Archive for the ‘green’ tag
I thought this article was worth reading, especially this part…
The math does not add up for this statement that Romney directed at Obama.
The president’s 2013 budget called for elimination of tax breaks for oil subsidies, which the White House estimated at $4 billion per year. Dividing $90 billion — the federal money that Romney claims went toward clean energy — by $4 billion in breaks for the oil industry amounts to 22.5 years, not 50 years.
It’s also worth noting that the $90 billion was not “breaks,” but a combination of loans, loan guarantees and grants through the stimulus program, and they were spread out over several years rather than one, as Romney claimed.
Furthermore, not all of the money went to the “green energy world.” About $23 billion went toward “clean coal,” energy-efficiency upgrades, updating the electricity grid and environmental clean-up, largely for old nuclear weapons sites.
Pleased to read of these projects going forward despite the city’s budgetary woes. Investing in infrastructure is nearly always worth the expense, in the long run.
Several major projects remain on the city’s lakefront docket, aiming to complete the makeover that began nearly a decade ago and create an unbroken, 3-mile stretch of green jewels. Up first is a do-over for Navy Pier. Remade just a decade and a half ago for $225 million, the current version is widely seen as a pavement-heavy, retail-dominated tourist trap.
The new scheme, shaped by the pier’s owners and Gensler design, envisions new green spaces, sculptures and pools to go along with a redesign of the shopping arcade and family pavilion. A design competition is underway. Several favorites – including Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid and local architect and recent MacArthur “genius” winner Jeanne Gang – have already been eliminated.
The finalists, announced a couple months ago, include James Corner, designer of the High Line, the Danish firm BIG, and Chicago up-and-comer UrbanLab, which won several awards for its visionary Growing Water proposal a couple years ago.
The winning design is to be announced in mid-February, after a public viewing period of the finalists’ proposals, starting February 2. The project, which is scheduled for completion for the pier’s 100th anniversary, is budgeted around $200 million.
Just west of the pier, the Navy Pier Flyover is set to begin construction this year at a cost of $50 million. An elevated overpass for bikers and pedestrians, the flyover will increase safety and reduce the bottleneck on the busiest section of the lakefront trail, near Grand Avenue and Lake Shore Drive. Plans also include ramps and pathways leading to the pier itself and nearby DuSable Park.
A new section of Grant Park is also in the offing. New York architecture firm Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates has laid out a detailed plan for the $30 million remaking of the park’s north end, expected to begin this fall. It includes a climbing mountain, a skating ribbon, rather than a rink, and a handful of meandering trails, green spaces and sculptures. The work should be completed in 2015.
(click here to continue reading A Green Revolution in Chicago – Design – The Atlantic Cities.)
and slightly more on the Grant Park project:
Long-awaited designs for renovating north Grant Park finally were unveiled at a recent meeting conducted by Gia Biaggi, director of park planning for the Chicago Park District. The meeting was one of several public gatherings sponsored by the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) and the Chicago Park District (CPD) over the last 18 months.
The project will transform Grant Park between Randolph and Monroe Streets and from Columbus Drive east to the Cancer Survivors Garden. It grew out of the need to replace the interior of the Monroe Garage, which supports Daley Bicentennial Plaza. With the garage closed, workers have almost completed the interior work. In Phase II, they will repair the garage roof; because of its position below the park and beneath the plaza, they must remove almost 20 acres of park land to complete this phase.
“We decided on a new park design because of this,” said Bob O’Neill, GPC president. “We will begin breaking ground in the fall of 2012 and remove the garage when summer is over. Hopefully, they’ll start doing the park in 2013 and open in the spring of 2015. It’s an enormous project, but to do it right, we can’t do it any faster.”
The park will offer a variety of unusual amenities, to make it attractive to as many people as possible. The project budget is about $30 million, but O’Neill would like it increased by another $20 million from corporate and private sponsorship. Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, the landscape architecture firm chosen to design the project, strives for environmentally sustainable landforms offering “fluidity.”
