The Psychology of Environmental Communication

| Tuesday May 30th, 2006 | 0 Comments

brain.jpgWhich are you more apt to respond to while visiting your hotel room’s bathroom: “Help the hotel save energy, please reuse the towels” or “Help preserve the environment for future generations, please reuse the towels”? Check out the whole article here.
The latter boasts an effectiveness rate almost 8 times higher than the former (even if it does sound sorta hokey). Likewise, similar experiments on phrases like “Stay on the path” vs. “Dont go off the path” are interpreted in radically different ways. What’s fascinating about this is not so much the idea of controlling people’s minds, but rather learning about effective communication. It’s entirely possible that the psychology of whoever is uttering the phrase is equally affected. Cool stuff worth thinking about when arguing for a positive environmental agenda.

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Terrapass Takes on Ford Over CEI Ads

| Friday May 26th, 2006 | 1 Comment

tpass.gifNot too long ago, Ford signed a pretty revolutionary deal with Terrapass, offering buyers of Ford cars the option to “neutralize” their CO2 emissions by paying a little extra for a Terrapass. It’s a big leap forward in terms of creating options for people to reduce their carbon footprint.
The trouble is, Ford is a donor to the Competitive Enterprise Institute who recently produced a series of bizarre advertisements that essentially claim CO2 induced global warming is a hoax. Terrapass (who has an excellent blog by the way) promptly called them on it. Stating publically that nothing short of a wholesale dismissal of the ads and a public withdrawl of support to CEI would be the appropriate response from Ford.
Ford did in fact responded, stating they do NOT (their capital letters) support the message of the CEI ads and did NOT fund them, but stopping short ot explaining what their relationship with CEI is. Well, it’s not quite the response that Terrapass deserves, but it’s better than nothing. It’s certainly more responsible than GM’s gas subsidy plan.
But couldn’t Ford do better? They’ve clearly outlined their stance against global warming and if they don’t take a stance against CEI then their entire effort, including the Terrapass campaign risks falling to the wayside as yet another exposed greenwash. And if they do denounce CEI, then they would be seen as a better, more responsible leader, and I personally would be (slightly) more likely to buy their vehicles. They might even change some minds at CEI.

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GM Capping the Price of Gas. Is this the Beginning of the End?

| Thursday May 25th, 2006 | 3 Comments

gmlogo.jpgAs reported widely (LA Biz Journal, Treehugger), General Motors will offer a one year gasoline credit for buyers of new SUVs and full sized cars in California and Florida. Drivers will only pay a maximum of $1.99 per gallon for one year after the purchase date. This coincides with GM’s claim to be “going green”. Amazing.
From a business perspective, I’m trying to think of how this is good for GM in the long term… Are they trying to dump their worst performing models on an unsuspecting populace? Are drivers really stupid enough to take the bait? It seems like a classic short term view, the kind of thing that will come back to burn GM hard in the long term as people finally start wising up, or more likely, are forced to change to more efficient vehicles when they realize the price of gas isn’t going anywhere.
It’s time to dump the old addage that “What’s good for GM is good for the USA”. The dead opposite is increasingly true.

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The Hidden Costs of Shipping

| Wednesday May 24th, 2006 | 4 Comments

shipping.jpgJoel Makower’s latest post on Grist brings up some great things to be aware of regarding the environmental costs of shipping.
As with most fossil fuel dependant businesses I don’t think we’re going to see a great deal of change until the price of oil instigates it, but that’s not stopping a lot of interesting companies from starting to think about new innovation. My personal favorite is skysails, a concept to attach giant sails to stadard vessels, thus increasing fuel economy by significant amounts. Other, simpler efforts are under way to streamline tractor-trailers on the interstates (a friend of mine is working on this problem) and some people are even trying to re-introduce hydrogen airships.
The best part of all these things is that they reduce costs for existing businesses while at the same time creating a myriad of new business opportunities for entrpreneurs of all sizes. My advice is to start thinking about fuel cost reduction technology and you’ll have a winner of an idea.

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Experimental River Turbines May Help Power NYC

| Tuesday May 23rd, 2006 | 6 Comments

turbines.jpgThere’s a really cool exhibit on plans for the development of Roosevelt Island at the AIA center in New York this month. The Island is the skinny piece of land between Queens and Manhattan which is accessible mainly by the overhead gondola you may have seen in Spiderman. Anyway, the designs for its redevelopment are very cool, but Grist pointed out something even cooler today – a plan to install turbines underwater in the East River to possibly power the island. After all, the river is packed with tidal energy, so why not give it a try? Exactly how successful this may be is up in the air (er water), but it will be very interesting to watch.
(via Grist)

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“We Call If Life” I Call It Bad Business

| Monday May 22nd, 2006 | 4 Comments

dandelion.jpgIf you havn’t seen the mindboggling advertisements put out by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, watch the video below. CEI, funded by numerous companies – notably ExxonMobile, has produced these ads to make people belive that there is, in fact, no climactic crisis on the globe at all. The ads are so bad, they look like deliberate parodies.

