Our very own pal, Pablo Paster, has a short segment on Dow Jones’ MarketWatch today on home energy efficiency. Watch it right here, and don’t forget to send your questions on sustainability to Pablo at Pablo.paster – at – gmail.com
TriplePundit: Reporting on the Triple Bottom Line
In my opinion, 2007 is going to be a landmark year for environmental awareness. But some of that awareness will, unfortunately, come in the form of cynicism over green washing and even scamming. Aside from large corporate PR stunts that may be all smoke and mirrors, many small scale “entrepreneurs” are getting on the green band wagon in less that savory manners, according to this article in Forbes.
But I’m not too worried about it. In any boom time (And for green businesses the boom time is on the horizon) there will be a certain number of charlatans. A few publications will write articles highlighting some of them and a small handful of people will raise a stink saying that the whole green movement is a sham. They’ll quickly calm down when the multitude of legitimate businesses carry on.
PS – Why are so many scam companies headquartered in New Jersey or Florida? I’ve smelled that pattern before, am I hallucinating?
One teacher’s quest for real answers to the problem of student underachievement.
When I was a kid, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge meant paying a toll each way. For decades traffic slowed (or stopped) morning and night, every workday. Then, because 30 years is enough time to think things through, a light bulb went on in the Bridge Authority and they realized they could slow traffic down in only ONE direction each day, and charge double, because those people would go HOME at night!
What else is right in front of our noses but we won’t notice for 30 years?
For instance, is there some hidden cause for the decline in SAT scores, and the far higher rate of absences, retention, violence, and vandalism? Could school meals have anything to do with it? GoodSchoolFood.org Dr. Alexander Schauss thinks so, he found that whenever prisons or juvenile halls improved nutrition, there was up to 75% less violence, theft, and other antisocial behavior. It’s time to see the obvious: when it comes to school food “garbage in, garbage out.”
ED Note: This is the original “Ask Pablo” column which set off enormous hullabaloo about the “cost” of bottled water. This post was picked up by media organizations far and wide and even by the Fiji water company themselves, who have since taken some interesting steps. Please read it with that historical context in mind!
This week’s AskPablo comes from Maryline: “I am interested to know the ‘true-cost’ of a bottle of Fiji water that currently sells for $1.50 in the United States. David Lazarus wrote a report on the water business in the SF Chronicle and studied the success of Fiji (January 21 edition), where ‘distance and exoticism are marketed as advantages.’ Fiji is now # 2 in premium bottled water, behind Evian where we have the same transportation issue. An environmental absurdity!”
Please note: Due to overwhelming reader interest in this topic some of the assumptions made in this column have been adjusted. Numerous readers were kind enough to provide more accurate values for some of my previous assumptions.Click to continue reading »
Here’s a great interview with Ben Goldhirsch, the entrepreneur behind Good magazine. It’s nice to inherit 100 million, but even nicer to figure out something meaningful to do with it. Whether or not Good becomes a successful business remains to be seen, but he’s off to a great start.
This is somewhat tangentially related to business but it demonstrates the kind of thinking that needs to be done in order to address the environmental and social problems both business and society face. Recognize a poaching problem in India. Then, instead of rounding up poachers at great expense and at great cost to an impoverished society that is more concerned with putting food on the table than protecting resources, hire the poachers to be guides for tourists. Suddenly incentives are reversed, the former poachers enjoy a more lucrative and legal livelihood, educational interaction happens on all fronts, and the wilderness is saved! Tah dah! Watch this little National Geographic video for more.
The United States capital was surrounded by about 100,000 anti-war protesters on January 27, 2007. The event was sponsored by United for Peace, which was very effective in bringing together religious groups, labor unions, political parties, celebrities, parents of soldiers, schools, veteran organizations, environmental groups, and a variety of special interests groups to create a cohesive event with a clear message to end the war in Iraq. During the march, I was surrounded by a sea of chants and banners, each with a different flavor, yet a shared vision of peace. Numerous groups used a variety of theatrical tactics to have their voice heard. I caught a glimpse of Uncle Sam walked around on stilts with a Pinocchio nose, human statues creating a visual representation of the casualties of the war, and a black hooded man with an oil gun. A group of grannies sang “An Urge to Surge,” mocking Bush’s war tactics, showing how hip senior citizens can be. I struggled to keep up with a woman who is the spokeswoman of four senior groups and has been spending her retirement traveling around the country to voice the needs of seniors.Click to continue reading »
A few weeks ago I received the following question from A. Stevenson: “Any idea what a desktop computer uses when not turned on, or when it’s in ‘sleep’ mode?” This was in response to my Phantom Power article from January 1, 2007. Since I use a notebook computer I had to ask my dad to put his Kill-A-Watt meter to work on one of his office computers.Click to continue reading »
I’ve been absolutely amazed at the amount of coverage “Green” is getting in business publications lately. The Wall Street Journal is chock full of articles on carbon emissions issues and this week Business 2.0 devoted basically the entire issue to the entrepreneurial potential of clean technology and other environmental strategies. Read the whole thing here or go out and grab a copy, it’s great weekend reading.