One amenity under consideration is a waterfall that would become a wall of ice in winter. Van Walkenburgh explained his philosophy that a park can provide more than a network of paths by introducing rolling landforms that create diverse usage; have naturalistic planting; mitigate noise, wind, and sun for comfort; and offer untraditional play areas for children.
He wants to make “one of the very best playgrounds that America has” for kids in North Grant Park. Besides the traditional swings and play equipment, he plans to create innovative play spaces using green materials and nature to encourage exploration and imagination and add diversity to children’s enjoyment. The firm will fill the park predominantly with green space, water, natural materials, and landforms winding around and flowing naturally through the park.
Sculptures scattered throughout the winding paths will enhance the experience. North Grant Park will be both active and passive.
The active area will allow visitors to interact with the environment, explore nature, and “roll in the grass and play in the snow,” Van Walkenburgh said. The current design includes a climbing wall and ice skating; a circuit of trails will allow people of all ages to wander among trees and engage in imaginative play.
Passive enjoyment will come from benches allowing visitors to rest, observe, and “feel one with nature,” he said. “The intention is to mix it up and give people choices.” Van Valkenburgh noted the park’s urban component, an important feature that will offer cafes, beer gardens, green markets, and places where people of all ages can gather.
(click here to continue reading Gazette Chicago » Officials reveal Grant Park renovation plans to public.)
The bike trail gets pretty funky by Navy Pier, especially on a warm, summer day, so this is good news.
The Navy Pier Flyover, a proposed overpass that’s been touted as a safety boon for bikers and pedestrians on the heavily-traveled lakefront trail, is slated to get a big chunk of money that could make the project a reality.
The proposal envisions a half-mile bridge that would deliver walkers and pedalers across the Chicago River and over a thorny intersection at Grand Avenue and the lower level of Lake Shore Drive. Just west of Navy Pier, the junction is widely known as a magnet for high-risk traffic, channeling thousands of day commuters and tourists by the hour.
Running 18 miles in total, the trail begins at Hollywood Avenue on the city’s North Side and reaches down to 71st Street on the South Side. But the area near Navy Pier is one of the busiest parts of the whole path, and most in need of help, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Brian Steele.
The flyover project, passed before the city’s plan commission in February, currently touts a price tag of $49.1 million. Part of that bill could be footed if the proposal makes its way into the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, a federally-funded reimbursement initiative that is managed by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and aimed at tackling transit-pollution issues in the region. CMAP, which oversees infrastructure and transportation projects in Northeastern Illinois, is considering forking over $11.3 million to help with the construction of the bridge in two phases. That’s just one of 350 applications — totaling requests of over $1.8 billion — that the agency is currently reviewing. The program has between $350 and $400 million dollars to dole out for projects running through 2016.
(click here to continue reading Congested lakeshore path could get cash for a revamp near Navy Pier | News | Skyline.)
Incredible news, if it ends up being completed in my lifetime. Even if only some is completed, it will help filter out pollution from Gary, Indiana, and elsewhere from reaching downtown Chicago.
The largest urban park in the contiguous United States is coming to Chicago.
A new project, backed by at least $17 million from the state, aims to turn 140,000 acres of under-used and post-industrial land along the Second City’s southern rim into a public recreation hub called the Millennium Reserve.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn hopes to add private funding to the project, figuring the reserve will boost the economy and create hundreds of jobs. Environmental groups have been calling for a makeover for the Calumet region for years. “The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management,” the Sierra Club of Illinois said in a statement.
In comparison, New York’s renowned Central Park is a mere 843 acres. In fact, New York City itself has four or five parks larger than Central Park, depending on who’s counting. Still, its attractions include a zoo and wildlife center, a lake, a concert arena and a world-class restaurant, as well as an endless list of film locations.
Chicago’s largest existing park is Lincoln Park, a 1,200 acre lakefront stretch of ball fields and open space that includes a conservatory, a nature museum and a popular zoo. Though partially outside the city, the Millennium Reserve will put it to shame, upon completion. The first phase is scheduled to open in a few years.
(click here to continue reading A Plan for America’s Largest Urban Park – Jobs & Economy – The Atlantic Cities.)
