Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wired Magazine - the Green Edition

[I started this back in May and never finished...just posting now]

Series of interesting articles in this month's Wired Magazine.

The Next Green Revolution is a call to arms using language only an MBA could love:

Green-minded activists failed to move the broader public not because they were wrong about the problems, but because the solutions they offered were unappealing to most people. They called for tightening belts and curbing appetites, turning down the thermostat and living lower on the food chain. They rejected technology, business, and prosperity in favor of returning to a simpler way of life. No wonder the movement got so little traction.

Technology can be a font of endlessly creative solutions. Business can be a vehicle for
change. Prosperity can help us build the kind of world we want. Scientific exploration, innovative design, and cultural evolution are the most powerful tools we have. Entrepreneurial zeal and market forces, guided by sustainable policies, can propel the world into a bright green future.

You don't change the world by hiding in the woods, wearing a hair shirt, or buying
indulgences in the form of save the earth bumper stickers. You do it by articulating a vision for the future and pursuing it with all the ingenuity humanity can muster.
Somebody might want to tell that to Julia Butterfly Hill.

The article further outlines four interesting strategies to focus on:
1. Developing renewable energies
2. Reducing "waste" (energy, industrial, etc.)
3. Building up cities over suburbs
4. Think quality not quantity.
...and the Author also runs an interesting website

Next article, 8 People and Trends to Watch is pretty self-expanatory. Kind of disappointing that's all they could come up with. 5 people? An author, a married-to-celebrity activist, a real estate builder and a governor. And if those are the four big trends that will save us, I'm stocking up on water wings and sun block now.

Carbon Quiz allows you to measure your carbon footprint and feel smug if you're in the "Deep Green" category. (ahem...I rule)

Interesting article on the power of consumers in spurring change. I suppose we should ignore the fact that consumerism is one of the main reasons we're in this miss.

Sorta sad moment here:
What percentage of our nation's energy currently comes from so-called alternative sources? Officially, 6.1 percent of our 2004 energy consumption came from renewable sources. But half of this energy is provided by hydroelectric power, which environmentalists usually don't regard as "alternative" (rare is the eco-warrior who loves the idea of damming up rivers). Strip away the hydroelectric, then, and you're left with a less impressive figure that encompasses geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass (which includes everything from switchgrass and ethanol to "sludge waste") sources: a piddling 3.4 percent. Solar energy accounted for less than 0.1 percent of our 2004 total consumption.

Grading of some environmental groups

And finally, an incredible Al Gore profile. Leaving aside his excellent PR efforts (capped by an epic SNL performance) and the overwhelming misery I feel when I think about the 2000 election...arghh. The piece is epic, and his company "Generation Investment Management" sounds very interesting.

Chicago - the Windy (Farm) City

Time Magazine covers Chicago's green building initiatives:

Sadhu Johnston, Mayor Richard M. Daley' s environmental commissioner...is working to turn Chicago into what he claims will be the most environmentally friendly city in the U.S. — as well as the nation's center for environmental design and the manufacturing of components for the production of alternative energy.

In much the same way that cities like Austin and San Francisco latched onto the boom in the Internet or biotech industry to propel their economies, Chicago is working hard to rev up its manufacturing and capitalize on the growth in green construction and wind and solar energies.

Interesting (and yet seemingly contradictory) statements here - a city is using "green" technology and concepts to encourage growth and industry. If it works, its another example of eco-friendliness becoming a revenue generator. The comparison between environmental sustainability and the Internet and biotech industries requires further thougth at a later date...are they similar? The "product" seems pretty different...

Among the examples cited in the article:

- the city has planted or negotiated the construction of over 2 million square feet of rooftop gardens, more than all other U.S. cities combined.

- Chicago is now among the largest users of green energy in the country, with a goal of using renewable energy for roughly a quarter of city operations. To help reach that goal, it has already attracted two solar panel manufacturers to set up shop in the area.

- Since Daley [deleting scandal mention due to word count]...took office in 1989, some 500,000 trees have been planted, the city has been decorated with fancy planters, park space has increased and the lakefront, while still soiled with pollution, is being cleaned and preserved at a level never before seen.

Nicely done Chicago.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Less than noble truths

Just because you're a narcissist doesn't mean everyone's not staring at you.