Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ANS -- Global Warming Systemically Caused Hurricane Sandy

I think this is a really good idea, Joyce doesn't.  What do you think?
This is an article about words, because it's by George Lakoff.  It's also about global warming and did it cause this storm or not?
Find it here:

Residents in Little Ferry, N.J., were rescued from flood waters  
Residents in Little Ferry, N.J., were rescued from flood waters. (photo: Adam Hunger/Reuters)

go to original article

Global Warming Systemically Caused Hurricane Sandy

By George Lakoff, Reader Supported News

30 October 12

Reader Supported News | Perspective


[] es, global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy - and the Midwest droughts and the fires in Colorado and Texas, as well as other extreme weather disasters around the world. Let's say it out loud, it was causation, systemic causation.

Systemic causation is familiar. Smoking is a systemic cause of lung cancer. HIV is a systemic cause of AIDS. Working in coal mines is a systemic cause of black lung disease. Driving while drunk is a systemic cause of auto accidents. Sex without contraception is a systemic cause of unwanted pregnancies.

There is a difference between systemic and direct causation. Punching someone in the nose is direct causation. Throwing a rock through a window is direct causation. Picking up a glass of water and taking a drink is direct causation. Slicing bread is direct causation. Stealing your wallet is direct causation. Any application of force to something or someone that always produces an immediate change to that thing or person is direct causation. When causation is direct, the word cause is unproblematic.

Systemic causation, because it is less obvious, is more important to understand. A systemic cause may be one of a number of multiple causes. It may require some special conditions. It may be indirect, working through a network of more direct causes. It may be probabilistic, occurring with a significantly high probability. It may require a feedback mechanism. In general, causation in ecosystems, biological systems, economic systems, and social systems tends not to be direct, but is no less causal. And because it is not direct causation, it requires all the greater attention if it is to be understood and its negative effects controlled.

Above all, it requires a name: systemic causation.

Global warming systemically caused the huge and ferocious Hurricane Sandy. And consequently, it systemically caused all the loss of life, material damage, and economic loss of Hurricane Sandy. Global warming heated the water of the Gulf and Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, resulting in greatly increased energy and water vapor in the air above the water. When that happens, extremely energetic and wet storms occur more frequently and ferociously. These systemic effects of global warming came together to produce the ferocity and magnitude of Hurricane Sandy.

The precise details of Hurricane Sandy cannot be predicted in advance, any more than when, or whether, a smoker develops lung cancer, or sex without contraception yields an unwanted pregnancy, or a drunk driver has an accident. But systemic causation is nonetheless causal.

Semantics matters. Because the word cause is commonly taken to mean direct cause, climate scientists, trying to be precise, have too often shied away from attributing causation of a particular hurricane, drought, or fire to global warming. Lacking a concept and language for systemic causation, climate scientists have made the dreadful communicative mistake of retreating to weasel words. Consider this quote from "Perception of climate change," by James Hansen, Makiko Sato, and Reto Ruedy, Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:
...we can state, with a high degree of confidence, that extreme anomalies such as those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010 were a consequence of global warming because their likelihood in the absence of global warming was exceedingly small.

The crucial words here are high degree of confidence, anomalies, consequence, likelihood, absence, and exceedingly small. Scientific weasel words! The power of the bald truth, namely causation, is lost.

This no small matter because the fate of the earth is at stake. The science is excellent. The scientists' ability to communicate is lacking. Without the words, the idea cannot even be expressed. And without an understanding of systemic causation, we cannot understand what is hitting us.

Global warming is real, and it is here. It is causing - yes, causing - death, destruction, and vast economic loss. And the causal effects are getting greater with time. We cannot merely adapt to it. The costs are incalculable. What we are facing is huge. Each day, the amount of extra energy accumulating via the heating of the earth is the equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Each day!

Because the earth itself is so huge, this energy is distributed over the earth in a way that is not immediately perceptible by our bodies - only a fraction of a degree each day. But the accumulation of total heat energy over the earth is increasing at an astronomical rate, even though the temperature numbers look small locally - 0.8 degrees Celsius so far. If we hit 2.0 degrees Celsius, as we may before long, the earth - and the living things on it - will not recover. Because of ice melt, the level of the oceans will rise 45 feet, while huge storms, fires, and droughts get worse each year.

The international consensus is that by 2.0 degrees Celsius, all civilization would be threatened if not destroyed.

What would it take to reach a 2.0 degrees Celsius increase over the whole earth? Much less than you might think. Consider the amount of oil already drilled and stored by Exxon Mobil alone. If that oil were burned, the temperature of the earth would pass 2.0 degree Celsius, and those horrific disasters would come to pass.

The value of Exxon Mobil - its stock price - resides in its major asset, its stored oil. Because the weather disasters arising from burning that oil would be so great that we would have to stop burning. That's just Exxon Mobil's oil. The oil stored by all the oil companies everywhere would, if burned, destroy civilization many times over.

Another way to comprehend this, as Bill McKibben has observed, is that most of the oil stored all over the earth is worthless. The value of oil company stock, if Wall St. were rational, would drop precipitously. Moreover, there is no point in drilling for more oil. Most of what we have already stored cannot be burned. More drilling is pointless.

Are Bill McKibben's and James Hansen's numbers right? We had better have the science community double-check the numbers, and fast.

Where do we start? With language. Add systemic causation to your vocabulary. Communicate the concept. Explain to others why global warming systemically caused the enormous energy and size of Hurricane Sandy, as well as the major droughts and fires. Email your media whenever you see reporting on extreme weather that doesn't ask scientists if it was systemically caused by global warming.

Next, enact fee and dividend, originally proposed by Peter Barnes at Sky Trust and introduced as Senate legislation as the KLEAR Act by Maria Cantwell and Susan Collins. More recently, legislation called fee and dividend has been proposed by James Hansen and introduced in the House by representatives John B, Larson and Bob Inglis.

Next. Do all we can to move to alternative energy worldwide as soon as possible.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Monday, October 29, 2012

ANS -- The Truth About Ben and Jerry’s

This is a long article, dull to almost anyone but a lawyer, but it has some stuff in it that might interest you. 
The part I think is interesting is titled New Organizational Forms for Hybrids, and it tells about new kinds of corporations that are designed to make social responsibility part of the mission, not just profit.  Revolution is happening. 
Also, the article's point is supposed to be that Ben and Jerry didn't have to sell, but there's a little hint here that they felt coerced even if it wasn't a law coercing them. I made that sentence red so you could find it easily.
Find it here:   

Socially Responsible Business

The Truth About Ben and Jerry's

Contrary to myth, the sale of Ben & Jerry's to corporate giant Unilever wasn't legally required.

By Antony Page & Robert A. Katz | 10 | Fall 2012

(Photo by Holly Lindem)

Though it occurred a dozen years ago, the sale of Ben & Jerry's continues to haunt social entrepreneurs. The sale's notoriety keeps growing, moreover, because of the central role it plays in current debates over the development and enactment of new US corporate forms­such as low-profit limited liability corporations (L3Cs), benefit corporations, and flexible purpose corporations­that attempt to embed a company's social mission into its legal structure.