The challenge now, of course, is how do we keep the quality from the junk, the green washing from the reality, and the greedy from cutting corners and giving the cynics ammunition. To me it seems like goal number one – convincing business that going green makes business sense – is complete. The challenge now is – how to do it right! That’s where you, dear readers, come into play.
I enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal on a daily basis, but sometimes it really seems like a stodgy old rag – today’s front page headline was a response to yesterday’s press conference by 10 leading companies urging a more proactive stance on climate change on behalf of both government and industry. The Wall Street Journal’s headline was: “In Climate Controversy, Industry Cedes Ground”. (Reprinted here)
Although the article does acknowledge that some companies “see a lucrative new market in clean-energy technologies” the vibe of the article, and the headline in particular, is that industry is somehow “losing” and that there remains a “controversy” over climate change. Indeed there does remain a certain controversy over precisely how to go about addressing climate change from the perspective of industry, but the verdict has long been in that most proactive steps to address climate change will be very good for both industry and economy in the long term. This is partly because the alternative may be collapse, but more so because addressing climate change means doing things more efficiently, and thus more profitably. The only missing ingredient is the right political and legislative climate to favor efficiency instead of a climate that subsidizes waste.
I knew they’d be the last oil company to say anything remotely green and I have to admit a huge dose of skepticism that they really mean it just yet – but – on the front page of toady’s Wall Street Journal (I tried to scan it but technical difficulties) is a full color advert proclaiming ExxonMobil’s intention to “working to reduce emissions for cars, trucks, and buses”. The ad goes on to say that the companies efforts could improve fuel economy 30% across the nation.
It’s just an advertisement, but I’m actually quite blown away as it’s by far the most proactive statement I’ve ever seen the old curmudgeon of a company utter. Are they finally starting to feel embarrassed by their stubborn myopia? Did today’s awesome press conference by captains of industry rub off on them? Are the right people inside the company finally being listened too? Or are they just making a teeny tiny effort to test the waters?
People in tie-dye everywhere will tell you that technology is the devil, but most of today’s “Cultural Creatives” will tell you that using a dishwasher is far more efficient than washing your dishes by hand. So which is it? Well, this week we will find out once and for all. I am joined by my friend Emma, a junior scientist in the third grade, who will help me conduct the necessary experiments to get you an answer.Click to continue reading »
Reporting on the various “green” initiatives coming out of bentonville is getting to be a bit of a cliche, not to mention straying dangerously toward greenwashing, but I have to commend this particular piece of news coming out of Kansas City. A new “supercenter” will be built there paying particular mind to energy efficiency in both the operations of the store itself as well as the products it offers.
I have to take it with a grain of salt in that Wal Mart still does next to nothing to address the impact of their lack of employee health care coverage on a community, not to mention their encouragement of car dependent suburban sprawl that a super center inevitable produces (easily negating the societal benefits of a greener store). But still, this is still something worth praising – if for no other reason than the big time media attention it gets which has the benefit of not only giving wal mart good, pr, but also making energy efficiency palatable for mainstream American business who will likely seek to emulate wal mart’s efforts.
One has to admit that fantasizing about private jet travel has its appeal, although perhaps that’s partly beacuse it’s so unrealistic for 99% of us. It’s also mostly an unneeded perk enjoyed by the super wealthy for largely frivelous reasons. But that doesn’t mean it’s going away.
So what can be done to make private jet ownership a greener choice? Anything at all? The answer may be fractional jet ownership. Since one hardly needs to use one’s jet on a daily basis, owning shares in a private jet club can give access to a jet when needed and let someone else use the jet when it’s not. Sort of like a car-share service. To top it off, sharing jet ownership is vastly cheaper than owning one yourself and therefore offers financial benefits as well as environmental ones. More info on the surprisingly green Helium Report.
This week’s AskPablo is inspired by the cold weather that we are experiencing here in California right now. Backyard pools have frozen over, the orange crop is seriously threatened, and the homeless population is at risk of hypothermia. All of this is occurring just over one week after I returned from Boston, where it was 71°F! Whether you are inside your house or venturing outside you might benefit from knowing about the different modes of heat loss and what you can do to stay warm and conserve energy.Click to continue reading »