Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Daddy on the Edge of The American Dream

“So tonight you better stop and rebuild all your ruins, because peace and trust can win the day despite all your losing.”

~Led Zeppelin

New York City. Manhattan. Times Square's famous 42nd Street circa....1980 something.

It was a cesspool. Sure, you could find naked girls, throwing stars, at least two stores that advertised fake ID's - 42nd Street was a fourteen year old boys wet dream, but Disney it wasn't.

Not by a long shot.

42nd Street today is a much different story. Gone are the "Ninjas 'R' Us" Chinese weapon supply stores, banished are the peep booths and porn, and most importantly - the smell of urine is almost completely gone...except for just a little bit around Port Authority (and really - whaddya expect? It's friggin' Port Authority, aight?). All in all, an amazing transformation.

This was no small feat. They'd been trying to turn this street around since before the Koch Administration. And in the "credit where credit is due" department, it was then Mayor Rudy Giuliani that finally made it happen.

But again, it took an enormous effort, by an enormous amount of people, organizations and companies, to get this beast off the ground and make it a reality. More importantly, it took what I don't think previous efforts had - the belief that it could actually be done.

Belief. That's a hard thing to hold on to when you're looking down the barrel of the Midnight Cowboy set and trying to imagine Mary Poppins finding a home here, but they did.

And it worked.

I bring up 42nd Street because to many, it seemed like the impossible dream. I also bring it up because I watched it happen over the course of years; this amazing metamorphosis from bedraggled caterpillar to neon bejeweled butterfly. And I believe that this can be more of a common occurrence and less of a metropolitan miracle...if we believe that it can be.

There are once-great cities all over America that are dying a slow death. They decay and burn away; they rot and collapse before our eyes and take the dreams of generations with them. Meanwhile, the bottom lines dictate that we ship more jobs away, that we take more opportunity from our own citizens and ship them overseas because it helps a shareholder who is probably also overseas. I know it's easy for some to look at these dying cities and rationalize it away by saying that it's progress - that it's Darwin's Law applied to industry - only the strong survive. And that's always an easy thing for the strong to say. The problem is, if we continue down this path, it won't be long before other countries are looking at the whole of the United States of America, a dying country that shipped most of it's lifeblood overseas for a better bottom line, now struggling to keep itself alive. Do you think those strong will show us mercy? Will they lend us a hand? Or will they let us perish, as we ourselves let the weak perish before us? What happens if the USA is one day no longer "Too big to fail"?

Whether that could ever happen is, of course, debatable, but it is not my intent to sit and debate as the ancient Greeks, or the ancient Romans, or the Mayans or any other former superpower may have debated before they realized they were no longer top of the food chain. I come here not to argue; I come instead with ideas. Are they all good? Of course not. Are some of them impractical? Probably. That used to bother me. I used to care wayyyy too much about what other people thought, so I wouldn't offer my opinions or my thoughts for fear they weren't good enough. But I gotta tell ya - I've been looking at eight weeks of spewing oil that the best and the brightest haven't figured out a way to stop. One of their "best" ideas so far? Shove garbage and golf balls into it. Yeah...next to that brain trust, I don't have any problem presenting my crazy ideas on how to fix things.

That said, here's Crazy Daddy Idea Number One!

Let's Build a City of the Future!


We talk a lot about alternative energy - solar, geothermal, wind and we see them occasionally here and there, but what if we just went nuts? What if we took a city and completely retrofitted it from head to toe with our best alternative energy and energy saving ideas - one city that we could make into a renewable energy metropolis? We could do it, y'know - we have the technology. We have the ability to make the world's first self-sustaining city...

Detroit, Michigan could be that city.

We could make it better than it was before. Better...Stronger...Faster. And yes, while I have gone a bit "Six Million Dollar Man", the idea still has merit.

The Motor City. The birthplace of Motown. Much has been said about Det
roit - much of it derisive. Honestly, I myself have never been to the city, but I still know a fallen giant when I see one. And I know that giant can stand once more. The city I envision would be a technological breakthrough, showcasing all the best of renewable 21st century living. All of it's energy needs would come from solar, wind and water power. Hydroponics and organic gardening would supply it's food needs. New residential centers would be constructed that would do away with the need for cars, thereby greatly reducing emissions. People would come to New Detroit to study and participate in ongoing Research and Development in an effort to further streamline and improve renewable energies with the goal of making them a part of every community.
That is my dream.

