Fri, 2006-10-27 13:13Ross Gelbspan
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A Chillingly Current Scenario

Scientists have uncovered more evidence for a dramatic weakening in the vast ocean current that drags warm water northwards from the tropics. The slowdown, which climate modellers have predicted will follow global warming, has been confirmed by the most detailed study yet of ocean flow in the Atlantic. Most alarmingly, the data reveal that a part of the current, which is usually 60 times more powerful than the Amazon river, came to a temporary halt during November 2004. 
Fri, 2006-10-27 12:04Richard Littlemore
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More PR Insight from an Early TASSC Master

Here's a great 2001 essay from the peer-reviewed American Journal of Public Health,  exploring the background of The Advancement of Sound Science Coalition (TASSC) and the effort by tobacco giant Philip Morris to build a coalition of corporations willing to launch an attack on any science that might lead to government regulation.

One of the authors, University of California at San Francisco cardiologist and professor of medicine Stanton Glantz, said during a session of the SEJ today that the TASSC scientific advisors have turned into “multi-pupose naysayers,” and “now they're mostly working on climate change.”
Fri, 2006-10-27 08:24Richard Littlemore
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Is Wal-Mart Really Saving the World?

Spinmeister of the day award (at least so far) goes to Andrew Ruben, Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Sustainability for Wal-Mart. Ruben was one of the speakers at an opening plenary at the SEJ2006.

Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Wheeler introduced Ruben by pointing to Wal-Mart's three environmental goals: that its energy use should be 100 per cent renewable; that it should produce zero waste; and that it should sell products that are are environmentally sustainable. Wheeler asked, Is that for real?

Ruben immediately redefined the goals as inspirational injunctions to Wal-Mart staff.  He acknowledged that they are achievable only in the very long term, but he insisted (correctly) that they are no less worthy. And he admitted (or stated, or posited; I don't want to imply anything unnecessary) that Wal-Mart is still in business; the company has not suddenly remade itself as a philanthropic organization.

Ruben's most compelling points were that Wal-Mart is really making headway in addressing some environmental issues. For example, it has retrofitted its truck fleet with auxilliary power units that allow it to save 10 million gallons of deisel fuel a year - reducing its greenhouse gas production by 100,000 tonnes.

Wal-Mart has also started to push compact fluorescents, expanding their presence and visibility in the stores. As a result of this fairly subtle marketing change, Wal-Mart hopes to sell 100 million compact fluorescents this year, resulting in a further saving of 25 million tonnes of CO2.
Fri, 2006-10-27 08:19Richard Littlemore
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Environmentalism: Corporate Style I

Exhibitors at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Burlington, Vt., offer a broad and surprising view of what “environmentalism” can mean in different minds.

For example, who would have expected that the first thing you would see walking into the plenary session was an “environmentally friendly” SUV? Admittedly, it’s a hybrid, but you have to hand it to the U.S. automakers. Many people would have balked at the prospect of selling cars to environmentalists, especially the kind of cars that have come to epitomize unnecessary over consumption. Really, bravo!
Thu, 2006-10-26 20:54Sarah Pullman
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Cornering Ford at SEJ2006

First night at the SEJ Conference, and things started off with a small bang as representatives from several major auto manufacturers – all men – took the stage for a panel discussion about alternative fuel vehicles, moderated by Jim Motavalli, Editor of E/The Environmental Magazine. Also speaking was one lone woman – representing the ethanol promotion board.

After they had all spoken, the audience was asked for questions. DeSmogBlog's Kevin stood up and asked his question of the Ford rep (paraphrased here). “If you say that you're so concerned about climate change, and acknowledge that it's happening, and are involved in things like Terrapass and alternative fuels, then why are you still funding think tank groups like the CEI, who have a position that climate change is not happening and is nothing to worry about?” The audience was as appreciative of his question as they had been of a couple of other pointed questions calling the auto companies on their apparent greenwashing.

Remarkably, Ford's senior representative up on stage didn't even attempt to answer the question, and instead turned it right over to one of his PR people, seated in the audience. “We completely divorced ourselves from that particular campaign,” she claimed, while members of the audience muttered in obvious disapproval and disbelief. She went on to say that while Ford does fund the Competitive Enterprise Institute – though not that campaign – they do acknowledge that climate change is a reality.

Kevin commented that that was the same answer he had received back when Ford had been revealed as a CEI donor during the time of the ridiculous ads.

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