I hope they utilize their learnings from the creation of Henry Palmisano Park in Bridgeport.
The largest open space project in the country is coming to the South Side of Chicago. The project aims to transform 140,000 acres of brownfields and other under-utilized land in the Calumet region into the Millennium Reserve — a public recreation hub teeming with plants, wildlife, trains and parks. The effort draws from President Barack Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative and state resources.
“Our state – we’re putting in $17 million in this mission of reclaiming land and building a special place of nature conservation,” Ill. Gov. Pat Quinn said Friday.
The announcement was made near 111th Street and the Bishop Ford Highway. Quinn said the hope is to leverage private money into the overall project. Local officials also say Millennium
Reserve will bring economic development and jobs to the area. The first phase won’t be finished for several years.
Environmental groups applauded the announcement and the project’s aims; for years several advocacy organizations have clamored for restoration and greenways.
In a statement, the Sierra Club of Illinois said: “The Millennium Reserve Plan represents the first viable, large-scale attempt to protect and enhance the Lake Calumet area through an integrated, cooperative approach to land and resource management by multiple state, local and federal agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations and the local economy.”
Homage to George L. Kelling
Speaking of green jobs, and of the moronic statement that EPA regulations will “cost jobs” that is the GOP mantra so compelling even Obama chants it in unison with the Koch Brothers and their Republican Party employees, Paul Krugman writes:
As some of us keep trying to point out, the United States is in a liquidity trap: private spending is inadequate to achieve full employment, and with short-term interest rates close to zero, conventional monetary policy is exhausted.
This puts us in a world of topsy-turvy, in which many of the usual rules of economics cease to hold. Thrift leads to lower investment; wage cuts reduce employment; even higher productivity can be a bad thing. And the broken windows fallacy ceases to be a fallacy: something that forces firms to replace capital, even if that something seemingly makes them poorer, can stimulate spending and raise employment. Indeed, in the absence of effective policy, that’s how recovery eventually happens: as Keynes put it, a slump goes on until “the shortage of capital through use, decay and obsolescence” gets firms spending again to replace their plant and equipment.
And now you can see why tighter ozone regulation would actually have created jobs: it would have forced firms to spend on upgrading or replacing equipment, helping to boost demand. Yes, it would have cost money — but that’s the point! And with corporations sitting on lots of idle cash, the money spent would not, to any significant extent, come at the expense of other investment.
More broadly, if you’re going to do environmental investments — things that are worth doing even in flush times — it’s hard to think of a better time to do them than when the resources needed to make those investments would otherwise have been idle.
(click here to continue reading Broken Windows, Ozone, and Jobs – NYTimes.com.)
Seems so obvious to me, and others, that I wonder what else is going on. Perhaps the rumors of Koch Brothers investing in Obama’s 2012 campaign are true, or maybe they’ve told him they’ll sit on the sideline instead of investing billions to defeat Obama. Or else Obama is just getting horrible, horrible advice from his staff…
Baby steps, yet they should be celebrated because the alternative is sitting on our hands as the planet fries…
THERE are many places in Illinois where you expect to find a prairie. The roof of City Hall in Chicago is not among them. Yet there it is—20,000 square feet (almost half an acre) of shrubs, vines and small trees, 11 storeys above LaSalle Avenue. Planted in 2000, City Hall’s “green roof” reduces the amount of energy needed to cool the building in the summer; captures water during rainstorms, thus reducing the amount of water flowing into Chicago’s already overtaxed sewers; and combats the urban “heat island” effect, which makes cities warmer than nearby rural areas. On average, air temperatures above City Hall are 10-15°F degrees lower than those above the adjacent black-tar roof of the Cook County Building; on hot summer days the difference can be as great as 50°F.
