Why Water Bottles? The mystery is why people buy bottled water when tap water is eminently drinkable (as in New York City.) London food reviewer Giles Cohen weighs in, in an article that describes his new restaurant rating system which takes account of organic food and no mineral water:
"Mineral water is a preposterous vanity. It is flown and shipped around the world, from France and Norway at best, from Japan and Fiji at worst. It is bottled in glass that is mostly thrown away and is stupidly heavy to freight, or in plastic which never, ever, decomposes and just goes to landfill or ends up in one of the “plastic patches” the size of Texas currently gyring in our oceans.
Food snobs and restaurant critics make a big song and dance about mineral waters they like and don’t like. New York’s Ritz-Carlton even caters to the whim of abstemious punters with a dedicated water list and sommelier."
Rating Gas: no, that's not a joke from the latest children's movie, it's Pick your Poison from the Sierra Club, or how you might select buying gas (the vehicular variety,) from one supplier vs. another. The extensively researched report rates BP, Chevron, CITGO, CONOCO, EXXONMOBIL, Shell and SUNOCO brands, finding (surprise indeed,) that Chevron rates the highest, for its early sign-on to the Global Climate Coalition and its high EDF rank for its refineries. But read sceptically; maybe it's better to sell your car and use no gas at all.
Where should an environmentalist gas up?...The only benign petroleum is the stuff that’s still in the ground.
That said, the environmental and human-rights records of the oil giants are far from uniform. Some companies have cleaner refining operations and fewer oil spills, while others treat indigenous people more fairly or make greater efforts to develop energy alternatives. When looking at a company’s record (especially its “green initiatives”), keep a critical eye on the context. Do oil companies hype minimal environmental achievements? Chevron does (and it’s not alone). In a 1996 advertisement, for example, the company celebrated a bird sanctuary for the endangered Hawaiian stilt “in the heart” of one of its Oahu refineries. In reality, the “sanctuary” is a catchment pond mandated by law to help control damage in the event of a major oil spill. Some companies also try to improve their good-citizen images by making voluntary human-rights or environmental pledges, which look great on an annual report but are not enforceable.
Grist Times Two:
Ted Stevens (R:AL) flabbergasted many on Capitol Hill last week when he introduced legislation that would require passenger cars sold in the U.S. to get an average of 40 miles per gallon within a decade -- a 12.5 mpg increase from today's standards. The importance of the Stevens bill "isn't in the details," says the Sierra Club's Dan Becker. "The importance is that an extremely conservative Republican and longtime opponent of CAFE has come out with a fairly decent and very interesting fuel-economy bill. His turnaround on this issue is a profound signal of change -- on par with Nixon going to China." Becker says he heard from Capitol Hill staffers that Stevens introduced the bill because he's worried that his home state is melting.
Obama's (D:IL) Oops On Jan. 4, the same day Stevens introduced his fuel-economy bill, Obama joined with Kentucky Republican Jim Bunning to introduce the "Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007." Coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology uses a highly energy-intensive process to convert coal into diesel fuel for cars or jet fuel for airplanes -- an appealing prospect to the coal industry in Obama's home state of Illinois, but not to enviros and others concerned about global warming. Obama, who got a 100 percent approval rating from the League of Conservation Voters for his environmental voting record in the Senate last year, is now getting grumbles from greens and thumpings from the press for backing the dirtiest of all fossil fuels.
Everything's Going Green: The road to Greenness is paved with good intentions: this event may seem to be an example of trying to assuage one's guilt of excessive consumption by creating a patina of greenness:
Hollywood environmentalists are throwing the first "green" Golden Globes awards bash for celebrities next week, complete with organic food, recycled paper decorations and tables made of reclaimed wood.
The Environmental Media Association (EMA) and entertainment network E! will host the Jan. 15 "Golden Green" party in Beverly Hills to mark the annual movie and television awards ceremony.
Actresses Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eva Longoria, Sarah Jessica Parker, Rachel Weisz and socialite Paris Hilton are among the celebrities scheduled to attend the event in a former department store set to become an eco-friendly apartment building.