Letters From The Earth


  • Got wood?

    Before I begin a two part series on pellets for energy, I'd like to take one last parting shot at the black liquor funding paid to the paper industry in 2009. I promise, my last comment on the subject. The United States government paid out about $…
    03.15.10

  • Where will the money come from?

    I think it is appropriate to begin my 2010 columns with a few comments about the climate control conference that finished in mid-December in Copenhagen. I was just returning from a trip abroad and the conference had completed its first week of debate…
    01.15.10

  • Action, not intent

    During the last several months many of us have read or watched the debate and dialogue on climate change, sustainability, carbon footprint, cap and trade, and other green initiatives. We can't get away from it. You can't pick up a newspaper or magazi…
    11.16.09

  • Liner recycling: The converter is the solution

    In late July I was talking to a converter on the West Coast of the United States. We have been friends for quite a while. I don't remember when we'd first met, probably at an FTA function, but we have chatted and visited over the years. My friend is…
    10.07.09

  • Waste to energy

    I finished my last column with a promise to introduce a new company that will process non-recyclables and make fuel pellets for "thermal recycling" applications. Unfortunately, I have been unable to obtain a release to describe its business and proce…
    09.03.09

  • Hope for leachate

    I was on an "anti black liquor tax credit" kick in my last column. While I want to bring you up to date on a new green "leachate" treatment process, I am compelled first to get in one more shot at this tax credit funding scam. International Paper…
    07.07.09

  • Disharmony

    Jeffrey Sax once said, "The US is out of melody." I happen to think harmony is a better word, but he's right, now more than ever. I see it in our industry. I see it in government policy, and I see it in private initiatives. We are out of harmony.…
    05.08.09

  • Signs and covenants

    Signs. Signs and covenants. Messages that we hear and read. Promises that we make. Do we listen? Do we respond? Do we fulfill the commitment? I listened to a sermon recently about signs and covenants. Don't tell the rector but my mind wasn't entir…
    03.31.09

  • Seeking change, finding results

    So today we dumped another 70 million tons of global warming pollution into the thin shell of atmosphere surrounding our planet, as if it were an open sewer. And tomorrow we will dump a slightly larger amount, with the cumulative concentrations now t…
    03.06.09

  • The environmental specialist

    In a recent editorial, Cooks Illustrated Editor Christopher Kimball introduced me to a wonderfully humorous book, The Specialist, written by Charles Sale in 1929. The timing and content of Sale's book is more than appropriate. The Specialist is Lem P…
    01.14.09

  • Fight 'Green Fatigue'

    What do sunlight, desalination, ethanol, sustainability, and clean energy have in common? The answer, of course, is great cost. Technically we have the ability to convert sunlight into energy, salt water into fresh water, solid waste and methane gas…
    11.13.08

  • Are you sincere?

    Over the last several years, every printing and packaging trade publication has had countless columns, articles, and editorials on the "greening" of our industry. Not to be outdone, Labelexpo, American version, had the same plethora of green product…
    10.08.08

  • Project LIFE

    In June I attended Finat's 50th anniversary congress in Paris. To be sure, if you go to enough of these events you realize that many of the presentations are repetitious. However, one presenter that we hear from regularly, Mike Fairley, added a t…
    08.21.08

  • Learning from students

    Several weeks ago, I was so frustrated with the "I'm gonna do it" group. These are the people and companies that are forever proud of their future changes and achievements. The problem is that they never do it, they never make the changes. I was so f…
    07.22.08

  • Driving Green

    The president called me and asked, "Are we green?" "Heavens no," I responded. There was a pause and he asked, "Can you help us get green?" I replied, "Sure, I can help you. But at the end of the day it's up to you, you and your team. You have to driv…
    05.13.08

  • Crisis and commitment

    There was a great editorial in one of the trade publications that I read that wondered if "concerns for the earth is a passing fad." It caused me to speculate about the pending transfer of the world champion polluter title. Part of my thought was: Wh…
    04.08.08

  • We just don't get it

    To build a future of energy security, we must trust in the creative genius of American researchers and entrepreneurs and empower them to pioneer a new generation of clean energy technology." Or, " Such a product fulfills the manufacturer's desires…
    03.14.08

  • Money

    Most of you are aware of the Bali Climate Change Conference that occurred in early December. Hundreds attended, including government officials, industry lobbyists, environmental campaigners, observers, and yes, even the United States sent representat…
    01.15.08

  • Better chemistry

    Do you recall the reference in my last column to the battle with British Petroleum's (BP) wish to send increased quantities of effluent from its refinery in Indiana into Lake Michigan? Well, we won the battle. BP is retreating, at least temporarily,…
    11.02.07

  • Thanks for doing nothing

    As I start this column, those of us who live in the Chicago area of the United States have just learned that the State of Indiana, right nearby, and federal regulators have approved the expansion of a BP refinery in Whiting that will lead to increase…
    08.31.07