Timeless Music

I’m watching the intro to the Duke vs Texas basketball game. They are ranked number 1 and 2, respectively. As the commentators break to a commercial, they show some slow motion of a high-flying dunk shot, and the soundtrack is one of my all-time favorite songs, All Along the Watchtower – the Jimi Hendrix version. Very cool!!!

FYI: All Along the Watchtower was written by Bob Dylan, who now performs it using Jimi’s arrangement. (Two geniuses combined.) For a great analysis of this song, see the post on the wonderful Reason to Rock web site.

BusinessWeek Ranking of ‘The Top Green Companies’

DuPont at number 1 surprises me. Their teflon liability problems probably tainted my view, and I grew up in a DuPont town where I saw a stream of their industrial wastes flowing into the local river. But these are small issues compared to their recent reduction in energy consumption and their leadership replacing ozone depleting gases. Alcoa at number 5 is another surprise.

Link: GreenBiz News | DuPont Tops BusinessWeek Ranking of ‘The Top Green Companies’.

BusinessWeek’s Top Green Companies are:

  • DuPont (U.S.)
  • BP (Britain)
  • Bayer (Germany)
  • BT (Britain)
  • Alcoa (U.S.)

Back in the mid-1980s, DuPont created a profitable business selling substitutes for chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) refrigerants that were destroying the earth’s protective ozone layer. Tackling climate change "was a natural extension of this experience," explained environmental manager Mack McFarland. DuPont has reduced energy consumption 7% below 1990 levels, saving more than $2 billion-including at least $10 million per year by using renewable resources.

The world is changing faster than anyone expected. Not only is the Earth warming, bringing more intense storms and causing Artic ice to vanish, but the political and policy landscape is being transformed even more dramatically. Already, certain industries are facing mandatory limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in some of the 129 countries that have signed the Kyoto Protocol.

A surprising number of companies in old industries such as oil and materials as well as high-tech are preparing for this profoundly altered world. They are moving swiftly to measure and slash their greenhouse gas emissions. And they are doing it despite the Bush Administration’s opposition to mandatory curbs. As the debate over climate change shifts from scientific data to business-speak such as "efficiency investment" and "material risk," CEOs are suddenly understanding why climate change is important. Far from breaking the bank, cutting energy use and greenhouse emissions can actually fatten the bottom line and create new business opportunities, while simultaneously greening up companies’ reputations.

The American Way of Life

Can we continue to live like we have in the past? Jim Kunstler says…

      Many things have changed. One is that a potent segment of the Islamic world declared war on the west (jihad). Another is that OPEC, led by Saudi Arabia, has apparently lost its spare capacity, and therefore its role as the world’s swing producer of oil. Another is that the North Sea and Alaskan oil fields have passed their production peaks and are depleting at phenomenal rates — in the case of Great Britain’s fields, up to 50 percent a year — because they were drilled so efficiently with the latest technology. Yet Another is that rising ocean temperatures have led to several years of massive hurricanes wreaking havoc among the oil and gas platforms of the US Gulf Coast. Still another is the industrial turbo-expansion of China and India, taking advantage of their ultracheap labor to become the world’s factories and back-offices, while jacking up their oil consumption.

      Oil trade has now become a dead heat race between supply and demand, with demand looking like the stronger horse coming into the home stretch. As it overtakes supply, even more strange changes will unfold on the world scene. These are likely to take the form of fierce geopolitical struggles to gain favor in or control those regions that still have a lot of oil, foremost the Middle East, with Iraq located at dead center of it.

     There is really only one condition that will allow us to pull out of Iraq. That is if we make an enormous collective effort to change our behavior here in North America; if we break free from an economy pegged to suburban sprawl, reform the way we do agriculture and retail trade, make substantial investments in public transit and railroads in particular, and practice fiscal restraint at every scale, including an end to the reckless creation of mortgages. Unless we face these facts and the tasks associated with them, then we will find ourselves at the center of that geopolitical struggle.

     Right now, nobody from any political stance is talking about these facts and these tasks.

Sustainability + Functionality with William McDonough

William McDonough is co-author of the book Cradle To Cradle, a seminal work on economically making products re-usable.

Source: Treehugger: Sustainability Functionality with William McDonough

Some quotes from William McDonough at Construct Canada’s Round Table on Sustainability and Functionality:

“Nicholas Pevsner said that a bicycle shed is a building; a cathedral is architecture. I am not interested in efficiency or sustainability for its own sake, it is not an end in itself.”

“LEED is a checklist for people who don’t want to think…you get points for using recycled carpet made from PVC. PVC leads to dioxin and should be banned, but you get points for it.”

“Just using natural materials is not the answer- if we all wear Birkenstocks and organic cotton the world will run out of cork and fresh water”

“Climate change and the carbon problem are the issue and everything else is noise. Soon we will be toast; as more carbon gets into the ocean it will start dissolving the coral reefs and we will destroy the bottom of the food chain, and then we are jelly in the toast”

(when we do offices) “we design a life support system for people who work, not a work support system for people who don’t have a life”

“to get through this we need thought and humility, two words that you don’t often find together in architects”