The story of Ben & Jerry's is a legend in two acts. In Act One, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, two underachievers with counterculture values, open an ice cream store in a renovated gas station in South Burlington, Vt. The company, founded in 1978, becomes a social enterprise icon. It is fair to its employees, easy on the environment, and kind to its cows. The company pioneers the pursuit of business with a double bottom line­profits and people­that Cohen and Greenfield called the "double dip." In its heyday (circa 1990), the company was a kind of corporate hippie, wearing its convictions on its labels with funky-named flavors like Cherry Garcia, Whirled Peace, and Wavy Gravy. Peace, love, and ice cream!

In Act Two, set in 2000, the mood sours. Ben & Jerry's is sold (out) to Unilever, the world's third-largest consumer goods company, described by one commentator as "a giant multinational clearly focused on the financial bottom line."1 News of the sale sends "shudders and shivers through the socially responsible business community."2 An all-too-brief and unexpectedly wonderful trip becomes a bummer. If Ben & Jerry's was a kind of corporate Woodstock, this sale was its Altamont. (As a fitting coda, Unilever discontinued Wavy Gravy in 2003 because it wasn't profitable enough.)

This article aims to dispel the idée fixe that corporate law compelled Ben & Jerry's directors to accept Unilever's rich offer, overwhelming Cohen and Greenfield's dogged efforts to maintain the company's social mission and independence. Contemporaneous observers concluded thus, such as the stock analyst who claimed in 2000 that "Ben & Jerry's had a legal responsibility to consider the takeover bids. … That responsibility is what forced a sale."3 Cohen says the same thing­on a 2010 NPR radio segment on social enterprise, he said that "the laws required the board of directors of Ben & Jerry's to take an offer, to sell the company despite the fact that they did not want to sell the company."4 Greenfield agrees: "We were a public company, and the board of directors' primary responsibility is the interest of the shareholders. … It was nothing about Unilever; we didn't want to get bought by anybody."5

Corporate law has been fingered as the culprit in Ben & Jerry's sale, which has become the poster child, proof text, and Exhibit A for the proposition that the traditional business corporation is fundamentally inhospitable, if not outright hostile, to social enterprise. Consider this passage from the summer 2009 issue of the Stanford Social Innovation Review: "[A]mong social entrepreneurs, Unilever's purchase of Ben & Jerry's serves as a cautionary tale of how easily corporate fiat can undermine social responsibility. 'The board was legally required to sell to the highest bidder,' says [an attorney with expertise in social enterprise]. Neither Ben Cohen nor Jerry Greenfield wanted to sell the company, but because it was public they had no choice."6

If the corporate form is bad for social enterprise, social entrepreneurs should use more suitable alternatives. Proponents of new legal forms­such as L3Cs, benefit corporations, and flexible purpose corporations­invariably cite the sale of Ben & Jerry's to show why such forms are necessary or attractive. (See "New Organizational Forms for Hybrids," below.) For example, a legislative report on SB 201, California's Flexible Purpose Corporation act, states that "The story of Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream is an example of why a new entity form is sought." It then repeats the now familiar story: "Even though Ben and Jerry did not want to sell out, they had little choice."7

Proponents of these forms claim they could have prevented the sale of Ben & Jerry's, and prevent future such scenarios. After Vermont enacted its Benefit Corporation Act in 2011, one commentator asserted that "If Vermont's law had been around 11 years ago, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield might not have had to sell their ice cream company. … [T]he laws of shareholder responsibility forced the hippie founders to sell, even though they wanted to keep control. Now, with today's law, a new kind of corporation is created that prevents exactly that."8

Because the sale of Ben & Jerry's is a critical fixture in debates over new legal forms, it's essential to get it right. This article challenges the canonical account of that sale. It exposes the underlying assumptions about corporate law as erroneous: Corporate law does not require publicly traded corporations to maximize shareholder wealth. We describe the elaborate machinery that Ben & Jerry's built to resist hostile takeovers and explain why these defenses, had they been invoked, would almost certainly have worked.

The Ben & Jerry's sale does not make the legal argument for new forms. Rather, it is a lesson in how social entrepreneurs can use existing forms in creative ways to protect an enterprise's social mission­even if they decide to forgo such protection in the end. (Of course, if the social entrepreneur remains the sole owner of the business, such protections aren't even necessary.) The Ben & Jerry's story contains other lessons for social entrepreneurs, including the impact of financial performance on mission and the idea that committed decision makers are the best security for mission sustainability.

From Humble Beginnings

When Cohen and Greenfield first started out, they were simply trying to earn a living. It was only when the business began to take off that they began the transition toward a progressive enterprise. Cohen was disappointed that Ben & Jerry's was "just a business, like all others, [that] exploits its workers and the community."9 A friend, however, challenged him, pointing out that he could change whatever he didn't like about the business. Over time, Cohen and Greenfield came to view their business as, in Cohen's words, "an experiment to see if it was possible to use the tools of business to repair society." At the end of each month, said Cohen, he and Greenfield would ask of themselves and the company: "How much have we improved the quality of life in the community? And how much profit is left over at the end of each month? If we haven't contributed to both those objectives, we have failed."10 By their own expectations, and many others', they were extraordinarily successful.

From the outset, Cohen and Greenfield were deeply committed to Vermont's economy and environment. They relied heavily on local suppliers of milk to make their products. They hired a local artist to design their cartons and graphics. As the company's need for capital increased, they resisted venture capitalist financing, which typically requires relinquishing significant control over the company. Instead, it sold stock to Vermont residents, thereby reinforcing the company's local roots. In 1985 the company formalized its philanthropy by creating the Ben & Jerry's Foundation. Cohen endowed it with $850,000 worth of his shares, and the company agreed to contribute 7.5 percent of its pretax profits.

For a while the company thrived, but in the early to mid-1990s, Ben & Jerry's once-stellar financial performance began to lag, even as its other bottom line­social contributions­went from strength to strength. In 1994, the company's annual report disclosed that sales growth slowed and it had suffered its first financial loss. By 1999 the stock had dropped nearly 50 percent from its peak, because of the company's weaker financial performance. Some investors argued that the company's social mission was a luxury it could no longer afford.

Ben & Jerry's anemic stock performance attracted interest from prospective buyers who thought they could manage the company more profitably. Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream tried to buy the company in 1998, but Ben & Jerry's board refused. Other buyers were rumored to be interested when in early 2000, Cohen and a group of investors (including Body Shop founder Anita Roddick) offered to take the company private at $38 a share­about double the stock price of a few months earlier.11 Dreyer's made another bid, which in turn prompted Unilever to offer $43.60 a share. Although Unilever spoke about nurturing the social mission, many observers were skeptical.

Despite reported reluctance, Ben & Jerry's board announced on April 11, 2000, that it had approved Unilever's offer. (Melodramatically, some refer to this day as "4/11.") The transaction, valued at $326 million, was finalized with overwhelming shareholder support. Cohen's and Greenfield's shares were worth close to $40 million and $10 million respectively. After more than 20 years as an independent enterprise, Ben & Jerry's became a wholly owned subsidiary of Unilever.

The deal, according to Ben & Jerry's securities filings, contained some provisions intended to maintain the corporation's social mission. Although Unilever controlled the financial and most operational aspects of Ben & Jerry's, the subsidiary had its own independent board of directors to help provide leadership for the social mission and the brand's integrity. The new board included Cohen and Greenfield, and its members, not Unilever, would appoint their successors. Moreover, this subsidiary board had the right to sue Unilever, at Unilever's expense, for breaches of the merger agreement.

