Archive for April, 2007

Lawns to Gardens (The Energy Crisis Show): EPISODE 2

Here is Episode 2!


April 25, 2007 at 9:29 am 3 comments

A Rebuttal To The Recent Stanford Study On Ethanol


The following rebuttal comes from the author of “Alcohol Can Be A Gas“, David Blume. He is a permaculturist, farmer, ecologist and alcohol fuels expert who has appeared on Thom Hartmann’s radio show multiple times.

Blume clearly makes his point that the latest study from Stanford regarding Ethanol being bad for the environment is a false conclusion and a clear attempt to smear Ethanol as a viable alternative to oil.

Blume writes:

On The Recent Stanford Ozone Study

Recent reports of a study out of Stanford University made big national headlines damning alcohol fuel. The study claimed that if high blends of alcohol, for instance E-85, were adopted by 100% of U.S. cars by 2020, deaths related to ozone and formaldehyde emissions from cars would increase by 200 people per year. The way the press reported the article, you would think that this was a major condemnation of alcohol.

. This was entirely a study based on computer modeling done by one guy, and his methodology is not standard, nor adopted by anyone else. Trying to model atmospheric emissions of 100% of the auto fleet 13 years in the future is like trying to tell you what the weather will be like in 13 years. It far exceeds the state-of-the-art of atmospheric modeling.

Even so, the increase he models is very, very, very small. He doesn’t state what the measurement error is—and so it is probable that his result is so small as to be indistinguishable from measurement error. The USEPA is looking into the study, and the unconfirmed report at this time is that there are basic flaws in the modeling (read: the math) that, if confirmed, would fully undermine and possibly even reverse the conclusions. Fat chance of that making headlines, though. I’ll keep you posted on this.

The big three emissions of carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and nitrous oxides are all dramatically reduced in E-85 and pretty much fully disappear in E-100, which is just as likely a 2020 scenario as E-85.

Although E-85 aldehyde emissions may have a higher percentage of automobile hydrocarbons in some cases, these are considered far less dangerous than the highly carcinogenic, benzene and butadiene emissions from gasoline in both potency (health danger) and reactivity (ozone formation and indirect health effects), as verified by California Air Resources Board and the EPA. E-85 dramatically reduces the emissions of these chemicals.

Even if the Stanford ozone calculation turns out to be a correct conclusion, the massive reduction in the other toxic emissions will save thousands of times the lives in both respiratory and cancer deaths. E-85 is estimated by USEPA and CARB (in Winebrake, et al., 2001) to reduce overall cancer risk over gasoline alone by 40%! These are truly big numbers. With E-100, the risks nearly evaporate.

The American Lung Association fully supports E-85 as a way to reduce the health problems of auto emissions, and I think that says it all.

On top of all this its important to note that the researcher, Mark Jacobsen has been a frequent recipient of funding from ExxonMobil through that corporation’s $100 million dollar grant to Stanford’s Global Climate and Energy Program. This program is controlled by ExxonMobil and not the University and ExxonMobil retains control of any patentable discoveries that are made by the program.

“It’s difficult to accept a controversial study throwing cold water on the accepted idea that blended ethanol is a good solution to our energy problems when the university well that produced the study has been poisoned by Big Oil’s money,” said John M. Simpson of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.

April 24, 2007 at 7:50 pm 1 comment

Greenwashing 2.0


As a marketer, I’m witnessing something sinister as environmentalism hits the mainstream. It’s my job to provide concrete solutions to companies that want to “Go Green” by helping them make changes that actually lead to minimizing their impact on the air we breathe, the soil we depend on, and the water we drink. For instance, if a car dealership chooses to keep selling new cars rather than morphing their business to a sustainably managed “Survival Goods Store”, then by all means, they should at least make real green changes.

Want some ideas that are real? Put solar panels on your roof, pay for 5 years of carbon offsets for each new vehicle sold, and donate 3% of your profits to helping kids learn how to grow food at home with mom & dad. It’s simple, really. Then you can actually advertise that you are DOING something green.

But something wicked this way comes. It’s a wave of marketers that smell the green of money, not the green of chlorophyll. It is becoming more common for capitalists who once battled green causes like a cage fighter to want to hop on the environmental/eco/green/sustainability bandwagon now that Joe Public realizes more and more that planetary mortality is real. As people make more purchases based on LOHAS values, the suits across the country are demanding “Get me something green!” without actually caring about the action plan rather than a sales term for consumer feel-good measure and profits. This is Greenwashing 2.0, and it’s a sickness.

We are told the world has just 10 years to reverse surging carbon emissions or risk runaway climate change that could make many parts of the planet uninhabitable. I am in awe of people that care only about themselves, money, and the short term. At this point in time, when we know that as humans we shit in our own nest with every packaged good we buy – so are marketing departments even speaking with product development about completely greening existing goods?