Large as it is, City Hall’s roof accounts for a small proportion of Chicago’s total green-roof space. And those roofs are just one part of Chicago’s Climate Action Plan (CCAP), which was launched in September 2008 and was preceded by years of green initiatives during the tenure of Richard Daley, who from 1989 until earlier this year was mayor of Chicago. CCAP aims to reduce Chicago’s greenhouse-gas emissions to 75% of their 1990 levels by 2020, and to just 20% of their 1990 levels by 2050. In the two years after CCAP’s launch public-transport ridership rose, millions of gallons of water were conserved, hundreds of hybrid buses were added to Chicago’s fleet and over 13,000 housing units and nearly 400 commercial buildings were retrofitted for energy efficiency.
These achievements have come not through sweeping social engineering, or by making Chicagoans dine on tofu, sprouts and recycled rainwater while sitting in the dark, but by simple tweaks. City buses inevitably need replacing; so why not replace them with hybrid models that are not only 60% lower in carbon emissions than standard diesel buses, but also 30% more fuel-efficient and will save an estimated $7m a year in fuel and upkeep? Alleys—Chicago has 1,900 miles of them—will inevitably need repaving; why not repave them with permeable, light-coloured surfaces rather than asphalt to reduce water run-off into sewers and reflect rather than retain the sun’s light and heat?
(click here to continue reading Cities and climate change: Greening the concrete jungle | The Economist.)
Daley’s plan has been criticized because implementation has been slow, but at least something is happening, in Chicago, and nine other American metropolitan areas that are leading this effort:
Chicago and New York are just two of the ten American cities—the others are Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle—who are members of the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group (mercifully renamed the C40), which now comprises 58 cities around the world. Roughly 297m people, less than 5% of the Earth’s total, live in the 40 charter-member C40 cities. But they account for 18% of the world’s GDP and 10% of its carbon emissions.
Jobs, green energy jobs could be a solution to our anemic economy; if we had a functional political class. Instead we have one party1 willing, and able, to sacrifice national prosperity on the alter of upcoming elections, and another party2 too mealy-mouthed to do much about it. Meanwhile, China and the rest of the industrialized world is lapping us in investing in future technologies.
The New York Times reported that “much of China’s clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not,” including “heavily subsidized land and loans.” Those subsidies are part of a comprehensive policy agenda set by the Chinese government, which “sends clear signals to investors,” according to a Brookings Institution report:
Critical to China’s success is its articulation of a comprehensive and long-term state clean energy build out policy that sends clear signals to investors. Through its 12th Five Year Plan, China has identified “new energy” as one among seven “strategic emerging industries” and will invest $760 billion over the next 10 years in this sector alone. A range of complementary policies will guide these investment decisions, including the Renewable Energy Law, national demand-side management regulations, and pilot carbon taxes, among others. China has swiftly made itself a clean energy power, in large part by ensuring the availability of copious, affordable capital at a time it has been short in the United States. And the Deutche Bank Climate Change Advisors said in a recent report that there’s a lot more the U.S. could do to create a policy framework that encourages clean energy investment:
Countries with more ‘TLC’ - transparency, longevity and certainty – in their climate policy frameworks will attract more investment and will build new, clean industries, technologies and jobs faster than their policy lagging counterparts. This is particularly evident in countries such as Germany and China, who have emerged as global leaders in low carbon technologies and investment in recent years. In stark contrast, a politically divided US Congress and vast budget deficit has resulted in very little significant regulation at the Federal level, with substantial implications for emerging clean technology industries in the US. This climate policy inertia has existed for some time in the US now, with activity on this front largely taking place at the state level. We have long argued that the states must continue to press ahead with climate legislation, but a negative effect of this trend is a patchwork of inconsistent state policies. The net effect is that while Congress stumbles, the US stands to fall behind.
(click here to continue reading Conservative Media Declare That Solar Power “Doesn’t Work” | Media Matters for America.)
Regardless, this Chicago initiative is pretty smart. Are other cities this far along? I assume any government run by Republicans will have their head in the sand, pretending that the earth’s climate isn’t changing, despite evidence.
The Windy City is preparing for a heat wave — a permanent one. City planners in Chicago have been told that as temperatures rise, some plants native to the region will die out. Climate scientists have told city planners that based on current trends, Chicago will feel more like Baton Rouge than a Northern metropolis before the end of this century.
