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Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
The Sierra Club sells out on 03/26/2008 13:16:29 MDT Print View

Cha-ching!

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/26/business/businessspecial2/26cleanser.html?scp=2&sq=clorox&st=nyt

More than a little depressing if you read between the lines.

Increasingly, I find that more and more people (and organizations and businesses) are adopting a sort of faux green stance. More of a style than a stance really...and style is a terrible thing to happen to anyone.

At the individual level, I think it's done to ease guilty consciences. "Oh my god, there's an ice age coming and it's my fault? Surely I can procede living under the delusion that I can consume whatever I want without having to deal with cause & effect and my contribution toward hastening the ice age. Look! This nasty chemical I don't even really need is being sold with a Sierra Club sticker on it! All is well, no change or work required on my part."

At the business level I think the faux green stance is adopted to cash in on this new style (which the corporate marketeers didn't even have to create for themselves, oh irony of ironies).

At both levels it's absurdly superficial and has no depth or real sustance.

And it's pretty unfortunate, to say the least, given that style will do nothing to prevent our species from turning the planet into a rubbish heap. Collectively, our species' actions would surely make an uninformed outside observer think that we have some other planet to move to when we're done trashing this one.

Hikers beware: the great outdoors are decreasing in greatness by the day. And that's apparently cool with the Sierra Club.

Edited by Ramapo on 03/26/2008 13:20:25 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: The Sierra Club sells out on 03/26/2008 14:29:21 MDT Print View

Going green is a new movement that everyone will cash in on including the Sierra Club. Some aspects of it are good of course, but alot is simply about money.

It's "pc" to be green and most gear companies will proclaim just how green they are as a necessary marketing strategy to "keep up with the Patagonia's" : D

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: The Sierra Club sells out on 03/27/2008 00:23:02 MDT Print View

I hear what you're saying John, but I think you might have misunderstood what I was trying to convey...not difficult to do to be sure, given the high degree of sarcasm in my first post.

Let me clarify. I find it mind bogglingly stupefying to think that anyone actually believes either of the following statements:

1. Efforts to stop the degradation of the environment will be profitable and/or convenient
2. Problems created by consumerism and its ideology of use can be solved with more consumerism.

Once you realize that those two points cannot possibly be true, you're free to accept that the Sierra Club is looking to make some quick cash and, in doing so, has invalidated itself, making it apparent that it no longer serves its stated purpose of "protecting the wild places of the earth".

God, what John Muir would say if he were around today to see his Sierra Club form a business relationship with Clorox.

Sing along now: "It's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine".

Edited by Ramapo on 03/27/2008 00:28:46 MDT.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Money. It's a gas. on 03/27/2008 17:53:11 MDT Print View

This is an interesting article. Thanks for pointing it out.

I agree with many of your sentiments.

I can imagine the logic of the Sierra Club.


  1. This new product is far from perfect, but it’s more environmentally friendly most alternatives.
  2. By endorsing this product, we’re promoting the use of a more (albeit still not completely) “green” product and using the money we’ll get back to increase our ability to promote environmental awareness.

However, I agree that it doesn’t feel right. Even if both of those points are true (I’m not convinced they are), the Sierra Club should stay away from corporate entanglements and, in the spirit of Muir, refuse to settle for anything less than ideal.

I also agree that personal efforts to stop the degradation of the environment will not be convenient and will not be cured by nasty consumerism. We overuse. We waste. We need to make changes in our daily lives, to more evenly distribute wealth, to take a much greater concern in the natural world. We can’t get ourselves out of this by buying more.

Consumerism could, however, play a part in making a positive difference if, intead of buying more, we were buying different. Not BS “green” marketing different, but real different.

In this way, efforts to stop the degradation of the environment could prove profitable. Those able to invent substantially more clean, renewable, and sustainable products will be able to make money.

For instance, review the recent work of Craig Venter. If his work is successful, it could simultaneously reduce reliance on non-renewable resources and, coupled with carbon dioxide sequestration, offer a way to slow, halt, or reverse the flow of carbon dioxide we are pumping into the atmosphere. His company and others with similar technology would turn a profit from their work.

Similarly, if a company were to create solar panels capable of delivering energy at a lower cost than coal, natural gas, or oil, they would both make money and offer a product that is less harmful to the environment than current technologies.

In both of these cases, the exchange of money would be a driving force.

The main concerns with these scenarios are:

  1. The “if” part. Maybe none of these ideas will work. I’m unable to make a prediction because I lack the necessary expertise.
  2. It might all happen too late. Perhaps by the time these shifts in the market would occur we’d already be screwed beyond all hope.

