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The latest news, food for thought, recipes you’ll love, great advice on everything from raising kids to nurturing bees, plus videos designed to entertain, educate and enlighten. If you’d like to find out what’s on our mind – or let us know what’s on yours -- this is place to be.

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Energy for Dummies, Part II: Special Congressional Edition

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Author: the Inkslinger

I’ve been sitting here fuming all afternoon about the information that Congress is actually considering taking renewable energy tax credits and utility mandates out of the 2007 energy bill. (And boy is my dog sick of listening to me....) But I’ve realized I should have capped my previous post with some information about what we can do to convince our elected representatives that this is a remarkably, shall we politely say, foolhardy course of sad inaction. So go here and help. Deliver a letter. Make a call. Send an e-mail. Put the pressure on. Because in 2007 it would be the absolute height of unmitigated insanity to have an energy bill that doesn’t include renewables let alone focus on them.

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Energy for Dummies

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Author: the Inkslinger

Here’s a question: Why do we even talk about fossil fuels anymore? Why do we care? Seriously. Why do we wring our hands over the price of oil? Why do we destroy entire mountain ecosystems in a fool’s errand for coal? For that matter, why do we keep irradiating ourselves with fissionable materials? Why do we give even so much as the time of day to any source of energy that involves splitting atoms or carbon-loading the atmosphere when the entire country and most of the rest of the world could do everything it needs to without depositing so much as a single thimble of anything into the air?

I have to ask because I absolutely do not get it. At all. I am utterly baffled. Truly. I’m constantly reading about incredible and incredibly workable ideas to generate power without pollution. Big, here-now, ready-to-go, here-you-are solutions that could do it all. Like Concentrated Solar Power, which could power 90% of the entire world, provide all the drinking water it could want, and here at home keep the U.S. lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids from now until the end of time using a patch of desert scrub just 92 miles square. Right here. Right now. Today. No more oil. No more OPEC. No more emissions. No more carbon. No more apocalypse. End of story.

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Big Green Myth

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I was extremely disappointed to read Ben Elgin’s cover story in the October 29th issue of BusinessWeek magazine. The article, “Little Green Lies,” wrongly suggests that profits and environmental initiatives don’t mix and that companies cannot hope to be both successful and sustainable.

This myth has long been discredited, and my dismay at finding it still being given credence was so great that I fired off a letter to the editor, a portion of which has just been published on the Opinion page in the magazine’s November 12th issue. Here’s the complete version:

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Selling Salvation

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Author: the Inkslinger

Under the headline “Climate Is a Risky Issue for Democrats,” an article in Tuesday’s Washington Post talked about what the Democratic candidates are saying about the climate crisis and posited that their general we-gotta-do-something-serious-but-it-ain’t-gonna-be-cheap-or-easy-or-fun campaign statements may be harmful to their electoral prospects.

Democrats' boldness, however, could carry a political price. The eventual GOP presidential nominee is almost certain to attack Democrats over the huge costs associated with limiting emissions. "They will come at this hard," said John Podesta, who heads the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and sees an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases as necessary.

Podesta may be right, but if Democrats think it’ll be a hard to campaign on a platform of climate crisis action wait ‘til they see life in a world whose candidates dare to do nothing. They don’t know from hard. And they seem to be unwilling to tap into the general sentiment out among the voters, which is that we’re all mostly ready to deal with this climate thing.

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Numerecology

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Author: the Inkslinger

Lots of enviro fact finding on the radar this week in the form of two major reports and several public opinion surveys that point to a coming crossroads that’s fast approaching. Does humanity blow right through the intersection and run off the rails? Or do we make the right turn and drive into a new era of sustainability? That, dear Yorick, is the question...

