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Gary Hirshberg argues that his company is doing a lot to support organic dairy farmers

The following is a response to a post by Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. ----- Gary Hirshberg Londonderry, N.H.: These are difficult times for the organic dairy industry, and as we have demonstrated consistently for over a decade, we are deeply engaged in the effort to find solutions that balance escalating supply costs with the need to keep organic product prices within the average consumer's reach. Stonyfield has consistently fought for farmers' interests, despite the pressures of the marketplace to reduce or hold prices for our yogurts. Over the past five years, the pay …

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An interview with eco-certification expert Michael Conroy

Michael Conroy. Photo: Chris Conroy Photography As a shopper, you can't turn around without running into some type of green label, from Fair Trade to FSC-certified. But what do they all mean, and where the hell did they even come from? Economist Michael Conroy digs into the history behind these increasingly common labels in his book Branded!: How the 'Certification Revolution' Is Transforming Global Corporations. He brings to life the campaigns that led to the creation of the Forest Stewardship Council, along with its ongoing challenges from the industry-funded Sustainable Forestry Initiative; the struggles faced by the Marine Stewardship Council …

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What drives climate change denial?

David and I have apparently crossed blog streams (very dangerous; never do this), but I do want to expand a bit on this basic idea: climate change skepticism has little to do with science. Rather, it is an outgrowth of the culture war. This point seems both totally obvious and strangely unremarked. At the risk of generalizing, environmentalists tend to view climate change denialism as a top-down, money-driven phenomenon. Energy producers, auto manufacturers, oil companies, and other interested parties court politicians, buy friendly scientists, and groom armies of lawyers, lobbyists, and op-ed writers to push their agenda. Or so the …

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The Western Climate Initiative’s first proposal ducks biggest climate problem

The Western Climate Initiative is a path-breaking effort. Insufficient federal progress prompted seven states and two provinces to join together to reduce climate pollution by means of an economy-wide cap-and-trade program. It's a momentous opportunity, and many folks have been working hard to ensure that it's a success. Unfortunately, there's now cause for serious concern. Yesterday evening, WCI released its draft proposal (PDF). It proposes an initial cap that would cover less than half of the region's total emissions. Most surprisingly, WCI does not recommend including emissions from transportation fuels, by far the largest source of climate pollution in the …

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As energy, healthcare, and feed costs skyrocket, organic dairy farmers get squeezed

The following is a guest post by Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. ----- Deerfield, Mass.: What is more important to Stonyfield Farm and HP Hood, market share or the health and welfare of their organic family farmers? Photo: iStockphoto If you ask 24-year-old Mark Ouellette Jr., who supplies organic milk to HP Hood that is sold under the Stonyfield label, his answer is very clear: market share. "I'm losing up to 60 cents per gallon producing milk for the Stonyfield brand. I've used up my line of credit, I'm close to maxing out my …

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Startup company makes thin-film solar cells via new process

Solar company Konarka has announced that it successfully developed a new process to manufacture solar cells that could lead to a range of new solar-powered products and applications. The solar cells are made without silicon and are manufactured into a thin, light film via an inkjet printer, which means they don't need to be born in a clean room like traditional silicon cells. One drawback to the new cells is their efficiency: while regular silicon solar cells achieve efficiencies of up to 20 percent, the new cells are only 5 percent efficient, but Konarka says they're likely to be less …

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Bush’s refusal to consider clean technologies could be repeated by McCain

So, who said: With $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore. There are plenty of incentives. Yes, that would be our president, three years ago. And yet with oil at nearly twice that price, Bush still refuses to cut subsidies and shift that money to clean technologies. And he still claims that the solution to our energy and climate problems is "technology, technology, technology, blah, blah." But, as we've seen, that is all just rhetoric or sleight of hand. Daniel J. Weiss, Director of Energy Strategy at the Center for American Progress, has an …

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Years after everyone else, GM and Toyota execs skeptical about hydrogen cars

That Saturday Night Live-esque headline was inspired by a story in The Wall Street Journal yesterday: Top executives from General Motors Corp. and Toyota Motor Corp. Tuesday expressed doubts about the viability of hydrogen fuel cells for mass-market production in the near term and suggested their companies are now betting that electric cars will prove to be a better way to reduce fuel consumption and cut tailpipe emissions on a large scale. Really? Hydrogen cars of dubious viability? Who ever could have guessed that in a million years? And electric cars are "a better way to reduce fuel consumption and …

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Bank of America can’t make the call in green buildings

Bank of America says that energy-efficient windows in its newer buildings are blocking cell-phone signals.

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If deals go through, three firms will own 90 percent of the U.S. beef market

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. You'd be hard-pressed to find an industry more consolidated than beef-packing. Just four companies slaughter 83.5 percent of cows consumed in the United States. In standard antitrust theory, a market stops being competive when the four biggest players control 40 percent. The beef industry's extraordinary concentration gives the Big Four massive leverage to dictate how beef is raised and sold. Their economies of scale give them power to squeeze their smaller competitors, who have to scramble to keep costs down to survive. Their suppliers, known …