My own ideas on these problems:

  1. We might not be smart enough. But I have a great belief in the intelligence of a small number of people who really want to make a difference through creative solutions, so I extend some hope. For instance, have you seen Dean Kamen’s new water purifying device?
  2. There are things we could do to encourage this transition. A good start? A market system in which, through taxes and fees directly related to products’ effects on the environment, long-term negative consequences could be transferred to higher costs in the short term.

As for convenience, maybe new technologies won’t be able to meet current levels of demand. In fact, I hope this will be the case so that all of us are forced to more carefully consider and deeply know the natural world around us. However, it’s quite possible that brilliant, creative, and lucky people will develop energy production methods that are not only less harmful and more sustainable than current methods but also allow us to enjoy some of the non-superficial benefits that modern society has to offer.

[Edited for visual style. An option to use HTML without automatic paragraph insertions would be awesome, guys.]

Edited by milesbarger on 03/28/2008 13:58:07 MDT.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: Money. It's a gas. on 03/28/2008 10:43:34 MDT Print View

Hi Miles. Excellent post. I wish I could reply in full, but I'm slammed with work right now. Soon though.

In the meantime, here's a depressing nugget for you:

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/03/todays_must_read_305.php

I read that article today and was filled with an emotion that might go a long way towards fixing our problem: indignation. The government and big business (largley indistinguishable these days) are just taking a giant crap on the planet and nobody really seems to care. Why aren't more people filled with indignation and rage because of this stuff? We'd stand a better chance of improving our lot if they were.

Edited by Ramapo on 03/28/2008 10:44:53 MDT.

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
An example of cost-driven "greening" on 03/28/2008 13:35:47 MDT Print View

via Kottke.org:
The Navy Federal Credit Union has embraced green architecture, but not for any of the usual reasons.

“You’ve been asking for data,” Ebbesen says to me. “Well, we definitely have energy savings: we’ve had one study that said 25 percent and another that said 40 percent. We pay a lot of attention to the energy model because we want to be efficient, because that leads to less pollution. But that’s not where the savings are. The savings are all related to productivity.” Navy Federal’s wealth (they don’t exactly have trouble getting long-term financing) means that Ebbesen could swallow higher up-front costs if it means a longer life span-and indeed this building is designed for a 40-year cycle (generous for its type). But to be conservative he sticks to 30 years for the following calculation: over that time 92 percent of the organ-ization’s costs goes to employees, 6 percent go to maintenance and operation, and a mere 2 percent are represented by the initial construction investment. “When I show that on a slide,” Ebbesen says, “it’s kind of like, ‘Duh, now are you paying attention?’”

Christopher Chupka
(FatTexan)

Locale: NTX
Dyess AFB Texas on 03/28/2008 14:25:08 MDT Print View

Wind Power

On January 1, 2003, Dyess Air Force Base (AFB), Texas, became the largest consumer of renewable electricity at a single site in the nation. The supply contract issued by the Defense Energy Support Center (DESC) provides 100 percent wind-generated electricity making all of the base's electrical power pollution free. The Dyess purchase will result in approximately 80 million kilowatthours of wind energy generated annually, enough electricity to power an estimated 8,000 homes for a year.

Renewable Energy Power Plant

WOW Energy, Inc. and Siemens Building Technologies, Inc. will supply a WOWGen renewable energy power plant to produce 6 megawatts (MW) of electrical power for the Dyess Air Force Base (AFB) in Abilene, Texas. The WOWGen power plant will be an integral part of Siemens' $39 million dollar contract with Dyess AFB to provide electricity from a waste-to-energy plant through gasification of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW).

"We intend to build on the Air Force's leadership so that we can proliferate and accelerate uses of these clean renewable and energy efficient technologies across the nation."

-- Alexander Karsner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy
The WOWGen power plant converts heat into electricity using WOW Energies' patented combined cycle turbo-expander Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system. The power plant will convert the heat exiting the gasifier, to electricity, to create useful energy from MSW collected from the Dyess AFB and the City of Abilene. When complete, the AFB will be able to remove itself from the off-base electrical grid and still maintain 100% operations.

"For the first time, industry has a viable technology to efficiently and economically convert low, medium and high temperature heat sources into usable electricity while dramatically reducing emissions and greenhouse gases (GHG). The positive impact of this technology on reducing fossil fuel consumption and GHG is enormous," stated SDaniel Stinger, Chairman of WOW Energies, which is working with numerous companies to produce power from the recovery of waste heat or heat available from renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal and biomass fuels.

