Meta-efficiency is the analysis of efficiency at a more comprehensive level. Metaefficient Review assesses products considering not only their energy efficiency but also the embodied energy, toxicity, affordability, and usability. [more inside]
Scraping Bottom: The Canadian Oil Boom. "Once considered too expensive, as well as too damaging to the land, exploitation of Alberta's oil sands is now a gamble worth billions."
What Invasive Species Are Trying to Tell Us. "Walking snakeheads, carnivorous snails, and the superpredator from the reef: The invasion has begun." [Via]
Infrastructurist. Although the blog is only a few days old, they've already debunked some of the myths of 24, interviewed Michael Dukakis, and grappled with Amtrak economics.
Plastic bags are bad for the environment, right? Not according to the Plastic Bag Coalition, which created savetheplasticbag.com in order to help stop the demonization of the supermarket staple. Taking a firm stance, they have recently threatened to sue the city of Santa Monica for passing an ordnance banning plastic bags. This isn't the first time they've sued. [more inside]
The US Senate Sunday in an unusual session passed 66-12 the largest land protection bill in 25 years. It is an "omnibus" containing hundreds of bills that have been in the works for years. For a list of all the projects and new lands protected.. [more inside]
Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches - "Physicist Alex Wissner-Gross says that performing two Google searches uses up as much energy as boiling the kettle for a cup of tea."
Eartheasy is about sustainable living. It offers information, activities and ideas which help us live more simply, efficiently and with less impact on the environment. [more inside]
Today Boeing completed the first test flight of a commercial jet-liner using a mix of conventional jet-fuel and a fuel created from algae and the african weed jatropha. Boeing hopes that biofueled flights will be common in just three years.
Mushrooms Save the World (long form) -- Paul Stamets on mycelia. Previously: 1 2 3 [bonus: slime molds]
We've talked about gold on Metafilter before (1 2 3), and while the price of gold as a commodity rising to record levels again, nobody is talking about the real price of gold. Unfortunately, small-scale mining is sometimes crucial to the livelihood of communities, for example in Suriname (1 2). Although there are attemps to make mining cleaner, the way growth in demand is outpacing supply, combined with the belief that it is a perceived safe-haven store of wealth, it is likely the negative effects will be with us for many decades.
Rethinking Earthrise. On the 40th anniversary of the NASA's Apollo 8 mission [caution: weird JFK animation], which answered Stewart Brand's epochal, LSD-inspired question "Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?" with an unforgettable image of a seemingly fragile and isolated blue planet, Nature editor Oliver Morton -- author of a new book on photosynthesis called Eating the Sun -- disputes the notion that the Earth is fragile and isolated. "The fragility is an illusion," he writes. "The planet Earth is a remarkably robust thing, and this strength flows from its ancient and intimate connection to the cosmos beyond. To see the photo this way does not undermine its environmental relevance -- but it does recast it."
Smoke and Mirrors: The Subversion of the EPA. "This four-part series details how the Bush administration weakened the EPA. It installed a pliant agency chief, Stephen L. Johnson. Under him, the EPA created pro-industry regulations later thrown out by the courts. It promoted a flawed voluntary program to fight climate change. It bypassed air pollution recommendations from its own scientists to satisfy the White House." [Via Reality Base]
Animals Save The Planet. A series of environmentally conscious animated shorts from Animal Planet.
Chris Goodall, author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, talks about the ten big green energy myths.
As the Bay Area looks to become the electric vehicle capital of America, the 2009 Volkswagen Jetta TDI won the Green Car of the Year Award at the LA Auto Show.
"Good Guide provides the world's largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home." Now in iPhone.
Generation WE: How Millennial Youth Are Taking Over America And Changing Our World Forever (via) [more inside]
New Year’s Day 2030. A new report from Forum on the Future, Climate Futures (6.7MB PDF), maps out five possible scenarios for how climate change might affect our collective future by 2030. Meanwhile, the WWF has released a report, Climate Change: Faster, Stronger, Sooner (1.65MB PDF) which claims that global warming is accelerating at a faster rate than climate change experts had previously predicted. [Via Gristmill and Disinformation]
Elemental ‘Earth Art’: 15 Epic Land Formations. 15 Epic Water and Ice Formations and Phenomena. 12 Elemental Fire and Light Formations and Phenomena: Flares, Lightning, Smoke and Meteors. 10 Breathtaking Natural Cloud and Color Formations.
