Business & Technology

Huffing posts

GM flack jumps into Huffington Post fray to defend exec’s climate-change skepticism

We posted last week about GM Vice Chair Bob Lutz expressing a little climate-change skepticism on The Colbert Report. Josh Nelson wrote about it as well over on Huffington Post, and thus began an online conversation with GM’s director of news relations, Tom Wilkinson, who defended both Lutz and the company’s environmental policies. “There is no reason a three-dimensional human being (like Bob Lutz) can’t be skeptical about global warming orthodoxy and still be wildly passionate about more efficient vehicles,” wrote Wilkinson. “Which he is, by the way.” Nelson followed up today with more, where Wilkinson again weighed in. The …


Is the financial crisis more dire than the climate crisis?

Not even close. If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment. So warned IPCC head Rajendra Pachauri last fall when the IPCC released its major multi-year report synthesizing our understanding of climate science. And remember, Pachauri was handpicked by the Bush administration to replace the “alarmist” Bob Watson. It’s the facts that make scientists alarmists, not their politics (see “Desperate times, desperate scientists“). What happens if we fail to act in time to avert the climate catastrophe? We cross carbon-cycle …

750 billion

Ramblings on the financial crisis

Based on my own extensive analysis of the ongoing financial crisis, I’ve come to the following conclusions: 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. Despite all this, every single human being with access to a keyboard and a website is willing to make a mockery of the profession of journalism by making confident pronouncements. Not me. I’m just a blogger, so I’m happily willing to admit my comparative cluelessness. I’ll just throw a few things out there for discussion. Oil spiked up …

One trillion for billionares and pennies for solar?

I was going to post on the money we are pouring into this bailout compared to what we get for green investment. But John McGrath said it for me: …The very first things Barack Obama should do when inaugurated is 1) propose legislation to the U.S. Congress creating single-payer healthcare in America, and 2) initiate a massive program to get America off coal, oil, and natural gas. Expensive, you say? Big government, you say? Bite me. If the U.S. taxpayer can be put on the hook for billions to no purpose at all, while the arsonists responsible for this mess …

Hazardous substances still a mainstay for Big Chemical

The good news: some companies are moving toward nontoxic chemicals and products. The bad news: many aren’t. In a 2007 report, consultants hired by Big Chemical concluded that the industry’s eco-initiatives are “reactive, not proactive,” and that it “has a very short-term focus and discounts long-term issues.” There is, wrote the consultants, “a lack of product responsibility in the industry, with most product stewardship efforts seen as minimal and ineffective.” At the 50 largest chemical companies, funding for research and development of new compounds has actually been declining since 2000. Some companies treat the green movement as a phase that …

Further implications of the financial meltdown

A weak economy brings a diminished appetite for curbs on carbon emissions

The Freakonomics blog offers up a long-ish but lucid discussion of the ongoing financial crisis. I recommend the whole thing, but in a nutshell: Financial institutions borrow money all the time to fund their investments. When the real estate bubble burst, a lot of those investments lost value rapidly, leaving banks such as Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers unable to borrow new money and unable to repay their existing debt. This situation can lead to a domino effect — “contagious failures” — in which borrowers are unable to repay lenders, who are then themselves sucked into the financial crisis. The …

Notable quotable

From the mouths of oil executives …

“There is certainly some potential. But to me the biggest potential in America that is not exploited is energy savings. There is such an immense opportunity.” – Paolo Scaroni, chief executive of Italian oil giant ENI, on offshore drilling

Must 'science' mean 'corporate science'?

Wired: Two top Obama science advisors are tied to Monsanto and Amgen

I hope the executive branch’s "war on science" era ends in January. Heading into a period of climate change, tight fossil energy supplies, growing trouble with food-borne illnesses, declining health metrics, etc, we clearly don’t need a bunch of creationists and climate-change deniers knocking about the White House. At the same time, I hope we don’t swing in the direction of a hyper-corporate vision of science: the idea that big problems demand big solutions — the kind conveniently offered by really big companies. Well, Wired recently got the Obama campaign to reveal its five main science advisors. Unhappily, two of …

Al Gore to buy Plenty magazine?

Jeff Bercovici reports.

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