Barack accepted the Nobel Peace Prize today, defending– and in fact espousing– American exceptionalism.
This move by Goldman Sachs to award so-called “shares at risk” is cunning: it sounds great (and it is in fact a much more fair/logical/long-sighted way of distributing bonuses) but it also affects a whopping 30 employees. Goldman has 31,700. So this does not affect the attitudes/behaviors/risk tolerance of the thousands of traders who are evaluating their risk based on their annual bonus pay-outs just like before. Nor does it affect the complexity or the masked risked that goes into 99% of bankers’ work as they structure financial instruments. It’s a cunning move because it’s hard to criticize outright, but it also really does not get at any way to solve the problems of the financial services sector. (It’s a mentality thing, not something which changes when you reorganize pay incentives for the top 30 guys in your firm).
Chad Ochocinco is changing his name again. In 2010 he’ll become “Chad Hachi Go,” Japanese this time for 85.
Gawker deconstructs Ms. Palin’s latest appearance in the Washington Post, showing why her lack of knowledge is this time apparent in regards to global climate change.
I don’t see a thesis in this article, but it seems from the title that the author is trying to compare will.i.am to Irving Berlin. I’d comment on how (un)persuasively that argument is made but frankly I don’t see it anywhere in here.
Finally, also in the realm of ridiculous, via Ella Chou, apparently a girl at Columbia Law School has been accepting applications from her classmates (requesting resumes and undergrad transcripts)…so they can join her study group.
Tags: barack obama, china, cloud computing, columbia university, deforestation, exceptionalism, gawker, GE, goldman sachs, Google, irving berlin, law school, nobel prize, oregon, sarah palin, slate, study group, washington post, will.i.am, wind
There was an interesting article today in Slate’s Green Lantern section which answered a question about biodegradable plastics. (“Breaking Down Is Hard To Do“).
The biggest challenge, it seems, is not simply getting people to recycle– after all, here was a self-proclaimed frat boy about to throw a night of debauchery asking about biodegradability.
The problem is that the term “biodegradable,” as a marketing term, is unregulated by the federal government. This means that, “manufacturers can sometimes get away with being a little squirrely in their advertising.”
Granted, the science behind it is complicated as well, since landfills have different levels of biological activity: many compact trash tightly and cover it daily with dirt and clay to reduce odor. Then there’s the question of whether biodegradability is such a laudable goal at all:
Then there’s the fact that biodegradability may not be a worthy goal in the first place! The tomblike conditions in most landfills mean that any biodegradation that occurs is going to be anaerobic. In the absence of oxygen, the process produces methane, a greenhouse gas that’s 21 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. So your biodegradable party-ware might end up warming the planet more than a standard plastic cup—which would at least sequester its carbon for a long, long time.
What I take away from all of this is not that sustainability is worthless, or that it is impossible for the average college student, urban dweller, suburban mom/dad, etc. to do.
This is on the same day that SF Mayor Gavin Newsom announced San Francisco now recycles 72% of all trash, making the goal of 75% by 2010 and zero waste by 2020 a distinct possibility.
Large-scale recycling efforts, then, are not out-of-reach. In fact, Newsom’s announcement shows me that the key to sustainability is in government regulation, outreach and support.
This means starting small and scaling up. Take, for example, the ASSU Green Store here on Stanford campus. The student government, with I’m sure some help from the University Administration, has made an effort to make sustainability easier for students throwing parties (like the Stanford version of the frat boy in the Slate article).
Now consider how the ASSU initiative fits into a greater Bay Area political effort, such as Gavin Newsom’s emphasis on recycling.
And if the federal government were to enact legislation imposing tougher sanctions on what “biodegradable” is (like the USDA does for “organic“), then you’d have a comprehensive set of incentives and opportunities for people to lead more sustainable lives.
While sustainability is not “cheap,” price is one clear hurdle which can be passed. I did some quick comparison shopping:
|Source||Type/Brand||Number||Price||Cost per item (in cents)|
|ASSU Green Store||Recyclable||50||$5.60||11.2|
|BevMo (online)||Solo (Jack Frost)||100||$11.99||11.9|
So while cost plays into the decision, it ultimately would dictate that buying Green Store cups is the best bet anyways.
The role of the government, then, is to take a more active stance in regulating marketing terms for consumers who may not understand but who want to make the right purchase. Correction of misinformation (and misleading advertising) when combined with community and national initiatives can result in– if not a lot of good– at least a lot less of bad.
Tags: assu, bevmo, biodegradable, costco, cups, garbage, gavin newsom, Government, great pacific garbage patch, green store, marketing, organic, party cups, recycling, regulation, san francisco, SF, slate, Stanford, sustainability, trash