Business & Technology

Yes, they can

U.S Gov’t official: ‘avoid BPA’ in food packaging

Oh, you wanted it poison-free? Let’s hope this report represents a tipping of the government’s hand on bisphenol A and not a case of someone going rogue: The head of the primary federal agency studying the safety of bisphenol A said Friday that people should avoid ingesting the chemical–especially pregnant women, infants and children. “There are plenty of reasonable alternatives,” said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. While stressing she is not a medical doctor, Birnbaum said she has seen enough studies on …

Jinx, you owe me a hoax

Employees* rage against the Coke machine in Copenhagen

COPENHAGEN — Two Cola-Cola* employees urged people in Copenhagen to never drink the soft drink again, denouncing their company’s environmental and human rights record in a highly unusual press conference* in the Hopenhagen LIVE area in City Hall Square. The public relations* workers from Atlanta* said their consciences compelled them to speak out against the soft-drink conglomerate, inviting onlookers to make a public pledge against Coca-Cola’s water use, labor practices, and environmental claims. At least 20 people took the pledge, reciting, “I, [name], with respect for crimes against people and the planet, from this day forward, for the rest of …

Girls (and Boys) Gone Wild

Why should policymakers, investors, and businesspeople care about youth in Copenhagen?

Of the estimated 20,000 people converging on the U.N. climate conference this week and next, half of them are expected to be under the age of 30. My colleague in Copenhagen, Kristina Haddad, reports, “I observed that many in the crowds of people were young. Most were wearing t-shirts or passing out flyers that essentially pleaded for the world leaders to do the right thing — to stop the talking and compromise and really do something about this crisis or they will have no future.” She went on to describe how a group from India unraveled a banner at the …

Bargains of the faustian kind

Is Wal-Mart the future of local food?

Local food gets the Wal-Mart treatment. One of the most important historic developments in the food economy is embodied in this statistic: in 1900, 40 percent of every dollar spent on food went to the farmer or rancher while the rest was split between inputs and distribution. Now? 7 cents on the dollar goes to the producer and 73 cents goes just to distribution. That’s worth keeping in mind when you read things like this: … Wal-Mart, now the nation’s largest supermarket chain as well as retailer, has gotten into the local scene, embarking on an effort to procure more …

Chamber Made

International Chamber of Commerce: ‘We’re not with stupid’

COPENHAGEN — There is numbingly little news coming out of most of the 20 or so daily press briefings at the Copenhagen climate talks. Officials from national delegations and research, policy, and trade groups seem to use them to restate their already-known positions, wrapping them in as much jargon as possible just to be safe. That held true for Thursday’s briefing by the International Chamber of Commerce, where several American reporters came to learn how the ICC felt about the U.S. Chamber’s antics this year. The U.S. Chamber, for a refresher, fought the clean energy bill that passed the U.S. …

View from Copenhagen: The Zero Sum Game

The deal being discussed in Denmark right now, in the name of climate change, is actually a framework for truth in advertising on a global economic scale. Think FASB on steroids. For example, we spend about three bucks for a gallon of gasoline in the US. In fact, we spend about ten, because of the cost of defending oil around the globe (recall that even Alan Greenspan was among the many government officials who have concluded that the trillion dollar Iraq war was entirely about oil); healthcare costs directly attributable to diseases from petroleum pollution; tax breaks; and other direct …

A new world order: Automakers and Copenhagen

As world leaders meet in Copenhagen to seek consensus on ways to reduce carbon emissions, the world’s automakers are on the doorstep of a revolutionary change in how the vehicles we all depend on are designed and powered. From batteries, to plug-in hybrids, to next generation biofuels, clean diesels and hydrogen powered autos, to dramatic improvements in old combustion technology, automakers are doing more than any other industry to bring the change needed to avoid a potential climate crisis — and they do so willingly. More so now than ever, automakers realize that reducing the automobile’s dependence on fossil fuels is a necessity for …

Buffalo or bison: What's in a name?

Hillary Rosner’s recent OnEarth story about a quarantined bison herd that needs a good home has stirred up quite a debate on the Facebook page of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Interestingly, the debate has nothing to do with relocating the wild bison to Ted Turner’s private Montana ranch, which is the tension at the heart of Hillary’s story. Instead, it’s about what we should call these majestic animals. Are they bison, buffalo or both? I’m a word nerd, so I decided to look into it. From a scientific standpoint, the question is an easy one. Their scientific name is …

Cor-rec-ting the record...

The economics of renewable energy certificates

Tom Stoddard, cofounder of carbon offset firm NativeEnergy, sent along the following response to a recent blog post by Auden Schendler: Auden: In your post entitled “Why Buying Cheap Energy Certificates Worsens Climate Change,” you take the position people shouldn’t buy what are now relatively inexpensive renewable energy certificates (RECs) because $2 per megawatt hour doesn’t drive new investments. NativeEnergy thanks you for reopening a subject that is confusing to many, and which continues to generate numerous questions. Pricing for renewable energy credits (RECs) is an important issue for those who want to see REC purchases drive construction of new …

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