Unilever also promised to continue contributing pretax profits to charity, maintain corporate presence in Vermont for at least five years, and refrain from material layoffs for at least two years. Finally, Unilever agreed to contribute $5 million to the Ben & Jerry's Foundation, award employee bonuses worth a total of $5 million, and dedicate $5 million to assist minority-owned and undercapitalized businesses.

Ben & Jerry's today is described on Unilever's website as a "wholly owned autonomous subsidiary of Unilever." Although Ben & Jerry's has clearly preserved some of its unique values, most observers are disappointed. Cohen and Greenfield too have reportedly "expressed concerns that the company has shifted away from its original mission of social responsibility."12 As was stated in a post on the Stanford Social Innovation Review's blog, "[n]obody wants to end up like Ben & Jerry's."13

The Legal Landscape

It is widely believed that corporate law forced Ben & Jerry's directors to accept Unilever's rich offer and sell the company. This perception reflects the erroneous view that corporate directors must always act to maximize shareholder value. The best and arguably only support for this view is from Dodge v. Ford, a 1919 decision from the Michigan Supreme Court. That court opined that a "business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders."

Dodge v. Ford is an anomaly, as other courts have not followed its view of shareholder primacy. In the blunt words of respected Cornell Law School corporate law professor Lynn Stout, "shareholder wealth maximization is not a modern legal principle."14 Other state courts have recognized this, including New Jersey's Supreme Court, which stated that "modern conditions require that corporations acknowledge and discharge social as well as private responsibilities as members of the community within which they operate."15

Most state legislatures have resisted the tenets of Dodge v. Ford by enacting statutes that expressly authorize corporate directors to look beyond shareholder wealth maximization. Vermont enacted one, nicknamed "the Ben & Jerry's law," after the company had successfully lobbied Vermont's legislature. Vermont's "other constituency" statute, as these laws are called, is illustrative: It provides that when directors make decisions they may consider such matters as "the interests of the corporation's employees, suppliers, creditors, and customers; the economy of the state, region, and nation; [and] community and societal considerations, including those of any community in which any offices or facilities of the corporation are located." State statutes also give corporations wide latitude to donate profits to charities.

In practice, courts are deferential to board decision making. Under a doctrine called the business judgment rule, unless the directors have a conflict of interest, nearly all board business decisions are beyond judicial review. If there is a potential benefit to shareholders, the courts will not interfere. In this way board decisions advancing a social mission are effectively immune from challenge; there's no limit to the human mind's ability to conceive of some benefit accruing to shareholders at some point, even if in the far-distant future. Absent special circumstances, a board's decision to reject a proposed merger would easily survive a court challenge.

Was Corporate Law the Villain?

By the time Unilever approached Ben & Jerry's in early 2000, the company was well defended. Its founders, lawyers, and lobbyists had taken many steps to prevent a hostile takeover. In addition to promoting Vermont's enactment of an "other constituency" statute, the company had adopted a "poison pill." A poison pill thwarts hostile acquisitions by making them prohibitively expensive. To cancel a poison pill, an acquirer must either find a friendly board or get one elected. Because elections for Ben & Jerry's board were staggered, an acquirer would need at least two elections scheduled a year apart to elect the board of its choice.

In the case of Ben & Jerry's, Unilever could not have elected a friendly board, as the two founders and another early employee, director Jeff Furman, effectively controlled enough votes to direct the election of board members. The company had two classes of common stock, one with 10 votes per share and the other with one vote, and between them they held three-quarters of the super-voting stock. (This capital structure was not unique to Ben & Jerry's. The New York Times Co. and Google, for example, have issued super-voting stock to enable their heirs or founders to maintain control.)

Faced with an entrenched unfriendly board, a would-be acquirer might have gone to court claiming that corporate law required the board to redeem a poison pill. If the court chose to scrutinize the situation carefully, it would have examined whether the board's failure to redeem a pill was reasonable in relation to the threat that Unilever posed to Ben & Jerry's. The legal standard is murky, but there have not been many cases where courts have ordered a pill's redemption.

Finally, Unilever might have asserted that Ben & Jerry's was for sale and so the board was obliged to sell the company to the highest bidder. This was unlikely for two reasons. First, although Vermont courts have not been presented with this situation, most state courts that have considered it have rejected any such obligation. Second, even if the obligation might theoretically exist, this situation was unlikely to trigger it. Although it's true that the board was considering a sale, it had not committed itself. If the matter were litigated, most courts would hold that there was no obligation to sell on grounds that neither the breakup nor sale of Ben & Jerry's was inevitable.

Suppose, however, that a Vermont court had required the board to act to redeem its poison pill or enter into a merger agreement. Cohen and Greenfield still had one more card to play in order to preserve Ben & Jerry's independence. A board's decision to redeem a pill merely allows a tender offer to be submitted to shareholders for their approval. It does not mean the offer will succeed. If a majority of shareholders do not agree to tender their shares for sale, the attempted takeover fails. If they did not tender, they retained their stock and their control of the company.

Similarly, even if the board approves a merger, although it's a legally binding obligation, shareholders must vote in favor of the merger before it becomes effective. Because of the principal stockholders' ownership of super-voting stock, a hostile acquirer could not have gained voting control of the company or a merger finalized without their approval.

The crucial point is that even if Ben & Jerry's directors had a fiduciary duty in their capacity as directors to accept or facilitate a transaction, they had no such duty in their capacity as shareholders, and as such were empowered to support or oppose the transaction as they saw fit. As shareholders, they were entitled to enjoy the benefits of selfish ownership, which ironically in this context could have been exercised altruistically to maintain the company's social mission.

If the super-voting stock were somehow insufficient, Ben & Jerry's had yet one more defense: an unusual class of preferred stock that held veto rights over mergers and tender offers. The Ben & Jerry's Foundation owned all of this preferred stock. A takeover of Ben & Jerry's thus required the foundation's agreement, and two of the three directors of the foundation were the same principal stockholders. The foundation itself could not be taken over because its board members selected their own successors. In any event, the foundation's directors were unlikely to be sued because the only party who could sue them was Vermont's attorney general.

There is one complication in the analysis above. For reasons that are unclear, Ben & Jerry's organizational documents granted the board the right to redeem the preferred and super-voting stock. It is an interesting question whether a court would ever find that a board's fiduciary duties required the redemption of these securities in order to eliminate their voting rights. The board would, after all, owe fiduciary duties to the holders of super-voting stock, and a duty of good faith and fair dealing to holders of the preferred stock. Ben & Jerry's own public statements support this analysis. The company's securities filings disclosed that its capital structure would make it difficult for a third party to acquire control if the transaction were not supported by the principal stockholders or the foundation.

Nonetheless, this possible loophole shows only that Ben & Jerry's didn't get its defenses quite right, not that some flaw in corporate law required the sale. Shrewder lawyering would have made Ben & Jerry's corporate independence even more unassailable. Corporate law permitted super-voting stock and the granting of a veto to a charitable foundation. Moreover, corporate law allows directors to reject an offer, at least where the directors have not irrevocably committed themselves to a sale.

