Business & Technology

You just can't teach an old petro-dog re-new-able tricks.

“Back to Petroleum”: BP shuts clean energy HQ, slashes renewables budget, dives into tar sands

The UK’s Guardian reports: BP has shut down its alternative energy headquarters in London, accepted the resignation of its clean energy boss and imposed budget cuts in moves likely to be seen by environmental critics as further signs of the oil group moving “back to petroleum”. Sad, but not terribly original or surprising (see “Shell shocker: Once ‘green’ oil company guts renewables effort“). But Tony Hayward, the group’s chief executive, said BP remained as committed as ever to exploring new energy sources and the non-oil division would benefit from the extra focus of being brought back in house…. “It saves …

How about... "prosumer"?

Stop calling Americans “consumers”

I was at a small meeting on peak oil Friday – Executive Summary:  We’re peaking now! James Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency, was there.  He is in the Mad Max/Lovelock/Wall-E school of dystopia, and so I have a number of disagreements with him (see “Why I don’t agree with James Kunstler about peak oil and the “end of suburbia“). He did, however, say one thing that really strike a chord.  He said we should stop calling Americans “consumers.”  It pigeonholes all Americans and also becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. That seems to me a reasonable point, and I will endeavor …

Who knew?

Screwing up environment not so great for economy, studies find

Let’s take a look at a few studies that have come out recently and see if we can find a common thread. A West Virginia University researcher found that “coal mining costs Appalachians five times more in early deaths as the industry provides to the region in jobs, taxes and other economic benefits,” reports the Charleston Gazette. The Mountain Association for Community Economic Development found that “the coal industry takes $115 million more from Kentucky’s state government annually in services and programs than it contributes in taxes,” reports the Lexington Herald-Leader. A recent peer-reviewed paper in the journal Science found …

Big Blue's electric green dreams

IBM places big bet on lithium-air batteries

Big Blue is rolling out a wide range of “green” services, including research into a new generation of batteries that could double the range of electric vehicles.Courtesy IBMBack in the day when I had to convince East Coast editors that green tech wasn’t some crunchy California fad but Big Business, I often cited IBM as Exhibit A that Fortune 500 companies saw a lot of green to be made in green. Over the past several years, Big Blue has been recycling and repurposing a panoply of technologies to create a portfolio of environmental services — everything from a traffic congestion …

Coal River Mountain Action

The story of our civil disobedience against mountaintop-removal coal mining

Several people asked for more information about the 23 June civil disobedience near Coal River Mountain. We need Dickens to describe the local situation, but you can glean something from a statement I was reading at the time we were arrested (reprinted below). Local pollution effects and regional environmental destruction should be enough to stop the practice of mountaintop removal. Vernon Haltom, head of Coal River Mountain Watch, provided the details therein. The group can make good use of any support. The bigger picture, including climate change, makes it clear that mountaintop removal, providing only 7 percent of United States …

And they call the other Buffett a parrothead

Warren Buffett repeats GOP talking points on energy plan

Courtesy trackrecord via FlickrOmaha zillionaire Warren Buffett repeated his criticism of cap-and-trade emissions regulation on Wednesday, telling CNBC the plan being pushed by Democrats amounts to “a huge tax” and a “fairly regressive tax” that’s going to burden poor consumers in particular. “If we buy permits, essentially, at our utilities, that goes right into the bills of the utility customers and an awful lot of people in Iowa, in Oregon, and Utah, and places where we are, very poor people are going to pay a lot more money for electricity,” said Buffett, who runs the holding company Berkshire Hathaway Inc. …

Survey Says!

Consumers no longer want to be kept in the dark about food

A new survey came out indicating that (surprise, surprise) only 20% of Americans trust food companies to “to develop and sell food products that are safe and healthy.” While the depth to which food companies’ reputations have sunk is impressive, the phrase from the survey question is both interesting and unfortunate. IBM(!), who performed the survey, put “safe and healthy” together. As a result, we can’t really know which aspect, safety or health, is driving that low number. If I had to bet, I’d say safety since survey results often track media coverage of an issue and there’s certainly been …

Mustache speaks; you listen

Tom Friedman chats with Grist about the green challenge and globalization

At a Grist gathering in Washington, D.C., earlier this month, we were pleased to host New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman for a chat on the state of green. Our intrepid video expert was on hand to tape the event. Friedman released Hot, Flat, and Crowded way back in October 2008 — before the worst of the economic crash, before Obama, before the GM bankruptcy, before Waxman-Markey … Lord it’s been a long year! He’s been updating the book for a paperback release in November, so I kicked things off by asking him how his thinking has evolved and how …

Your train is running late

Phoenix’s light rail project sparks journalism start-up

The following post was written by Michael Andersen of the Nieman Journalism Lab blog. When Adam Klawonn quit his job at a shrinking major metropolitan newspaper in 2006, he did what so many other journalists have: launched an online news operation that looked a lot like a newspaper’s web site, only with less stuff. On The Zonie Report (“A New Kind of News for Arizona”), he set out to cover growth, immigration, the environment. The big issues. “The traditional papers were going local, and they were pulling back their bureaus,” said Klawonn, now 30. “It seemed like it was just …

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