Now, most of my friends will have no trouble telling you - that Daddy, he's a dreamer! Oh man, head in the clouds, that silly Daddy. And I guess they'd be right. Except, in this case, I'm in good company; the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi is dreaming my dream as well. In researching for this entry, I came across a blog entry on poptech.org from about a year ago, written by
Cordelia Newlin de Rojas. Check it;

There will be no flying cars or food replicators in the city of the future, nor any cheese-wheel shaped homes perched atop nimble legs. But don’t despair, for the city of the future is being built as we speak – behold the apple of my eye, the pearl of my oyster, where I live in my dreams: Masdar.
Masdar City is the cornerstone of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi’s brainchild, The Masdar Initiative. It is set to be the first carbon neutral zero waste city in the world.
This past week, Masdar has officially announced the connection of the first 10 Mega Watt photovoltaic power plant to Abu Dhabi’s grid. This PV plant, set over 55 acres and made of 87,777 panels is projected to provide 17500 MWh per annum. It will power the initiative’s temporary administrative facilities as well as the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, devoted to the exploration of renewable energy, scheduled to open later this year.
Since this nation has built its fortune on a 20th century hydrocarbon economy, it shouldn’t come as any surprise that, unlike a persistent group of misguided souls, The Emirates’ leadership understands the very finite nature of fossil fuels. Anyone wishing to survive as a leader in the 21st century needs to be at the forefront of developing clean renewable energy and by launching this initiative, focused on pulling the best minds across different fields to work collaboratively on the challenges we face to power our future, UEA has done just that, setting itself up as the hub for research and innovation in this critical field.
And if that wasn’t enough, rumor has it that the PV plant was both built on time and within budget – now that is truly an accomplishment by anyone’s standards.

Pretty frigging amazing, huh? I'd like to remind everyone - these are the guys that sell us all the "foreign oil" that we're addicted to and can't live without. Apparently, they don't think it's quite as infinite a supply as we do. Perhaps we should follow their lead? Don'tcha think? Maybe? In any case, I'd like to thank the Crown Prince for helping me and my crazy dreams to feel vindicated.

In America, you can make your dreams come true. That's always been the mantra. But lately, if your American Dream revolves around getting off of fossil fuels, or making sure that you and your fellow citizens have decent health care, or leading the world in long term technology and advancement instead of short term greed and avarice, well - there's a big part of today's America that's gonna tell you you're an idiot. That your American Dream is stupid and that it can't happen. Well, I'll tell you what; you watch this video, and you take a good look at what the future looks like. That can be our future too; all we truly need is the belief that it can actually be done.


***2013 Update***

I had to fix a broken link for the video above and in doing so, found a video for Masdar City 2013.  It's not just a pie in the sky dream - they're making it happen.  Watch...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Daddy on the Edge of...well...Daddies

It's Father's Day.

Truthfully, I wasn't even planning on acknowledging that fact here. There are hundreds of "Daddy" blogs out there that will be talking about it, and Daddy has rarely wanted to be part of a club that would have him as a member (okay, that was pithy and stolen from Woody Allen, but the truth is, Daddy usually has a desperate need for acceptance, but has been disappointed one too many times in life, and now denies interest in a thing before said thing can be pulled away - it's neurotic, but it works). Bottom line - I probably don't have anything very new to say on the subject of Father's Day, so rather than be redundant, I would instead remain silent - this Daddy would be different and maybe make a big deal about Arbor Day instead.

But then a friends FaceBook status got me thinking;
...contemplating Father's Day for the first time without my father is daunting...
My friend joined our club recently. It is not a club that anyone wants to be a member of. It is the club of people that have lost their fathers. It's a secret club, in that we all now know the secret of our dads - that, despite what we always believed, our fathers are not Supermen. They are not unbreakable; in fact, they are all too human, and even if they live to be one hundred, we feel that they've left us all too soon. We carry on in our day to day, but we feel it, slightly under the skin, very near the back of our minds - the world is a little colder, a little emptier and, even in a crowd of people, we often feel slightly more alone without them there.

Still, they've never really left us. They live on in our hearts and minds - our minds, such remarkable preservers of such rich detail in memory, bring us back together with our dads in a million different smells, sights and sounds in the course of our days. They never really leave; they are with us, in everything we do, in everything we are - they are some of the best parts of us.

As a Dad myself, I think back on the good and not so good of growing up with my Pop and try to figure out ways to improve. Refine. Dad 2.0 as it were. Don't get me wrong - my dad was an amazing guy. He was also a workaholic. He loved his family desperately, and would work eighty hour weeks to prove it. That was his mind set - Provide. I get that. I tried to live that. I had a heart attack.