I almost feel sorry for Exxon. They’ve got so much money right now they really don’t seem to know what to do with it. While BP and Shell continue to accept the facts about peak oil and global warming, slowly and visibly tranistioning themselves to a post-oil world by investing in solar and other technologies, ExxonMobile and other myopic corporations continue to blindly fight like stubborn mules. In ten or fifteen years, unless ExxonMobile gets a clue, we’re going to see BP and Shell picking apart its remains, and deservedly so.

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Put “An Inconvenient Truth” On Your Calendar

| Monday May 22nd, 2006 | 1 Comment

Al Gore’s New Film, An Inconvenient Truth, Comes out in NY and LA this week, and elsewhere the following week. If you’ve ever seen his slide show, then you’ve basically seen the film, but it’s still worth checking out to reinforce the sense of urgency with which we really need to address our environmental problems – not just those concerning CO2 emissions. You can read my review on TreeHugger, as well as check out the current list of opening days around the US and Canada. Click here to see the list and review.

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Kleiner Perkins Starts Green Innovation Award

| Thursday May 18th, 2006 | 1 Comment

kpcb.gifFrom this weeks SF Business Journal, VC firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers will offer an annual $100,000 prize to promote green technology. Citing the “enormous power in prizes”, the firm expects green innovation to be the among biggest economic opportunities of the new century. (Don’t we all?) (thx Jamie)

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Huge Green Section in NYTimes Today

| Wednesday May 17th, 2006 | 0 Comments

Holy Cow – There’s more on Green Business in today’s New York Times than I’ve seen in one place. I’ve only begun to check it out, so no thoughts yet, other than today is a good day to go out and buy the times.

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Simran Sethi Debuts TreeHugger News

| Wednesday May 17th, 2006 | 1 Comment

Presidio grad Simran Sethi will be hosting a new TreeHugger TV segment called “TreeHugger News”, a weekly wrap up of highlights from the site, and other interesting news! The debut looks pretty sweet so far. Check it out by clicking here. The future is green, as we say!

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New Pavement Could Alleviate Urban Heat Island Effect

| Tuesday May 16th, 2006 | 2 Comments

heat_island.jpgThe urban heat island effect is a costly bi-product of having a lot of land paved and built on. It can raise the air temperature in cities enough to send air conditioning bills through the roof, in addition to making things just plain un confortable. Green roofs, and lighter colored pavement help alleviate the problem, and a new innovation from Japan might help further – it’s pavement that actually soaks up water, which then is released slowly into the air, reducing the pavement temperature.
This particular example actually uses the groundwater – so i’m not sure it’s such a great idea, but I would imaging you could do something similar with stormwater or rain.

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UMass Toxic 100 List Updated

| Friday May 12th, 2006 | 0 Comments

pollution.jpgI should probably be working on my capstone (thesis) presentation for tommorow, but I couldn’t help spending a few minutes checking out the “Toxic 100” list from UMass which lists the 100 “most polluting” companies in the US. Everyone loves these rankings, and this one is filled with excellent detail down to the individual facilities’ emissions per company.
Of course, this doesn’t necesarily mean that the highest ranking companies on this list are the “worst” in terms of making efforts, just that they’re the biggest. So before we start demonizing the top 10, do a little homework. Notably missing are airlines and delivery companies – do emissions from operations not count? or do they really not add up that much? See the list here.

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Google Trends of 3P Relevance

| Thursday May 11th, 2006 | 2 Comments

More fun to have while I take a break from writing. Google Trends is sort of a build-your-own Zeitgeist where you can track the popularity of words and phrases in search queries as well as in the news. It’s even got geographic specificity. Here are a few interesting ones to play with:
Peak Oil
John Kerry
Global Warming
Katrina
BioDiesel
Kyoto Protocol

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Hugg Launches!

| Wednesday May 10th, 2006 | 0 Comments

Another TreeHugger project, we’re proud to announce the launch of Hugg. If you are familiar with sites like Digg, then you’ll “get it” right away. If not, please read the detailed description on TreeHugger and start hugging!

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The Final Final…

| Wednesday May 10th, 2006 | 2 Comments

So… I’m finishing up school this week and there are unlikely to be too many posts. Sometimes I gotta take a break. If you have antying worth sharing send me an email with a pre-formatted post and I’ll see what I can do. In the meantime, pop on over to some of these sites and have a read!
TreeHugger
Sustainablog
City Hippy
GreenLAGirl
WorldChanging
See you on the other side!

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