Tag Archives: company

Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas.

That’s as much as Germany’s yearly emissions.

It’s hardly the first example of a business charging ahead on climate change mitigation while governments dither. Pretty much every giant corporation has made a commitment to reduce its emissions: food titan Unilever, everything maker General Electric, and IKEA (where you get your OMLOPPs), and on and on.

But what Walmart does matters. The company is such a behemoth that its policy changes trigger transformation around the globe. Walmart is the 10th largest economic entity in the world, after Canada, so this effort, dubbed “Project Gigaton,” is akin to every Canadian signing on to a strict sustainability plan.

Most of Walmart’s environmental footprint comes from other businesses extracting raw materials to manufacture Walmart’s products. So it will be pushing its suppliers to clean up their act, aiming to slash a gigaton of greenhouse gas emissions from its supply chain.

The Environmental Defense Fund has been working with Walmart to cut its emissions for years, and so there’s a track record here. In 2010, Walmart pledged to cut 28 million metric tons (like removing 6 million cars from the road), then surpassed that goal in five years. Now, they’re aiming to meet a goal 35 times larger, by 2030.

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Walmart just pledged to eliminate a billion tons of greenhouse gas.

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Could we get climate action from … Republicans?

You can’t fight what you can’t measure. But Davida Herzl has a solution: Her company, Aclima, builds sensor networks that monitor environmental impacts at a hyperlocal scale. Clients can deploy sensors on city streets, inside buildings, even on vehicles, to compile data on pollutants, carbon footprint, and more.

Think of it as a Fitbit for a planet trying to take more steps toward carbon reduction. In addition to working with the Environmental Protection Agency, Aclima has partnered with Google’s Street View fleet to map greenhouse gas emissions and air quality in California.

Herzl ultimately wants her sensor networks to create changes in behavior, both from large institutions and from individuals who can follow their lead. “One of the things we know is that emissions from non-electric vehicles influence climate change — but now we’ve learned that the proximity of my house to a freeway increases my health risk,” she says. “That can influence whether I choose to buy an electric vehicle or a nonrenewable-fuel-based vehicle … That personal moment motivates me every day.”

Workplace culture matters to Herzl, too: She sees Aclima’s multiracial, gender-diverse crew as part of a new vanguard in Silicon Valley dedicated to solving the world’s biggest problems through industry and innovation.


Meet all the fixers on this year’s Grist 50.

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Could we get climate action from … Republicans?

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Want to Buy an Old CIA Rendition Jet?

Mother Jones

For $27.5 million you can own a valuable memento of a dark period of recent American history. The jet above is currently for sale in Dallas, Texas. The Boeing 737 business jet seats up to 16 passengers and includes one queen and two single beds, a lounge bar, and three built-in 42-inch TV screens. The jet’s listing does not mention, however, that in its former career, it was part of the Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition program, transporting “high-value” terrorism detainees around the globe to “black sites” where they faced “enhanced” interrogation techniques.

The jet’s history can be pieced together from news clippings, human rights reports, and Federal Aviation Administration documents. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune reported on a specially modified 737 with the tail number N313P, which had been observed flying between the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. The paper linked the jet back to the CIA through a series of front companies around Washington, D.C. One of those companies was Premier Executive Transport Services, which had taken ownership of the new plane in May 2002. The Washington Post found that the names of 325 people ostensibly affiliated with this shadowy company could be traced back to five Beltway-area P.O. boxes. When reporters searched for some of those names in public databases, what little they could turn up was a bit spooky: “Although most names were attached to dates of birth in the 1940s, ’50s or ’60s, all were given Social Security numbers between 1998 and 2003.”

During its time with CIA-linked companies, N313P flew all around the world, landing in spots like Morocco, Afghanistan, Libya, Uzbekistan, and Guantanamo Bay. In September 2003, it touched down at a remote airport in Poland. As the Tribune later suggested, this trip may have had something to do with the Polish intelligence complex in Stare Kiejkuty, which the European Court of Human Rights later found housed a secret CIA site. Before the release of the Senate intelligence committee’s 2014 report on the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, the Washington Post reported that American intelligence officers had probably abused and tortured detainees at the black site at Stare Kiejkuty. N313P landed near Stare Kiejkuty at least once.

In 2004, the aircraft carried the “shackled and hooded” Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian who was held in Guantanamo from 2004 until 2009. A few days later, the jet is also believed to have transported Khaled al-Masri, a Lebanese-born German citizen who was held in an American-run prison in Afghanistan for five months. Al-Masri, who claims he was shackled, drugged, and beaten in captivity, was released after his captors told him they’d gotten the wrong man.