Beta Test - Dad 2.0.

I don't do that anymore. I've made the conscious decision to pay more attention to all aspects of my life - not just the financial and work responsibilities. Does that mean my family will come before my FICO score? Without a doubt. School play before client call? Um...yeah. If you think about it, they're easy choices. There are better ways of doing things than the way our dads did them. They may not always be as financially rewarding, but they're more fulfilling at the end of the day. And leading a fulfilling existence is what it should be all about, because the final lesson that all club members learn from their dads is this;

Life is too short.

Every dad had things that he still wanted to do, and I can't imagine that the last thought my dad had was, "Boy, I wish I had worked harder". It's those things, those people in our lives, those moments that get pushed aside in our race toward some financial carrot being dangled ever so much further from our noses every day. It's those things that matter. I'm never gonna be the richest man in the room. I'm never gonna be a titan of industry. I am gonna be a good Dad. And I am going to try my best to savor every moment I have left on the planet, before that day comes when I see my Dad again.

In closing, I offer the following clip. No doubt, you've seen it before, but it bears repeating;

Fellow club members, our Fathers have passed on. The best thing we can do to honor them is to fully, completely, ultimately...Live.

Carpe Diem and Happy Father's Day,


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Daddy Still on the Edge of the Incredibly Obvious

I had too much to say about solar and was still bubbling over after my last post, so here's some more.

This is for all the folks that like to say, "We can't...it's tooo hard!


"It costs too much!"


"I don't wanna!"

This is an example of Solar power used in a rural domestic setting,
Meegaswewa Village, Sri Lanka.

On a slightly larger scale, here's a little something they whipped out in Taiwan (photo and story provided by guardian.co.uk);

Toyo Ito's design has a 14,155 sq metre solar roof that is able to provide enough energy to power the stadium's 3,300 lights and two jumbo vision screens. Photograph: Inhabitat.com

Taiwan recently finished construction on an incredible solar-powered stadium that will generate 100% of its electricity from photovoltaic technology! Designed by Toyo Ito, the dragon-shaped 50,000 seat arena is clad in 8,844 solar panels that illuminate the track and field with 3,300 lux. The project will officially open later this year to welcome the 2009 World Games.

Building a new stadium is always a massive undertaking that requires millions of dollars, substantial physical labor, and a vast amount of electricity to keep it operating. Toyo Ito's design negates this energy drain with a stunning 14,155 sq meter solar roof that is able to provide enough energy to power the stadium's 3,300 lights and two jumbo vision screens. To illustrate the incredible power of this system, officials ran a test this January and found that it took just six minutes to power up the stadium's entire lighting system!

The stadium also integrates additional green features such as permeable paving and the extensive use of reusable, domestically made materials. Built upon a clear area of approximately 19 hectares, nearly 7 hectares has been reserved for the development of integrated public green spaces, bike paths, sports parks, and an ecological pond. Additionally, all of the plants occupying the area before construction were transplanted.

Non-sports fans in the community have a lot to jump up and down for as well. Not only does the solar system provide electricity during the games, but the surplus energy will also be sold during the non-game period. On days where the stadium is not being used, the Taiwanese government plans to feed the extra energy into the local grid, where it will meet almost 80% of the neighboring area's energy requirements. Overall, the stadium will generate 1.14 million KWh per year, preventing the release of 660 tons of carbon dioxide into atmosphere annually.

Cool, huh? Think they thought of doing that when they built the new Shea? Yeah...not so much, I'm afraid. Here's a post from another writer, who I think is totally brilliant (and not just because he thinks the same way I do). After I posted my last entry, I found this guys article, which not only solidifies my opinion, but offers other benefits to the Solar program I had described that hadn't occurred to me. This is the article as it appeared in altenergy.com, and I'm including a link to the mag in the links section on the right;

Solar Federal Buildings Program

Harvey Sherback

The Federal Government owns approximately 500,000 buildings, including the White House. A half million buildings; that's a lot of rooftop space. Because our Government is the country's single largest energy consumer, using 1.6% of all the power generated in our nation I recommend a "Solar Federal Buildings Program". The Program will cover as many of these rooftops as possible with solar-electric roof panels, substrates, roof-shingles and tiles.