Although Ben & Jerry's legal defenses to a forced sale appeared impregnable, the board unanimously agreed to sell the company. Why? Some cynically claim that the founders were ready to cash out. After all, Cohen and Greenfield grossed nearly $50 million from the sale. Moreover, Ben & Jerry's faced some operational issues that a takeover could solve, such as product distribution. People close to the decision say they were motivated by fear of litigation, followed by a judgment that they would have to satisfy personally. If the directors were held personally liable­a remote possibility­Ben & Jerry's charter included a provision that would have indemnified them.

Lessons for Social Entrepreneurs

This revised and richer account of Ben & Jerry's sale offers valuable lessons for aspiring social entrepreneurs. The legal consequences of an entrepreneur's choice of for-profit organizational form are likely to be smaller than often portrayed. Financial success is also essential to staying is control. Most important, the chief safeguard for maintaining the social mission is the people in control.

A hybrid legal form is neither necessary nor sufficient to maintain a social enterprise | Although the publicly traded corporate form can be challenging, many businesses employing it have pursued social missions with vigor and endurance. The list includes prominent firms such as The New York Times Company, Whole Foods, Starbucks, and the Body Shop (before it encountered operational problems unrelated to its form), and less well-known companies like EV Rentals and Interface Carpets. These firms use several strategies, legal and nonlegal, to ward off hostile takeovers. Foundations and super-voting stock are not uncommon. In some cases, new forms include provisions that could make an enterprise's social mission harder to dislodge, yet such provisions are used by conventional for-profit corporations as well.

Financial success is critical to maintaining control | Ben & Jerry's early financial successes enabled its founders to negotiate powerful control mechanisms from a position of strength. Ultimately the most important change at Ben & Jerry's was not its directors' legal ability to resist takeovers, which indeed increased over time. Rather, it was the declining health of the business itself. In its final years as an independent company, Ben & Jerry's sales, financial performance, and stock price had stagnated, and the company faced various operational challenges.

Successful and promising companies are better positioned to take on new investors while retaining controlling positions for the founders. When Google went public in 2004, for example, with super-voting stock for the insiders, the company candidly admitted that public shareholders' voting rights would have little impact on the company's direction. Facebook's 2012 initial public offering of stock allowed its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to retain control through a combination of super-voting stock and contractual arrangements with other shareholders. (Interestingly, both companies also asserted that providing services, rather than making a profit, was their top priority.)

Although it is true that even successful companies are bought, it is also true that shareholders tend to back successful management. Put differently, takeovers often result from poor stock performance, which usually results from weak financial performance. Investment bankers commonly observe that the best defense is a high stock price. Had Ben & Jerry's remained successful, its directors would have felt more comfortable rebuffing offers, as they had done several times before.

It's the people! | Ben & Jerry's defenses made the company virtually impregnable to hostile takeover. Yet in the end, Ben & Jerry's directors chose to accept a generous offer, even at a cost to the social mission, rather than allow the company's defenses to be tested. Anti-takeover protections are only as effective as the people positioned to use them.

Regardless of the for-profit organizational form in which a business is housed, people who exercise control over the company will usually be able to thwart its social mission. One oft-repeated objection to new forms is that they aren't much more effective at screening out conventional for-profit people and businesses with conventional for-profit souls. So long as the organizational structure is adequate, it will be the decision makers who make the difference. The surest way to maintain a business' social mission is to put committed people in charge. (Cohen and Greenfield attempted to achieve this by negotiating the creation of an independent and robust board for the post-acquisition subsidiary.)

When critics claim corporations are inherently pathological, they mean that they encourage antisocial decision making by their employees. Executives at hybrid forms likely feel less pressure to maximize profits at society's expense. Yet the causation is uncertain: Does a virtuous form make directors more virtuous, or do the virtuous seek out businesses so formed?


Because new forms are being represented as correctives to the cause of Ben & Jerry's sale, it's critical to identify the true causes and manner of what happened. Hence the irony. The full account of that sale does not make the case for new forms; rather, it illustrates how social entrepreneurs can use existing forms to protect an enterprise's social mission­even if they choose not to assert such protections. Proponents of benefit corporations and the like should be pressed to identify real and unavoidable instances of the Ben & Jerry's scenario, or stop using it to demonstrate the dire need for such forms.

Of course, even if new forms for social enterprises are not legally necessary, some structural innovations might prove useful nonetheless. A standard form, "off-the-rack" legal entity designed expressly for social enterprise would presumably save rising social entrepreneurs the trouble of (re)discovering tested solutions to its perennial challenges. A distinct legal form might also convey information and influence perception, for example, by assuring investors and potential investors that the company's managers will not pursue profits über alles, and perhaps cultivating consumer loyalty to a social enterprise brand.

To date, a significant amount of resources has been devoted to developing social enterprise forms and lobbying states to enact them. As an exercise in political entrepreneurship, this strategy has produced results: Eight states have L3Cs, seven states have benefit corporations, and one has a flexible purpose corporation. It is an open question, however, whether this approach fosters more social innovation than would otherwise occur, or promotes it more effectively.

Social entrepreneurship might benefit from states competing to become the Delaware of an emerging "social enterprise law." At the same time, fueling this competition yields diminishing returns. When a form has been enacted in one state, it is available to residents of every state. You don't have to live or operate in Vermont to set up a Vermont L3C. What then is the point of pressing more states to enact the L3C, which is primarily intended to attract capital from relatively sophisticated investors­namely, grantmaking foundations?

We should remember that what really matters is not the organizational form but rather the formation and flourishing of social enterprises. It remains to be seen whether new forms will nurture new social enterprise icons or be an unhelpful (but tasty!) distraction. By moving beyond the received wisdom on the Ben & Jerry's sale, we can better focus our energy on where it will do the most good.

1 Jill Bamburg, Getting to Scale: Growing Your Business Without Selling Out (San Francisco:
Berrett-Koehler, 2006): 57.
2 Jeffrey Hollender and Stephen Fenichell, What Matters Most: How a Small Group of
Pioneers Is Teaching Social Responsibility to Big Business, and Why Big Business Is Listening
(New York: Basic Books, 2005): 211.
3 "Buyout Sweet Enough for Ben & Jerry's Founders; Ability to Pursue Social Causes
Key Factor in Deal," The Pantagraph, May 12, 2000.
4 April Dembosky, " Protecting Companies That Mix Profitability Values," NPR Morning
, March 9, 2010.
5 Hannah Pool, "Question Time with Hannah Pool," The Guardian, July 31, 2008.
6 Jenna Lawrence, " Making the B List," Stanford Social Innovation Review, Summer 2009.
7 SB 201, Analysis of Original Bill,
. The full passage cited reads: "In 2000, Unilever made a buyout offer to the
company's shareholders. Even though Ben and Jerry did not want to sell out, they had
little choice. The board could not risk accepting a lower competing offer without exposing
itself to litigation from shareholders asserting their right to the highest possible
return at the expense of all other considerations­a right upheld by many courts."
8 Alex Goldmark, "The Benefit Corporation: Can Business Be About More Than
Profit?" Good Business, July 1, 2011.

