Business & Technology

Drinking at the public fountain

The new corporate threat to our water supplies

This is a guest essay by authors and filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman. Their book Thirst exposed how the corporate drive to control water has become a catalyst for community resistance to globalization. This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission. —– In the last few years, the world’s largest financial institutions and pension funds, from Goldman Sachs to Australia’s Macquarie Bank, have figured out that old, trustworthy utilities and infrastructure could become reliable cash cows — supporting the financial system’s speculative junk derivatives with the real concrete of highways, water utilities, …

What we can afford and can't afford not to

Galbraith argues against the bailout and in favor of public investement

I cited James Galbraith last night while arguing that the financial mess should not deter us from making substantial investments in our future. (By the by, you should read Galbraith’s new book, The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.) Today, Galbraith has a kick-ass op-ed in the Washington Post asking the question everyone else in D.C. is too scared to ask — "Is this bailout still necessary?" — and mapping out a road to recovery. Galbraith isn’t advocating we do nothing — there’s a dense thicket of recommendations in the short space — …

Wal-Mart will slice use of plastic bags

Wal-Mart aims to cut plastic-bag waste in its global operations by an average 33 percent over the next five years, the retail behemoth announced Thursday at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. And if you ever doubted that Wal-Mart is big, consider this: The move is expected to eliminate some 9 billion plastic bags each year, equating to more than 135 million pounds of trash by 2013. Wal-Mart will give out fewer bags, offer plastic-bag recycling, and encourage customers to use reusable totes (it will offer its own line of reusable bags for 50 cents each). In the …

ReGeneration Roadtrip: Green jobs now!

Van Jones talks about the National Day of Action

Green-job advocates Green for All have just moved into a lovely new office space in Oakland, California. There’s plenty of natural light, beautiful bamboo floors, and lots of room to grow. Unfortunately, their charismatic founder, Van Jones, hasn’t had much chance to enjoy it. Jones is one of the faces at the forefront of the environmental justice movement, and the man is in demand. Luckily, he happened to be in town for one day (and one day only!) while Todd and I were in the Bay Area, and I got the chance to chat with him in his new digs. …

Chrysler to offer electric car by 2010, full lineup of EVs sometime after

Automaker Chrysler announced Tuesday that it too is jumping into the electric-car fray, aiming to roll out its own electric vehicle in the United States by 2010, followed soon after by a full line of electric and/or plug-in hybrid vehicles. If the company meets its intended deadline, 2010 will be a busy year for electric car enthusiasts in the U.S.; GM’s Chevy Volt and Tesla’s Model S are also slated for 2010 rollouts. At an event marking Chrysler’s announcement, the company showcased four potential electric vehicle models: a plug-in hybrid model of a Town and Country minivan, a plug-in hybrid …

Western states announce proposal for cutting GHG emissions

Participants in the Western Climate Initiative on Tuesday announced specific plans for cutting greenhouse-gas emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. The seven states and four provinces will initiate a cap-and-trade program, establishing a carbon market that applies to industries and utilities by 2012 and transportation, heating, and other fuels by 2015. The proposed program is broader than that of the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which launches Thursday and only applies to power plants. But some aspects of WCI’s plan disappoint environmentalists: 90 percent of pollution permits can be given freely instead of auctioned, and companies can offset …

Where are we going, and why are we in this handbasket?

The financial crisis, how we got here, and who knows what to do about it

David Roberts recently said about the current financial crisis: • Nobody clearly understands how we got in this situation. • Nobody clearly understands what situation we are in. • Nobody clearly understands what’s going to happen next. The first and second were, I think, serious errors. Dean Baker predicted this back in September of 2002 and explained what situation we were in, and how we were getting into it: If housing prices fall back in line with the overall rate price level, as they have always done in the past, it will eliminate more than $2 trillion in paper wealth …

U.S. biz waiting for regulation before cutting emissions, report shows

Only about one-third of leading U.S. companies have set targets to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, compared to 74 percent of global corporations, says the sixth annual report from the Carbon Disclosure Project. CDP, an influential initiative backed by 385 institutional investors, received input from 64 percent of the Standard & Poor’s 500 U.S. companies (a jump up from 57 percent last year) and approximately 1,550 global companies. While 81 percent of U.S. companies expect that climate change will pose a risk to business, they’re largely choosing to twiddle their thumbs and wait for regulation instead of being proactive. “Governments are still …

Green jobs galore!

How would a green recovery help your state?

My post on the Bush bailout for the financial sector mentioned the “Green Recovery” report recently released by the Center for American Progress and Dr. Robert Pollin from the University of Massachusetts Political Economy Research Institute. Here’s a little more detail: The report looks at how a $100 billion strategic investment can generate 2 million new, well-paying jobs (at least $16/hour) in the renewable and energy efficiency sectors and beyond. The chart below shows the breakdown of job creation: The number of jobs created by this investment is four times what the same spending in the oil industry would create, …

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