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Business & Technology


Environmentalism's existential moment

Shellenberger & Nordhaus respond to critics

The following is a guest essay by Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, authors of Break Through: From the Death of Environmentalism to the Politics of Possibility and "The Death of Environmentalism." Nordhaus and Shellenberger are managing directors at American Environics and the founders of the Breakthrough Institute. ----- This month the world celebrates the 20th Anniversary of the international treaty that phased out ozone-destroying chemicals. For environmentalists, the Montreal Protocol has long been a model for action on global warming. In the words of David Doniger, the climate director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, "The lesson from Montreal is …


Charity won't cut it

Private sector money will not solve the climate crisis

The Clinton Global Initiative is ongoing. Rich folk and businesses are committing large sums of money to solving global problems like education, public health, and climate change. Matt injects a welcome note of realism: In those fields, it really seems to me that Bill Clinton could do much more good using his charisma and standing to try to convince rich guys and executives at big companies to take a more enlightened attitude toward the political process, to return to the sort of public-spirited involvement in public affairs that characterized the business class in the 1950s and 60s. Realistically, you can't …


Dell Inc. pledges to go carbon neutral

PC manufacturer Dell Inc. has announced plans to go entirely carbon neutral by next year. (Take that, Nokia!) The company will focus on energy efficiency and renewable power, and offset additional emissions. In addition, Dell's "Plant a Tree for Me" program, wherein customers can direct funds to global tree planting, will expand to "Plant a Forest for Me," a partnership with other organizations to facilitate sustainable reforestation. No doubt Dell, which recently lost its No. 1 spot in the PC market, hopes new green measures will help it turn over a new leaf.


Environmentalism and economic justice, sitting in a tree ...

Van Jones has helped push equity to the center of the green discussion

Back in March of this year, I interviewed Van Jones of the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, Calif. He was excited because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had adopted his "green-collar jobs" language and agreed to craft legislation around it. In August, such legislation was introduced in the House. Now things are taking off like crazy. Earlier this week the Senate Environment Committee held a hearing on green jobs, where Sen. Barbara Boxer brandished Jones' work and said, "we still have a chance to avoid the worst effects of global warming and in doing so, we will also strengthen our economy …


Inspector general’s report finds problems with royalty-collection program at Interior

A new report by the U.S. Interior Department's inspector general points to a "profound failure" of the technology that the Minerals Management Service uses to monitor the roughly $10 billion in oil and gas royalty payments from energy companies each year. But it's not just the technology. Higher-ups in the agency apparently decided that even after catching oil companies underpaying by over $1 million, it would impose too much of a "hardship" on the companies to require them to calculate the royalties owed, despite the fact that MMS' own computers weren't capable of making the necessary calculations. The report was …


From Campus: Get hip to social entrepreneurship

It’s a hot topic on campus these days

As an undergrad at Brown University and a veteran organizer with the Sierra Student Coalition, Nathan Wyeth has his ear to the ground on campus sustainability issues. In this occasional column for Grist, Wyeth will report on what's afoot at the campus grassroots level and how he and his fellow students are making their voices heard. ----- A debate has been swirling on Gristmill for the past few weeks over the role of voluntary actions versus government policy in solving climate change specifically, and environmental problems generally. I'd like to stir this pot further and add another ingredient -- what …


Solar-powered homes a bright spot in California housing market

Take that, housing market: Solar-powered homes in California are outshining the competition.


More companies disclosing and mitigating emissions, says new report

Many corporations are recognizing the impact of climate change on business as usual, and in response are disclosing and working to mitigate greenhouse-gas emissions, says a new report from the nonprofit Carbon Disclosure Project. The group's fifth annual survey of the world's 500 largest companies boasted a 75 percent response rate; of those, 80 percent of businesses found climate change to present a commercial risk, 82 percent recognized increased commercial opportunities, and 76 percent said they had implemented programs to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. While the responses aren't independently verified and should be taken with a grain of salt, the numbers …


Brit's Eye View: <em>Capitalism As If the World Matters</em>

New book by Porritt argues that we need to reshape capitalism to deliver a sustainable future

Peter Madden, chief executive of Forum for the Future, writes a monthly column for Gristmill on sustainability in the U.K. and Europe. ----- We have just published the American paperback version of Capitalism As If the World Matters. The book is written by Jonathon Porritt, one of the foremost environmentalists of his generation and cofounder of my organization, Forum for the Future. The foreword is by Amory Lovins. As well as working with us, Jonathon is chair of the U.K. Government's Sustainable Development Commission. Previously, he was director of Friends of the Earth. In the book, he tackles the most …


Wal-Mart will track some suppliers’ energy efficiency

Unrelenting in its quest for eco-domination, Wal-Mart has announced a plan to keep tabs on some suppliers' energy efficiency. Through a partnership with the Carbon Disclosure Project, Wal-Mart will request emissions data from about 30 companies that collectively supply DVDs, toothpaste, soap, milk, beer, vacuum cleaners, and soft drinks. (Sure they're all commonly used, but -- random, anyone?) The project is very much a wee first step, as Wal-Mart has about 68,000 suppliers; the company has not yet determined whether it will use the information gleaned to actually demand that suppliers reduce emissions.