Just north of Times Square in New York City, on 7th Ave. and 48th St. is the gargantuan Morgan Stanley Dean Witter building. A gigantic, scrolling LED stock ticker wraps around the northeast corner and usually, like most stock tickers, scrolls an endless succession of arcane symbols and numerical values.

But not yesterday.

I happened to be on 48th St. yesterday, August 13, 2001, and my gaze drifted upward and westward toward MSDW's stock ticker. There was no stock information.

Instead, this message raced by:


Again. And again. And again and again.


I was shocked. Appalled. Dumbfounded. The sheer cheek. The overwhelming ridiculousness of it.

Things wrong with this situation:
A.Not using the stock ticker conserves, I'm sure, electricity on a scale of a few watts. At most.
B.Rather than simply turn the sign off, they continued to use it, conserving absolutely no electricity.
C.The amount of electricity used to air condition the MSDW building, has to be mind-boggling. Yet, reducing the air conditioning did not figure into their energy conservation strategy. At least, not publicly. A scrolling message saying THE AIR CONDITIONING IN THIS BUILDING HAS BEEN TURNED DOWN TO CONSERVE ENERGY might make a tad more sense. Maybe.
D.It was a Sunday. There wasn't any new MARKET INFORMATION to display anyway. So huzzah to MSDW for bravely shutting off the computers which gather that data. I think. I recognize that this could be my ignorance of the stock market talking, fueled by my ire at human stupidity.

You get the point. This was the most obviously token attempt to "do something" about a "problem" I've ever been witness to.

Now the question of why this was actually done is, I think, an important one. In a way, it smacks of greenwashing. But I have a suspicion it's a bit more insidious:

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter wants to implant the idea that we're suffering an energy crisis to support oil drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, and the oil industry as a whole.

Maybe I'm just paranoid. But why advertise that you're "doing something" (however useless) in reaction to the "energy crisis"? Hmm? You tell me.

It seems our intrepid field reporter Purvis has uncovered yet more damning data about this menace. You can read all about it here. We'll keep our noses to the ground for you, the E2 community.

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