Walsh: An ever-deeper, and cleverer, hole

April 18, 2011
Why, it feels like it was just yesterday! And yet here we are upon the one-year anniversary of the BP oil spill, a wonderful milestone, a time to pause, celebrate, memorialize, reflect: the massive fireball and thick black smoke streaming like a ship mast high above the Gulf, the scintillating white water arcing from rescue »

Walsh: A wider lens

April 5, 2011
Years ago a good friend related the experience of biking one summer afternoon along Lake Michigan and realizing that he would spend all of his life in his head, as if it were a cage, and that he would never inhabit another head. My friend wouldn’t know me and I wouldn’t know my friend and »

Walsh: The environment isn’t free

March 22, 2011
Rush Limbaugh responds to a caller: “The Japanese have done so much to save the planet … and yet Gaia levels them [laughs], just wipes them out. Wipes out their nuclear plants, all kinds of radiation. What kind of payback is this? That is an excellent question. They invented the Prius. In fact, where Gaia »

Walsh: A principle of madness

February 22, 2011
“The Bridge on the River Kwai” won the Oscar for best picture in 1957. In the movie, British martinet Colonel Nicholson, played by Alec Guinness, is forced to construct a bridge for his captors and wartime enemies, the Japanese. Like Ahab’s white whale, this bridge becomes an obsessive devotion. Blindly obedient to principle, Nicholson balks »

Walsh: What’s the fracking problem?

February 8, 2011
I was introduced to hydraulic fracturing, or “hydrofracking,” by a graduate student in geology who loudly offered an unsolicited opinion one night in a bar: it’s the way of the future, he told me. Hydrofracking! No more dependence on coal, but clean-burning natural gas instead. No more need to clear mountains, just neatly punch a »

Walsh: Time to get maladjusted

January 25, 2011
In response to the faint-hearted temporizing of his Southern allies and with an open-ended stay at the Birmingham jail, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote a lengthy and subtly scathing letter that included the following: “The Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, »

Walsh: A different kind of business

January 11, 2011
A few weeks back at the School of Management, Jerry Greenfield, cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, was recounting company history. Before his talk, he stood between pizza boxes and brown gallon ice cream cartons in the atrium calling out available flavors and describing their ingredients with uncommon passion. After lunch was served he »

Walsh: A question in two anecdotes

November 9, 2010
The world works in mysterious ways. Consider the following: Anecdote #1: Dirt Cure River blindness was once prevalent in Uganda, where small black flies that bred along swift-flowing rivers would bite the locals, transmitting a parasitic worm. Increasingly severe symptoms followed: sensitive skin and lesions, an itching so severe it has reportedly led to suicide, »

Walsh: The price of ignorance

October 27, 2010
Forty-three percent of Americans believe that if we stopped punching holes in the ozone layer with rockets, it would reduce global warming. Twenty-six percent of Americans aren’t sure if this would work. Loosely interpreted, 70 percent of Americans think that holes in the ozone may contribute to global warming and that rocket ships may be »

Walsh: That which we call progress

October 13, 2010
Page two of Yale’s recently released Sustainability Strategic Plan presents a diagram: four bold orange arrows feed into each other, head to tail, in a perpetually repeating loop around the word “Yale.” The four arrows are labeled People, Materials, Technology and Earth Systems. A small, lime-green caption beside the image reads, “Sustainability framework.” There is »

Walsh: Betting on the environment

September 28, 2010
Appointed by President Obama as the White House “Green Jobs Czar” in March of 2009, Van Jones spoke at Yale Law School that spring. Somewhat sheepishly, in front of a packed auditorium of hopeful and bright-eyed law students, Jones admitted to bearing some bad news: The law degree, he noted, is in some ways a »

Walsh: Innovators wanted

September 15, 2010
When I was much younger, my grandpa posed a riddle, and its answer made little sense. When I was old enough to understand it, the riddle elicited only a groan. Older still, the riddle — now more like a koan — works to illuminate a valuable insight. It goes like this: When is a door »