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Business & Technology


GMOs as environmental pollution

Schmeiser to play David to Monsanto’s Goliath again

Most of you will recall the high-profile battle fought by Saskatchewan farmer Percy Schmeiser when he was sued for growing their GM seed without tithing to the corporation for the privilege. Schmeiser insisted that Monsanto's patented DNA blew onto his land, but he lost an acrimonious fight in Canada's Supreme Court anyway. Now Percy's back for more. Schmeiser has filed suit against the agribusiness giant in his Bruno, Saskatchewan, small claims court for C$600, claiming damages when Monsanto's GM seed blew onto his land, which he had to pay to have removed so that he could plant mustard. His contention …


An ominous statement from Shell

Conventional oil will peak within seven years

The oil company with the best strategic planning says the day of reckoning is nigh: World demand for oil and gas will outstrip supply within seven years, according to Royal Dutch Shell. The oil multinational is predicting that conventional supplies will not keep pace with soaring population growth and the rapid pace of economic development. Jeroen van der Veer, Shell's chief executive, said in an e-mail to the company's staff this week that output of conventional oil and gas was close to peaking. He wrote: "Shell estimates that after 2015 supplies of easy-to-access oil and gas will no longer keep …


Bubbling up ...

Could alternative energy companies drive the next big market bubble?

In case you missed it, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a violent and exhausting 1,000-point swing the past week, down 450 points on Tuesday before trimming its losses and then tumbling 330 points on Wednesday before rebounding with a 299-point gain. It's not the only financial freefall of late. The housing market bubble was punctured last fall and has been leaking like the Hindenburg ever since. (And long before that, the economy experienced the dual dot-com and technology implosions in the spring of 2000.) Photo: iStockphoto All of which is to say, it's probably safe to assume most Americans …


Stock analysts v. venture capitalists

Tom Konrad on cellulosic electricity

The following is a guest essay by Tom Konrad, a financial analyst specializing in renewable energy and energy efficiency companies, a freelance writer, and a contributor to ----- Romm v. Khosla In a persuasive series of articles entitled "Pragmatists vs. Environmentalists" (Parts I, II, and III), Vinod Khosla has provided the reasoning behind his "dissing" of plug-in hybrids, which drew the ire of Joseph Romm. Neither seems to think the argument is settled, and Romm returned fire here. To summarize, Khosla argues that cellulosic ethanol shows more promise for reducing carbon emissions than plug-in hybrids, because the barriers to …


Wal-Mart CEO outlines lofty green goals

Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott made a big ol' speech yesterday spelling out ambitious social, health, and environmental goals for the retail behemoth. Wal-Mart will work with other retailers to boost industry-wide green standards, said Scott, and, within five years, Wal-Mart suppliers will be required to meet stringent environmental standards -- and may even be paid more to do so. The company wants to double its sales of merchandise that help consumers improve home energy efficiency, is in talks with automakers about selling electric or hybrid cars, and could even set up windmills or solar panels in its parking lots to …


Great Scott

Wal-Mart CEO lays out ambitious social and environmental goals for his company

Yesterday, Wal-Mart CEO gave a fairly amazing speech, assessing the company's progress on its social and environmental goals and laying out some extremely ambitious plans for the future. A taste: He then laid out sweeping plans for the company on several health and environmental issues, and he hinted that even more ambitious goals might be on the horizon. Mr. Scott said, for instance, that Wal-Mart is talking to leaders of the automobile industry about selling electric or hybrid cars — and might even install windmills in its parking lots so customers could recharge their cars with renewable electricity. If Scott …


Al Gore tells World Economic Forum the climate situation is dire

In a speech spiced with signature phrases like "moral imagination" and "planetary emergency," as well as plenty of references to future generations, Al Gore warned attendees at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the climate situation is dire. "The climate crisis is significantly worse and unfolding more rapidly than those on the pessimistic side of the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] projections had warned us," he said. "There has never been anything remotely like [this planetary emergency] in the entire history of human civilization. We are putting at risk all of human civilization." Gore also emphasized the need …


'Green-collar' jobs

The latest eco-buzzword

The Washington Post has a good article yesterday on the explosion in the use of the term "green-collar" jobs. You will no doubt be hearing much more of this term since it is a favorite of Clinton and Edwards; Me and the Center for American Progress are on the bandwagon; and even the super trendspotting Tom Friedman has glommed onto it. No, it's not a perfect term. G-C jobs -- my effort to coin the ultimate eco-buzzword -- won't get you a green uniform and green power-ring like the Green Lantern Corps, although you will, coincidentally enough, be promoting green …


Coming clean

Kudos to Seventh Generation on a Hollywood moment

I'm not saying I paid good money to see 27 Dresses this weekend. Nor am I saying that its ending, however formulaic, made me cry. What I am saying is how nice it was to see a generous, nearly full-screen shot of a Seventh Generation cleaning product clutched in Katherine Heigl's frenzied hand. Not to mention some tossed-off comments about corporate eco-responsibility. Hollywood: making green normal since ... late 2007.


Seeds of wisdom

Seed-savers and greens unite to challenge Monsanto’s latest cash cow

For years, candy makers and other industrial food manufacturers refused to use genetically modified sugar, fearing a consumer backlash. Photo: iStockphoto As a result, Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beet -- designed to withstand heavy application of Roundup, Monsanto's herbicide -- has been dead in the water. (Sugar beets, grown in the Midwest and Northwest, account for half of U.S. sugar production; cane, grown mainly in Florida, provides the rest.) But as of last fall, all of that changed. Big Food -- which has already given a bear hug to another genetically modified sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup -- changed its tune. …