How to stop running if you hate it so much

Reverse of this real story in the WAPO. I mean, really.

When companies/governments go quiet about their so-called ESG efforts, whether it’s investing or actually taking steps to reduce their carbon print(s), to avoid criticism and backlash well, you know we are once again through the looking glass:

The phenomenon, known as green hushing, has become pervasive even as businesses set more ambitious internal targets, according to a survey by South Pole, a climate consultancy and carbon offsets developer.
South Pole surveyed 1,200 large companies from 12 different countries, all of which have set net-zero targets and more than two-thirds of which identify as “heavy emitters.” It found that although a majority of companies have set science-based targets to help them deliver on their commitments, 23% “don’t plan to publicize” them.
The findings suggest that the stigma of so-called greenwashing, where a company exaggerates its green credentials, is so feared that executives will do anything to avoid being accused of it. Being labeled a greenwasher brings with it reputational harm, financial damage and, increasingly, the scrutiny of regulators. And once tainted by such allegations, companies can struggle to resurrect their reputations.

But green hushing also comes at a cost, South Pole said.
“More than ever we need the companies making progress on sustainability to inspire their peers to make a start,” said Renat Heuberger, chief executive and co-founder of South Pole. “This is impossible if progress is happening in silence.”

So, it’s a preemptive PR move, if that makes you feel any better (Ed: it doesn’t). But it does remind us who/what companies serve first – their reputations. If everything is done for optics, what are we ultimately looking at? Much less seeing. We do well to keep this in mind across many contexts – which news stories, politicians, examples of corruption, coups d’etat get more play – all are choices. There’s nothing celestial about which news makes headlines. Someone decided.

It’s much the same with these companies who decide that ‘being quiet about it’ is just another tool in their climate tool box. People and planet need confirmation, verification, allies, and affirmation.

Apologies to Dylan Thomas but Do not go quiet into that good night,

Where you live: the best places

They’re such a big target – and everyone who reads them knows how easy it is hit the logical lunacy of columns by Tom Friedman, David Brooks, and Maureen Dowd, among others. But this New York Times interactive feature on the best and worst places to grow up also leaves a bit to be desired.

Where to live

I don’t think its fact are wrong, per se; indeed they quite accurate, I’m sure. It’s just that there is far more to the story, which assumes that everyone is only living to earn as much as possible. Certainly, many people are. But do we have to cater every possible thought and thought process toward them? What if you are living to become the best person you can? Or to help make your community a vibrant, welcoming place? To use less energy? To achieve some kind of work-life-family balance? There are a whole host of reasons to live any place, and they can’t be completely disentangled.

Also, for counties where there is extremely bad income mobility for children in poor families, the accompanying text boldly suggests that families should move to a better, adjoining county. There are so many reasons that this would be a terrible idea in many cases that it undermines that case for the entire (and exhaustively robust) info graphic in the first place. That’s the take away? To move? What about the other factors that would surely follow? Besides the obvious impossibilities that would come into play for most people – this is akin to advice that, if your job doesn’t pay well enough, just get another, better paying job – the array of other impacts, less diversity, no public transportation, less nightlife and restaurants, driving (if applicable) back from the terrible place you lived where there was more going on after a few drinks to your Shangra-la out in the (gated, even) sticks, more TV watching, fewer neighbors… the whole thing becomes absurd when imagined within these all-too-likely outcomes.

It is great to acknowledge (and visualize) societal problems. But let’s don’t get too secure in the availability of easy answers.

London Takes Crap Crown

Crap Towns Returns by Sam Jordison and Dan KieranWhile often associated with envy, green is also the color of certain kinds of motion sickness. But the opposite of envy is, I guess, pity? A kind of misery? All of these are summed up in the new survey of crappiest towns of Britain, of which London is newly reigning, um, queen?

London was catapulted to victory by multiple nominations for its dismal suburbs, murder miles, high house prices, City bankers and a transport system that abandons late-night revellers to the mercy of rickshaws, minicabs or night buses, “a must for all fans of vomit, paranoid schizophrenics and R&B played through tinny mobile-phone speakers”.

The city’s trump card was undoubtedly its most affluent parish, Mayfair: “Its inhabitants are virtually without exception the biggest shower of needy, self-important bumwipes in London, with a self-pity complex and misplaced sense of entitlement to match. The architecture is either dull west London stucco or a twattish approach at some kind of meaningful landmark building. Either way it’s rubbish. Most importantly the pubs are shit. And full of people who live in Mayfair.”

Who are we to argue? Don’t miss the slideshow that accompanies the article – England at its remarkably dreadfulest. Maybe it’s a sly campaign to get people not to go there. A lot to work with either way.


How often do you hear that in response to the question, “How’s it going?” or “How are you?” As a signifier busy has replaced doing well – equal parts occupied and honest, abandoned of concern for quality or well-being. And we all understand what it means: harried, overworked, over-scheduled, stretched thin. And we all can sort of commiserate about the state of affairs that deposits us there, short for time and ill-nourished by several easily quantifiable measures. What was once friendly advice after a trauma or tragedy (try to stay busy [and not think about it]) has become the price of admission to this grand life of convenience with which we’ve surrounded ourselves. We have connected affluence and worth to a high volume of activity, heedless even of the nature of that activity.

But when someone is actually engaged in some thing or activity that might produce actual fatigue or absent-mindedness, they don’t report being ‘busy’ but most likely just share what it is they’re doing and allow a conversation to bleed out from there. The importance of the activity, in other words, would take precedence over anything for which ‘busy’ could be a placeholder or substitute for conversation. So we also kind of know that for which ”busy’ stands: quotidian, not quite meaningful but necessary, a function of several levels of overlapping obligations and commitments intended to keep our daily lives moving, with no regard for moving us, or it or anything, forward. It’s hamsterwheel-y.

And it’s not just moving kids around, paying bills or buying groceries that applies here. Even our work can and often does take on the characteristic of motion instead of movement, to the extent that we lose track of the distinctions and forget it’s even happening, and soon the elements of life all run together into an endless stream of commitments we’re merely rushing around to fulfill. We openly admit to ‘staying busy’ as though that is something to be admired and not the minimum-level activity it infers; it certainly saves us from accusations of harboring the evil dread of free and open time, from which surely nothing good can come. And we’re not even appalled by this anymore, if we ever were. We just add another errand to list, get our prescriptions filled and try to… stay busy.

But this is our lives we’re talking about here, and merely being busy should be considered a kind sentence, a punishment for not being engaged in worthwhile activity – whether that activity is writing sonnets or selecting the near-perfect tomato. Actually, especially if it’s about shopping or anything related to cooking or any time-intensive activity ‘Busy’ simply doesn’t begin to cover nor would we want it to. Many things we might do are just more important than that. So we should frown upon and stop allowing ‘busy’ as a kind of lame stand-in for living. Every element of transitional (nee sustianable) living will flow out of that. It won’t be seamless and will take time. But the best things often do.

Because I’ve seen so little reference to it anywhere, here’s a link to the best op-ed in the Times/IHT this week.

Image by my daughter, taken at our vet’s office, of self-rescued chickens that plunged from a transport truck and towards a, um, different fate.