This edition is cordially dedicated to Diane, who was kind enough to tell me she enjoyed the feature at the very moment I was thinking of discontinuing it.
Over at Grist, there's very cautious optimism about Wal-Mart's claim that it intends to pay more attention to environmental and labor issues.
The 'Mart has more power than many governments. It is, for good or ill, here, and enormously influential. If even a fraction of its power can be turned to stimulating green markets and establishing green practices, it could be a game changer.The piece also notes that Wal-Mart exports account for 1% of China's GDP. In light of that statistic, and Wal-Mart's alleged willingness to forgo some as-yet unspecified amount of evildoing, it was interesting to read this Economist article on "the greening of China." The article's skeptical - for a few good reasons, and a few merely dogmatic ones - but it's still a fascinating look at how China has traditionally approached growth, and the strategies it could conceivably use to solve the problems caused by these dreadful policies.
You can add the South Bronx to the list of leopards that may soon be changing their spots. Having lived there, I can testify to the fact that it's one of the plague-spots of the earth, not least because it's the pre-eminent waste-dumping ground for all five boroughs. Now, a program called Sustainable South Bronx is hoping to improve things for the area and its residents. Among other things,
The organization would like to see the creation of a bicycle/pedestrian greenway, the conversion of a concrete plant into a public park, and a mixed-use waterfront development.They're also working on smaller projects, like an open-air market, and outdoor movie shows. Take a look at their site, and help out if you're so inspired. (Link via Treehugger.)
The Lawrence Berkeley Lab is seldom synonymous with good news, but according to Science Blog, they're currently reporting a breakthrough with nanocrystal solar cells.
Researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California, Berkeley, have developed the first ultra-thin solar cells comprised entirely of inorganic nanocrystals and spin-cast from solution. These dual nanocrystal solar cells are as cheap and easy to make as solar cells made from organic polymers and offer the added advantage of being stable in air because they contain no organic materials....Unlike plastic solar cells, whose performance deteriorates over time, aging seems to improve the performance of these inorganic nanocrystal solar cells.Speaking of solar power, my occasional, skeptical-but-polite commenter Engineer-Poet has an interesting set of proposals for dealing with our energy woes. As he puts it:
This concept would deal a severe blow to OPEC, be a death warrant for the oil companies and force a redistribution of their economic and political power to the electric utilities and the American people as businesses, families and individuals. The conversion of the American economy away from oil was stifled in the 1980's; this proposal would jump-start and then supercharge this long-overdue change.Sounds good to me! Check it out, and read his responses to the comments for more info. If you like his ideas - and I think you probably will - give him a plug over at SinceSlicedBread.com.
Last, an earlier FHB post discussed the possibility that the advent of anti-impotence pharmaceuticals like Viagra could reduce the slaughter of endangered animals for native remedies. According to The Times of India, there's evidence that that's just what's happening.