Where are the companies that are rolling out their complete overhaul, from green products to transportation? I don’t want to see any more advertisements showing birds singing, smiling frogs, or any ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’-like nature harmony scenes to peddle your goods. Not unless you can back it up with thought through changes that show you are doing more than cashing in on consumer recognition of the planet’s destruction and the probable demise of humanity.

Shame on the predators in business that rape this real moment in time. I won’t help you dupe people, and take off that green mask so I can look you in the eye.

April 24, 2007 at 2:18 pm 1 comment

America’s “Going Out Of Business” Sale

going out of business

Well America, the time is near when other players on the world game board are taking the lead. We have had an amazing run of energy-intensive partying, and now it’s going to get a lot tougher. For those of you who are already struggling, you’ll just have to register your complaints to the rich people who live behind gated communities if you can get through their armed guards.

So here it is, the decline of the US Dollar and all the purchasing power you thought you had. Retirement? Ha! We’ve been swiping proverbial credit cards to pay for all the fun, haven’t we? That new big screen TV, and my my my, what a beautiful sport utility vehicle in the driveway of that awesome new home with the manicured lawn.

Financing them all, you say? Two payments away from losing it all? We should should have been converting our yards to a food garden instead. After all, when groceries start to become too expensive for the middle class (already too much for the poor) and food isn’t being restocked on the shelves, people are going to start realizing the amazingly deep shit we are all in.

From the highest level of real estate (ports, buildings, stadiums, etc.) to the people already sleeping in the street, we are about to feel the effects of peak oil. As the dollar continues to plummet, other countries in better positions (China, Europe, Russia, UAE) will be looking at our garage sale and buying up more and more of America, which will probably include the company you are working for (unless you own your own business, which I would recommend you convert to a Survival Goods brick-and-mortar right away).

As the stress continues to build and more people realize how broken the food system is, there will be rushes to hoard supplies and scared masses of people brandishing shotguns in the parking lots at Costco. That could be the scene around the country if we don’t start making our “crash landing” plans right now.

I continue to advocate that every mayor start to look beyond the term “sustainability” and start planning for local survival. None of us REALLY wants to find out if humans taste like chicken, do we? If you are a white collar worker, you might want to go out and drag your shirt through the dirt and get used to what it’s like.

By the way, I have a nice Fender guitar for sale if anyone wants it… or I’ll trade you straight out for a couple of solar panels.

April 23, 2007 at 1:53 pm 1 comment

A Self Portrait Of A Young Man


April 17, 2007 at 11:00 pm Leave a comment

Two Trends Merging As One To Save The Planet

kid train

If Internet trend A leaves the station traveling (X) miles per hour, and “Green Living” trend B leaves the station at (Y) miles per hour, when will they collide?

Right about now.

Let me explain the good news. In my February presentation to a bunch of advertising agencies in Portland, I showed them that TV, Radio, and Print are all morphing into the Internet, and that it’s all coming down to programming rather than the delivery vehicle.

On the Internet side of things
, the game right now is to figure out how to even keep up with hyper-evolution. Every day, a new technology makes its way on the scene – yet again mashing up or evolving social networks, widgets, blogs, e-mail, video – just about everything.

Advertisers don’t know where to place their money – because they don’t know what works anymore. But here’s the “AHA!” moment.

“Green Living” has finally found its place in America’s social psyche. I could bitch and moan about how long it took, but hey, none of us is innocent. The fact is we is where we is, and the forward motion in thinking about our behavior as it relates to the survival of the planet is now mainstream.

The problem is, of course, now that we agree we need to take action to maintain our existence on planet earth, most people don’t know *how* to do it. Do parents know everything they need to know about raising “Green kids”? How can they teach their kids if they don’t have the knowledge themselves? Most parents certainly didn’t learn “Eco living” in school.

That’s where the collision of the Internet with “Green living” will play the most positive role. Sites like Treehugger and Lime will make a lot of moolah in the near future as revenue models change to reward good behavior. Take, for instance, these “Green Living” videos. From a marketing perspective, this approach combines all of the Internet evolution elements into where things are going to be:

– Instant delivery
– Green living programming
– Product / service centric
– On demand
– Viral
– Able to be posted on other people’s websites

Sure, there are some elements missing, like allowing “user generated content”, but the point is that we now have the communications technology, social consciousness, and potential for continued energy to fix this place. I’m starting to believe we have the willpower as well.

So, here’s the prediction. You will see more and more “Green mashups” like this one that takes one video and incorporates it into itself. Eventually, more and more people will seek out “Green content” (text, video, audio) and re-purpose it, taking elements from what is learned and adding their own creative touches.

