Author Archives: Philippe Boucher

On The Green Front program for March 12


The Green Lining


Inauguration Eve in DC – Showing my tag which reads:
Black Is The New Green!

2009 is off to a roller coaster start.
For me, and millions of Americans, it kicked off January 20th in Washington
on a cold but clear D.C. day. 

Flying into the nation's capitol for 26
hours of  witnessing history, and attending Al Gore's Green Ball (see photo of "New Arrival"
at the National Portrait Gallery), was an absolute thrill.

But the high, and the honeymoon, did
not last long as we've dipped deeper into financial gloom. The malls
are quiet, foreclosure and bankruptcy lawyers are busy, and the banks
suddenly need our help (and I thought all those bounced check fees were

So just when we finally get a President who never misses
an opportunity to talk about renewable energy, who has broken color
barriers, and who gets "green", we're all struggling to stay
out of the red! But the green lining in the black cloud is the swift
shift into downwardly mobile gear.

Simplifying, saving, and a
back-to-basics approach that would have seemed unthinkable even a year
ago, is the new Zeitgeist. For the first time in America, bigger is
not better and shopping as a national pastime is at least for now, a
thing of the past.

This is the type of tipping point that’s
hard to imagine, and harder to predict.  The confluence of events
shifting global financial markets, altering the energy landscape and
changing personal habits, seemingly overnight, is rapid and rough enough
to make Malcolm Gladwell’s head spin!

So what do we now? Hold our breath?
Wait for the other shoe to drop?

Well, at least we’re not being told
to just go shopping, although the closing of wallets is part of the
problem…and part of the solution.

Construction is down and home sales
are declining meaning far fewer Americans are buying new furniture,
window treatments and appliances. Even renovation projects have been
put on hold faster than customer service can say “just a moment”.

Challenging and painful as the economic
downturn is to millions of Americans, the flip side of that coin is
less stuff is being consumed, constructed and commissioned and that’s
easier on our environment.

It’s too bad that it takes something
like this perfect storm of events to

get us, cold turkey, off our addiction
to shopping,  schlepping and spending. But since it has,
let’s look at the bright side.

Our appetites for bingeing are at least
temporarily curbed and our tendencies to overeat, drink and spend are
tempered by the sobering reality that this is not just a momentary blip.
The financial gurus tell us we’re in for a spell of economic
turbulence that may be long enough to make us stop, look in the mirror,
think and hopefully, make a mid-course correction in the American Dream
of bigger, better, badder, and at any cost.

As James Kunstler wrote in a recent
article entitled “Poverty Of  Imagination"

Peak energy has combined with the diminishing returns of over-investments
in complexity to pull the “kill switch” on our vaunted “way of
life” – the set of arrangements that we won't apologize for or negotiate.
So, the big question before the nation is: do we try to restart the
whole smoking, creaking hopeless, futureless machine? Or do we start
behaving differently?”

It is with that hope for a new safer,
saner and more sustainable way of living, that I invite you to join
me On The Green Front
for conversations that inform, inspire, and just might
help turn this sinking ship around.

Last week's program featured Jennifer
, co-founder of Transition Towns in America,
an informed and integrated approach to addressing climate change, peak
oil and need for community.  Find out why this movement has taken
off in the U.K, and is taking hold in the U.S. 

We also met Rob Wheeler, founder
of Campaign For A Sustainable America
and learned why his project made the Top Ten list with voters at

For more great conversations
about conservation, I hope to “see” you on the internet, Thursdays
at 1pm pst and archived at’s Green Talk Channel.  

On The Green Front

Betsy on Voice America's Green Talk Network and the new On The Green Front Blog.



After a nearly two-year hiatus to “recharge”, “refuel” and “refresh” her decade-long quest to bring green content into the mainstream media, eco-pioneer Betsy Rosenberg is back with a new call-in radio talk show.

On the Green Front with Betsy Rosenberg airs on Voice America’s Green Talk Network today, and every Thursday, at 1:00 p.m. pacific and 4pm east at (type “Betsy Rosenberg” in the search engine) and /or (direct link).

The program is archived at and will soon be available with downloadable podcasts on demand from itunes.

Betsy Rosenberg is an award-winning news reporter, anchor, green radio host and environmental advocate. A 25-year broadcast veteran, Betsy's groundbreaking program, EcoTalk on AirAmerica, was the first green show in the country to air daily, focusing exclusively on environmental issues from the science of climate change, to peak oil, to endangered oceans and species, waste, fuel efficiency and beyond.

