The Grid: Energy, Resources, Environment, Sustainability | Bloomberg

Velvet Underground to Warhol Estate: Hands off the Banana

Pop artist Andy Warhol rendered this portrait of a banana in 1967 for The Velvet Underground’s debut record album. Almost half a century later, the rock & roll band is suing the artist’s estate for trademark infringement. The band knows something farmers are increasingly concerned about: bananas need protection.

That’s not just any banana. That’s a Cavendish, the kind familiar to Western grocery shoppers (although the Warhol Museum couldn’t confirm its variety). When The Velvet Underground issued its self-titled banana album, the Cavendish was as new to the American palate as rock & roll. A different banana, the Gros Michel, dominated fruit bowls in the first half of the 20th century. The larger, less-curved and less-sweet Gros Michel survives in tropical regions, but in the U.S. it's as distant as the 20s-era song it inspired: "Yes, We Have No Bananas.”

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. The New York Giants won Super Bowl XLVI this week powered in part by renewable energy. Green Mountain Energy supplied renewable energy credits to offset power use of everything from stadium lights to sportswriters' computers. Next year's Super Bowl venue, New Orleans (video), is becoming increasingly difficult and costly to "green." Southern Louisiana is sinking at the same time ocean waters are rising, making coastal erosion a crisis at the Mississippi River Delta. A report issued this week by Louisiana's coastal science advisory advises policymakers to assume the Gulf of Mexico sea level will rise 1 meter by 2100. The state currently loses the equivalent of a football field of land every hour.

And now the news:

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Save the Hummer, Fix the Environment

Arnold Schwarzenegger looks at a Hummer

Arnold Schwarzenegger told a conference in New Delhi last week that huge American cars aren’t responsible for global warming. Their engines are. "It's not the big car that's the problem. It's the technology inside the car," he said.

Swapping out engines is an easier way to fight climate change than trying to modify people's lifestyles. The Hollywood icon and former California governor converted his two Hummer trucks to run on hydrogen and biofuels.

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Sustainability is the Moneyball of the Global Economy

Moneyball

Baseball has always provided Americans a rich mine of metaphors and parables. Then along came Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball, now a movie nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, to knock one out of the park. Its lessons are applicable far from home plate.

Moneyball tells the story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane, who two decades ago threw aside commonly held assumptions about how to build a team roster. He proved that deep statistical measurement and analysis are more useful than conventional wisdom, sending the A's to the World Series on one of the lowest budgets in baseball.

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America's Trillion Dollar Leaky-Pipe Bill

Water Infrastructure Issues USA

America's got a plumbing problem. The country's aging water infrastructure is leaking, and the plumber just came in with an estimate: $1 trillion, payable over the next 25 years.

That's the figure given by American Water Works Association, an industry training and research group, to ensure clean and abundant water in a country that's grown to expect it. Unfortunately the bank account needed to pay this bill -- government spending and bonds backed by taxes and utility bills -- is running dry.

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. Many sustainability strategists we interview say they feel emboldened by increased attention to the topic even during the Great Recession. But corporate actions don't always match their intentions. GreenBiz this month downgraded six of 20 environmental indicators in its recently released State of Green Business Report 2012. The group's research showed performance declines among companies in clean energy investment, energy efficiency, green offices, packaging, toxic emissions and toxics in manufacturing. The authors wrote: "Simply put, sustainable business is suffering a recessionary hangover."

And now the news:

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Men in Finance Have `Reprehensible' Dominance

Ratio of Women and Staff Board Members

Finance is the most lopsided industry in the MSCI World Index when it comes to appointing women as directors and promoting them to management positions, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The Chart of the Day shows how banks, insurers and asset managers in the index of stocks in 24 markets have a disproportionately low percentage of female board members compared with employees, 51 percent of whom are women. Finance also scores lowest in matching the percentages of women workers and managers. The materials sector, including mining companies, does best in balancing its female workforce and directors, though in that industry just 18 percent of employees are women.

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Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. On today's menu: coffee, and lots of it. Starbucks plans to open its first store in India by August, becoming one of the first companies to take advantage of new rules opening the doors to foreign chains. The upside: an enormous new market where coffee consumption doubled in the last decade. The downside: increasing strain on already stressed supplies of specialty coffee beans. Rising temperatures and unusual rainfalls in Central South America have curtailed crops in recent years, a trend that's forecast to continue. As the global leader of easy-listening coffee shops puts it on its website: "In addition to increased erosion and infestation by pests, coffee farmers are reporting shifts in rainfall and harvest patterns that are hurting their communities and shrinking the available usable land in coffee regions around the world."

And now the news:

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No One Knows What It Means But Everybody Does It Anyway

Christoph Lueneburger

Number one frequently asked question: What is sustainability? For some clarity on what people talk about when they talk about it, we went to a man who helps companies define it.

Christoph Lueneburger is head of the sustainability practice at executive recruiter Egon Zehnder International. His 22-member team has placed many chief sustainability officers, and last year started finding CEOs for companies who have particular needs for sustainability leadership in their sectors. He spoke by phone last week with Eric Roston, Bloomberg’s sustainability editor.

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BP Must Clean up Its Own Mess: Hot off the Griddle

Good morning, and welcome back to the Griddle, a menu of fortified items for the busy person's media diet. A federal judge in New Orleans ruled Friday that BP can't collect clean-up costs from Transocean, the company's drilling contractor involved in the 2010 Gulf oil spill. For BP it's another episode of the disaster's "economic effects and the long term-damage to the reputation of the company." That's the phrase used by the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes (DJSI) in 2010 when they booted BP from the DJSI World Index six weeks into the spill. Sometimes it takes what Dow Jones calls "extraordinary events" to reveal just how unprepared a company is to deal with extraordinary events.

And now the news:

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About The Grid

Nations and companies face rising competition for strategic resources — energy, food, water, materials — and the technologies that make best use of them. That's sustainability. It's about the 21st-century race for wealth, health and long-term security, across the global grid.

Analyses or commentary in this blog are the views of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

Eric Roston, Editor
eroston@bloomberg.net

Tom Randall, Deputy Editor
trandall6@bloomberg.net

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