So, Chicago is getting ready for a wetter, steamier future. Public alleyways are being repaved with materials that are permeable to water. The white oak, the state tree of Illinois, has been banned from city planting lists, and swamp oaks and sweet gum trees from the South have been given new priority. Thermal radar is being used to map the city’s hottest spots, which are then targets for pavement removal and the addition of vegetation to roofs. And air-conditioners are being considered for all 750 public schools, which until now have been heated but rarely cooled.
(click here to continue reading With Eye on Climate Change, Chicago Prepares for a Warmer Future – NYTimes.com.)
and one more snippet, but you should read the whole, interesting article (free using this link).
As the region warms, Chicago is expecting more frequent and extreme storms. In the last three years, the city has had two intense storms classified as 100-year events.
So the work planned for a six-point intersection on the South Side with flooding and other issues is a prototype. The sidewalk in front of the high school on Cermak Road has been widened to include planting areas that are lower than the street surface. This not only encourages more pedestrian traffic, but also provides shade and landscaping. These will be filled with drought-resistant plants like butterfly weed and spartina grasses that sponge up excess water and help filter pollutants like de-icing salts. In some places, unabsorbed water will seep into storage tanks beneath the streets so it can be used later for watering plants or in new decorative fountains in front of the high school.
The bike lanes and parking spaces being added along the street are covered with permeable pavers, a weave of pavement that allows 80 percent of rainwater to filter through it to the ground below. Already 150 alleyways have been remade in this way.
The light-reflecting pavement is Chicago’s own mix and includes recycled tires. Rubbery additives help the asphalt expand in heat without buckling and to contract without cracking.
Among the ideas rejected, Ms. Malec-McKenna said, were plans to immediately shut down local coal-powered energy plants — too much cost for too little payback.
A novel strategy. Will it change anything? Probably not, unless people stop purchasing Fiji Water.
A Southern California woman has sued the FIJI Water Company in a class action complaint that alleges the firm’s claim of having a carbon-negative product amounts to false and misleading advertising that sways consumers to buy the pricey bottled water.
The law firm Newport Trial Group filed the suit on December 20 in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana on behalf of Southern California resident Desiree Worthington, who is described as having purchased FIJI Water repeatedly in the past four years — a period that roughly coincides with the start of FIJI’s carbon-negative marketing campaign.
FIJI Water announced the campaign in November 2007 as part of a broader plan to make the bottling, packaging and transportation of the product more environmentally responsible.
(click to continue reading FIJI Water Sued Over Claim That Product is Carbon Negative | Reuters.)
The complaint says:
“Defendants’ carbon-negative claim is deceptive and misleading … reasonable consumers of FIJI water understand Defendants’ ‘carbon-negative’ claim as meaning that FIJI water’s current operations remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they release into it. This is simply not the case; in reality, FIJI water’s operations do not remove more carbon from the atmosphere than they release into it. Instead, they use a discredited carbon accounting method called ‘forward crediting.’
“To reduce their carbon footprint, corporations purchase carbon ‘offset credits,’ which is a generic term for any tradable certificate or permit representing the right of the purchaser to emit one ton of carbon dioxide. ‘Standard offset credits’ represent carbon reductions that have already taken place. By contrast, ‘forward offset credits’ represent carbon reductions that may or may not take place up to several decades in the future.”
And Mother Jones adds:
Despite selling, you know, water, Fiji Water is not the most transparent corporation. The company, the subject of a groundbreaking investigative feature we ran in 2009, is now the target of a lawsuit for deceptively marketing itself as “carbon-negative.” A US District Court class-action suit filed by a Newport, California, firm on behalf of a Santa Ana woman named Desiree Worthington accuses Fiji Water of using a practice known as “forward crediting”: essentially, giving yourself credit for carbon reductions that haven’t happened yet.
