Business & Technology

Reflections on Earth Day

Washington state can lead the way to a green economy

Since 1970, Americans have set aside April 22 to celebrate the wonders of the big blue-green globe we call Earth — and to renew our resolve to protect it for our children and grandchildren. On this Earth Day, I want to remind us all that there is no more time to waste. The respected writer Thomas Freidman has a warning call to signal the importance of what we must do to save and protect our world and our incredibly beautiful state. He calls it Code Green — a call to arms if you will — to reverse climate change, to …

Every job can be green, part three

This is the third and last installment of my chapter, “Green jobs in a sustainable economy,”, published recently in the book “Mandate for Change”.  You can read part one and part two, in which I discuss the first six out of eight ways in which to create an environmentally sustainable economy. Seventh, the global agricultural system is coming unglued. The days of transporting food over thousands of miles, of dousing soils with pesticides and artificial fertilizers, and of growing thousands of acres of the same crop, will soon draw to a close. Millions of new urban gardening jobs could be …

TerraCab confessions

Emission-free TerraCabs could hit Seattle streets at no cost to you, or the planet

Lookin’ for a free ride this summer? Meet the TerraCab. This curious-looking fleet of teardrop-shaped vehicles could soon hit Seattle streets in search of ped-weary passengers. But they don’t plan to peddle greenhouse gases. TerraCabs are emission-free — powered solely by pedalers, aside from a small rechargeable battery for headlights and hill-assistance. They are also intended to be free-free, as in cost you not a dime. How is this possible? Say their PR folks, “forward-thinking companies sponsor them,” which means they are painted with ads and drivers may hand out samples or coupons as you hop on. That’s the idea, …

U.K. subsidizes EVs, Amory Lovins talks trucks, and more green auto news

Photo by Sara Barz. Last Thursday, the UK government announced it would offer British citizens subsidies of 2,000-5,000 pounds ($2,900-7,500) for electric vehicles. To facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles, the government will set aside 20 million pounds ($30 million) to invest in electric-vehicle charging stations in city centers and high-traffic regions. This is welcome news for many enviros and electric car manufacturers who lobbied hard to include electric-vehicle subsidies in the U.K.’s green recovery plan.  But from the perspective of U.S.-U.K. relations, doesn’t it seem a little like an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better gesture? President Obama announces a plug-in hybrid tax credit …

Ad hoch

Nearly $200 million spent on energy ads since Obama’s inauguration

Cross-posted from Wonk Room. Politico reports that interest groups and corporations have spent nearly $200 million on TV ads since President Obama’s inauguration to manipulate American energy policy reform. According to an analysis by the Campaign Media Analysis Group, $199.5 million was directed from January 20th to March 31st to television issue ads on energy, the environment, and climate. $54.5 million of the ads were about oil and gas alone: According to CMAG’s analysis, between Obama’s January 20 Inauguration and the end of March, most TV ad spending was directed toward energy and the environment, which saw $115.1 million worth …

Take a Gamble

The business of Earth Day

Len SauersProcter & GambleDoes Earth Day still matter? Sure, it does — absolutely. But the reason for the day should have evolved for all of us. Instead of simply planting a new seedling and moving on, we should be looking at Earth Day in a new light. Earth Day should no longer be a jump-start to action, activism, and awakening. We all need to be far beyond that. Instead, Earth Day should now be about: celebrating with our employees, communities, and leading companies what we’ve done through the course of the year and what we plan for the future; thanking …

How to Green Your Friendly Neighborhood Monopoly

What should Microsoft do on climate?

Caught up today with Rob Bernard, Microsoft’s smartie-pants green dude, who elaborated on CEO Steve Ballmer’s TOP-SECRET memo to his 90K employees laying out the company’s ambitions on energy and climate change. The memo contains juicy nuggets like: “Our goal is to reduce our carbon emissions per unit of revenue by at least 30 percent compared with 2007 levels by 2012.” (Kinda hard to unpack what that means, I know.) Microsoft has been criticized by some as behind the times on green, compared to, say, a Google, but Bernard, who has been on the job about a year and a …

Reaching for the stars

California utility bets on space-based solar power

A conceptual image of what a space-based solar power plant would look like. The image was commissioned by the National Space SocietyMafic Studios, Inc. Space… the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of PG&E. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new technologies, to seek out new sources of renewable energy and new revenues, to boldly go where no regulated utility has gone before. Captain Kirk’s voice keeps popping into my head as I read through utility PG&E’s 24-page application seeking regulators’ approval for the world’s first space-based solar power plant. Yep, a flying a solar farm. It’s to be built …

Every job can be green, part two

This is part two of my chapter, “Green jobs in a sustainable economy”, published recently in the book “Mandate for Change”.  You can also read part one, in which I discuss the first three ways in which to create an environmentally sustainable economy. Fourth, in the United States today, about two-thirds of our electricity and one-third of our natural gas is used within residential and commercial buildings. Heating and cooling accounts for almost all of the natural gas use in commercial and residential buildings, and accounts for 30 percent of all electrical use in the country. And those natural gas …