9 Fred Lager, Ben & Jerry's: The Inside Scoop: How Two Real Guys Built a Business with a
Social Conscience and a Sense of Humor
(New York: Three Rivers Press, 1994): 57.
10 Ben Cohen, " On Becoming an Ecopreneur," The Green Festival Reader: Fresh Ideas
from Agents of Change
(Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2008): 51.
11 Jim Steiker and Michael Golden, " Hot Fudge Partners: Insiders Tell How Social Investors
Tried to (but Couldn't) Buy Ben & Jerry's
," Business Ethics, May/June 2000.
12 Jenna Lawrence, " Making the B List."
13 Kevin Jones, "Selling vs. Selling Out," Stanford Social Innovation Review blog, Feb. 27,
14 Lynn Stout, "Why We Should Stop Teaching Dodge v. Ford," Virginia Law & Business
3, 2008: 163.
15 A.P. Smith Mfg. Co. v. Barlow, 98 A.2d 581 (N.J. 1953).

Antony Page is professor of law and Dean's Fellow at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Before joining the law school, he worked in mergers and acquisitions, securities, and corporate finance at Sullivan & Cromwell's London and Los Angeles offices.

Robert A. Katz is professor of law at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law, with a joint appointment at Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy. He is also president-elect of the Association of American Law Schools' Nonprofit and Philanthropy Law Section.

ANS -- The New Physiocrats

Short article on whether or not the government "creates jobs".  By Paul Krugman.  Introduces the word "Physiocrats" -- or, rather, reintroduces it. 
Find it here:  

Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog
October 27, 2012, 9:26 am 136 Comments

The New Physiocrats

Both Dean Baker and Josh Bivens weigh in Robert Samuelson's outburst at the New York Times for saying that the government can too create jobs. (He went so far as to call it "flat-earth" thinking). Sadly, Samuelson's attitude is widely shared ­ even, at least rhetorically, by Barack Obama.

So let me not focus on Samuelson's piece so much as on the general proposition. What can it possibly mean to say that only the private sector can create jobs?

It could mean that government jobs aren't "real" jobs ­ presumably that they don't supply something of value to society. Samuelson disavows that position, I think ­ and rightly so. After all, the bulk of government workers are in education, protective services, and health. Do you really want to say that schoolteachers, firefighters, and nurses provide nothing of value?

What then? Well, Samuelson argues that when the government adds jobs, these come at the expense of jobs elsewhere. This is manifestly not true when the economy is depressed; all the evidence on big multipliers amounts to saying that under current conditions government jobs create additional jobs in the private sector, rather than crowding them out.

Under near-full-employment conditions, however, it's true that expanding government employment displaces other employment. But this is equally true of any expansion in private employment! Suppose a successful business expands, and adds worjers. How does it do that? By attracting customers away from rivals, or from other kinds of products; by attracting capital; by bidding away workers who might have found employment somewhere else.

Unless your business expansion somehow leads to an increase in the labor force, simple arithmetic says that it didn't add jobs. It may have created better jobs; it may have raised productivity; but more jobs, no.

How do Samuelson and others answer this point? As far as I can tell, with sheer mystical gobbledygook about dynamism and whatever. And they have the nerve to call the Times editorial board flat-earthers.

What's really going on here, as far as I can tell, is a modern version of the 18th century physiocratic notion that only agriculture is real, that everything else is fluff on top. And we really shouldn't be seeing a rebirth of that sort of nonsense in the 21st century. If you believe that we should have fewer schoolteachers and firefighters ­ or that education should be privatized ­ make that case. Don't try to hide your prejudices under a mystical doctrine in which important, productive jobs somehow don't count if they come from a place with a .gov email address.

ANS -- Date Set: US Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Prop. 8 and DOMA Cases

This has mostly gotten lost in the news about Hurricane Sandy and the election: it's the latest on the destiny of Prop 8.  We may know in a month. Quite short article.
Find it here:     

American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Date Set: US Supreme Court to Decide Fate of Prop. 8 and DOMA Cases
October 29, 2012

The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will consider whether to grant review in AFER�s federal constitutional challenge to California�s Proposition 8.

The Justices will meet to discuss AFER�s case, along with several challenges to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), at their private Conference scheduled for Tuesday, November 20.

The Court is expected to either:
  • Grant review of our Prop. 8 challenge, at which point AFER�s legal team, led by distinguished attorneys Ted Olson and David Boies, will submit written briefs and present oral arguments by April 2013. A final decision on Prop. 8 and marriage equality is expected by June 2013.
  • Deny review, making permanent the landmark federal appeals court ruling that found Prop. 8 UNCONSTITUTIONAL. Marriage equality will be restored in California.

The Court is expected to release an Order List with its decisions on cases it has granted or denied review from its November 20 Conference
by Monday, November 26.  Though AFER is hopeful that we will hear something from the Justices by that day, the Court does not have an
obligation to set a timeline for making a decision on granting or denying review.

Check out AFER�s graphic explaining our journey to date and how AFER fights for marriage equality. Share it with your friends and family so they know what�s at stake.

Support for marriage equality continues to grow every day, with no less than 16 polls now confirming that a majority of Americans believe gay and lesbian couples should have the freedom to get married. AFER brought this case with the expectation of taking our challenge to Prop. 8 all the way to the Supreme Court. Now that two federal courts have found Prop. 8 unconstitutional, it is time-indeed past time-that our nation live up to the promise of liberty and equality enshrined in the Constitution, and all Americans be allowed to marry the person they love.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

ANS -- A Simple Fix for Farming

Here's an interesting article -- about serious testing of a way of farming that doesn't require a lot of chemicals, but isn't as rigorous as organic, and produces as much money and crops for the farmers as conventional methods with lots of chemicals.  but they don't seem to want to let people know about it. (Except that this article was originally from the New York Times if I am reading that byline correctly.)  Afraid of Monsanto?
Find it here: 

The Cornucopia Institute logo and header  
Cornucopia RSS Feeds


A Simple Fix for Farming

October 22nd, 2012

New York Times
By Mark Bittman

Field of oats, image courtesy of Polinator

IT'S becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. And I'm not talking about imposing some utopian vision of small organic farms on the world. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use ­ if it wants to.

This was hammered home once again in what may be the most important agricultural study this year, although it has been largely ignored by the media, two of the leading science journals and even one of the study's sponsors, the often hapless Department of Agriculture.

The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.

The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn't reduce profits by a single cent.

In short, there was only upside ­ and no downside at all ­ associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it's a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticidesare used each year in the United States.

No one expects Iowacorn and soybean farmers to turn this thing around tomorrow, but one might at least hope that the U.S.D.A.would trumpet the outcome. The agency declined to comment when I asked about it. One can guess that perhaps no one at the higher levels even knows about it, or that they're afraid to tell Monsantoabout agency-supported research that demonstrates a decreased need for chemicals. (A conspiracy theorist might note that the journals Science and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences both turned down the study. It was finally published in PLOS One; I first read about it on the Union of Concerned Scientists Web site.)

Debates about how we grow food are usually presented in a simplistic, black-and-white way, conventional versus organic. (The spectrum that includes conventional on one end and organic on the other is not unlike the one that opposes the standard American diet with veganism.) In farming, you have loads of chemicals and disastrous environmental impact against an orthodox, even dogmatic method that is difficult to carry out on a large scale.

But seeing organic as the only alternative to industrial agriculture, or veganism as the only alternative to supersize me, is a bit like saying that the only alternative to the ravages of capitalism is Stalinism; there are other ways. And positioning organic as the only alternative allows its opponents to point to its flaws and say, "See? We have to remain with conventional."

