Business & Technology

All roads lead to green?

Transportation bill could produce environmental and job benefits in 2010

As advocates for clean energy and good jobs evaluate opportunities to advance their issues in 2010 — from a jobs bill that could include energy efficiency measures to a federal clean energy and climate bill — there is another oft-overlooked vehicle that advocates would be wise to consider. This year, Congress will likely pass a national transportation bill — legislation that comes up only about once every six years — through which the nation could reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector and significantly curtail petroleum use, thereby reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil. The transportation bill also …

Dispatches From Someone Who Got Lucky

How do I find a green job?

This is the time-honored question, one I get asked so frequently, from very qualified individuals, that I decided to answer it online. It is heartbreaking (and encouraging) how many skilled and interested people are looking for work in the sustainability field. The good news is the sector is growing exponentially. If you ask anyone in the field they’ll probably tell you they got there by luck. That’s certainly true for me. I’m less smart, strong, and fast than other candidates, and much less skilled. But I happened to be in the right place at the right time. That said, there …

fleeting sales

U.S. car fleet shrank by four million in 2009

America’s century-old love affair with the automobile may be coming to an end. The U.S. fleet has apparently peaked and started to decline. In 2009, the 14 million cars scrapped exceeded the 10 million new cars sold, shrinking the U.S. fleet by 4 million, or nearly 2 percent in one year. While this is widely associated with the recession, it is in fact caused by several converging forces.  Future U.S. fleet size will be determined by the relationship between two trends: new car sales and cars scrapped. Cars scrapped exceeded new car sales in 2009 for the first time since …

Farm team

It takes a community to sustain a small farm

A local grocery store in Pleasantville, Iowa.Wikimedia Commons These days it seems the most popular person to be in the food system is the “local farmer.” Farmers markets are popping up everywhere, and their size and popularity grow all the time. Local food is trendy–even the First Family is in on it. But as anyone who has ever raised grain or livestock can tell you, the farmer is not the only person in the chain of players from her farm to your fork. In addition to producers, your food chain includes processors, distributors or transporters, and retailers. In other words, …

The Second Decade

The world in 2020: China, the U.S., the global South, and the planet

This was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission. As the second decade of the twenty-first century begins, we find ourselves at one of those relatively rare moments in history when major power shifts become visible to all. If the first decade of the century witnessed profound changes, the world of 2009 nonetheless looked at least somewhat like the world of 1999 in certain fundamental respects: the United States remained the world’s paramount military power, the dollar remained the world’s dominant currency, and NATO remained its foremost military alliance, to name just three. By the …

Gayer's prayers

Economics as pathology, part two

The other day I complained about an article by Brookings economist Ted Gayer. So did Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, Ryan Avent, and Ezra Klein. As I am a nobody writing on an obscure website, I was roundly ignored by all parties, but Gayer has responded to the others. His response only reinforces the impression that he sees the world entirely in terms of platitudes from Economics 101. Gayer’s basic shtick in his response is to set up a dichotomy: either people and businesses behave rationally or they don’t; either “firms are better at identifying profit-making abatements” or “regulators are better at …

New Year Resolutions

Lose 10 pounds? Get a new job? It’s that time of year again and carbon could make your New Year's resolutions much more successful - - and profitable.

marriage of convenience

Can GMO seeds be ‘sustainable’?

The New York Times has another piece encouraging a flare-up in the cage match between organic farmers and those in favor of genetic engineering as the solution to future food needs. This one is centered on the “unlikely” but happy marriage of a plant geneticist and an organic farmer: Pamela Ronald and Raoul Adamchak have every reason not to get along. Ronald, a plant scientist, has spent her past two decades manipulating rice from her lab bench, bending the grain’s DNA to her whim. Adamchak, meanwhile, is an organic farmer, teaching college students the best practices of an environmentally gentle …

The quintessence of Mackeyism

John Mackey and the limits of “conscious capitalism”

John Mackey: will the unfettered market bring him down? Photo: JOEM500, via Flickr Author’s note: In the original version of this post, I mistakenly wrote that Mackey had resigned from the Whole Foods board. Actually, he resigned from the chairmanship of the board, but retained his seat on the board. I regret the error. ———– Under pressure from a variety of shareholders, Whole Foods founder John Mackey has stepped down as chairman of his company’s board of directors. He will continue serving as CEO. Just before the announcement, The New Yorker ran a long and entertaining profile of Mackey by …

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