Oil Companies are Hypocrites

I read an interview this morning by former Massachusetts Representative Joe Kennedy, who runs the nonprofit Citizens Energy Corp., which provides discount heating oil to Americans in need in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

On quote of his that stuck out for me was this:

The U.S. oil industry in the last five hears has made over $800 billion in profits. None of them is putting profits back into developing new sources of crude.  ExxonMobile put zero percent of profits into renewable or alternative energy; BP, six tenths of 1%; ConocoPhillips, seven tenths of 1%; Shell, 1.3%; Chevron, 0.5%. And everybody says we’re running out of oil. You know, 74% of the earth’s surface – as we all learned in the third grade – is covered with water.  And we have developed less than 1% of the energy supplies contained underneath the surface of the ocean.  So there’s nothing to suggest to me that right now there’s an imminent crisis

It’s amazing how little these companies are putting towards alternative fuels.  It makes me think all those BP commercials I see on the Discovery Channel are totally hypocritical.

Technology and Genetics – When Should We Stop? When is it Enough?

A couple of years ago i read Bill Mckibben’s book Enough. It’s a great read. In the book he discusses what it means to be human. There are 3 subjects he focuses on in the book: genetic research, nanotechnology and robotics. In each one he explores that ever shrinking moral and spiritual boundary. Eventually, we’ll get to an “enough point” where we should stop trying to push the limits of technology and medicine.

My favorite part is the discussion of genetically enhanced children and how science (and our ambition) continues to push the limits of what is possible and how children, in enhacned, will never be strive to be great or to achieve as pianists, painters, or athletes because of their “programming.”

I always like Mckibben’s summary of the state of affairs and the recognization of trends in society both on a cultural and technological level – and he does a great job here. Here, more than his others he looks at the family structure and how it has been altered due to television and he doesn’t paint a good picture…

So, in the last century, the invention of the car offered the freedom of mobility, at the cost of giving up the small, coherent physical universes most people had inhabited. The invention of radio and TV allowed the unlimited choices of a national or global culture, but undermined the local life that had long persisted; the old people in my small rural town can still recall when “visiting” was the evening pastime, and how swiftly it disappeared in the 1950’s when CBS and NBC arrived. The 60’s seemed to mark the final rounds of this endless liberation; the invention of divorce as a mass phenomenon made clear that family no longer carried the meaning we’d long assumed, that it could be discarded as the village has been discarded; the pill and the sexual revolution freed us from the formerly inherent burdens of sex, but also often reduced it to the merely “casual.”

…how all this has happened and what it means to us…

Whether all this was “good” or “bad” is an impossible question, and a pointless one. These changes came upon us like the weather; “we” “chose” them only in the broadest sense of the words. You may keep the TV in the closet, but you still live in a TV society. The possibility of divorce now hovers over every marriage, leaving it subtly different from what it would have been before. What’s important is that all these changes went in the same direction: they traded context for individual freedom. Maybe it’s been a worthwhile bargain; without it, we wouldn’t have the prosperity that marks life in the West, and all the things that prosperity implies. Longer life span, for instance; endless choice. But the costs have clearly been real, too: we’ve tried hard to fill the hole left when community disappeared, with “traditional values” and evangelical churches, with back-to-the-land communes and New Age rituals. but those frantic stirrings serve mostly to highlight our radical loneliness.

All of this makes me hate myself for loving the show Seinfeld, which is actually just a show exploring what it means to live a life that has no meaning. It is true, when i look around I see a world where there’s nothing but consumption – and when Mckibben points it out, I had to step back and let out a big whoa.

Where it all ends – the mindless consumption, the lack of context – is that we need to take a stand as individuals and produce context for ourselves. If genetic engineering takes place, the human race can lose the ability to be an individual and for each person to have meaning. If technology continues, we can continue to go beyond nature to a world that is completely unrecognizable. McKibben concludes that it is our capacity as humans for restraint-and even for finding great meaning in restraint. “We need to do an unlikely thing: We need to survey the world we now inhabit and proclaim it good. Good enough.”

As a lover of technology and change, the concept of “Good enough” is quite a thought. You should definitely read this book.

DC Metro of the Future

Dean posted this on his site, and i thought it was worth a re-posting.

I love mass transit. I think it makes the world a better place and makes city life more vibrant and personal. There’s nothing worse than having all a city’s residents drive around in cars – or “metal coffins” (to quote Bodhi). DC is making an effort to expand the metro to reach farther out into the burbs and make it easier to get from Bethesda to Silver Spring.

  1. The purple line will go from Silver Spring to Bethesda and make it much easier to get “across town” which right now is always a traffic nightmare
  2. The Silver line will let you get to Tysons or Dulles. If anyone’s been on 66 during rush hour, you know that this is about 10 years too late. But it is still nice
  3. They want to extend the Green line out to BWI, which would be nice, but they already have a train that goes out there. Maybe they should just increase the frequency of the train?

I would also like them to add more stops on each line, especially going out on the red line. In NY, there’s a stop every 5 blocks (1/4 mile) and in DC it is more like every mile. More stops would make it more convenient and usable. But, as always, it’s a money issue.

What would you like to see the metro do for you to use it?