Photovoltaic panels have no moving parts, make no noise, and create no emissions or chemical reactions. In addition, solar panels require virtually no maintenance and are guaranteed on average for 25 years. A Solar

Federal Buildings Program will create a massive supply of electricity--especially during peak hours--for many decades.

Here are six essential reasons to adopt a Solar Federal Buildings Program:

1. Secure Energy Supply for Federal Operations: In 2008, the U.S. government spent $24.5 billion on fuel and electricity. A federally-owned solar-electric infrastructure would cut that bill considerably while reducing our dependence on foreign sourced fuels. This program will help protect the power supply to federal operations during brownouts, blackouts and power interruptions.

More importantly, because government owned buildings will be supplying a significant portion of their own power needs during normal operating hours, the Federal Government will place a lower burden on local energy systems, especially during times of peak demand.

2. Stimulate Green Jobs and Industries: A Solar Federal Buildings Program will stimulate the growth of America's photovoltaic industries as well as create opportunities for installer-contractors in every locality. Additionally, the manufacture of parts needed to install photovoltaic equipment such as batteries, installation brackets, wiring, inverters, terminals and connectors will stimulate the creation of many thousands of additional green jobs. This program will also help to accelerate the domestic manufacture of electric vehicles.

3. Promote American Made Plug-In Vehicles: A Federally -owned nationwide solar-electric infrastructure could supply much of the electricity needed to power the Government's new fleet of American made plug-in electric cars, vans, trucks and buses. The savings in fuel costs will help to reduce the payback time on both the Government's photovoltaic installations and their fleet of electric vehicles.

4. Save Our Fresh Water Resources: Nuclear as well as coal, oil and gas-fired hydro-electric power plants all use enormous amounts of our nation's fresh water resources. A 2000 study found that power plants were the second largest user of our fresh water resources withdrawing 136 billion gallons a day. Only agriculture uses more water on a daily basis. In contrast, photovoltaics use no water in the generation of clean, renewable electricity! Under Executive Order 13514, signed by President Obama in October 2009, government agencies must implement a host of changes including a 26% improvement in water efficiency by 2020.

5. Reduce Operating and Maintenance Costs: Many rooftop solar-electric installations actually act to insulate the building below. For example, the FedEx Corporation installed a photovoltaic system at its Oakland International Airport hub and found that the solar panels helped to reduce their heating and cooling costs. In addition, large photovoltaic installations can shade and protect a rooftop from damaging ultra-violet radiation, slowing the need for rooftop maintenance or replacement.

6. Reduce Emissions and Slowing Climate Destabilization: Our nation is the world's second largest producer of greenhouse gases. A Solar Federal Buildings Program will dramatically reduce the government's consumption of fossil fuels, and thus, the production of greenhouse gases. On June 17, 2009, The Obama Administration released a new report, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States", which says that it is important to act now, rather than later, to minimize the impacts of climate destabilization.

I recommend that the Federal Government fund a study to evaluate the merits of a Solar Federal Buildings Program. By expanding solar energy production at such a comprehensive level, we will grow economically, gain technologically, and preserve our precious natural resources.

Harvey Sherback
Berkeley, California

I love Harvey Sherback of Berkeley, California. He is the fact to my froth, the intellectual to my emotional, the left brain to my right. Harvey Sherback or Berkeley, California; you complete me.

But I digress. Is the idea of panels simply too mundane? Want something creative, something nouveau, something fresh? Very well, alternative energy connoisseur! I give you solar balloons! Click the pic to read about them;

As mentioned in the article, "The design is also ideal for a multitude of off the grid applications, with the potential to bring power to deserts, isolated islands, ocean-bound freighters, and heavily forested landscapes. Additionally, the balloons’ eminently deployable nature makes them perfect for disaster and emergency situations, since the balloons are quick to set up and can be delivered via air."

So, one would imagine you could use these to power, say, an offshore oil rig? Oh, the irony.

I could, of course, go on..and on...and on. Solar collecting beach totes ( the SmartSwim Solar Charger Beach Tote), Solar swim suits (see the link in the links section), and, in keeping with our sand and surf theme, solar boats.

This is a rendering of PlanetSolar. It's a solar boat, and here's what they have planned for it;

PlanetSolar, the fully solar powered biggest boat is getting ready for circumnavigation of the globe in 2010. The Swiss based PlanetSolar is being designed and developed by an international team of physicists, engineers, boat builders and other people related to renewable energies and environmental protection by considering various parameters like: propulsion, solar panel design, energy storage, materials, boat’s hydro and aerodynamics and the external environment. Click on the pic if you'd like to know more.

