Hybrid wars

Honda fights to regain green car company mantle

Honda entered the hybrid market before Toyota, but over time it made a fateful mistake: it failed to visually distinguish its line of hybrids. The Prius’ distinct shape is like peacock feathers — it signals your identity to the world. Who wants to be virtuous if nobody knows about it? Now Honda’s gotten the message and it’s returning to the fight: [Honda is] working on a new high-profile hybrid — a Prius fighter that analysts expect will have the highest mileage on the road when it arrives in 2009. Code-named the “Global Small Hybrid,” Honda’s new gas-electric model won’t be …

Little green lies

Survey reveals truth about environmental fibs

A study by (insurance company?) Norwich Union has unearthed the truth about how green Brits really are: The good news: Of the 1,580 people surveyed across Britain, more than half considered unethical living as much of a social taboo as drunk driving — or, as the Brits call it, drink-driving. The bad news: Due to this "green guilt," nine in 10 admit they lie to exaggerate their environmental commitment. (Rather than actually making the changes.) Even badder: More than half say they are "unlikely to alter their way of life despite pressure from the media, politicians, and their children to …

I scream against ice cream consolidation

How to stick it to the ice-cream Man

I’ve written a lot about the consolidation of U.S. food markets, and have become jaded to facts such as: just four firms slaughter 83.5 percent of cows, and so on. But I actually gagged on my ice cream when I read this bit in BusinessWeek: The days of mom-and-pop parlors and local brands are fading fast. Today, the $59 billion ice cream industry is dominated by two global giants: Switzerland’s Nestlé (NESN.DE) and Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever (UN). Together, they control more than one-third of the worldwide market — and half of ice cream sales in the U.S. — and they’re …

Shopping causes global warming

Australian newspaper identifies consumerism as warming culprit

I was just in Australia, spending some love miles (my wife is an Aussie) but also giving some talks, and while there I was interviewed by a journalist named Wendy Frew from the Sydney Morning Herald. She did a nice piece (August 9) on Greenhouse Development Rights called "Rich will have to help poor to save climate," which is perhaps notable for containing the dulcet phrase "coal is the enemy of mankind." But that's not what I'm writing about.

Was it arson, or just bad neon?

Wildfire breaks out at Burning Man

Strange fires are happening everywhere: California, Europe, and Burning Man. Somehow, this morning, the giant effigy at the center of Black Rock City -- the site of the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert -- went up in flames this morning at 3 a.m. This is the "Man" I'm talking about, the one that burns at the end of the event on Saturday. The neon -- and this year, for the first time ever, solar-powered -- creature that you orient yourself with to find your way home ... he's gone. (photo: Focal Intent, via Flickr)

On the Ball: Obscure football edition

Ball-kickers power stadiums with renewables

And you thought by “football” in my title I meant football? Pssh. I do love me some obscure European soccer news. So with no further ado: Scottish soccer team powers its stadium floodlights with wind power! Swiss soccer team has the world’s largest stadium-integrated photovoltaic system on the roof of the Stade de Suisse Wankdorf Bern! Heh heh. Wankdorf.

Colbert on the Northern Passage


Green bling

Rich lifestyles are getting greener, if not smaller

I guess how you react to this story about the rich trying to go green will depend entirely on the assumptions you bring to it: Yet with the green movement in vogue, the rich are looking for ways to compensate for their carbon-dioxide generation, which is linked to global warming, without crimping their style. Some are buying carbon "offsets" for their private-jet flights, which help fund alternate-energy technologies such as windmills, or carbon dioxide-eating greenery such as trees. Others are installing ocean-monitoring equipment on their yachts. And a few are building green-certified mansions, complete with solar-heated indoor swimming pools. Some …

Gristmill shameless product placement: Working Assets

New WA cell phone is ‘climate neutral’

In the interest of persuading the company’s extremely tenacious PR person to give me a moment’s peace, I’d like to direct your attention to the new (and world’s first!) "climate-neutral phone" from Working Assets. (Moral hazard alert: The phone is climate neutral through the purchase of offsets, which we all know are just medieval indulgences that allow you to continue guilt-free with your decadent, profligate, cell-phone-talking life, you dirty consumerist scum.) WA was a socially conscious company before being a socially conscious company was cool. My family’s been going through them for our long-distance service for years, and recently switched …

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