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Business & Technology


The meaning of global warming, part one

Stabilizing the climate requires technology, public investment, and global economic development

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, the latest in the ongoing conversation about their new book Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility. ----- Thank you to everyone here who has participated in this discussion. We are grateful to Grist to making the space for this debate, and to everyone who has chimed in. Through agreement and disagreement alike, it is inspiring to find this many people joining a conversation about how to achieve a common goal. It is the argument of Break Through that we need to replace …


More toys recalled due to lead, including Boy Scout badges

Over 1.5 million more children's toys and accessories were recalled in the U.S. on Thursday due to high lead levels. We had put our money on toy cars being among the next items recalled, but we stand corrected. Whoever said blocks, squeeze lights, wagons, Frankenstein cups, key chains, journals, water bottles, or lead-painted Boy Scout badges wins. All the parents and kids who bought and played with the products, however, lose.


Discover Brilliant Q&A: Bill Williams of Zenn Motors

A chat with Zenn about NEVs and EEstor

I talked to a few people at Discover Brilliant. I'll be getting Q&As up over the coming weeks. Bill Williams is the California sales director for Zenn Motor Co., maker of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs). In addition to selling one of the most full-featured NEVs, Zenn has an exclusive contract with a tight-lipped and somewhat mysterious company called EEstor. EEstor claims it's making an ultracapacitor that will so far outperform previous capacitors that it will effectively replace the electrochemical battery in all applications -- most notably cars. It could revolutionize the auto industry, and Zenn alone will have rights to …


The growth of renewable energy markets

In which I come to the defense of Shellenberger and Nordhaus — sort of, anyway

I was planning on sitting out the Nordhaus/Shellenberger debate. But then I thought: Adam, you are not the top-rated Gristmill blogger (see list at left) for nothing. People want to hear from you. So, here's my take: The first place Nordhaus and Shellenberger go wrong is their predilection for publicity photos that resemble '80s album covers. After that, they get it mostly right. Carbon legislation is good and helpful, sure, but it's about 30 percent thought-through, enormously complicated, and anything that has a hope of actually getting signed is unlikely in the extreme to be sufficient to the task. Look …


The 'Exxon of corn' licks its chops

Archer Daniels Midland sees glut as opportunity to consolidate the ethanol market

Over the past year, ethanol production has exploded -- surpassing even the dramatically higher "alternative fuel requirement" in last year's energy bill. And now we have a glut of ethanol on the market, which has pushed prices down dramatically and caused many ethanol plants -- particularly independent farmer-owned ones -- to struggle. But Archer Daniels Midland, hailed on Wall Street as the Exxon of corn, is seeing the downturn in ethanol prices as an opportunity to consolidate the ethanol market. It already produces a quarter of U.S. ethanol. Now it wants more. From Dow Jones newswire: Archer Daniels Midland Co. …


On the Ball: Let the Eagles soar

Philly Eagles are green not just in uniform, and more

There's an interesting interview in the NYT with Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland (not to be confused with Timbaland -- he's his own CEO, bee-yotch). Swartz is frustrated that Big Outdoor Wear worked to address child labor but hasn't managed a concerted effort to significantly reduce its impact on the earth from making, transporting, and selling gear, despite sporadic individual efforts. Photo: Hunter Martin/WireImage And in other news, an ABC News reporter who is obviously a reader of my illustrious column has expansively profiled the green efforts of the Philadelphia Eagles. And the crowd goes wild: What a crock. And …


California A.G. petitions feds to regulate shipping emissions

California Attorney General Jerry Brown will join with environmental groups today to petition the Bush administration to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions from ocean-going vessels. Shipping accounts for up to 5 percent of global GHG emissions, a number expected to grow 75 percent in the next 20 years. Ocean-going vessels make 11,000 calls at California's ports each year, but often sail under foreign flags and traditionally fall under international jurisdiction. But the U.S. EPA, with the authority to regulate emissions, should intervene, says Brown: "Who comes into American ports is a matter for Americans to decide." Attempts by the United Nations to …


Northwest Passage likely to be unpopular shipping route despite summer ice-free state

While the record melting of the Arctic's sea ice this summer fully opened up the Northwest Passage for the first time since records began, it turns out few shippers would actually use the route even if the summer opening became more reliable. The shortcut route would shave off some 4,700 nautical miles from a typical Europe-to-east-Asia shipping journey as compared to a trip via the Panama Canal. But the NW route is somewhat labyrinthine and shallower in spots than many are comfortable with for the huge cargo ships now typically used. "The Northwest Passage in its entirety has often been …


A greener economy from the grassroots

New book details successes; join a chat with Paul Hawken

At work today I received a review copy of Building the Green Economy: Success Stories From the Grassroots, which just hit the presses and looks interesting. It's a diverse roundup of grassroots efforts aimed at stewardship and urban renewal toward a cleaner economy and greener, more just communities. Green economy superstar Van Jones is interviewed, of course, but I didn't notice a nod to Paul Hawken right off the bat, whose pioneering books on the topic of greening the economy laid the groundwork for the idea, and whose new book, Blessed Unrest, details the incredible, ever-widening scope of the global …


Business as usual?

Why we shouldn’t forget the Farm Bill

Once again, a prime example of our misguided farm policies hits like a ton of factory-farm manure sludge -- or in this case, a massive sack of federally insured, genetically modified corn. Last Wednesday, Monsanto announced that the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) approved a pilot program that will give farmers a 20 percent discount on insurance premiums if they plant a majority of their corn acres with seeds featuring Monsanto's trademarked YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 or YieldGard VT Triple stack technology. This is the first time the FCIC Board has approved a crop insurance discount for …