Monday, July 17, 2006

The Wal Mart Wiggle

The tipping point is here, folks. Sure, polar bears need life rafts in an Artic Ocean with no ice, and Iceland needs a new name, maybe Slushland, and wildfires burn out of control in over a dozen of our western states, and yes five of the last ten years have been the hottest ever recorded, but we have very encouraging signs of progress.

This year’s corporate fashion color is Green, and its made for some very strange bedfellows, folks.

The Wal Mart wiggle

Its everyday low prices and every night damage control for WalMart, the biggest of the big box retailers.

In what must have been a surreal experience, Wal-Mart Stores hosted former Vice President Al Gore at a conference Wednesday evening that the company said is the next step in its efforts to improve the environment.

In creating what they called the quarterly sustainability network meeting, (the word earnings was noticeably absent) the biggest of the big box retailers included Gore's presentation on the dangers of global warming, as well as one from officials of the Rocky Mountain Institute and not surprisingly, the Evangelical Environmental Network.

The meeting also included discussions with suppliers on how sustainability can impact the supply chain and benefit the customer. Unfortunately, suppliers who have been driven out of business were unable to attend.

"We are all passionate about making real progress regarding the environment," said Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. It was unclear whether Scott was referring to WalMart store environment, or the environment environment. He continued, “By working together, we can help each other save money, also reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pass the savings on to our customers. " Notice the order of priorities…

1. everyday low price
2. save the planet…., one of the company’s most vocal critics issued a statement saying it is skeptical about Wal-Mart's environmental goal. "While we are glad Wal-Mart is talking about environmental sustainability, Wal-Mart's long record of inaction and empty rhetoric leaves us deeply skeptical about Wal-Mart's true intentions," said the group.

I think WakeUpWalmart is being unfair. WalMart is changing…In response to the illegal treatment suffered by WalMart employees, they’re considering an innovative “Adopt a WalMart family” program, a unique way for WalMart customers to say thank you, for all the years of low, low prices.

As Americans, it’s the least we can do. Lets see every WalMart family with a lifetime supply of mac and cheese, and the trailer, paid for. And when that diet catches up with them, there’s always the Emergency Room paid for by you and me. It’s the American dream….

....its Invested Development

So as we zip down the Information Superhighway, every resource available at a mouse click, you would imagine that the internet is vastly expanding our knowledge. You’d be wrong. A study of Americans done by the National Science Foundation revealed an alarming lack of information. Fewer than one out of six Americans could define the Internet in their own words. Very few Americans could define what a molecule is, and slightly more knew what DNA is (probably from coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial).

Participants in the study were asked 20 questions to test their basic knowledge of science. More than 70 percent knew that oxygen comes from plants, that light travels faster than sound and that humans were not around during the age of the dinosaurs. But only 11 percent could define radiation, and only 13 percent could describe a molecule.

As a follow- up, our GreenAmerica staff tested the political awareness of 26 people loitering at the corner of Park Avenue and 33rd street last Tuesday. Twenty four individuals responded, (one woman accosted a staff member with her cane, and one elderly gentleman gave us a dollar and walked away).

The questions, although simple, elicited some alarming responses. Five individuals described Condoleeza Rice as a San Francisco treat, and three teens thought Kofi Anan, was the latest Starbucks blend.

In all seriousness, the general public's lack of knowledge is tragic, and it allows us to be manipulated. Less and less of us are reading newpapers, and certainly fewer of us tune in our radios. We watch reality TV, and American Idol. We can’t name our officials in Washington, but we follow the daily lives of Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton. An increasing number of Americans believe in astrology, and alien abductions.

Is it any wonder that in an environment dominated by the alternative reality created by television, we could elect Arnold Swartzenegger the Governor of California?

We’re fiddling while America is burning. Everything’s at stake. We do something, or its

Hasta La Vista, Baby


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