The Marsden Farm study points to a third path. And though critics of this path can be predictably counted on to say it's moving backward, the increased yields, markedly decreased input of chemicals, reduced energy costs and stable profits tell another story, one of serious progress.

Nor was this a rinky-dink study: the background and scientific rigor of the authors ­ who represent the U.S.D.A.'s Agricultural Research Service as well as two of the country's leading agricultural universities ­ are unimpeachable. When I asked Adam Davis, an author of the study who works for the U.S.D.A., to summarize the findings, he said, "These were simple changes patterned after those used by North American farmers for generations. What we found was that if you don't hold the natural forces back they are going to work for you."

THIS means that not only is weed suppression a direct result of systematic and increased crop rotation along with mulching, cultivation and other nonchemical techniques, but that by not poisoning the fields, we make it possible for insects, rodents and other critters to do their part and eat weeds and their seeds. In addition, by growing forage crops for cattle or other ruminants you can raise healthy animals that not only contribute to the health of the fields but provide fertilizer. (The same manure that's a benefit in a system like this is a pollutant in large-scale, confined animal-rearing operations, where thousands of animals make manure disposal an extreme challenge.)

Perhaps most difficult to quantify is that this kind of farming ­ more thoughtful and less reflexive ­ requires more walking of the fields, more observations, more applications of fertilizer and chemicals if, when and where they're needed, rather than on an all-inclusive schedule. "You substitute producer knowledge for blindly using inputs," Davis says.

So: combine crop rotation, the re-integration of animals into crop production and intelligent farming, and you can use chemicals (to paraphrase the report's abstract) to fine-tune rather than drive the system, with no loss in performance and in fact the gain of animal products.

Why wouldn't a farmer go this route? One answer is that first he or she has to hear about it. Another, says Matt Liebman, one of the authors of the study and an agronomy professor at Iowa State, is that, "There's no cost assigned to environmental externalities" ­ the environmental damage done by industrial farming, analogous to the health damage done by the "cheap" standard American diet ­ "and the profitability of doing things with lots of chemical input isn't questioned."

This study not only questions those assumptions, it demonstrates that the chemicals contributing to "environmental externalities" can be drastically reduced at no sacrifice, except to that of the bottom line of chemical companies. That direction is in the interest of most of us ­ or at least those whose well-being doesn't rely on that bottom line.

Sadly, it seems there isn't a government agency up to the task of encouraging things to move that way, even in the face of convincing evidence.

ANS -- Geoengineers: Testing the Waters

Here is an article by Naomi Klein about some experimenting that is already going on in our oceans.  She urges caution, but doesn't offer alternatives.  I have included the comments, because they are all over the place.  Why don't people need permits to experiment on a planetary level?  What if it all goes horribley wrong and the scale is too large to escape?  What happens if we don't experiment and global warming continues apace?  What's the answer?
Find it here:   

Author and activist Naomi Klein. (photo:  
Author and activist Naomi Klein. (photo:

go to original article

Geoengineers: Testing the Waters

By Naomi Klein, The New York Times

28 October 12


[] or almost 20 years, I've been spending time on a craggy stretch of British Columbia's shoreline called the Sunshine Coast. This summer, I had an experience that reminded me why I love this place, and why I chose to have a child in this sparsely populated part of the world.

It was 5 a.m. and my husband and I were up with our 3-week-old son. Looking out at the ocean, we spotted two towering, black dorsal fins: orcas, or killer whales. Then two more. We had never seen an orca on the coast, and never heard of their coming so close to shore. In our sleep-deprived state, it felt like a miracle, as if the baby had wakened us to make sure we didn't miss this rare visit.

The possibility that the sighting may have resulted from something less serendipitous did not occur to me until two weeks ago, when I read reports of a bizarre ocean experiment off the islands of Haida Gwaii, several hundred miles from where we spotted the orcas swimming.

There, an American entrepreneur named Russ George dumped 120 tons of iron dust off the hull of a rented fishing boat; the plan was to create an algae bloom that would sequester carbon and thereby combat climate change.

Mr. George is one of a growing number of would-be geoengineers who advocate high-risk, large-scale technical interventions that would fundamentally change the oceans and skies in order to reduce the effects of global warming. In addition to Mr. George's scheme to fertilize the ocean with iron, other geoengineering strategies under consideration include pumping sulfate aerosols into the upper atmosphere to imitate the cooling effects of a major volcanic eruption and "brightening" clouds so they reflect more of the sun's rays back to space.

The risks are huge. Ocean fertilization could trigger dead zones and toxic tides. And multiple simulations have predicted that mimicking the effects of a volcano would interfere with monsoons in Asia and Africa, potentially threatening water and food security for billions of people.

So far, these proposals have mostly served as fodder for computer models and scientific papers. But with Mr. George's ocean adventure, geoengineering has decisively escaped the laboratory. If Mr. George's account of the mission is to be believed, his actions created an algae bloom in an area half of the size of Massachusetts that attracted a huge array of aquatic life, including whales that could be "counted by the score."

When I read about the whales, I began to wonder: could it be that the orcas I saw were on their way to the all-you-can-eat seafood buffet that had descended on Mr. George's bloom? The possibility, unlikely though it is, provides a glimpse into one of the disturbing repercussions of geoengineering: once we start deliberately interfering with the earth's climate systems - whether by dimming the sun or fertilizing the seas - all natural events can begin to take on an unnatural tinge. An absence that might have seemed a cyclical change in migration patterns or a presence that felt like a miraculous gift suddenly feels sinister, as if all of nature were being manipulated behind the scenes.

Most news reports characterize Mr. George as a "rogue" geoengineer. But what concerns me, after researching the subject for two years for a forthcoming book on climate change, is that far more serious scientists, backed by far deeper pockets, appear poised to actively tamper with the complex and unpredictable natural systems that sustain life on earth - with huge potential for unintended consequences.

In 2010, the chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology recommended more research into geoengineering; the British government has begun to spend public money in the field.

Bill Gates has funneled millions of dollars into geoengineering research. And he has invested in a company, Intellectual Ventures, that is developing at least two geoengineering tools: the "StratoShield," a 19-mile-long hose suspended by helium balloons that would spew sun-blocking sulfur dioxide particles into the sky and a tool that can supposedly blunt the force of hurricanes.

The appeal is easy to understand. Geoengineering offers the tantalizing promise of a climate change fix that would allow us to continue our resource-exhausting way of life, indefinitely. And then there is the fear. Every week seems to bring more terrifying climate news, from reports of ice sheets melting ahead of schedule to oceans acidifying far faster than expected. At the same time, climate change has fallen so far off the political agenda that it wasn't mentioned once during any of the three debates between the presidential candidates. Is it any wonder that many are pinning their hopes on a break-the-glass-in-case-of-emergency option that scientists have been cooking up in their labs?

But with rogue geoengineers on the loose, it is a good time to pause and ask, collectively, whether we want to go down the geoengineering road. Because the truth is that geoengineering is itself a rogue proposition. By definition, technologies that tamper with ocean and atmospheric chemistry affect everyone. Yet it is impossible to get anything like unanimous consent for these interventions. Nor could any such consent possibly be informed since we don't - and can't - know the full risks involved until these planet-altering technologies are actually deployed.

