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Archive for March, 2008

Not as sexy as Cassandra‘s video, but just as, if not even more informative, is the new documentary; ‘Peak Oil – Sprawling From Grace; Driven To Madness‘. The trailer just came out:

According to EMotionPictures,

‘This feature length documentary explores the ravages of American suburban sprawl, what America has lost as a result, and the perils we face if we don’t change the way in which we build our cities. Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security by cheap energy that has allowed us to spread endlessly into our landscape. We are trapped behind the wheels of our automobiles. With the demand for oil outpacing the Earth’s ability to supply it, this suburban living arrangement will fail. America’s love affair with the automobile is unsustainable and, like Nero, we are fiddling away, confident that tomorrow will be as promising as today. The wake up call is coming.’

It seems as if everyone‘s got an opinion on how to handle the American suburban sprawl . . . What I think: we are not going to raze our suburbs, let’s get real. Instead, we have to live with what we have, adapt, conserve and retrofit, using a combination of new policies, new technologies, and new behaviors.

Now, what do YOU think?

 

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On one side, avocados from Mexico, for $1.99. On the other side, identical looking ones, but labeled organic, and grown locally, for $3.99.

Avocadosavocados1

Even I, who have repeatedly advocated the virtues of ‘buy local, eat organic‘, had to ponder. I turned to Prad. ‘What do you think?‘. Green Guru hesitated only briefly. ‘The ones from Mexico. Mexico is part of the US’ – he was kidding, of course . . . ‘ I am subsidizing Whole Foods enough as it is!’

The lesson is: if you want folks to go green, you’ve got to make it easy on their wallets.

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Do you want people to find you in the green blogosphere? Here, for you, is a list I compiled of the top 100 green related keywords in online searches, using Wordtracker, a new awesome website:

  1. global warming
  2. water
  3. earth
  4. nature
  5. solar energy
  6. polar bears
  7. recycling
  8. pollution
  9. green
  10. solar power
  11. endangered species
  12. air pollution
  13. water pollution
  14. solar panels
  15. electric cars
  16. wind energy
  17. climate change
  18. tankless water heater
  19. wind power
  20. recycle
  21. geothermal energy
  22. hybrid cars
  23. waste management
  24. deforestation
  25. tankless water heaters
  26. al gore
  27. planet earth
  28. epa
  29. greenhouse effect
  30. environment
  31. effects of global warming
  32. planet
  33. solar
  34. science news
  35. fossil fuels
  36. oil prices
  37. cause of global warming
  38. wildlife
  39. natural resources
  40. sustainability
  41. solar cells
  42. alternative energy
  43. water heaters
  44. green guy
  45. mother earth news
  46. solar panel
  47. earth day
  48. bottled water
  49. climate map
  50. carbon dioxide
  51. climate graphs
  52. human nature
  53. what is global warming
  54. water conservation
  55. thermal energy
  56. free energy
  57. ocean pollution
  58. renewable energy
  59. endangered species list
  60. price of oil
  61. ecology
  62. popular science
  63. organic
  64. peak oil
  65. going green
  66. fuel cells
  67. kyoto protocol
  68. causes of global warming
  69. electronic waste
  70. solar powered cars
  71. land pollution
  72. composting
  73. energy star
  74. an inconvenient truth
  75. department of energy
  76. hybrid vehicles
  77. environmental issues
  78. solar water heater
  79. recycling facts
  80. greenhouse gases
  81. global warming facts
  82. compost
  83. organic food
  84. green building
  85. consequences of global warming
  86. science magazine
  87. solar cell
  88. mother earth
  89. go green
  90. genetically modified food
  91. solar dryer
  92. earth science dictionary
  93. national wildlife federation
  94. earth science
  95. noise pollution
  96. carbon footprint
  97. energy conservation
  98. hybrid car
  99. conservation
  100. photovoltaic

It is always interesting to confront one’s idea of most popular keywords, with the reality from web analytics . . .

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I had the privilege to attend the last Stanford University Woods Institute for the Environment Energy Seminar, featuring Dan Reicher, Director of Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, for Google.org, the philanthropist arm of Google.