PlanetSolar is probably the coolest boat I've ever seen. The only thing that would make it cooler is if it were being built in the USA. As hopeful as I am about solar and other alternative energies, I am equally dismayed that the United States is not leading the way in this endeavor. Countries both large and small are taking the initiative and, if we don't act soon, and decisively, we will lose out on a market that we could easily lead in.

The United States of America was once the greatest country in the world, and we can be again. But to all those who still blindly chant, "We're Number One!" let me just remind you that simply saying it doesn't make it true. We have to prove it, and I don't think we've been proving it for quite some time. Don't get Daddy wrong and think that I'm being unpatriotic. On the contrary, I'm being as patriotic as I know how to be. The United States has the opportunity to be greater than it's ever been; greater than any country could ever hope to be. We can lead the world into the next generation of Energy - into a safer, more efficient, simply better way of doing things.

We have this opportunity.

Let's not blow it,


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Daddy on the Edge of the Incredibly Obvious

Hello. Yeah, it's been a while....
Not much, how 'bout you?
I'm not sure why I called,
I guess I really just wanted to talk to you...

Sorry - sometimes I get caught up in a good England Dan & John Ford Coley moment and I just have to see it through. If I am to be honest, it happens more than I care to admit...and don't even get me started on Manilow.

But I digress. It has been a while, and I've missed being here. I've had plenty that I've wanted to say, but little time to say it. Then I watched an oil rig blow up, and the Gulf Coast turned black, and I realized that enough time has been wasted already. Have I been asleep? Have I been sleeping? If so, then the disaster in the Gulf must serve as a wake up call; it must stand as a symbol of all that is wrong with the current way of doing things - not just in terms of meeting our energy requirements, but in the way we put profit above environment, politics above decency - Capitalism above Country.

The Republicans will say that Capitalism is what makes our Country great. This is the same logic that a televangelist used when he said that the Earthquake in Haiti was God's retribution for the Haitians signing a contract with the devil. It's a convenient tale that helps to sell your wares, but there's little truth to it. Capitalism is not a bad thing, but when your profit is more important than human life (Monsanto), more important than the lives of our fighting men and women (Halliburton, KBR) and, in this case, more important than the whole God damned Ecosystem (B frigging P) then yes - I have to stand up and say that your Capitalism is UnAmerican. Your Capitalism is UnRighteous. And your Capitalism needs to be UnDone.

After seeing pictures of the Gulf, and after weeks of the daily news telling me that they still haven't figured out a way to plug the damned pipe, and that the Gulf may not be totally cleaned up in my lifetime, I have to ask the obvious question - why are we not pursuing alternative energy as quickly and as aggressively as we possibly can?

Solar would seem to me to be the most obvious choice, so let's look at that for a minute. Now, I know what you're saying - "Daddy, you can't believe that the Sun is as powerful and dependable as an unknown quantity of crude filth buried miles underground that pollutes everything it touches, now can you??" Well, here's what altenergy.org has to say about the Sun;

"The sun, an average star, is a fusion reactor that has been burning over 4 billion years. It provides enough energy in one minute to supply the world's energy needs for one year. In one day, it provides more energy than our current population would consume in 27 years. In fact, 'The amount of solar radiation striking the earth over a three-day period is equivalent to the energy stored in all fossil energy sources.' "

Not to mention the fact that, I've seen birds drenched in sunlight and I've seen birds drenched in crude oil...guess which ones are singing?

It's a fusion reactor! 970 trillion KWH of energy come from the sun every day! Now, there will be some people that say, "Yeah well, what about when it's cloudy? Huh? Huh??" Re-read the above paragraph. In one day, the sun provides more energy than our current population would consume in 27 years. I don't think one cloudy day will screw with our bell curve all that much.

The real problem with solar is not the occasional non-sunny day - it is the expense. Solar panels are expensive to have installed on your home. I know that installing panels on my own home would cost just about as much as....as a VCR did in 1956. That price? $50,000.

That was the price of the Ampex VRX-1000, the first commercially successful videotape recorder. Due to high price tag, the machine could be afforded only by television networks and the largest independent stations. That was in 1956. Sony, Philips and others competed over the course of decades - building and advancing, tweaking and perfecting, til finally in the late 1970's we saw VCR's that the average consumer could afford. Today, you can buy a perfectly good VCR at a garage sale for $20, if that much.