Her focus has always been on how these challenges impact humans and how we must all become the solution if we’re to survive, and thrive, on this planet. She has interviewed nearly everyone in the green forefront, from Al Gore to Robert Kennedy Jr. and so many others – including Van Jones, Bill McKibben, Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Dr. Jim Hansen and Richard Louv – only now attracting attention from mainstream media.

Betsy has also been a keynote speaker, featured presenter, panelist and moderator at many green conferences around the nation and has been a regular guest on local and national television shows including CNN Headline News and Fox's "Hannity and Colmes."

Betsy was also years ahead of the curve with her gas-roots campaign, Don’t Be Fueled! a national campaign aimed at increasing supply and demand for more fuel efficient vehicles. In addition to producing Green-To-Go radio features (quick tips, lasting impact!), Betsy is a graduate of The Climate Project, Al Gore’s training program designed to better educate the public about climate change. In addition to being a wife, mother, and volunteer with the Marin-based EcoMoms Alliance, Betsy travels and speaks across the country to help raise America’s Eco-IQ by connecting the dots with her unique ability to inform, humor, and inspire.

Ms. Rosenberg is proud to welcome her charter sponsors for the debut of the new program:

Sustainable Life Media, Clorox’s Green Works and Mighty Leaf Tea.

Betsy will also be partnering with Rob Wheeler of the Citizens Network for Sustainable Development, which was recently voted one of the Top Ten Projects on and communications specialist and author John Marshal Roberts, author of Igniting Inspiration, a persuasion manual for visionaries.

Betsy looks forward to seeing and hearing you On the Green Front on Voice America!





Phone: 415.235.6149 and 415.717.4183

We Won’t Be Fueled Again! Or, Teetering On Two Wheels Round a Sharp Corner

An open letter to GM, Ford
and Chrysler (Mostly GM!)

Dear Big Three Automakers,

So there you are in Washington
DC with your hands outstretched and your hats out, speaking truth to
power. “We’re in trouble Mr. Treasury. Please bail us out Uncle
Sam, Please don’t let us die Mother Earth, don’chya know we’re
too big to fail?” Those were the plaintive cries heard echoing in
the nation’s capitol chambers from the mouths of once powerful and
almighty Titans of the SUV Age.

And just like their gas-guzzling former
darlings on wheels, these men, and they ARE mostly men, suddenly seem
old, tired and of a bygone era. Good riddance gentlemen, your vehicles
were just too big to succeed

Somewhere in the depths of
your gas-filled gut, you must have known judgment day was coming. All
those years you made 10 – 15 thousand dollars profit on each giant
guzzler you sold, such a large mark-up that your sales teams were trained
to push the biggest and the baddest models onto unsuspecting consumers. 
Car buyers looking for a 2 or 4 door sedan would drive off the lots
feeling high and mighty about the great deal they got, until they filled
up at a gas station. That’s when the gloating went into idle.

While there is some smug
satisfaction to be felt by environmental activists and gasroots
groups like the one I co-founded in 2002 called Don’t Be Fueled! Mothers
for Clean and Safe Vehicles
, the “we told you so’s” will not last
long. They cannot because there is so much work to be done in getting
our economy and environment out of the ditch, and darkness is fast approaching. 
That’s why there will be little reveling and no joy in Motown’s
demise.  Because when the Big 3 go down, we all suffer, and that’s
why we can no longer tolerate the dragging of wheels.

Reading about GM chief Rick
Wagoner’s impassioned pleas for government intervention, I had to
do a double take – almost gave me whiplash!  Is this the same executive
and company that has fought, with tens of millions in advertising dollars,
to stave off government regulations that would tighten fuel economy
standards and restrict tailpipe emissions in California and beyond?
Is this the same Robert Lutz who proclaimed the dip in SUV sales a year
ago just a blip, and predicted gas would fall below two dollars per
gallon again? Please excuse me Mr. Lutz, but with each passing day,
you are looking more and more, like a putz!

I wonder what you’ve all
been drinking, leaded gasoline perhaps? The u-turn in your change of
tune, and fortunes, is staggering and surreal. And yet…this is
the scenario that a small group of Mothers from Marin
predicted six years ago!