The folks at Google have a plan and it makes lots of sense. They have two major initiatives currently at work:

To develop Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal (RE<C): Create utility-scale electricity from clean renewable energy sources that is cheaper than electricity produced from coal. For RE<C to work, Google is betting on four arms: R&D, Investment, Policy, and Information Tools.

To accelerate the Commercialization of Plug-In Vehicles (RechargeIT): Seed innovation, demonstrate technology, inform the debate, and stimulate market demand to foster mass commercialization of plug-in vehicles.

Most striking in the Google plan, is its exclusive reliance on technology and policy, not unlike the recent McKinsey recommendations. At the end of his talk, I asked Dan Reicher if Google was considering any people driven initiatives? According to him, Google has just started looking into consumers’ behaviors and their impact on climate change.

In a way, Google‘s emphasis should be of no surprise. Google is a technology company, and they cannot tackle every possible angle of the problem. Instead they are focusing on their core competencies, engineering and technology. Google‘s top-down approach should be considered alongside bottom-up strategies such as David Holmgren‘s Permaculture Project, for instance.

For more on the Google approach to climate change, here is a video of Google.org‘s introductory course for Google employees. The session tackles global development, global health, and climate change, and explores how the three domain areas relate to each other. Well worth sitting for an hour. The bulk of the climate change lecture is towards the end:

Of course, I was particularly interested in the Information Tools aspect of the Google plan. Here is the list of all the Google tools that can be used to further the climate fight, as presented by Dan Reicher during his talk:

If you are not familiar with some of these tools, I urge you to play with them.

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I want to discuss the ‘peak oil‘ video, referred to by Kyle in his comment yesterday. ‘Cassandra Peak Oil’ was released in December 2007 and was viewed 19,814 times. Not bad for ‘peak oil’ . . .

Kyle thinks this is a great example of the smart use of sex to sell green stuff. Is it? While there is no denying that the sex part gets people’s attention, I had my doubts. After all, what is the relevance of sex to peak oil? I put Prad to the test and asked him.

Is she trying to distract me?’ was his first reaction. His overall assessment: ‘Most guys who watch it are hoping she will take it all off, so they keep on watching. It was effective. Guys especially would not turn it off. But it’s a bit gimmicky, and too sensationalist.’

I did a quick analysis of the comments on YouTube. Reactions to the video, were mostly positive, two to one versus negative comments. Most people felt Cassandra did an excellent at calling people’s attention, and that she was a ‘smart, hot chick‘. As one commenter put it, ‘SEVEN DEADLY SINS, right on!’ Now ex-governor Spitzer should know . . .

Green Porno‘ with Isabella Rossellini, then ‘Cassandra Peak Oil‘, what’s next?

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Jeff Huggins suggested I take a look at the new, ‘Clearing the Air‘ video from Shell Oil:

My first reaction was, how sweet and clever! What a great way to get people engaged in some otherwise boring, ‘clean’ tech story. The guy looks like Hugh Grant, and frankly, I am always a sucker for good old fashioned romance, complete with intrigue, exotic settings, and candlelight dinners. The entire 7′ film went by very fast, and I could have endured a lot more . . .

Still, I could smell greenwashing, and decided to do a bit of investigation. I did not have to go very far. One can always count on readers to surface the truth. Here, for your enjoyment, are some comments on a recent post on Green Car Congress, that featured Shell GTL technology:

‘GTL is a nightmare in CO2 terms as it wastes so much energy in making it. Don’t go there!!!

‘Yes it is a nightmare, but it requires no worries when using the fuel so a company can pretend they are researching alternative fuel uses while using it. If airbus were trying out bio fuels that would be a different matter. Then they would have to worry about compatibility and other problems. Thus GTL is the safe, easy way to pretend you are doing something.’

‘In addition to wasting energy producing it, if it’s from natural gas, it’s both a fossil fuel (not renewable), and not carbon neutral (so it does nothing about global warming).

Unless they are serious about sourcing second generation biofuels it does look like greenwashing. Funny because the A380 must use immense volumes of fuel.’

You get the picture . . .

Content set aside, the ‘Clearing the Air‘ video taps into an important psychological opportunity for climate fight messaging, and green communication in general. The eco-hero archetype is emerging from our collective unconscious, and elevating the climate fight to new heights, turning it into the mythical adventure of the 21st century.