While the United Nations' climate negotiations proceed from the premise that countries must agree to a joint response to an inherently communal problem, geoengineering raises a very different prospect. For well under a billion dollars, a "coalition of the willing," a single country or even a wealthy individual could decide to take the climate into its own hands. Jim Thomas of the ETC Group, an environmental watchdog group, puts the problem like this: "Geoengineering says, 'we'll just do it, and you'll live with the effects.' "

The scariest thing about this proposition is that models suggest that many of the people who could well be most harmed by these technologies are already disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Imagine this: North America decides to send sulfur into the stratosphere to reduce the intensity of the sun, in the hopes of saving its corn crops - despite the real possibility of triggering droughts in Asia and Africa. In short, geoengineering would give us (or some of us) the power to exile huge swaths of humanity to sacrifice zones with a virtual flip of the switch.

The geopolitical ramifications are chilling. Climate change is already making it hard to know whether events previously understood as "acts of God" (a freak heat wave in March or a Frankenstorm on Halloween) still belong in that category. But if we start tinkering with the earth's thermostat - deliberately turning our oceans murky green to soak up carbon and bleaching the skies hazy white to deflect the sun - we take our influence to a new level. A drought in India will come to be seen - accurately or not - as a result of a conscious decision by engineers on the other side of the planet. What was once bad luck could come to be seen as a malevolent plot or an imperialist attack.

There will be other visceral, life-changing consequences. A study published this spring in Geophysical Research Letters found that if we inject sulfur aerosols into the stratosphere in order to dial down the sun, the sky would not only become whiter and significantly brighter, but we would also be treated to more intense, "volcanic" sunsets. But what kind of relationships can we expect to have with those hyper-real skies? Would they fill us with awe - or with vague unease? Would we feel the same when beautiful wild creatures cross our paths unexpectedly, as happened to my family this summer? In a popular book on climate change, Bill McKibben warned that we face "The End of Nature." In the age of geoengineering, we might find ourselves confronting the end of miracles, too.

Mr. George and his ocean-altering experiment provides an opportunity for public debate about an issue essentially absent during the election cycle: What are the real solutions to climate change? Wouldn't it be better to change our behavior - to reduce our use of fossil fuels - before we begin fiddling with the planet's basic life-support systems?

Unless we change course, we can expect to hear many more reports about sun-shielders and ocean fiddlers like Mr. George, whose iron dumping exploit did more than test a thesis about ocean fertilization: it also tested the waters for future geoengineering experiments. And judging by the muted response so far, the results of Mr. George's test are clear: geoengineers proceed, caution be damned.


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+24 # fredboy 2012-10-28 07:18
I am a resident of Southwest Florida. Here massive harmful algal blooms sparked by fertilizer runoff from golf courses and neighborhoods threaten our bio health: humans and every species that contacts our waters. To artificially and intentionally create such a nightmare is off-the-scales tragic.
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+9 # MainStreetMentor 2012-10-28 07:35
... wait a while. BP will come back and kill off all that algae ... and the shrimp ... and the water foul ... and many species of fish ... oh, and a few humans, too, as well as destroying the entire fisihing industry of the entire region.
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0 # brianf 2012-10-28 12:15
Fertilizer runoff is completely different from the iron fertilization the article is talking about.

If the effect of iron fertilization was to create dead zones, you wouldn't have Orcas and other life rushing to the area. An increase in iron stimulates the growth of phytoplankton, which is at the base of the ocean food chain, and they remove CO2 from the atmosphere too. The phytoplankton population has decreased about 40% since 1950, so stimulating it could help the entire ocean ecosystem and remove huge amounts of CO2.

The ocean is naturally fertilized with iron by dust storms, so it might be a relatively safe way to remove some of the excess CO2 from the atmosphere. But too much iron fertilization might lead to a dead zone or other bad side effects, so we have to be careful.

I'm totally against private companies doing things like this. But I'm for scientists doing experiments to determine how safe it is and what the side effects are. If they determine it is safe enough, we could do carefully controlled larger scale tests, always carefully monitoring the effects. We may or may not discover that it is safe enough to deploy longer term, but we will never know if we don't do the right tests.
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+15 # carp 2012-10-28 07:34
Fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides run off the corn for fuel fields in the Midwest into the Mississippi which dumps into the Gulf of Mexico where a growing algae field has killed the shrimp. Utah seeded the clouds for over 10 years during their quest to sponsor the Olympics in order to claim the greatest snow on earth ensuring drought and deep fog over the valley I live in east of the cloud seeding. And that is just in the old days, imagine what they will do in the future and the motive is profit and gain.
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+22 # WestWinds 2012-10-28 07:36
Between this rust dump and the sonic weapons experiments being performed underwater at sea by the US Navy which implodes the internal organs of all sea life and anything else within its range, all I can say is, "We are in the hands of madmen but, for some inexplicable reason, we are addicted to them and their toxic mentalities."
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+1 # robmxa 2012-10-28 08:14
Unfortunately we are already in a grand experiment that is changing all aspects of our ecosystem. We have been at it for thousands of years. We have injected all kinds of things willy nilly into that system. Now is the time to start doing something about it. Other than have the human race stop breathing and eating or commit suicide some other way we will have to get involved with countering our bad affects in an intelligent way. After all eight billion people and growing just breathing is having an affect.
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-1 # brianf 2012-10-28 11:54
Exactly right. We have been conducting massive geoengineering operations for many decades. We now know that some of them are incredibly harmful, yet we continue to expand them.

By far the worst are the operations that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. They have grown to the point that we will probably need to begin new geoengineering operations to counter them. Yes, this is insanity. But don't be in denial. This is our reality.

Don't be against potentially good geoengineering on principle. Yes, there are risks. So let's do experiments to reduce the risks as much as we can.

Continuing the bad geoengineering operations is way worse than risky. It is guaranteed destruction. If we can't manage to stop them (our current reality), then let's be realistic about our options.
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+7 # Interested Observer 2012-10-28 08:34
Don't worry. The Free Market will correct it.
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+5 # JH Gordon 2012-10-28 09:59
But of course... And the only people who benefit from these experiments are the current owners of the current energy systems like fossil fuels. So now we can dump oxidizing cars into the ocean and call it an environmental boon. The world upside down. But hey, if the geo-clowns get it wrong, it won't matter. There are so many ways to skin the energy cat, these guys should be tied to those sacks of rust and follow them down.
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+12 # MainStreetMentor 2012-10-28 09:03
Man continues to saw off the tree limb on which he stands.
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+5 # stonecutter 2012-10-28 09:20
Geo-engineering will happen, just as bio-engineering, genetic engineering and all other kinds of human engineering have already happened, with both intended and unintended consequences, despite the high-minded concerns of certain scientists, journalists and other self-appointed guardians of the so-called natural world. We can't even remotely agree on the relatively mundane issues of social justice, reproductive rights, medicare, social security or "defense" policy; we're still a nation riddled with racism, pernicious xenophobia, withering inequality, rising anti-scientific stupidity and political idiocy; so reaching some optimal "consensus" on the matter of global geo-engineering seems as far-fetched as reversing climate change itself,notwiths tanding some global catastrophe that literally forces the human race to change course. Even Fukishima remains an exercise in denial and blatant rationalization on a global scale, as if the problem has already been resolved and we're about to see a barrage of slick commercials inviting the world to visit the delightful Fukishima region on summer vacation (much the same as we see BP in a small blizzard of brazen TV ads trying to brainwash the public about the "safety" of the gulf coast).

