Is There No Place on Earth Without Ads? (ctd.)

One of the factors behind the rampant hyper-consumerism that so characterizes our culture is the ever-increasing presence of marketeers and the corporations that employ them. Ads appear everywhere — even as tattoos on shaved or bald heads, as I pointed out recently. Now Gail Collins, writing her regular op-ed column in the NYTimes, discusses the increasing use of product placement and mentions on television shows. We have long since gotten used to the idea that movies are awash with product placements, that the basketball game we’re watching is part of, say, the Doritos Home Classic at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. Reality shows on television exist in part to get ratings… Read More

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Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.

Here’s the skinny on a both widely debated and widely ignored topic. > Talk about an energy drink. The first comprehensive and peer-reviewed energy analysis of a bottle of water confirms what many environmentalists have charged. From start to finish, bottled water consumes between 1100 and 2000 times more energy on average than does tap water. [ScienceNow](http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/), the news magazine of the AAAS reports on a new study by Peter Gleick, President of the [Pacific Institute](http://www.pacinst.org/), and a colleague, Heather Cooley. Not only does this report confirm the outrageous disregard for the fundamental wasteful practice of drinking bottled water in situations where tap water is clearly an equivalent alternative. For… Read More

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Beginning to Get It?

Although I blanch at the overall idea of Greener Gadgets, it is encouraging that the sponsors of this year’s Conference recognize that what they are promoting is only relatively better that what is now available in the marketplace. A couple of years ago, this conference would almost certainly have been advertised as Green Gadgets. The program itself is not so discerning with sessions on MEASURING YOUR HUE OF GREEN and GREEN DESIGN FOR GOOD. Maybe in a few years, these folks will recognize that gadgets are part of the problem, not the solution. It is probably too much to expect technologically adept innovators to question the contribution of the fruits… Read More

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Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Begins at Home

Here’s a novel way to start putting CSR into play. The writer, [Scott Cooney](http://greenoptions.com/author/scottcooney), was suggesting a strategy for dealing with the economic crisis. Cooney calls it a counterintuitive strategy. > Try this: empower your employees. Give them even more reign over your company. Task them with righting the ship. Elevate them, during this time of crisis, to the level of partner. Ask them to think like an owner. It may not resemble the usual CSR programs, but think about it–isn’t this the essence of responsibility to one of the critical set of stakeholders, the employees. I don’t think it is counterintuitive at all, just not normal. I find it… Read More

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Crisis = Danger + Opportunity

Reading Ben Barber’s piece, [A Revolution in Spirit](http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090209/barber) in the *Nation*, questioning the future of capitalism, as we know it, woke me to an situation that was not available to me when I wrote my book. My underlying strategy in the book for transforming our present hyper-consumerist culture is a modest, subversive process to change present beliefs and values by encoding a sustainability set into commonplace artifacts and collective decision processes. My argument, a few years ago, was that there was no big crisis apparent in the public consciousness. I did believe such a crisis of unsustainability was indeed present, but, because our social psychologists tell us we can only… Read More

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Taking Care of the Earth–But for the Wrong Reasons

The New York Times magazine had a fascinating story this week about the effort that is going on to preserve the whooping crane, long a threatened species. The story covers tales of people dressed in crane suits and guiding young cranes by flying ultralights along their migration route. These are cranes hatched and raised for quite a while in a strange sort of captivity, being cared for, but at the same time being kept away from contact with human beings, at least from human beings not outfitted in a suit designed to mimic the cranes. The story about the cranes is certainly interesting on its own merits, but what caught… Read More

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How Green Was My Valet?

Joel Makower began a recent piece with this question: What is it with pollsters and green consumers? Why do nearly all of the surveys seem so gushingly optimistic, even during pessimistic times? That’s a question that’s been nagging me the past few weeks. He starts to answer his own questions, pointing out that the results of many of the survey results he lists are suspect. Some were done by companies with a strong interest in the outcome. And there are some that are simply misleading or so badly articulated that the happy outcomes reported may be figments of the poor writing skills. But he asks an important question still. Are… Read More

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Bathing in Carbon Dioxide

Andrew Revkin has another not-to-miss piece. The message is stark and not to be put off even as the global economy keeps cratering. Flourishing has little possibility to show up until we put the Earth back into working order. The nub of Revkin’s piece starts with a quote from Todd Stern: “This not a matter of politics or morality or right or wrong. It is simply the unforgiving math of accumulating emissions.” Todd Stern, the new United States special envoy on climate change, clearly understands the “bathtub effect” that experts say makes the rising human contribution to the atmosphere’s greenhouse effect such a thorny challenge. The “bathtub” effect is pretty… Read More

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Irtnog

My wife looked at my recent post about Twitter, and said it reminded her of a story by E. B. White she used to read to her students back when she was teaching long ago. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, White wrote about the need to condense what was being written everyday into ever shorter pieces so that readers could keep up with writers. The ultimate result should be obvious, but here are a few paragraphs from the essay to savor. The whole essay, titled Irtnog, has been posted elsewhere. It appeared in 1927 in a collection of his essays, entitled Quo Vadimus? There was a tremendous volume… Read More

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