That same year, as reported by the Guardian, Fatima Bouchar and her husband, Abdel-Hakim Belhaj, were abducted by three Americans in Bangkok, Thailand, forced aboard the aircraft. The couple had fought against Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi during the 1980s and 1990s, and according to a Human Rights Watch investigation, their rendition back to Libya had been brokered in a deal between the CIA, British intelligence, and the Qaddafi regime for “mutual benefit.” During the 17-hour journey to Tripoli, Bouchar, who was four months pregnant, was bound to a stretcher and wrapped head-to-foot in tape. Belhaj was shackled in a painful stress position for the flight’s duration. Bouchar spent four months in detention in Libya. Belhaj remained in prison there until 2010.

The jet flew for the CIA for more than four years. Its time with The Company ended in 2006 when, according to FAA records, it was sold to MGM Mirage Resorts with a new tail number. (Premier Executive Transport Services disincorporated in 2008.) MGM Mirage operated the aircraft out of Las Vegas until last December, when it was sold to Embraer Executive Aircraft, a private jet manufacturer.

In addition to its executive trappings, the aircraft has a nifty seven-tank auxiliary fuel system—perfect for transatlantic flights from, say, Morocco to Cuba. With just 5,942 hours of flight time logged to date, this jet is practically new. (Commercial jets typically fly approximately 3,500 hours annually.)

A representative of the company brokering the aircraft’s sale was reluctant to speak but conceded that potential buyers would probably be aware of the jet’s history. “Everybody knows,” she said. Yet none of that should have any bearing on its value, she asserted. “It doesn’t have a heart and soul. It’s just a really beautiful piece of equipment.” Until a buyer is found, the certified pre-owned CIA rendition plane is available for viewing by appointment.

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Want to Buy an Old CIA Rendition Jet?

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A Senator Is Taking on the Pharma Companies Behind the Opioid Epidemic

Mother Jones

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On Tuesday, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) launched an investigation into how the nation’s leading painkiller manufacturers fueled the current opioid crisis—the most deadly drug epidemic in US history.

McCaskill requested internal sales and marketing materials, addiction studies, and details on compliance with governmental organizations from the top five opioid manufacturers: Purdue, Janssen/Johnson & Johnson, Insys, Mylan, and Depomed. If the companies refuse to comply, McCaskill would need support from her Republican colleagues on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in order to subpoena the documents.

This is the most far-reaching senate investigation into the opioid manufacturers to date, following a 2012 Senate Finance Committee investigation into payments to pain advocacy groups.

It comes at a time when drug overdoses are killing more Americans than car accidents or gun violence. Of the 52,000 overdose deaths in 2015, two thirds were associated with opiates such as OxyContin, Vicodin, heroin, and fentanyl.

Experts trace the epidemic back to the early ’90s, when doctors started treating pain more aggressively. As I wrote last year:

Fueling the storm were pharmaceutical companies, which aggressively—and, in many cases, misleadingly—marketed painkillers to doctors and patients. Purdue Pharma, which introduced OxyContin in 1995, funded more than 20,000 pain-related educational programs between 1996 and 2002, according to an article last year in the Annual Review of Public Health.

Noting that doctors were wary of prescribing opioids because of concerns about addiction, the company funded studies finding that “physical dependence” on opioids is different from addiction and “clinically unimportant.” It provided financial backing to the American Pain Society, which introduced the “Pain is the Fifth Vital Sign” campaign, and the Joint Commission, which accredits health care organizations, in addition to other physician and patient groups. Purdue Pharma and its executives were fined more than $600 million in 2007 after they were found guilty of misleading regulators, doctors, and patients about the drug’s addictive qualities.

“All of this didn’t happen overnight—it happened one prescription and marketing program at a time,” said McCaskill in a statement. “This investigation is about finding out whether the same practices that led to this epidemic still continue today, and if decisions are being made that harm the public health.”

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A Senator Is Taking on the Pharma Companies Behind the Opioid Epidemic

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Trump plans to slash EPA’s budget and boost the military’s.

A New Jersey startup called Bowery grows leafy greens stacked in columns five high under the watchful eyes of an AI system.

The operation, which officially launched last week, uses 95 percent less water than traditional methods and is 100 times more productive on the same footprint of land, according to the company.

Bowery calls itself “post-organic,” a label to describe its integration of tech and farming practices and its pesticide-free produce. That distinguishes it from large-scale organic farms, which do use pesticides — they’re just organic ones.

Bowery

Its AI system automates ideal growing conditions for crops by adjusting the lighting, minerals, and water, using sensors to monitor them. It can alter conditions to tweak the taste — emphasizing a wasabi-like flavor in arugula, for instance.

More than 80 crops are grown at the farm, including baby kale, butterhead lettuce, and mixed greens. The produce is delivered to New York stores within the day after harvest, and the greens go for $3.49 a box — on par with the competition.

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Trump plans to slash EPA’s budget and boost the military’s.

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