Business & Technology

Money talks

Buy green, forget Congress — or not

Need or want?Courtesy soundfromwayout via flickrAmericans concerned about climate change are far more likely to shop green than to call or write a lawmaker, according to a new poll from Yale and George Mason University. Of those who say they are “alarmed” by global warming, 75 percent say they have rewarded and punished companies based on their environmental performance, but most had not called or written their Congresspersons, according to survey director Ed Maibach. Maibach leads the Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason, which conducted the poll with Yale’s Project on Climate Change. He gives the following interpretation …

Back to 10th-grade history

US Chamber of Commerce calls for ‘Scopes Monkey Trial’ on climate change

Cross-posted from Wonk Room. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the 97-year-old organization that bills itself as the “voice of business” — wants to put climate science on trial. As the Environmental Protection Agency nears a final ruling that manmade global warming endangers the public health and welfare, “the chamber will tell the EPA in a filing today that a trial-style public hearing” on the science of climate change is needed to “make a fully informed, transparent decision with scientific integrity based on the actual record of the science.” William Kovacs, the chamber’s senior vice president for environment, technology and …

Snow jobs

The nefarious net-effect argument: Recent conservative studies on clean energy jobs miss the mark

Proponents of clean energy have long argued that investment in solar, wind, and other renewable sources creates domestic jobs. In the past few years, however, critics of renewable energy have responded — with considerable success — by arguing that the net effect is actually negative. The concept of “netting” the effect of investments (including government subsidies) on the job market is legitimate when used correctly; when not used correctly, it is disingenuous. Take the case of the F-22 fighter plane. You may have heard the current debate over the decision to discontinue production of this aircraft. One argument against the …

Green Colleges Make Green

Colleges without rocking enviro programs are failed businesses

Every time Sierra Magazine comes out with its top green colleges list I get pissed off that my alma mater, Bowdoin College, doesn’t make the cut.  And the reason I’m pissed is that it seems to me that even if you didn’t care one little tiny bit about climate or environment–if all you cared about was endowment, physical plant, and US News ranking–as an undergraduate institution you’d create a killer Enviornmental Studies program with a climate focus simply to recruit students and make money as a business. Why? Because people are banging down the doors, almost literally, to study the …

The bank job

If progressives want a Clean Energy Bank, they need better economics

One of the most excellent pieces of the climate bill now awaiting defenestration at the hands Senate Blue Dogs is its creation of a Clean Energy Bank that would help finance nascent clean energy projects. More specifically, it is “an autonomous Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) within the Energy Department” that would “provide a suite of financing options, including direct loans, letters of credit, loan guarantees, insurance products and others” for “energy production, transmission, storage and other areas that could reduce greenhouse gases, diversify energy supplies and save energy.” For a clear take on why this is needed, read John …

A new approach to sustainable business

Take the environment out of sustainability, argues former Sierra Club chief

Adam WerbachAdam Werbach’s career is something of a lodestar for the trajectory of the 21st century American environmental movement. A student activist tutored at the knee of the Archdruid himself, the legendary David Brower, Werbach was elected the youngest president of the Sierra Club in 1996 at age 23.  Then business beckoned and he launched a startup, Act Now Productions, to advise companies like Wal-Mart on going green. Global advertising and marketing goliath Saatchi & Saatchi acquired Act Now last year, rebranding it as Saatchi & Saatchi S (for sustainability) and installing Werbach as the CEO. Now he has written …

General Musings

GM: Innovators or crackheads?

Some assembly required.GM.comAt one of our news meetings last week, I mentioned a story I had seen. “GM says the Chevy Volt will get 230 miles per gallon,” I told my fellow editors. The number struck me funny because it was ludicrously far beyond any current mpg rating, and because GM acknowledged that the Volt, due in late 2010, would be difficult to recharge given current infrastructure. It’s as if you had a pony that delivered lollipops door to door, except it didn’t have anywhere to buy them. But to a couple of staffers, it was funny for a whole …

They were for it before they were against it

ConocoPhillips works to undermine climate bill, despite pledge to support climate action

ConocoPhillips is now actively campaigning against the House climate and energy bill — even though it’s a member of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership, an influential enviro-business coalition that played a key role in shaping the legislation. The company changed its tune shortly after the House passed the bill. On the ConocoPhillips website, visitors are urged to “Act now for energy. Make your voice heard!” An action page tells people to contact their senators and express opposition to the bill, arguing, “Federal climate change legislation is needed; however, Waxman-Markey fell short.” The shift is notable since ConocoPhillips is a marquee …

How much is that brainwashing in the window?

Our addiction to cheap stuff has become very expensive, new book argues

American retail is riddled with cheap, fall-apart merchandise. We know this. Sales are a ploy to get a shopper to spend, as opposed to a boon for penny pinchers. Right. And how much mileage do we get from that old, overused adage, “You get what you pay for”? More than we’d like to admit. So why is Ellen Ruppel Shell’s new book, Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, so shocking? Shell deftly weaves a compelling, cautionary tale out of disparate strands: the psychology of manipulating shoppers, the environmental costs of our lust for inexpensive things, the deskilling of the …

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