A plastic bag seeks its destiny

If you've got 18 minutes to spare, check out Ramin Bahrani's moving biography of a plastic bag: "Plastic Bag" is part of the Future States project, which, in 11 episodes, envisions the future by asking what will become of America in 5, 25, even 50 years. The tragically existential tale is perfectly voiced by Werner Herzog (of *Woyzeck*, *Fitzcarraldo*, and… read more →


Part of me thinks the point of Earth Hour (Saturday, March 27, at 8:30pm) is to raise the question What's the Point? But for whatever reason, the idea of turning off the lights and non-essential electronics for an hour brings out strong emotions. In one corner are those who believe that Earth Hour is an important communal statement: up to… read more →

Wal-Mart reaches beyond low-hanging fruit

I'm a bit late to this story, but a few weeks ago Wal-Mart pledged to cut 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from their supply chain by 2015. Catalyzing steps like this make it a lot harder for me, as a full-fledged environmentalist, to hate on Wal-Mart, though there are others who are doing so. The greenhouse gases embodied… read more →

Durable goods sadly unenduring

Although I blog semi-frequently about things I buy, mostly I work at buying as little as possible. Which is why I’m perturbed about the state of so-called durable goods around my house. Durable Goods are items which last a long time and are hence infrequently purchased. In a household, typical examples include refrigerators and furniture. Unfortunately, my durable goods seem… read more →

Environmental NGOs in bed with industry

There's a lesson to be learned from Johann Hari's screed in The Nation about corporate sponsorship of environmental NGOs: perception is important. In a fairly long article, Hari argues that a wide swath of environmental organizations are undermining their missions and their members by accepting corporate sponsorship. The targets are rather scattershot, but along the way Hari manages to accuse… read more →

Bill Gates is pretty much right

For my valedictory post, it’s tempting to engage in a little big-picture think. I’m also still mulling the general reaction to Bill Gates’ TED talk, which seemed to me both entirely too hostile and also reflective of some of the lingering pathologies in the environmental movement. So, yeah, this is going to be a bit of a ramble. Let’s start… read more →

Warmest January, ever

Europe is freezing and the Eastern U.S. just experienced a snow-pocolypse, so surely the whole global warming thing must be wrong, right? Sorry, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), but global warming is still happening, even though it snowed in January (of all things). According to the latest satellite data analyzed by climate scientist and IPCC member Neville Nicholls, this last January… read more →

Losing the messaging battle

If you've been paying any attention to the news, you know that there's been a dispiritingly high level of nonsense permeating the recent discussion of climate change. Of course, there's always a high level of nonsense attending any public discussion of climate change. But many of us have been taken aback by the amount of traction that various anti-scientific arguments… read more →

Weekly comment bait: Audi’s “Green Police” Superbowl ad

I didn't watch the Superbowl because I hate America was on a plane, so it wasn't until Monday that I became aware of chatter about the ad for Audi's A3 TDI clean diesel car, recently named the "Green Car of the Year" for its fuel efficiency. Apparently -- I haven't watched yet -- the ad portrays a "green police" squad… read more →

Nickel bag tax slashes waste in D.C.

Disposable plastic bags make up 47% of the trash in the Anacostia river basin, so Washington D.C. instituted a five-cent bag tax, effective January 1. How much difference could a nickel make? > Less than a month into the program, which D.C. officials describe as an effort to reduce litter and generate funds to clean up the Anacostia River, the… read more →
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