Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mail Order Brides?

An article in the Washington post today begins with the quote, "Like mail-order brides, thousands of long-limbed wind turbines are coming to the empty outback of Washington and Oregon, where they are being married off, via the electrical grid, to hulking old hydroelectric dams."

What the fuck is this guy talking about?

It gets better - "These are arranged weddings for a warming world -- designed never to give birth to greenhouse gases."

Blaine Harden you crazy SOB. Has Bob Woodward read and approved this article? Does Washington State have a problem with too many men ordering brides from Russia? This is not green media, this is crap. The article has good info and facts in it if you can see past the hilarious introduction. But don't bother with the video - it is a total piece of shit.
Check it:

Friday, March 02, 2007

GE - Propaganda Machine

Imagination at Work.

GE just caught my attention. I was camly watching some quality NBA basketball, trying to tune out a long series of commericials featuring Dwane Wade, when one of the most cinematic commericials I've ever seen graced the screen. A little boy captures an ocean breeze in a jar, travels thousands of miles through gorgious rolling hills and spectacular mountains in order to present the jar to his grandfather. Upon opening the jar, the ocean breeze explodes out, blowing out the candles on the birthday cake that is sitting in front of his anachronistic face. It felt like a combination of 'Everything is Illuminated and 'Harry Potter'.

GE was behind the whole thing, selling their greenness with a massive advertising budget and some seriously talented creatives. I went to the site (see the link above) and discovered a multimedia web experience with just as much artistic input and creativity as the commericial. But I think the messanging is hollow. All flash and no splash.

I do think that companies like GE are going to be critical in leading us into a greener future, but they need to give me something real, not some arty video narrated by Kevin Kline that compares their new jet engine to Japanese philosophy. It's great that it's more efficient/quieter/faster/whatever but the real issue is that it is still an engine. We need to find ways to get away from engines. Engines that still burn nothing but gas are not the solution.

So I don't buy this superslick campaign as it stands right now. The more efficient lightbulbs featured on GE's site are cool and are going in the right direction. But overall, the whole thing feels like a nice way to gloss over the fact that very little is actually changing - at least at GE. It is damaging to the movement. But damn it looks cool. Hopefully some of their ad dollars will leak over to their research department.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This video features a group of fourth graders in Brooklyn, NY, who are taught by Ben Youngerman. He and I put this video together and entered it in the Seventh Generation Convenient Truths video contest. Check out all the entries here. and give us a vote!

Overall the contest seems like a smash success - there are pleanty of healthy green videos for your viewing pleasure.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar the Grouch

So last night was the first ever carbon-neutral Oscars ceremony. Great. One thing struck me that I thought was pretty funny:

James Taylor performed a song called "Our Town" from the Pixar movie 'Cars'. Not only was the song fucking horrible and sickly sweet, but also so was the entire construct of the situation. "Cars" is a movie that plays upon our excessive love of the automobile by making them seem like they have individual personalities and stories. That is something that happens for real in garages all around the country every day, but this movie is indoctrinating a whole new generation with the concept that cars are unequivocally awesome, fun and that using them less would be a kind of tragedy. The cars would be sad. No one likes it when Owen Wilson is sad.

Furthermore, the song "Our Town" reached even new heights in extolling and celebrating the traditional "American Way" - a way that the fight for carbon neutrality is trying to change. I'm seeing a new rendition of the "Four Freedoms" painting series - one image is of a family passing a gas can around the dinner table and another is a father and son hopping into the car to drive down their 15 foot long driveway to pick up their mail.

Anyway, the very next performance was the theme song from an Inconvenient Truth, sang passionately by Melissa Ethridge. I'm not saying this song had any less of the too sweet, mainstream movie sing-along aspects to it, but I will say that Melissa at least looked like she gave a shit. And if she and James Taylor got in a fight, I think I know who'd win. I mean James Taylor doesn't even stand up when he plays his damn guitar.

The ultimate triumph of An Inconvenient Truth and its cheesy theme song was definitely a step in the right direction. Al Gore once again came off as a class act, miles from his former wooden self. For a minute, just a hot minute, he made me believe. And that is so fucking important that I can't put it into words.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


So yeah. I'm pretty much an asshole. I love to talk about green living and carbon footprints. I love reading about new developments in alternative fuel technology and quoting statistics from "An Inconvenient Truth". I even have some "green media" of my own in the works. But when it comes down to it, I'm a giant hypocrite. Thus far in 2007, all of my major freelance gigs have involved airplane travel. And I'm not talking New York to DC. I'm talking about 4 cross-country flights and a roundtripper to south Florida. So much for not owning a car and living in a small apartment - I'm still kicking out a size 12 carbon footprint. I'm talkin' Timberland size prints here.

