonald’s halted the …

shock and utah

Senate climate bill to fund Utah tar sands development

The Senate — when does it not leave widespread devastation in its path? UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! The climate bill being developed by Sens. Kerry, Graham, and Lieberman will reportedly raise taxes on gasoline in lieu of putting oil refineries under a cap-and-trade system. This has led to a great deal of speculation about what might be done with the revenue from such a tax. On Thursday new details leaked, revealing that some of the revenue will go toward tax credits and incentives for the budding U.S. tar sands industry. Calgary-based Earth Energy Resources recently obtained permits to create …

strip breeze

New Jersey to put ex-strippers to work weatherizing homes

The WeatherStrippers are good with caulk.Foxtongue via Creative Commons UPDATE: Happy April Fools’ Day! The Garden State’s new jobs program, cheekily dubbed “WeatherStrippers,” will utilize Recovery Act funds to create an estimated 450 jobs while also reducing low-income residents’ energy bills through electricity savings. The WeatherStrippers will seek to put caulking guns in the hands of disadvantaged former strippers through a 12-week, hands-on training program focused on efficient building erection and maintenance. WeatherStrippers program director, Amber Heatless, commented, “A lot of the ‘green jobs’ attention goes to training ex-convicts to install solar panels, but we realized that the downturn in …

Win A Million Dollars

Seems like every week there’s another big-money prize awarded for low-carbon leadership. If these things actually stimulate innovation, let’s encourage the creation of a few more to spread the wealth and inspire even more low-carbon winners. For example, there’s a $10 million prize for cars that get 100 mpg sponsored by the same X Prize organization that handed out $10 million to Burt Rutan for the first commercial spaceflight demonstration. And the Zayed Future Energy Prize gives $1.5 million annually to low-carbon energy innovators, awarding its inaugural prize to the inventor of the solar lantern. Sponsors can be equally effective …

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