In the lawsuit, Worthington argues that she paid more for Fiji Water specifically because it advertised itself as a carbon-negative product. She says she expected that the “carbon-negative” label meant that Fiji was currently taking more carbon out of the environment than it was producing. This is consistent with the company’s view: Fiji Water claims on its website to have been “a carbon-negative brand” since 2008, “under which we will continue to offset 120% of our emissions” (emphasis mine). However, under the forward crediting model, the offsets do not need to be currently occurring, they can simply be anticipated actions. Indeed, Fiji Water has said in a press release that the offsets necessary to make it “carbon-negative” will not be realized until 2037.
(click to continue reading Fiji Water Sued for Greenwashing | Mother Jones.)
An article on Friday about a legal dispute between American sunken treasure hunters and the government of Spain, in which the treasure hunters are using some of the confidential diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks, referred incorrectly to the release of those cables. WikiLeaks has 251,287 cables and has released all of them to several news organizations; it has not released all of them publicly. (According to the State Department, about 2,700 of the cables have been made public to date.) The error also appeared on Dec. 4 in an article about the cables and in an Inside The Times capsule summary for that article.
LEED-bashing Reaches New Heights In Fast Companyby Lloyd Alter, Toronto on 01. 7.11DESIGN & ARCHITECTURE Image credit swanksalot via Creative Commons
Attribution: www.flickr.com/photos/swanksalot…This product uses the Flickr API but is not endorsed or certified by Flickr.
Well, on the one hand, the Chinese government fully supports and subsidizes its green power industries, and on the other hand, the U.S. government, and especially the Tea Baggers and Oil Slurper Republicans are dismissive of any energy policy that doesn’t focus solely on highways, natural gas, coal and oil. So, do the math: Chinese companies are going to be lapping the innovations of American companies until something changes. And it probably won’t.
Goldwind and other Chinese-owned companies plan a big push into the American wind power market in coming months.
While proponents say the Chinese manufacturers should be welcomed as an engine for creating more green jobs and speeding the adoption of renewable energy in this country, others see a threat to workers and profits in the still-embryonic American wind industry.
“We cannot sit idly by while China races to the forefront of clean energy production at the expense of U.S. manufacturing,” Senator Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, said during a debate this year over federal subsidies for wind energy.
(click to continue reading China’s Push Into Wind Worries U.S. Industry – NYTimes.com.)
and World Trade Organization threats notwithstanding, China is serious:
American wind output still meets only a small portion of the nation’s overall demand for electricity — about 2 percent — compared with countries like Spain, which gets about 14 percent of its electrical power from the wind.
And the tepid United States economy, rock-bottom natural gas prices and lingering questions about federal wind energy policy have stalled the American wind industry, which currently represents only about 85,000 jobs. Even the American market leader, General Electric, reported a sharp drop in third-quarter turbine sales, compared with the same period last year.
All of which might indicate that dim market prospects await the wave of wind-turbine makers from China. But the Chinese companies can play a patient game because they have big backing from China’s government in the form of low-interest loans and other blandishments — too much help, in the critics’ view.
In the case of China, the Obama administration is investigating whether the Chinese may have violated World Trade Organization rules in subsidizing its clean-energy industry.
Mr. Rowland’s company, Goldwind, is the fledgling American arm of a state-owned Chinese company that has emerged as the world’s fifth-largest turbine maker: the Xinjiang Goldwind Science and Technology Company.
To help finance its overseas efforts, Xinjiang Goldwind raised nearly $1 billion in an initial public stock offering in Hong Kong in October — on top of a $6 billion low-interest loan agreement in May from the government-owned China Development Bank.
Goldwind, which set up a sales office in Chicago, has hired about a dozen executives, engineers and other employees so far. Most, like Mr. Rowland, are Americans already experienced in the wind energy field.
Not sure where exactly the Goldwind U.S. HQ will be located, but somewhere near me presumedly. Google Maps says on W. Washington, which is probably correct, but Goldwind’s site doesn’t yet reflect this.
Another major international player in the wind energy business will soon be calling Chicago home, as Chinese manufacturer Goldwind has announced plans to locate its North American headquarters in the city.