I recall the meeting held
with two of us from Don’t Be Fueled! and Dave Barthmuss, Group Manager
for General Motors’ Western Region, Environment & Energy Communications
team, who was in San Francisco in 2004 to meet with “stakeholders”
to discuss GM’s green future.  After thanking Bill Shireman (Global
Futures) for arranging the intimate gathering, we proceeded to tell
Mr. Barthmuss, in very plain Mom’s English, that the company was wasting
its time and money talking to school kids about the hydrogen future.
Presumably they were trying to get a jump on brand loyalty from the
next generation of American drivers, but they were also carefully crafting
a greener image than the Hummer was providing in those high-on-gas-fumes
salad days.

We mothers, backed by thousands
of other outraged moms, or so we said, were demanding that U.S. carmakers
give us more fuel efficient family-friendly vehicles, like hybrid minivans
and SUVs.  We were soccer moms, not anarchists, and we spoke in calm
but firm tones. To his credit, Mr. Barthmuss listened intently when
we told him they would be seen as greenwashers if GM, and other automakers
(absent Honda which took the high road on this), continued to litigate,
rather than innovate.  We also scolded him, in our firm but gentle motherly
manner, for ignoring hybrid technology available today, in favor of
a hydrogen future that may or may not ever materialize. Talk about stalling…!

Several years later, at a
future green car expo, Dave Barthmuss conceded to me, in hushed tones,
that our conversation in that downtown SF conference room, had indeed,
made an impact on him.  The next time we spoke was on my national radio
program, EcoTalk, a few years later when GM was rounding up the last
of its EV-1 electric cars – to the great upset of many of its leasees
who loved the groundbreaking vehicle.  At that time, General Motors was
forcibly removing the cars and trucking the new age wheels off to the
desert in Mesa, Arizona where they were crushed to death in the black
darkness of night. This was in the fall of 2005, during the same week
Hurricane Rita was bearing down on Galveston, Texas stranding hundreds
of SUV drivers who had run out of fuel along the shoulder of freeways
as they fled for higher ground. Adding to the absurdity, GM announced
that it would not be crushing all
the EV-1’s. Instead they would donate a few to car museums so future
generations (if there are any) could marvel at the late great electric
car that supposedly nobody wanted. In fact, there were about 5,000 people
on a waiting list for EV-1’s at the time, according to Chelsea Sexton
who organized a week long protest outside the GM facility in Southern
California, and who starred in the seminal documentary, “Who Killed
The Electric Car?”.

So you say we should bail
you out; the government you fought, and the public you duped into thinking
we “needed” these behemoths of the road? What do you take us for,
fossil fools?  No, you lived off those axles of evil, laughing all the
way to the bank.  Now we should save you from bankruptcy
and an untimely death?

Part of me would like to
see you go away. Go into a corner and have a “time out”, think about
all the bad car-ma you have wrought, all in the name of greed. Take
ten minutes…or ten days…whatever it takes to feel appropriate remorse
over letting down your children, your country and your sacred shareholders
in the quest for short term profits, putting your special interests
over the public’s interest, especially heinous in the wake of 9/11,
when you lobbied hard against strengthening CAFÉ standards, when it
was not supposed to be “business as usual”. The Senate believed
Trent-Lies-A-Lot when he held up a picture of a purple SMART car and
said “if this legislation passes, it will be the death of SUVs and
we’ll all be forced to drive purple-people eaters”. You had the
backing of President Bush who threatened that imposing stronger CAFÉ
standards on American-made vehicles would “hurt the economy and cost
jobs”. So nothing changed and look what’s happened; thousands of
jobs have been lost, the economy is in the tank, SUVs are sitting on
car lots gathering dust and there are waiting lists for SMART cars more
than a year long! And now that we are in the driver’s seat,
and you are a deer caught in the headlights, let us, the American people,
ponder your fate.