This is a fantastic moment for the world. Just as I was worried that advertising is becoming ubiquitous and we can never turn its pervasiveness off, I realize that right now we need that pervasiveness while continuing to smash these two most important trends together. The faster they collide, the slower we will perish.

April 17, 2007 at 4:25 pm 2 comments

Kick Starting Communications For A Peak Oil World

Peak Oil Communications & Consulting

As a consultant who’s present livelihood depends on a functional economy, I take great interest in the role of our collective consciousness to prepare for post-peak oil world. The complaint I run into again and again is that the “Mainstream Media” isn’t communicating the severity of the energy crisis. That’s why I’m offering a general marketing outline for local governments to take charge and kick off their peak oil communications plans.

It goes against the nature of capitalism to ask people to stop consuming – so I wouldn’t expect your local car dealer to advertise for people NOT buy their cars. Of course, the more profit margins shrink the more they will be willing to experiment with their marketing budgets to see what works, and there will be a period of “desperation marketing”. But that is a different article. This article is about helping cities take the lead to educate citizens and businesses.

Now, what I’m about to propose is a sneaky way for cities to “Educate” advertising agencies and wake them up. The hope is that once advertising folks get wind of the seriousness of peak oil, they will be able to communicate with their clients/customers and the information will trickle to executives controlling the money. Hopefully they will choose to reinvest that money right now into localizing their own economy, including producing goods and services from raw materials within a hundred mile radius.

Just how can we get from A to B? Take a gander at this, and feel free to pass it along to your local municipal planners with access to marketing dollars.

Suggested Approach For Peak Oil Communications Campaign

The process of creating behavior changes to prepare for the decline of fossil fuels will not be easy. Nearly every aspect of our modern lives are supported by access to affordable energy. Energy depletion will profoundly change the way live, and it will be challenging, but possible – to create a change of modern-living consciousness.

I believe this change begins with proper communications that reach certain audiences with messages created specific to their world view. In a generic sense, groups the city should consider messaging to are:

• Citizens
• Business Leaders
• Community Leaders

In order to effectively achieve the marketing objectives of any campaign, the city should identify what outcome is desired from each of these audiences. Some suggestions are:

• Preparing citizens for the realities of Peak Oil/Peak Natural Gas
• Get citizens to take action and prepare
• Foster community responses
• Establish your city as Peak Oil leaders
• Get businesses to make changes needed
• Simultaneously sustain and grow our local economy

This is no ordinary marketing effort. This campaign could serve as an example of communications for other cities across America and the world. Funding and executing the right communications program is crucial. The following are suggestions for succeeding in this endeavor:

Choosing the right messages
Peak Oil effects everyone. The solutions to implement in order to make preparations are vast. Questions to consider when creating messaging are:
• What is the budget for the project?
• Who are the audiences most likely to act on the messaging?
• What are the gender, age, and lifestyle of the people we are looking to communicate with?
• What exactly does the city wish to communicate?
• How will the city measure communications success?

In my opinion, this should be a well funded communications program with a budget between $250,000 – $350,000 for the first phase. These funds would be dispersed between multiple types of media during the campaign.

Media Considerations
Since this is such a broad communications campaign, the city should consider placing advertising and communications across multiple media, reaching a broad audience with specific messaging. This means additional research and planning, however competent markets will be able to create targeted messages for each.

Considerations are:
Community organizations

I would like to make a special note about the Internet. The media landscape is rapidly changing, and TV, Radio and Print are all morphing into Internet based content (information and entertainment). I highly recommend a strong Internet component with any peak oil campaign, including:
News Aggregators, Blogs, Viral Video, Social Networks, custom content and a dedicated municipal website created for your various campaigns.

Bidding for the city contract
In order to ensure success, your city should create a Request For Proposal for this campaign. Since the issue of Peak Oil is new to many advertising agencies and marketing consultants that will bid on the contract, it is suggested that the city require any bidders to attend two city-sponsored “Peak Oil” education meetings (presented by your most informed staffers / consultants).

This will ensure that the city is able to educate advertising agencies to communicate what is necessary, as well as create competition to think critically. After the educational sessions, bidders would have to submit sample campaigns to the city as part of the RFP.

The contract award could be based on the following criteria:
• Ability to fully grasp the implications of peak oil (if enough of their people freak out, they probably get it)
• Sample campaigns must be submitted (To win the contract, they must prove they can generate good ideas)
• Ability to create an integrated campaign across multiple media
• Cost
• Added value


By no means is this a complete plan, rather an idea for getting started. It’s up to you to take something like this to your local officials and get things started. And while you’re at it, buy a compost bin while they are still cheap!

April 16, 2007 at 2:05 pm Leave a comment

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