30 Apr 2009

Speed Blogging

  • The NYT does an excellent analysis: "if your stainless steel bottle takes the place of 50 plastic bottles, the climate is better off, and if it gets used 500 times, it beats plastic in all the environment-impact categories studied in a life cycle assessment." Lesson: Use -- and don't lose -- your bottle!

  • Mexico's most serious problem is illegal drugs climate change. Very interesting strategic development.

  • The New Yorker on Burmese pythons in Florida: "Scientists who study invasive species do not talk like scientists. They talk like detectives on a homicide squad, or generals in a Japanese monster movie. They count deaths, predict extinctions, warn of alien takeovers. There are used to being ignored."

  • An update on the continuing story by AP: "U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water — contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation." Note that "legal" doesn't mean sensible. The basic point is that ubiquitous drugs really are ubiquitous. Too bad for the environment, too bad for us.

  • "B Corporations address two critical problems which hinder the creation of social and environmental impact through business:
    • The existence of shareholder primacy which makes it difficult for corporations to take employee, community, and environmental interests into consideration when making decisions; and
    • The absence of transparent standards which makes it difficult for all of us to tell the difference between a 'good company' and just good marketing.
    B Corporations' legal structure expands corporate accountability and enables them to scale and achieve liquidity while maintaining mission."

  • Peter Gleick (of the Pacific Institute, in Oakland, CA) is blogging on world water issues. So far, his posts offer facts and things to fix but no solutions :(

  • "The relationship between energy and water use is beginning to get more attention by U.S. policymakers." Lots of numbers, but we wouldn't need to know them if energy and water prices included externalities (e.g., carbon/pollution) and were set by the market (instead of bureaucracies).

  • "Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar... withdrew a Bush Administration rule that allows more waste from mountaintop mining to be dumped in or near small streams." Good!
hattip to JWT


  1. Two things.

    We are trying to be a sensitive corporation, which values both increases in price per share and community and environmental values. It is tricky to pull this off. I created a metric, Extended Net Present Value (ENPV), as an internal measure of how we are doing.

    As to the dumping of pharmaceuticals, from a human point of view these are bad drugs; but from a biological point of view these chemicals are often just food. When you eat a cabbage or many other foods, you ingest bacteria and viruses--cabbage virus and many other kinds. Your digestive system treats these bacteria and viruses as random stuff that is digested and used when possible and excreted otherwise. So, it seems appropriate to subtract from the 271 million pounds all the things that are digested in one way or another. A biosphere that can convert entire trees and tarantulas to inorganic dirt often (not always) has no problem with the few chemicals that man has learned to manufacture. Just a thought.

  2. Eric -- on dumping, I'd agree with you, except for two caveats:
    1) If the "natural stuff" is too abundant, it can still be dangerous (e.g., we can die of sugar, salt or water)

    2) Some of the stuff we manufacture is NOT natural and CAN be very harmful...


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