Goldwind’s move to the Windy City is the latest in a string of major wind firms that have looked to Chicago as the most logical business center for their US operations, attracted by the city’s central location, international airports, strong legal and financial expertise, and an experienced, educated workforce.
The firm also announced it has hired a talented pair of new executives to head the company, including Tim Rosenzweig as CEO and Matthew Olive as Director of Sales, both well-seasoned wind industry officials.
(click to continue reading Goldwind to Locate US Headquarters in Chicago, Hires Executive Staff – News – The Illinois Wind Energy Association.)
However, honestly, as a consumer, I’d happily purchase a home windmill from any manufacturer, regardless of geopolitical concerns. Jingoism doesn’t really factor in. And I’d be happy if my cousin got a job with Goldwind, or some other foreign green energy company. If the US is too short-sighted to encourage alternative energy companies, well, c’est la vie.
Dan Frakes reports on the recent Apple, Inc. shareholder meeting:
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Apple’s environmental record and policies occupied a good chunk of the Q&A discussion. Apple took advantage of several shareholder questions to tout the company’s recent report on supplier sustainability (available on the Apple Website). Jobs claimed that Apple is the first company to work directly with suppliers on issues such as environmental impact and worker education and protection. Taking a jab at other companies, as well as organizations such as Greenpeace, he noted that “other companies just make promises” and attend conferences and events to “schmooze with [environmental groups], but the work ain’t getting done,” whereas Apple is actually taking steps to improve the company’s real-world green credentials and treatment of workers. Tim Cook added that Apple audited more than 100 suppliers in 2009, and more than half of those reported that they’d never been audited by a company other than Apple.
Similarly, in response to a comment that being green is also good for business, Jobs agreed, noting that by decreasing the size of product boxes, Apple has reduced the number of 747 cargo flights needed each year by the hundreds. “It’s the right thing to do from an environmental point of view; it’s the right thing to do from a business point of view.” Jobs also claimed that Apple is the leader in its industry when it comes to recycling, reducing toxins, smaller packaging, and workers’ rights.
(One shareholder, who had previously in the meeting spoken out against the two shareholder proposals, made the claim that global warming isn’t a serious issue and asked why Apple resigned its membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over green policies. Jobs replied, “I guess we have a difference of opinion.”)
[Click to continue reading Apple focuses on green at shareholder meeting | Mac | Macworld]
Good for Apple, really. And Jobs is correct, there are a lot of corporations that play up their “green” credentials, but aren’t really very environmentally conscious.
bonus for grins:
As usual, there were also a number of off-beat comments and questions, ranging from suggestions that Apple invest in Tesla Motors (Jobs: “We were thinking of a toga party, actually”)
Perhaps the most thoughtful response of the day came when a woman wondered about the biggest challenges the company sees going forward, asking Jobs, “What keeps you up at night?”
“Shareholder meetings,” Jobs quickly quipped, before giving the meeting a cold splash of reality.
“Apple requires stability in the world. People aren’t going to worry about which laptop to buy if they can’t afford dinner, can’t afford to send their kids to school, can’t afford textbooks. There are things much bigger than us that are out of our control. So we try to just do the best we can.”
Amusingly intriguing mushroom-based building material called EcoCradle.
Mycelium doesn’t taste very good, but once it’s dried, it has some remarkable properties. It’s nontoxic, fireproof and mold- and water-resistant, and it traps more heat than fiberglass insulation. It’s also stronger, pound for pound, than concrete. In December, Ross completed what is believed to be the first structure made entirely of mushroom … The 500 bricks he grew at Far West Fungi were so sturdy that he destroyed many a metal file and saw blade in shaping the ’shrooms into an archway 6 feet high and 6 feet wide. Dubbed Mycotectural Alpha, it is currently on display at a gallery in Germany.
Nutty as “mycotecture” sounds, Ross may be onto something bigger than an art project. A promising start-up named Ecovative is building a 10,000-square-foot myco-factory in Green Island, N.Y. “We see this as a whole new material, a woodlike equivalent to plastic,” says C.E.O. Eben Bayer.
