Hummer is dead and Wal-Mart is cutting pollution

You probably heard of GM’s plan to sell Hummer to a Chinese company.  The infamously impractical brand sold just 9,000 vehicles last year, down from 71,000 in 2006.  Now, the deal with the Chinese automaker has been rejected by China’s government.  It looks like GM will retire the gas-guzzling line, so we can only wonder what would have happened if consumer versions of military vehicles had been successful.  *Sigh.* In a few years, we might have been rolling in actual tanks (right to bear arms, anybody?).

Our other corporate gossip story this week is about Wal-Mart.  The retail giant is pursuing a plan to cut 20 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2015.  That amount is roughly equivalent to the company’s current annual emissions, and according to the press release, the same as taking 3.8 million cars off the road.  You can read the details at Treehugger and ClimateProgress.

Wal-Mart’s eco-friendly efforts mean either the execs sincerely care about climate change, or they think that consumers care and that cutting emissions will clean up the company’s image.  Either way, it’s good news, but maybe we should look deeper than the press releases.

Whatever Wal-Mart does to improve energy efficiency, etc., it is still the icon of American consumerism.  Can a society based so heavily on consumption ever be truly sustainable?  Can we become sustainable by changing what we consume, or do we also have to change how much we consume?  It’s something to think about.


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