Archive for August, 2009

Why Doesn’t Green = Better?

photo by: julie

Joel Makower, longtime green business guru and executive editor of Greener World Media, wrote an excellent article in his blog recently asking this question.

Joel writes,"Better. It’s a word I’ve been thinking about lately. And as I look at the landscape of sustainability, the green economy, and green marketing, I’m struck by how much of what’s greener isn’t necessarily better, at least not in the ways that matter to most people. And until "green" is synonymous with "better," it’s destined to remain marginalized, incapable of fomenting change at the scale and speed necessary to address climate change and other pressing problems."

In this article, Joel surveys the green landscape: cleaners, clothing, computers, cosmetics, energy, furnishings, buildings, appliances. Many of the greener alternatives are of higher quality, last longer, result in lower bills, all of which indicate higher quality. But, Makower, notes, it’s not all roses and honey. Green marketing is still stumbling over this simple fact:

"But many mainstream consumers believe that "green" equals "worse" — that making environmentally responsible shopping choices means making a sacrifice in quality, affordability, convenience, or some other attribute. A relative few are willing to make such sacrifices in the name of a healthier planet or a better world. But not many are. And they won’t do so until green = better."

Read the full article and see what you think.

H, F, & C Redux: Virtues of Regulation

I ran across these notes I made from my own reading of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” last fall. Two stories illustrate Friedman’s point about the importance of incentives and also of standards and regulation. We usually hear the side of the equation that regulations are going to cost the consumer more. This is not necessarily true, because when you are innovating, you can often design something to be manufactured more cheaply.

One example is from when the EPA issued the Tier 2 emission standards for locomotive engines in the early 2000s. It was a standard for NOx, not CO2. It had to do with air quality; carbon was not on the radar back then, although it should have been.

G.E. is the world’s largest maker of locomotives, and they do it in Erie PA. They could have just tweaked their engine design. Instead they looked at it as a clean slate. They went to the drawing board and designed an engine that met those emission standards, was much more fuel efficient, and much more reliable in terms of maintenance. The CEO of the locomotive division openly admits that it was that EPA regulation that caused them to innovate.

By having the standard, your competitor also has to meet the standard. There’s no more guesswork if you put all this time into R & D whether there is going to be a market for your innovation. It turned out that, because the G.E. locomotive was more fuel efficient, it also had much less CO2 emissions. G.E. sells all over the world – to China, India, Europe. Those countries were already starting to put carbon regulations into place. G.E. was ahead of the curve in curbing CO2. Their engine is still one of the only ones that meet the new regulations being passed around the world, including in China.

Another story comes from the early 1970s. Some of us are old enough to recall the brouhaha over the catalytic converter requirement passed in California. The Big Three automakers went to Congress and claimed that if they had to do this, it would cripple the entire American economy. Continued

Are We Hot, Flat, and Crowded Yet?


Today we have a guest review of "Hot, Flat, and Crowded," by Peter Van Buren of TerraLogos Energy Services . (Yes, they are re-branding! Expect the full roll-out of that in early September.)

First, the title bothered me. Plus, I am to the point where I am unable to take in any more information about how bad things are.

However, after the 12th good friend told me that I really should read this book, I checked it out from the library. They were right – it is excellent.

Friedman pulls no punches about what the future holds in store for us. But, he shows us the "quintessentially American opportunity" inherent in this crisis and encourages us to rise to the occasion.

I have pieced together some of my favorite excerpts on a downloadable PDF . They include utility company CEO’s extolling the business benefits of energy efficiency, and Green Hawks in the army explaining how to out-green Al Qaeda. My favorite, though, is the speech by a 12-year-old Canadian girl to world leaders at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. Her appeal is even more poignant and important today (page 6 of the excerpts).

She and I encourage you to Go Code Green !

(Editor’s note: if you live outside of Baltimore, MD, and you want to purchase the book, get it at Powell’s , the enormous independent bookstore in Portland, OR. In Baltimore, I encourage you to support one of our wonderful local stores — Breathe Books or The Ivy.)

What’s Your Processional Effect?

photo by: julie

Recently, a friend mentioned this very cool-sounding Bucky Fuller -ism, and through the magic of Google, I found my way to this article, by motivational speaker and author, Patrick Combs . Food for thought as you go about pollinating today. This was originally published on Patrick’s blog 3.10.05.

Buckminster Fuller called it Processional Effect, and likened it to bees pollinating flowers. Bees aren’t trying to pollinate flowers, their mission is self-serving: to make honey. But pollen sticks to their little-bitty legs as and then gets spread to other flowers, thus giving the world much beauty. But the bees, they’re just going about their personal mission.

Certainly John Leguizamo didn’t live out his dreams in theatre for my sake, yet I saw him on TV one day and the ‘processional’ effect of him living his dream (in all his glory) was to inspire me to live mine.

Josh Shrei is another guy who lived his dream of doing a one-person show, and "processionally" inspired me put together mine. (I doubt he knows it). Josh’s case really surprised me. Josh isn’t t famous. He doesn’t do it anymore, (as far as I know (and let me tell you, he was as good as Leguizamo!). He only performed his show in a couple of cities. Yet, his level of "success" wasn’t important to his "processional effect". I only needed to see him once and I was pollinated, if you will. I was forever touched.

The processional effect you have on this world doesn’t require success; it only requires that you go about the business of your heart, diligently.

I’m running my one-man show this week at a great, big, grand and glorious Performing Arts Center in Florida; tickets for $35. I can’t help but think over and over of John L. and Josh Shrei, and the processional effect they had on me (and surely countless others)… ALL BECAUSE THEY FOUND IT IN THEMSELVES TO LIVE OUT THEIR DREAMS, AND LET THEIR DIVINE LIGHT SHINE.

I’m on-stage performing this show because it’s a giant, awesome, joyous experience for me. I find it to be so truly, exquisitely fun…. but for a moment, I wonder what my processional effect is. It’s surely not intended, but it is divine.

Live out that thing inside that you identify as what you REALLY, JOYOUSLY, dream of doing with your days. Live it out because it’s your destiny. The Universe wants you to, and it waiting in the wings to send you magical support.

Living what’s in your heart; living the seed you feel planted within, will be good for you… and strangely enough, it will be good for others to. Do it, the Universe depends on our processional effects for its beauty.

Break a leg!
from Melboure FL where sounds of rockets fill the air.