The International Energy Agency published it’s annual summary of the global energy situation this week. The World Energy Outlook looks at the state of things around the world and is not so sanguine about what it finds. The burgeoning economies of China and India are getting as hungry for energy as ours is, and we all know what’s happened here where 4% of the world’s population has somehow and against all odds found a way to produce 25% of its greenhouse gases. Think about what happens when 33% of the world’s population develops a similar appetite. That’s essentially what the IEA does here, and believe me when I say this is not a story to read to the kids at bedtime. There’s a scary monster under the bed, and it’s called Inaction…

Meanwhile, just days earlier, the United Nations Environment Programme releasesd its Global Environment Outlook. It’s another tough read and not because it uses big words or is written in Flemish. Rather, it’s a fairly unflinching look at what the environment is up against and the many ways humans need to back off a bit. Still, unlike the IEA report, whose authors probably leapt off the nearest building ledge as soon as they shut off the printer, the U.N. maintains some level of optimism that we can do what has to be done. It’s not like we have no idea how to defeat this beast called unsustainability and have no other option but to hide quivering in caves. The knowledge we need is there. The question in the U.N.’s view is does humanity have the collective cahones to use it and can we summon the will to do what it takes to make the new paradigm it would create work?

Several new surveys suggest that we do and can.

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Trending Upward

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Author: the Inkslinger

A new article from Fast Company is a good look at all the different kinds of environmental thinking now popping up on corporate radar screens all over the place. It’s notable for several reasons. For one, while some of these changes may not seem like much on the surface, they’re part of something I don’t think we’ve seen before: a deep overhaul of all kinds of wasteful systems that have been begging for meaningful change for years.

Add up all these “ways to go green” and you start to actually see what we’ve been looking for: the beginnings of a systemic response to the climate crisis and other ills born of unsustainability. Businesses are suddenly thinking in ways quite new to them and looking at all areas of their operations for ways to do better and be cleaner.

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Treasure Hunting

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Author: the Inkslinger

So it’s not just me. Seems like nearly everywhere I was looking I was seeing Seventh products. At first I thought maybe I just needed a vacation, but no… It turns out that our stuff really is appearing all over as part of that time-honored Hollywood tradition known as product placement. We’re getting so omnipresent you can even play a fun game when the Teevee ceases to adequately entertain: find the Seventh Product on the set. Double points for all non-kitchen appearances…

Elsewhere in Videoville, the Today Show put us front and center stage in a green kitchen segment with author Renee Loux, who nicely sums up all the right whys and wherefores and is apparently a big fan. (As an aside, can I just say that it was just a tad ironic to find my viewing of the video clip being sponsored by Dawn dish liquid!)

Out in Blogdom, sensors indicate that Jeffrey has popped up with a great piece on the Corporate Responsibility Officer blog about the future he sees from here.

And we got a nice shout out from the Tao of Change. Thanks for the kind words!

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Totally Corny

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Author: the Inkslinger

Given my bunker’s currently remote and undisclosed location, I’ll probably have to wait for Netflix to drop it in my mailbox, but the new documentary film King Corn looks like one to watch. It’s popped up on my radar several times in recent days, which means the buzz must be building for this look at corn and farming and food and how they’re all coming together to kick us in the cob. Corn, apparently, is everywhere, and that’s not a good thing for a lot of reasons.

The film looks pretty amusing (I think it always helps to leaven the ugly with some funny) and it looks like its playing now in selected cities (read: not the one where I am). I’m guessing it’s worth a viewing on the big screen or the small, whichever comes first where you be.

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I Want My E-TV

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Author: the Inkslinger

This is “Green is Universal” week on NBC. What that means is that almost all of the network's television programs will have some kind of green mention or subject or plot twist, etc.. Daytime, prime time, late night, you name it, NBC has declared that almost all of its programming will feature an environmental theme or connection or info. So we’re going to get the Goracle on 30 Rock and Leno is his garage being eco and Claire cooking up energy saving tips for her high school’s heroic green week, and so on.

It’s a good idea, I think, and an interesting and potentially effective way to get urgently needed environmental ideals and ideas out into the heartland. It’s one thing to preach to converted, which is largely what happen on the Inspired Protagonist and in other green venues, but it’s another entirely to take concepts like the climate crisis and industrial toxins to middle America, where most of the skeptics reside. By putting environmental issues everywhere it goes for an entire week, NBC is helping make sure they can’t be ignored, and such saturation-level attention to green issues may just go along away toward penetrating the minds of those to whom ignorance has been bliss. People won’t be able to avoid this, and even if all they take away from it is that there is a generic environmental problem that’s real and real serious, we’ll make some critical progress where it’s needed most: among the huge swath of average Americans that don’t believe or know there’s a situation that we all have to address right now

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