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Planktos update

Remember Planktos, the company that was going to sail into the Atlantic ocean and dump a bunch of iron ore, hoping it would stimulate CO2 absorption and profit the company via carbon offsets? Well, Andy Revkin brings news that the company has set sail. Guess the cat's out of the bag! (Planktos has been criticized on Gristmill here, here, here, here, here, and by a group of Greenpeace scientists here. Planktos CEO Russ George defended the company here.)

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Six farmworkers compensated for pesticide exposure, six cases dismissed

Six farmworkers who became sterile after working on a Nicaraguan banana plantation three decades ago were awarded a total $3.3 million from Dole Food Co. and Dow Chemical, after a judge agreed that the corporations "actively suppressed information about" the "reproductive toxicity" of now-banned pesticide DBCP. Six other plaintiffs with a similar claim had their cases dismissed, allowing a Dow lawyer to look on the bright side: "Dow Chemical is pleased that this jury concluded that six out of 12 plaintiffs were entitled to no recovery whatsoever." Dole's not-quite-so-diplomatic vice president declared his company will appeal: "Dole will not be …

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Natural-products maker Burt’s Bees bought by Clorox

Looks like even Burt's Bees have been affected by the recent spike in bee deaths. The much-loved company -- known for its lip balms, soaps, and other personal-care products made from natural ingredients -- has been bought out by Clorox. As in the bleach. Blech!

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Big-box store Target will phase out PVC

Big-box store Target is right on the mark with plans to phase out nasty plastic polyvinyl chloride. The store that we like to pronounce "Tar-zhay" has announced that it will aim to detox the packaging of its table linen stock by spring and try to find PVC alternatives for all toys by next fall. It also said all of its own brands of children's lunch boxes and utensils are already PVC-free. The reasons to avoid PVC -- the ickiest of plastics and, unfortunately, one of the most common -- are legion. For one, the "VC" in PVC is vinyl chloride, …

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Some reflections on the strengths and weaknesses of Hillary’s new proposal

Efficiency and permit auctions and R&D, oh my! Hillary Clinton released her comprehensive energy and climate plan today. It is thoughtful, comprehensive, and though disappointingly conventional in a few areas, inspiringly bold in others. With the release of Clinton's plan, all three Democratic frontrunners for the presidency now have visionary, far-reaching energy plans that would fundamentally reorient the country away from carbon-intensive energy and toward energy efficiency and renewables. It is difficult to think of a another policy issue on which the ground has shifted so far, so fast, and difficult to think of another policy issue on which the …

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We don’t need to destroy our economy to save the planet

As I've studied green issues, I have frequently come across the "buy local" train of thought, but I've never seen it embraced as completely as it was in this Gristmill post by Jon Rynn -- at least not since my undergraduate courses on international trade and economic philosophy. It's very easy to understand the intellectual impulse behind his arguments, but don't think I'm overstating the point in calling his recommendations potentially disastrous. Buying local is a common and appealing idea, so it's worth reviewing the economics behind Rynn's proposals. Economic self-sufficiency is an old idea. Before the revolution in economic …

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Bill Clinton partners with Wal-Mart to create green-tech buying club for cities

At a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle yesterday, former President Bill Clinton announced that his foundation's Clinton Climate Initiative is pursuing new green plans to help curb climate change. CCI is partnering with low-price expert Wal-Mart to create a many-city bulk-buying club to lower prices on greener building materials and energy-efficient technologies for the world's cities. The club is open to the world's 40 largest cities as well as the 1,100 cities and towns that are part of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Clinton said that climate change is, "in my view, for the United States, …

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A very promising climate change solution with an image problem

Bill McKibben's new column in Orion magazine reports on one of the most effective ways to cut carbon emissions that we've got, a mature technology which stands ready to recycle enormous amounts of waste heat into electricity. It boggles my mind that we're not doing this everywhere, instead of discussing new coal plants or nukes. Talk about low-hanging fruit! The article centers on the fine work of the Chicago company Recycled Energy Development, piloted by frequent Gristmill contributor Sean Casten, and discusses the technology's image problem: it's not as sexy as wind or solar. Here's an excerpt, but the article …

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All hail the biofuel boom

A UN official recently declared biofuels a "crime against humanity," because they leach agricultural resources from feeding people and direct them to feeding cars. But one man's crime is another's boon. Surging biofuel use encourages farmers to maximize yield over all other considerations -- and they do so by lashing the earth with all manner of chemicals. That's why shareholders in agrochemical companies are celebrating the explosive growth of biofuel use. Syngenta -- the Swiss-based maker of herbicides, pesticides, and genetically modified seeds -- has seen its shares more than double since the biofuel boom began. Here's how one Wall …

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How to find a job in your local area

I've been on the road. I started the first week in October at the University of Michigan and ended it at a "career visioning" retreat in the Connecticut woods with students from Yale. My impressions? At both universities, I found aspiring environmental professionals who are committed to building a sustainable society. (I also found great vegetarian food.) As we talked about "sustainable solutions" careers, more than one student let me know that their most important career concern was location and that national statistics about job prospects were pretty much meaningless. Having already decided to make a life in, say, Missoula, …