How to Save our Civilization (quote)

Quick quote by Lester Brown who is the author of over 50 books and thought to be “the guru of the environmental movement.”

One of the questions I am frequently asked when I am speaking in various countries is, Given the environmental problems that the world is facing, can we make it? That is, can we avoid economic decline and civilizational collapse? My answer is always the same: it depends on you and me, on what you and I do to reverse these trends. It means becoming politically active. Saving our civilization is not a spectator sport.

A good bio of Lester is here.  Check him out, he’s a legend

Green Chairs – Perfect for City Living

epgrow.jpgI spent much of my summer on a roof basking in the hot DC sun. While i love living in the city, i also love grass and the feel of soft grass. I think my problems are now solved with the Grow Chaise or the Nomad Grass Lounger. These are just what a man needs to bring nature into the city.

There are several designers making green furniture and i mean not just the color.  Frankly, if you live in the city, this is the best thing next to a park.
mattgagnonnomad.jpgMatt Studio, the designer behind the Nomad (above) creates all sorts of works that bring together the individual and their surroundings.  Ths is not unlike the philosophy behind Emily Plinton who designed the lounge to the right.  She believes that beauty can lie in unexpected places.  Amen to that.  Now i just need to get one of these on the roofdeck next to the kiddie pool.

(found that dean likes these too)

Clinton Making Gore His Bitch Again

We're all bitches!Here’s what i’m picturing in my head: Bill Clinton sitting around this spring with his shirt unbuttoned (one button too far) watching TV. On the tv, there’s a story about Gore’s comback and a review of the very good and disturbing movie The Inconvenient Truth. His immediately thought is, “shit i can’t have that bitch showing me up. That’s my VP!” So, like only the 2 term president could do, he whipped out his rolodex, got his peeps together and started a big “initiative” to put Gore in his place.
The initiative though is pretty awesome. The stated mission of the Foundation is to “strengthen the capacity of people throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.” To advance this mission, the Foundation is focused on four critical areas: 1) health security; 2) economic empowerment; 3) leadership development and citizen service; and 4) racial, ethnic and religious reconciliation. The Foundation works principally through partnerships with individuals, organizations, corporations, and governments, often serving as an incubator for new policies and programs. To participate you have to agree to put forth cash or action prior to joining which is probably the best way to get anything done. Here’s a good clip of Clinton talking about it on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:


Gore’s got to be pissed. He’s spent the past 3 years working on green projects and meeting with scientists, experts and “smart people” to put togehter his latest book and slideshow which is the basis of the movie. Hell, he even wrote a book 14 years ago about the environment (Earth In The Balance) back when being “green” meant being a good gardener. Now, Clinton swoops in and becomes the man when it comes to making a difference. As they say, anyone can be a critic, execution is what matters and aparently he. is. rocking!

Now whenever people think about global warming and helpign the environment,suck it clinton it’s all about the Clinton Initiative. Read the latest about Richard Bramson’s 3 billion pledge from the CNN article:

Clinton praised Branson, calling him one of the “most interesting,” “creative” and “genuinely committed” people he had ever known.

Branson said he was inspired to contribute after a meeting with Al Gore, who served as Clinton’s vice president and has been highly visible in raising awareness about global warming and environmental issues. Gore was scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Quoting Clinton even though Gore did all the work. Poor bastard. I love what Gore’s being doing, and it kind of pains me that Clinton’s getting all the credit and clintonbeing perceived as the man in this arena. Oh well, i guess some things never change.

Guerrilla Gardening

The was a post (here) about how watching the awesome TED speech by Majora Carter (which i posted about a month ago) reminded him of another project committed to green spaces in the inner city; Guerrilla Gardening, people who go and garden in neglected public spaces, without permission but with love, generosity, and humour.


The Guerrilla Garderers find abandoned, unregarded bits of urban environment, covertly sneak in at night and do some planting, some maintenance and eventually some harvesting. The idea has a distinguished history but has re-emerged in mainstream media through the efforts of a small band of gardeners in London, and around the world.

They are tryign to get 100 random acts of gardening in 4 countries by Sept 1, 2006.   Want to lend a hand?

TED Presentations, Dean Kamen & Majora Carter

I once had the priviledge to go to the TED conference (thanks to Jules) and saw the best speech i had ever seen by Dean Kamen and his quest to fix many of the problems of the world using technology.

Now TED is broadcasting their videos on their site. I recently watched another great speech by Majora Carter who advocates environmental justice through “green” community developments in the South Bronx. Her project is the Sustainable South Bronx and her speech is here and below – it’s worth a viewing.

As for the Kamen speech, i have the DVD and i’ll post it as soon as i get it up.

The Big Green Bus

12 Dartmouth students are driving their “Big Green Bus” from California to Hanoverthebus2.JPG (NH) and back on nothing by Vegetable Oil and solar power. Awesome.

This story will tell you more about how these guys will grab vegetable oil from restaurants along the way to power “the bus” and the solar power is keeping the oil from thickening while also powering their laptops and cameras.
Hell ya – go Dartmouth! Check out their site at http://www.thebiggreenbus.org

If you want to show your support, here’s their route