We're drowning in a daily torrent of optically engineered public relations bullshit, offered up as reasonable fact, complete with background guitar music, that not even Naomi Klein can put a dent in, although I wish her luck.
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+2 # Eliza D 2012-10-28 09:36
Yes, Ms. Klein, it would be better to change our behavior than to tinker with Mother Nature. There are so many things we could do, such as funding solar innovation, instead of giving tax breaks to oil companies and gas companies. We could institute polices that compel people to buy food locally, rather than fly and truck food across the country and the globe. Maybe we could learn to grow varieties of warm weather fruit in colder climes. In fact, there are varieties of lemons and avocados that are able to produce in more northern climes. But I have a more radical solution which could impact our planet positively for the foreseeable future. That is to institute government rules to mandate that government agencies and companies hire people who live within, say a two to ten mile radius of their employer. Imagine ending the nightmare of commuting on America's highways, which I do everyday-45 minutes or more each way- and dramatically reducing car emissions. In the profession I am in, employers spend weeks interviewing candidates, who, truth be told, are extremely similar in qualifications. Once hired, we get the message we are expendable drones anyway. The higher our pay, the more intimidation there is. If a person really wants a certain job, he or she must move to within the required radius. Yes, it sounds like a nanny state, and we are under the illusion that choices are our own. But much of what we do is already orchestrated by the ruling class.
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+1 # brux 2012-10-28 09:38
Let's see, which is more intelligent ... chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons or human beings?
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+6 # reiverpacific 2012-10-28 10:00
So presumably "Mr George" did not seek, nor need a permit to do his thing?
Hope that all you Libertarians and "who needs regulations" types are watching.
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+4 # sameasiteverwas 2012-10-28 10:38
Credited to the Great Law of the Iroquois:
"In every deliberation, we must consider the impact of the seventh generation...even if it requires having skin as thick as the bark of a pine."

And then we showed up. In our seven generations in North America we have decimated human and animal populations, poisoned the water, contaminated the land and air, and now fight over everything that is left. Our skin is as thin as the layer of breathable air on this one fragile planet which is all we have. We point at other governments that rape their own lands as if that justifies our carelessness with our own. A leader like Jimmy Carter who encourages conservation and common sense is reviled.

We're a short-term race, we humans. Greedy for short-term profits and immediate gratification, short-sighted in our goals. Greed and hubris our defining characteristics . Sorry, my lovely granddaughter...we're screwed.
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+3 # Joanedra 2012-10-28 11:14
Do three things, then decide...

At first glance I wanted to shout "Hallelujah", someone in mainstream news has FINALLY addressed geoengineering! Then (did you hear me?) I screamed " 'TESTING THE WATERS', MY ASS! GEOENGINEERING HAS BEEN GOING ON WORLD WIDE FOR AT LEAST TWO DECADES!"

Where is Ms. Klein's head? Maybe it is in some dark place where she cannot see the planes spraying, hear their engines, or breathe their aerosols of nanoparticles of aluminum, barium, strontium, self-replicating biological elements and other unknown substances. Maybe Ms. Klein should have her blood tested, as I and others have done, revealing extremely high levels of heavy metals like the ones, you know, THEY ARE SPRAYING ON US!

Listen to Rosalind Peterson, a former certified U.S.D.A. Farm Service Agency crop-loss-adjustor who tells how our crops and plant life are being devastated by geoengineering.

Educate yourself with the film "What In The World Are They Spraying" with G. Edward Griffin.

Learn of the in-depth and comprehensive research of Cliff Carnicom at the Carnicom Institute by clicking on "Geo-Engineering - Aerosol Research".

Do those three things, then revisit Ms. Klein's article. Do I hear "gatekeeper"?
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+2 # brianf 2012-10-28 11:36
I've been reading the latest reports and papers about all aspects of global warming and climate change for years, and when I put them all together, they indicate there is a very high chance that things are much worse than most people realize (or at least are willing to say), and that includes Bill McKibben and Naomi Klein.

Of course I am against private companies doing large scale geoengineering experiments. But it's past time for scientists to do carefully controlled and monitored small scale geoengineering experiments. We need to know what the effects and side effects actually ARE as opposed to what people think they might be.

I'm pretty sure we have delayed too long for prevention alone, or prevention plus adaptation, to be enough, and that is even IF we make serious changes to our energy system soon. If we add mitigation (geoengineering ), a 3-prong approach might still save us, and save the world from a mass extinction. If we don't do the tests now, we won't know which techniques are safest if and when we need to deploy them.
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0 # TomThumb 2012-10-28 11:43
Oh, great! When I went into the chemical engineering field in the early '70's, the big thing was units to remove sulfur from oil. This was to prevent the release of SO2 into the atmosphere to prevent acid rain, a problem you don't hear of much anymore. This resulted in the manufacture of huge blocks of pure sulfur that nobody knew what to do with. Now, we want to release that sulfur back into the atmosphere to prevent global warming.
The Saudi Oil Minister, no less, made the remark that the Stone Age did not end because the world ran out of stones. He was referring to the peak oil concept. However, the stone industry, in that era, was not backed by huge legally santcioned formations of capital, with rights that actually far exceed those of any citizen, like Exxon and Chevron.
The way to combat global warming is to stop putting the gases into the atmosphere that cause global warming, even if that is harmful to the business model of these formations of capital.
Tommy Rimes
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+1 # pdjmoo 2012-10-28 11:54
Thank you Naomi for entering into this Geoengineering debate which could have an irreverible impacts on all of our planet.
For the edification of your readers, I offer the following which is a history and timeline of another geoengineering experiment that has been going on for years, quietly and in secret: Weather Modification --
"Raining Chemicals From the Skies – Unregulated Climate Geoengineering"
At some point, we humans must come to realize that, in truth, science knows so little about how the greater biosphere of our planet works and the trillions and trillions of symbiotic relationships that sustain it. To think we can continue to plunder Mother Earth and band aid our isolated destruction of Her without suffering horrendous consequences is risking an environmental collapse. Without Nature We Do Not Exist. Healthy ecosystems, means healthy humans. In the final analysis we cannot drink oil or eat money. Planet, People, Profits
Again, thank you Naomi for your concern and for bringing this to light.
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+1 # cordleycoit 2012-10-28 11:55
See what happens when you give every thin to the rich they get to screw the planet with their harebrained ideas. One fool after another is trying to "save" us from us.
See what happens when you put megalomaniacs in charge.
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0 # skywatcher 2012-10-28 12:12
Joanedra is absolutely right!

Geoengineering has already been deployed for at least 16 years, and we are being bombarded with aluminum, barium, strontium, and other chemicals on an almost daily basis. Look up, everyone--and wake up!

This is the biggest threat facing us all that we can actually DO something about. It's right in front of us, and the evidence is powerful and overwhelming, everyday--even on days when we are Not sprayed, because that proves that regular 'contrails' must not exist every day either...

Only thing to update from Joanedra's post is that a new, better documentary just came out 2 months ago: "Why in the World Are They Spraying?" -- an in-depth follow-up to "What...?" -- and it's available in full at youtube. Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and watch this Now--and then spread the word about it.

"Why" indeed. How's your weather been lately, especially the last year or so? Ours is unheard of.
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