Social Media–Weak Ties v. Care

Malcolm Gladwell has an intriguing article in the current New Yorker (subscription required), questioning the claims frequently made about the “revolutionary” power of social media, like Twitter or Facebook. Since it takes a subscription to access the article, I will quote some of the key parts here. Jumping right to the main conclusion, Gladwell argues that the kind of concerted, extended action necessary to change well entrenched institutions requires strong ties, rather than the weak ties that social media create. The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool… Read More

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You (Don’t) Actually Get What You See

Another blog in my informal series that what you see is not necessarily what you get (especially when it comes to greener goods). The Economist recently carried an article claiming that the new solid-state lamps now coming on the market will not bring the energy savings the technology promises. Titled, Not Such a Bright Idea, the gist is that these intrinsically brighter lamps will increase the demand for light as all major lighting innovations have done historically. Solid-state lamps, which use souped-up versions of the light-emitting diodes that shine from the faces of digital clocks and flash irritatingly on the front panels of audio and video equipment, will indeed make… Read More

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A Glimmer of Hope

I have been uncharacteristically almost depressed about what I see and hear these days. The economy has recovered somewhat, but at the expense of unemployment at levels I cannot remember having lived through before. I was born in during the Great Depression, but have no direct memories of its impact, only the remnants I saw for years later in the attitudes and behavior of my parents. The political world is filled with static and anger, leading me to try to avoid this arena which I am usually deeply immersed. Progress toward action on climate change is dormant, and, worse, is being buffeted by the efforts of billionaires and many corporations… Read More

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The Impossibility of Measuring Greenness

If you have been following me for a while, you know that I am a skeptic about the ability of life-cycle analyses and all related indices or ratings based on them to allow consumers to make meaningful decisions about the products they choose to purchase. My resistance comes from two sources. The first has to do with the methodologies, and the second with the basic idea that numbers and the analyses that produce them can describe reality sufficiently to ground purely rational processes. All composite measures of environmental and social impacts are just that–a melange of factors spanning all the environmental media in the first case, and a similar set… Read More

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Choosing Sustainability

I’m back after a break for the Jewish Holidays. I’ll admit that being away from this blog was quite delightful, but the call to continue is strong–so here I am. Before returning fully to the “sustainability” found out there today, I am still thinking of all the calls for cleaning up my act I heard during these days of awe. The process of atonement and asking forgiveness is one of the most powerful moments during the ten days. The liturgy makes it easy to deal with transgressions against the Lord, whether one believes or not, but not for those against other people. The Lord simply forgives all us transgressors, but… Read More

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The Coming New Year

Hurricane Earl spared us, but left a strong wind behind–too strong for fishing. Not a great loss considering that the fishing has been the poorest in many, many years. We’re heading back to Lexington in a couple of days to celebrate the New Year. Among the many things I think about at this annual turning is this blog. I have been at it since my book was published about two years ago. I recall complaining lately how much more difficult finding stuff to write about either coming from inside my head and from the blogosphere and other outside sources. It’s not that there is a lack of stuff; the quantity… Read More

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Deck Chair Rearranging on the Titanic

The headline refers to the futility of taking meaningless steps in the face of an impending catastrophe. Much of what goes for “greening” could be described in this way. But this one takes the cake. “Fort McMurray launches plastic bag ban” is the headline of an article in the Edmonton (CANADA) Journal. Sounds great? Yes, this is a good idea, but it pales when one realizes that Fort McMurray is the center of the Alberta tar sands project. The ban is but a minuscule effort that will reduce damage to the environment by virtually zero compared to the effects of the oil project, one that has been called the most… Read More

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Mindfulness Again

My last post on mindfulness elicited a comment pointing me to a recent article in the Guardian on pretty much the same idea. It was an interview with a Zen Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who has recently published a book, The World We Have–A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology. He has a far more elaborated approach than the very rudimentary one I wrote about yesterday, but the ideas lead to the same place. I haven’t had time to read the book–I will–so I will crib some squibs from the Guardian. > He discusses in the book how he sat and consulted with the Buddha for many hours and… Read More

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Mindfulness Works

As I continue to enjoy the sun-filled days in Maine for a little while before returning to Massachusetts, I am quite aware of the peacefulness it creates. I have been catching up on my summer reading and seem to be able to absorb the stories more readily than when I am cramming the texts into the cracks of my daily busyness. I become aware of the power of reflection that the quiet induces. In theory, I believe that reflection can raise hidden triggers for actions I rue later, like stuffing too many hors d’oeuvres before dinner, or spending another hour in front of the computer screen. Most of the time… Read More

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