I, for one, have already
made up my mind.  You sealed your fate several years ago when you made
a deal with the devil. Otherwise we’d all be getting 35 miles per
gallon, or higher, today.  As we moms see it, the only way you can exorcise
the devil, and come out of your corner, is to have a total car-ma conversion,
become a true leader and corporate steward of the environment. That’s
right, if you want to survive, then we want change we can believe

We will demand that green
strings – make it ropes – be fully and firmly attached to any bailout
deal and that General Motors recycle itself into Green Motors,
and not just in name. Start by replacing the high paid executives
who drove you deep into the sea of red ink. Plow full steam ahead into
a more sustainable future (for GM and US) and retool those assembly
plants now to churn out hybrid vehicles in every model, and not just
hybrid light. Nothing that gets less than 30 mph will pass inspection.
And while you’re at it, dust off that dormant electric car assembly
line, crank those factories up into full gear, and accelerate America
into a brighter, greener tomorrow. Give a jolt to the Chevy Volt you
plan to debut in a year and make that electric car your bread and butter.
And last, but not least, you must agree to not spend one red cent on
lobbying to defeat green legislation.

Then, after you’ve had
your “come to Jesus” eco-epiphanies, and your inconvenient arrogance
extracted in rehab, go on Larry King, Oprah and Ellen to beg forgiveness
for your sins and to assure America that your makeover will have traction.
Then, and only then, can you get back to work and remember that big
brother will be watching you. Nothing short of a total green makeover
will satisfy us. If that sounds too radical and technologically challenging,
consider that the Toyota Prius I’m driving gets over 45 miles per
gallon and so did the first and second Prius’ I’ve leased since
2003. And consider the alternative….crashing head-on into a wall,
and certain death. Now, doesn’t a greener future through re-in-car-nation
sound a bit brighter? The choice is yours but we won’t be fueled again.

By Betsy Rosenberg, Creator,
Host – EcoTalk Radio 

Co-Founder – Don’t Be Fueled!
Mothers For Clean and Safe Vehicles

You say you have Green Fatigue? That is soooo tiresome…!

Well maybe YOU don’t suffer from
“green fatigue” – if you did you probably wouldn’t be reading
this but it is a term I’ve heard tossed about in the past few months
and each time I hear it – though it goes by other names as well; “green
“green saturation”, “green overload”,
etc.  – each time I want to turn red with anger.

Picture by Christina Koci Hernandez

Why does that so infuriate me? As a relative newcomer to the “old
guard” environmental activists – I’ve only been at this a dozen years –
I am well aware of the pain that accompanies being marginalized by a
culture that would, until recently, rather fight ecological reality and its many danger signs in the form of denial, than switch
to a more sustainable way of living. 

Up until last year, being green
in a black and white world was akin to being a Communist, enemy
infiltrator, or both.  Actually it often felt more like being a martian
from another planet, a planet where to waste was a crime, and to
conserve was a virtue, and not a freaky habit adopted by hippies and
social agitators on the fringes of mainstream American society. 

So what happened? The price of fuel topped three dollars a gallon and
the slumbering masses awoke with a sharp jolt to the pocketbook and a
belated hangover, complete with a sobering rethink of the almighty SUV
as our national vehicle of choice. 

Dying oceans, peak oil,
disappearing species and melting glaciers were no match for the rising
price on a gallon of gas. Seemingly overnight, the masses were outraged
and suddenly open to new alternatives, both as a source for fuel, and
as lifestyle change.  Combine that with the triple hit of Hurricanes
Katrina, Wilma and Rita and you have a perfect storm of factors that
finally launched the Great Eco-awakening.

And just in time…the grim statistics don’t need recitation here, you
know we’re doomed. Unless, unless we wake up now…today…and begin to
turn this sinking ship of a planet towards the bright light of a
newly-popular sun. Embracing renewable energy like solar, wind and
geothermal is the new Holy Grail, tempting and yet – until now –
elusive enough to seem more green dream than reality. 

So now that the world is waking up to the planetary perils we face, and
people across the globe see that a true sea change is needed – before
the sea changes us – suddenly we hear from some predictable corners;
the mainstream media, fickle consumers and Sunday pundits that the
green movement has peaked and its 15 minutes of fame are passing.

that I say “why green
fatigue when the new eco-consciousness – so hard-fought and long in
coming – is still in its infancy, still in (chlorine-free) diapers?”
How is it that a nation so obsessed with sports, sex, stars (the
Hollywood type) and the stock market is now tired of hearing about
global sustainability, a topic that has been on the front pages for
about five minutes in comparison?

To them I say  “Take your Green Ennui
and shove it!”.  If sustainable survival is merely a passing fad – as
some would have us believe – than I say we humans will be the same; a
transient species that brought itself to the brink of greatness, only
to get buried in its own greed, shortsightedness and well-honed denial.
If it really is all about trendiness than maybe we have indeed – like
our oil – peaked.


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