The Dyess AFB is a leader in integrating energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into daily operations. In a visit to Dyess AFB in August this year, Alexander Karsner, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy stated: "We intend to build on the Air Force's leadership so that we can proliferate and accelerate uses of these clean renewable and energy efficient technologies across the nation."
The agreement makes the base the largest single institution in the United States to become fully powered by the wind. Because of the base's size–about 4 million square feet–and its yearly power consumption, the purchase represents more than 20 percent of the Federal government's procurement of renewable power. This single wind power procurement allows the entire Air Force Air Combat Command, 19 bases in all, to fulfill Executive Order 13123, which requires Federal agencies to use the equivalent of 2.5 percent of electricity from new renewable energy sources by FY 2005 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2010.

The wind energy will be supplied by Texas-based TXU Energy through a 2-year, $1.5 million conversion of the existing contract to 100 percent renewable energy. Dyess is offsetting the extra cost of the wind power with savings realized in the state's competitive retail electricity market. The wind power provided by TXU Energy will be in addition to any wind power purchased by TXU as a result of state renewable portfolio standards. DESC conducted the original electricity solicitation about a year ago, and assisted with the contract modification. The base will receive electricity from six wind farms throughout Texas, including the Trent Mesa Wind Project, 25 miles west of Dyess.

"The benefits are far reaching," Tom Denslow, Dyess AFB's energy manager. "We have eliminated emissions of all pollutants from conventional electricity–negating the production of more than 105 tons of nitrogen oxide, 152 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 58,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Further, it sets Dyess in front of all the rest of the Federal government and sets the bar for the rest to follow. "Through the purchase, Dyess demonstrates Federal leadership by example by supporting the President's National Energy Policy goals for increasing America's use of clean renewable energy, promoting energy security through the development of new domestic energy sources, and supporting the President's call for voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Dyess also became the first Air Force Base to join the Environmental Protection Agency's Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program that assists organizations procuring renewable power. The base is the largest site in the partnership to make a 100 percent commitment to renewable energy. Over the last several years, Dyess has been a recipient of the Federal Energy and Water Management Awards for its dedication to the use of energy-efficient lighting and heating systems and water-conservation technologies.

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
More dirt on the Sierra Club on 04/07/2008 12:00:53 MDT Print View

"US environmental group expels Florida chapter amid endorsement row"

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/07/usa?gusrc=rss&feed=networkfront

From the article:

"The biggest environmental group in the US has expelled the leaders of its Florida chapter weeks after the local activists accused the group's directors of selling out in a corporate endorsement deal with a bleach manufacturer.

...

Asked about the ban on speaking to the press, which alarmed some of the ousted activists, Willett said: "The idea is that in a democratic organisation, once a decision has been reached, you should represent that official decision … We just don't want anyone to get confused about what the Sierra Club's opinion is."

Good to see that the Sierra Club is being ruled with the iron fist of corporate authoratarianism. This man's idea of what "democracy" means, not to mention the role of dissent in democracy, is in need of some serious work. What a disgusting human being.

Looks like some loyal Bushies found their way into environmental activism.

Heck of a job Sierra Club!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Endorsements on 04/08/2008 01:12:05 MDT Print View

Do I take then that you would be unhappy if BPL endorsed a new, made entirely from recycled steel and powered by corn-ethanol, Hummer?

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Locale: DON'T LOOK DOWN!!
How does that work then? on 04/08/2008 01:47:37 MDT Print View

>The WOWGen power plant converts heat into electricity using WOW Energies' patented combined cycle turbo-expander Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) system. The power plant will convert the heat exiting the gasifier, to electricity,

Wikipedia:
The selection of the working fluid is of key importance in low temperature Rankine Cycles. Because of the low temperature, heat transfer inefficiencies are highly prejudicial. These inefficiencies depend very strongly on the thermodynamic characteristics of the fluid and on the operating conditions.

In order to recover low-grade heat, the fluid generally has a lower ebullition temperature than water. Refrigerants and hydrocarbons are the two commonly used components.

Try not to spill it guys...

Dave .
(Ramapo) - F
Re: Endorsements on 04/08/2008 11:15:41 MDT Print View

>>Do I take then that you would be unhappy if BPL endorsed a new, made entirely from recycled steel and powered by corn-ethanol, Hummer?

I would hope that BPL wouldn't even consider endorsing a Hummer unless it was made from titanium and ran on Flinstones style footpower.