[Click to continue reading Reading File - NYTimes.com]
Time Magazine adds more detail:
After the husks are cooked, sprayed with water and myco-vitamins and seeded with mushroom spores, the mixture is poured into a mold of the desired shape and left to grow in a dark warehouse. A week or two later, the finished product is popped out and the material rendered biologically inert. The company’s first product, a green alternative to Styrofoam, is taking on the packaging industry. Called Ecocradle, it is set to be shipped around a yet-to-be-disclosed consumer item this spring.
One of the beauties of Ecocradle is that unlike Styrofoam–which is hard to recycle, let alone biodegrade–this myco-material can easily serve as mulch in your garden. Ecovative’s next product, Greensulate, will begin targeting the home-insulation market sometime next year. And according to Bayer’s engineering tests, densely packed mycelium is strong enough to be used in place of wooden beams. “It’s not so far-out,” he says of Ross’s art house. So could Bayer see himself growing a mushroom house and living in it? “Well”–he hesitates–”maybe we’d start with a doghouse.”
[Click to continue reading Industrial-Strength Fungus - TIME]
According to the EcoCradle website, the stuff will be available pretty soon
A few interesting links collected January 18th through January 20th:
Change of Subject: W.W.R.D? — What Would the Republicans Do? – [Republicans]
now control the U.S. Senate, 41 votes to 59.The Democrats, based on this one very notable setback, seem poised now to attempt a strategy of retreat and appeasement, exactly as is being demanded by their harshest critics on Fox News. Evan Bayh, Barney Frank and the coalition of the pouty and lily livered seem to think voters in the fall will be drawn to the sight of their fluttering white flags.
Chicago Transit Authority urges commuters to report photographers | Photography is Not a Crime -
The Chicago Transit Authority is so “committed to safety,” that it is urging commuters to report people committing “excessive photography/filming.” The sign posted inside the train stations places photographers on the same level as, say, a non-CTA employee walking the tracks or an unattended package or “noxious smells or smoke.”
In other words, it accuses photographers of being possible terrorists or just suicidal maniacs.
The problem is that these signs not only encourage commuters to dial 911 when seeing someone taking photos, which will tie up real emergencies, it contradicts the CTA’s own policy on photography and videography within train stations
- Econundrum: 10 Eco-Apps for Your iPhone | Mother Jones – Econundrum: 10 Eco-Apps for Your iPhone
Division and Laramie, or nearby.
Schiff Residences building in the background with what look to be wind turbines for generating electricity
Dwell Magazine write-up about the building:
A few interesting links collected August 4th through August 7th:
- Whiskey – "I still hate myself,
I still don’t believe in God,
And that hole inside me has grown even bigger
But I know better than to drink
So much fucking whiskey
For no good reason."
- Backbeats – " The poem project is going fairly well; so far I have about a month’s worth of poems up, one per day. I’m trying to write at least a few per day so I have a backlog of poems ready in case I want to take a break, or go on a vacation, something, anything. I didn’t think I’d ever be writing poems again, but you know, it’s better than nothing. I’m just glad to have an outlet. What I do need, however, is exposure. It’d be nice to have a few inbound links from other people — if you’ve got any websites or leverage, that’d be pretty good. Or even better yet, encouragement, or pinging anybody you do know who’s into this kind of stuff."
- A Glorious Gallery of Rot: Compost as Art (Pictures) | Lighter Footstep – " Nationally, food waste and spoilage amounts to losses in excess if $75 billion. In some sectors of agricultural production, waste can be as high as 40 percent. These autumnal fruits and vegetables — photographed being readied for compost by Flickr user swanksalot — will get another shot at the table next season."
- Obama Foodorama: President Obama Gives Birthday Love–and Cupcakes–To Legendary White House Correspondent Helen Thomas – "Helen Thomas is the oldest correspondent in the White House Press Corps, and today she turns 89, right alongside President Obama, who turns 48. During today's press briefing, the President personally delivered birthday cupcakes to Ms. Thomas in the White House briefing room, a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday" was sung, and he gave her a birthday kiss"