This news story about a baby killed by a car collision in Bellevue, Washington, filled me with rage and sadness. We’re getting better in Cascadia about prioritizing human safety over traffic speed, but still, our laws and streetscapes are so disordered and misaligned that things like this happen often—hundreds of times a year—and mostly, people just shrug. As if it’s just sad, as if there’s nothing anyone can do, as if car “accidents” are not the inevitable and predictable consequence of the way we build our vehicles and cities. Vision Zero cannot possibly come soon enough.
Restricting the supply of housing in North American cities, through tight constraints in local land-use laws, is not only bad for housing affordability and building compact cities, it’s also a major contributor to the soaring increase in economic inequality of recent decades. (More here and here: “almost all income inequality growth over the last half-century can be blamed on the rising share of wages spent on housing.”)
The blog post 4 Ways the Oil Industry can Create Raving Fans and Brand Advocates contains suggestions that align closely with what the fossil fuels industry is doing to try to re-brand its products. The article suggests that oil producers make more video games like Maersk’s A Quest for Oil, which is available in your phone’s apps store. It also suggests that companies use new media to fight the public relations battle. See, for example, Shell’s new Youtube video “The Beautiful Relationship,” a black and white French-language short film in which a woman named Renewable Energy meets the “perfect partner” in a man named Natural Gas. (Natural gas is today made up of about 50 percent fracked gas, but producers are eager to lump gas together with renewables as a “clean energy” solution.) Another example is Total’s Vine account, where posts about oil, gas, and renewables all have the hashtag #MakeThingsBetter.
The article’s other two suggestions, to market oil products through community events and content marketing, might be seen in action in your child’s classroom. Check out the “educational game” Time to Drill from science website Wonderville, whose corporate sponsors include oil and gas companies ConocoPhillips, Esso Imperial Oil Foundation, Total E& P Canada, and Syncrude Canada. Maersk’s webpage for A Quest for Oil provides “educational material” on how to use the game—whose goal is to successfully run an oil company—to teach high school geology. Chevron has jumped on the STEM education trend with Chevron STEM Zone. Chevron also has a program called Fuel Your School, which encourages students and parents to buy 8 or more gallons of Chevron oil each time they need gas so that a portion of the sales can go to small school grants. The website has a smiling school bus and declares, “Fill up and make a difference!” I suppose the best brand advocates start when they are young.
Don’t miss the upcoming forum on HALA recommendation #6, which would increase access to housing for community members with past criminal records. The forum is on December 14th at New Holly Gathering Hall in Seattle. More event info here. Find out more about the FARE Seattle campaign here.
Did you know that there are 23,000 jobs in British Columbia’s green building sector today? And that homes and buildings generate over 10% of British Columbia’s greenhouse gas emissions? Check out BC’s new interactive green buildings map from the Pembina Institute!
I have been trying to follow developments on EPA’s proposed action on Bristol Bay and the Pebble Mine in Alaska. When Sightline published our post, we noted that the process would take a while before EPA made a final decision, and powerful interests were likely to fight EPA.
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Well, those powerful interests have appealed to friends in Congress, including Texas Representative Lamar Smith, now chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, whom Grist magazine profiled in this admittedly unflattering article.
This November, Mr. Smith held a hearing titled, “Examining EPA’s Predetermined Efforts to Block the Pebble Mine,” which featured three proponents of the Mine, and a final witness who opposed the Mine. Readers can view the entire hearing here.
But for those who have neither the patience nor time to sit through the whole thing, I found this Fact Check post very informative, and more useful.
John Abbotts is a former Sightline research consultant who occasionally submits material to Weekend Reading.