Al Gore, speaking at the recent TED talks: ‘What we need is a hero generation’

 

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Who said environmental activism has to be serious? I just got this mail from Ryan Watkins-Hughes:

I just stumbled across your idea for Greendropping. Very clever. Below is information about an upcoming shopdropping project I’m doing. Please feel free to pass along to people you think would be interested. Thanks.

RWH
http://www.shopdropping.net
http://www.watkinshughes.com

———————————-
SHOPDROPPING.NET is now calling on artists, designers, media makers, and creative folks to purchase greeting cards and alter them in any way they see fit. Any form of commercial card, from wedding to graduation to birthday to bereavement, is eligible. But clever and witty will be given preference over easy and distasteful.

Please submit JPEG reproductions of the altered greeting cards to submissions@shopdropping.net with GREETINGS as the subject line.

All files must be sized to 1024 x 768 at 72 dpi. Each altered card must include the text “www.shopdropping.net” somewhere in the new design. It can be discreet, on the back of the card, and unobtrusive but it must be present.When submitting the cover and inside of the same card please indicate this clearly in the file titles (for example “cover.jpg”, “page2.jpg”).

The deadline for submissions is April 1st 2008.

Once all of the digital reproductions have been submitted, selected artists will be given the address of a fellow participant to swap cards with. The cards will then be shopdropped back into circulation and the digital reproductions will be featured on SHOPDROPPING.NET. Please do not submit digital files if you do not intend to follow through with the act of shopdropping a fellow participant’s work. The digital reproductions are a means to select and document the artworks, but do not replace the act of shopdropping the originals into unsuspecting stores.

I am on my way to the stationary store . . . Will you join me? Of course my card is going to have some green subversive message embedded into it. I urge you to do the same.

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delicious.jpgI listened to Tina‘s suggestion and started a ‘greendrop‘ tag on del.icio.us. This way we will be able to track all the ‘green drops’ in the blogosphere. Here is how it works:

  1. If you do not have an account yet on del.icio.us, just go to the site and open one. It’s free.
  2. The del.icio.us and tag icons will automatically appear in your toolbar.
  3. Whenever you go on a site and comment on a post with a ‘greendrop‘, just click on the ‘tag‘ icon and type ‘greendrop‘ in the tag window.

That’s all! If a sufficient number of us go crazy with greendropping, ‘greendrop’ may even surface in the del.icio.us tag cloud. . .

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First day of greendropping in all the mommy sites. ok, there was also one dad site. I was surprised how easy it was to relate to the different posts. It helped that I was amongst my peers, and I could totally empathize, regardless of the content. A mom is a mom, is a mom.

Here are some of the comments I made, with a bit of context:

greendrop21.jpg on emomsathome‘s post on ‘Monday motivation, mom gets it done‘, about fitting in a day’s work:

Your post raises the question of, what does being efficient means as a mom?

There are many ways to evaluate, from how much work you are able to accomplish, to how much happiness you are able to create for your family. Both are important.

My own bias as a mom and green blogger is to emphasize the need for moms to come to terms with the biggest challenge facing our children’s not so distant future. I am referring to global warming. No, I am not paranoid, just realistic.

The good news is there is a lot we can do to make a difference. Most important is to set the example and inspire our kids to become responsible green citizens. By driving less, and walking and biking more for instance.

greendrop21.jpg on Parenthacks‘s post on ‘Reduce mess by putting ketchup under the hot dog’:

Love your link for recycling old mustard and ketchup bottles!

I wish you had a category for green hacking. I see global warming as the main threat to our children’s future. The more I read about it, the scarier and more urgent the problem seems to become.

Here is my green hack for the day: walk and bike with your kids, whenever possible. It’s good for them, for you, and the planet. Plus, it will save you gas money.

greendrop21.jpg on 5 minutes for mom‘s post on ‘Project Runway Winner’:

I too am a huge Project Runway fan. And I won’t tell who won . . .

As a mom and green blogger, I just wish green things got as much attention as Project Runway. Not as exciting, but so critical for the future or our children. Not a day goes by without more news about the urgency of taking action. The health and future of our children is at risk. As moms, there is so much we can do to. First, by setting the example and greening our lives as much as possible. Walking, biking, using public transportation instead of driving. Just as an example.