The problem with airtravel is that it dumps pollution into the upper atmosphere - right where it can do the most damage. What really sucks is that there are certainly no hybrid 747s going to be rolling off the production line any time soon. Changing airplane design is going to take decades. Airplane travel, as much as it has taken a hit in the last 8 years, may truly be in its heyday. I think we'll look back on $159 flights from JFK to Burbank as one of the greatest deals in the history of transportation.

I read recently that airplane fumes account for about 4% of air pollution. Not particularly high, but it feels like a number that will only continue to grow as globalization increases its stranglehold on the world economy. I, for one, would be broke right now if flying were exorbitantly more expensive. I'd be eating out of a can. Or I'd be eating out of a can more often than I already do...

Anyway, leave it to treehugger to drag up some good news. Perhaps it's a bit dreamy in that "I want to make biofuels and rub them all over my body" kind of way, but maybe it is getting at a solution. Check it out here.

To Miami!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Double Mint

Two great green resources:
TreeHugger - this is a great green blog (that sounds like a villain in a B comic book movie) that happens to do some video as well.
Terra: The Nature of Our World - available via The Democracy Player

The revolution will be televised. Even if mainstream broadcast media can't keep up with the green movement, fear not - Independent broadcasting is easier than ever. The Democracy player is a desktop video aggregator (a.k.a. Internet TV that works!) that hosts a variety of cool channels such as Terra and EcoGeeks. It's a great way to watch worthwhile programing that TV is not hip enough to pick up. Some industry giants like Comedy Central and the Cartoon Network have picked up on it and are pushing some content through the Democracy Player. So you can make a playlist of channels that will make you laugh and make you think. It's a wonderful combination, just ask John Stewart.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't Panic, It's Organic

This is one of the finer eco-conscious pieces I've scene on Current - it is certainly TV worthy and you'll not waste your time watching this 15-minute short. This reminds me of a point my sister Molly made last week at Thanksgiving. She works in publishing and has been on the lookout for books about food production. I think I agree with her assertion that by putting the energy crisis in the context of food, the ideas of diversification, localism and sustainability will hit home with a wider swath of the American population. I hope that she finds a book that will expose factory farming in the way that Upton Sinclair’s "The Jungle" did with the meat packing industry at the turn of the century. While the video posted below does not "sound the alarm," it does make some great points. My main problem with it is that none of the people in it are good spokespeople for the masses, which ultimately means that this well put together documentary short will struggle to do more than preach to the choir.

Except from Alt Fuels Video Pitch

I'm hoping to create some documentary-style videos on the topics covered in this brief write-up. Any specific ideas or leads would be appreciated.

It is no secret that oil has a limited future as the world’s principle energy source. Conflict in the Middle East, over taxed oil wells and humans’ reliance on plastics are all factors in creating an economy that is going to need new fuels derived from sources other than oil. As gas prices have soared past the $3 dollar mark, people all across America are realizing that it is time for us to think about how we can become less reliant on foreign oil.

Many people are already taking major steps to free themselves from the gas pump. Kits can be purchased for as few as a few hundred dollars ( that will convert vegetable oil into bio diesel. Diesel engines can be easily converted to burn this fuel, allowing their owners to be virtually self-reliant when it comes to filling up their cars. This kind of thing is taking off in some pretty hip areas, such as Silver Lake, CA, a neighborhood in northern Los Angeles ( Converted engines will also run directly on used cooking oil. These ‘grease cars’ smell like French fries but allow their owners to be even more independent.

Large-scale bio diesel production is growing at an astounding rate. According to Soya Tech LLC (, bio diesel production plants can’t keep up with the current boom of vegetable oil production. These plants were equipped to make 250 million gallons of bio diesel in 2005 and have expanded their capacities to 600 million gallons thus far in 2006. Ethanol, another burnable fuel that can be derived from plant materials, is being produced at a rate of roughly 4.5 billion gallons per year. Current data indicates that this rate is increasing 25% each year.

Coal is another solution but is also likely the dirtiest. Although it is a highly polluting fossil fuel, coal is a substance that the U.S. has in spades. The good news is that it can be converted to liquid form and burned in regular combustion engines. Converting coal has some powerful advocates, including Ernie Fletcher, Governor of Kentucky, who are interested in ramping up the U.S.’s ability to liquefy coal (

One other usage of coal would be to convert it into hydrogen to use in fuel cell engines. Fuel cell technology has been refined by GM but is still years away from being a practical, large-scale solution ( Hydrogen is the most abundant substance in the universe but it is hard to keep in an uncombined, pure form. Until we can come up with a way to cheaply and efficiently create and store pure hydrogen, widespread use of fuel cell technology will remain a dream of the future.

While there seem to be many possible solutions to the foreign oil problem, no single one has jumped out as being THE solution for the United States. In this time of uncertainty, many people are taking an interest in alternative fuels and are hungry for information about the pros and cons of each of these fuels. Most people are beginning to understand why alternative fuels are important, but have no idea how such fuels are made, who is making them and how they actually might come to benefit from their production.