Mass Markets mean mass production, which in the case of the VCR meant mass reduction in price. Solar panels can be built and installed for far less than the current market conditions. They can be and they should be, but unfortunately, they won't be without real demand.

So here's my suggestion. This is what I'd like to hear the newscasters say on my TV tomorrow;

In light of the BP disaster in the Gulf, the Federal Government will begin the process of purchasing and installing solar panels on every Federal, State and local government building in the US (monuments may be excluded). All solar panels and associated equipment must be purchased domestically. All installation contracts must be fairly bid on by domestic companies, and work must be completed by legal US citizens. Post offices, prisons, military bases, VFW halls, social security offices, rest stops, police stations, the DMV - any government building you can think of would have USA made and installed (good for the economy and the job market) solar panels producing their own power (good for national security) and feeding back any extra to the grid, thereby reducing every one's reliance on fossil fuel (good for the environment).

That would be Phase One. You would think this would be an easy sell - US manufacturing? Up. US job growth? Up. Reliance on foreign oil? Down. Amount of bird and sea life not drowning in deep water crude? Definitely Down. It's a winning proposition for nearly everyone and everything except for the oil conglomerates and everyone they own, which unfortunately would include many of our elected representatives. So this plan is not perfect, in that this plan does not offer politicians a backbone. It does not offer to repair their moral compass. And there's definitely a psychological aspect to it as well. Ask any prostitute and they'll tell you - it can be hard to leave your pimp. After all, he's taken care of you, and you know he loves you, and when you were young and you didn't know any better, you tried to run away and he messed you up real bad...'cause he didn't want you getting hurt out their in the big bad world. 'Cause he loves you that much! And you realized he was right, and now you stay with him and just do what he says, and everybody's happy.

Time to wake up, ladies. 'Cause you know that BP, Exxon and all the rest look at you the way a pimp looks at his whore - as a money making bitch. Now I know the American people don't have the same flash that your big oil pimp has - we don't drive the shiny cars and buy you all those nice things - but we know you're better than that. We know that you're not a two bit ninth avenue floozy - you're more like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Will you let us be your Richard Gere? Or at least your Hector Elizondo? C'mon Vivian; save us right back.

I thought of wrapping this up right there - leave on the pithy 80's movie reference that half of the readers won't get. But I found something while searching for graphics that sewed this whole thing up with an irony and poetic justice that was sweeter than cotton candy.

As perfect as Phase One of my solar plan is, it does not address cost, which could admittedly be sizable. Unfortunately, in this political atmosphere, anyone who suggests spending money for the common good is branded a socialist and a communist and Glenn Beck gets to pull out all of his swastikas and Third Reich memorabilia and Michelle Bachman has a little mini orgasm and Sarah Palin winks - it just gets completely ridiculous. So selling the price tag on this thing could be tricky.

But what if...and I know it sounds pie in the sky...but what if we had someone...someone like a rich uncle that done us wrong, and now he owes us big time. Not to mention the fact that he's done a lot of people wrong and could use some "image enhancement". Seems like we could hit him up for a favor, doesn't it?

Well, from Fortune Magazine and its 2007 list of the 10 "Most Accountable" Companies, meet your rich uncle;

1. BP
Accountability score: 75.2
2006 rank: 2
Global 500 rank: 4
The world's second-biggest company reclaims the top spot on our list from Vodafone, the leader on last year's list. BP has led its industry in the research and development of wind, solar, and carbon-dioxide sequestration technologies. But new CEO Tony Hayward's core focus is getting new oil and gas projects online, like fields in Azerbaijan, Angola, Indonesia, and the Gulf of Mexico. That pleases shareholders and helps to lower prices for consumers through increased supply - a goal BP considers a core part of its social responsibility. Despite two years of major accidents - a pipeline spill in 2006 and a refinery explosion in 2005 - BP earned points for replacing several executives at those businesses.

So, here's how I see it - BP comes in and totally screws our coastline with antiquated fossil fuels? Fine; in addition to the monetary fines they'll be paying and the civil suits they'll be paying out on, they now have to provide us with enough solar panels to cover Phase One of America's new Solar Plan. Oh, and every commercial fisherman who's business has been affected by the oil gets free solar too, compliments of BP. Why? 'Cause ya should, that's why.

This can happen. This must happen. BP, you were most accountable in 2007 - be most accountable now. Tony Hayward, you want your life back? The people of the Gulf Coast want they're lives back, and they deserve better than what they had. We all deserve better. The time for change is here. It is Now.

Let's make it happen,