We are stewards of the Earth.

greendrop21.jpg on Scribbit‘s post on ‘Sprouting Egg Heads’, featuring creative way to turn Easter Eggs into miniature gardening pots for herbs:

Love the idea. Nothing wasted, plus you are teaching the kids about gardening, healthy eating, and also indirectly about green living.

As a mom, and green blogger, I feel we have so much responsibility towards our children, to prepare them for the environmental challenges ahead.

Thank you!

greendrop21.jpg on bitch PhD‘s post on ‘Consumer Sunday’, about her urges to buy a car and get a new appartment in Chicago:

Boy, can I relate to you! I lived in Chicago for ten years while my daughters were little, and I do remember those times of standing on the L Platform, freezing winds piercing through my never warm enough clothes. I did not own a car either and often wished I did.

This being said, times have changed and with the planet heating up faster by the day, I could never get myself to buy a car if I lived again in a big city like Chicago. My green conscience won’t let me. Months of blogging away about all that global warming shit have killed all my consuming urges. Actually, I have nearly stopped driving my car.

I am glad you are mentioning the environment. As moms, there is so much we can do to help prepare our children for the environmental challenges ahead. What scares me most is how close we are to hitting the wall. We do have the power though to set the example, and make choices for our family that will make a difference.

If you get a car, at least, try to get one of those fuel efficient ones, and limit your outings to those days when it is minus thirty with windshield . . .

greendrop21.jpg on Fussy‘s post on ‘Six Things I am All About This Week‘, about trivial things she liked:

Loved the Pepsi Commercial, and the Band-Aid touch . . .

May I add a #7?

How about something green, like taking a long walk with family for some CO2 free action?

Sorry, but I am a green mommy blogger, and I can’t help but drop green stuff whenever I can.

greendrop21.jpg on Design Moms post on ‘Baileys‘, a supplier of household items:

Wow! I loved the Eco-Household stuff. It reminded me of my grandmother’s farm back in France.

Lately though, I am on a no buy kick, and find great joy in making do with whatever I already have around the house. As a ‘born again green mom’ I find it incredibly satisfying to create aesthetically pleasing solutions out of ‘nothing’.

Small drops . . . Day after day, from me, from some of you. Let’s see what happens.

PS- I made up a greendrop21.jpg icon for the project. Please feel free to use it on your site, or anytime you greendrop.

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First, was Nadine‘s comment a few weeks ago:

oh, and blog away especially outside of the green media, seep slowly into the reticent consumer driven world.

followed by my discovery of Ryan Watkins-Hughes, and his ‘shopdropping‘ practice:

‘SHOPDROP: To covertly place merchandise on display in a store. A form of “culture jamming” s. reverse shoplift, droplift.

and then Kyle‘s powerful image:

‘The cup of change is being filled drop by drop in the dark. We hear each drop, and we are impatient because we hear the drops but don’t see how full the cup is. At some point it will overflow.’

Three seeds that did not go to waste. Some recent discussions on La Marguerite, have convinced me of the value of a blogging initiative aimed at strategically chosen populations outside of the green blogosphere. The three seeds have germinated and given rise to ‘The Green Drop Project‘.

‘To ‘greendrop’: to ‘drop’ relevant ‘green’ comments in mainstream, non green blogs, from a predetermined list of targeted blogs. The blogs will be highly trafficked blogs in areas determined to be most amenable to climate fight conversion. The initial focus will be on parenting, religious, and business blogs.’

Tomorrow, I will start greendropping in parenting blogs, and reporting daily on my blogging expeditions. The following is a list of all the parenting blogs with a Technorati authority of 500 or higher, that I will be visiting:

http://www.5minutesformom.com/
http://scribbit.blogspot.com/
http://bitchphd.blogspot.com/
http://www.parenthacks.com/
http://fussy.org/
http://www.designmom.com/
http://www.emomsathome.com/blog/
http://eddiejohn66.blogspot.com/

I invite you to join me and report on your expeditions. When you do, may I suggest that you mention the Green Drop Project, in addition to your name and blog URL? This way, we will be able to track the project as it spreads.

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