"Dear Mr. President-Elect, It may surprise you to learn that among the issues that will occupy much of your time in the coming years is one you barely mentioned during the campaign: food." Michael Pollan advises the next president on what he can and should do to remake the way we grow and eat our food. [Via]
Oil sands will pollute Great Lakes The environmental impacts of Alberta's oil sands will not be restricted to Western Canada, researchers say, but will extend thousands of kilometres away to the Great Lakes, threatening water and air quality around the world's largest body of fresh water. *****Report: How the Oil Sands Got to the Great Lakes Basin***** (pdf) Policy makers around the lakes, in both Canada and the U.S., are largely unaware that the tar sands will lead to massive industrial development in their region, and consequently have no strategy to minimize the environmental impacts. [more inside]
Voters in Ecuador appear to have approved a new constitution yesterday, guaranteeing rights to clean water, universal healthcare, pensions, and free state-run education through the university level. It also may allow President Rafael Correa to remain in power until 2017. Particularly of note is a world first bill of rights for nature which grants inalienable rights to nature. [more inside]
Dog poop is serious business. When it's not properly disposed of, it can be a significant pollutant, contaminating groundwater and streams. Some cities are taking action, but few are willing, able or ingenious to go as far as Petah Tikva, Israel, which is building its own dog-poop DNA database with the intention of rewarding conscientious pooper-scoopers and punishing scatological scofflaws.
Video report about the newly constructed "Urban Air Trees" in Madrid, Spain. These unique structures are designed to both affect the surrounding environment and act as a social centers. Using live plants and photovoltaic cells the Air Tree produces a substantial amount of oxygen and energy. Designed by Urban Ecosystems.
Old Growth Forests Are Valuable Carbon Sinks. "Contrary to 40 years of conventional wisdom, a new analysis published in the journal Nature suggests that old growth forests are usually 'carbon sinks' - they continue to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and mitigate climate change for centuries." Seven Best National Parks for Visiting Old Growth Forests. 20 Visually Arresting but Threatened Forests. [more inside]
The Eco Zoo - some amazing Japanese 3D Flash. If you take a close look at the animals there... you might be able to get some tips to live in a more environmentally friendly way!
The Future Generator at the London Transport Museum is a forecasting look at the effect of transport on climate change in London. But you can get a sense of history as well. The museum's collection originated in the 1920s, when the London General Omnibus Company decided to preserve two Victorian horse buses and an early motorbus for future generations. They moved to the present location in 1980. Londoners can take a trip back in time on the Metropolitan line and enjoy a special day out in Metro-land as two historic electric trains run special excursions on Sunday 14 September 2008. [more inside]
Newcomers, with the zeal of recent converts, are often the most vocal in resisting change to the neighborhood they have just discovered. An exploration of NIMBYism. If not in your backyard, then whose? Probably a low-income minority group. Opposition to affordable housing is often thinly-veiled racism. How NIMBYism affects a seven-year old boy on LA's skid row. [more inside]
"Why the fuss? Well, Colin's a baby whale..." Oh no. They named the doomed little thing ('little' meaning about the size of a large car). Mal Holland's report from the Daily Telegraph gives a very illuminating rundown of the nervous breakdown that "Sydney's booming whale watching industry" is experiencing right now... [more inside]
China's Olympic beaches, choked by a plague of green algae. Sez David Suzuki: This is not an unusual occurrence, but it is a symptom of an underlying problem with potential repercussions far more serious than hampering Olympic events. [more inside]
Cross another item off of President Bush's to-do list before he leaves the White House: hobbling the Endangered Species Act and allowing federal agencies to gauge the environmental impact of their projects for themselves. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said the changes were needed to ensure that the ESA would not be used as a "back door" to regulate greenhouse gases.
80 percent of Americans say global warming is real and poses a threat to humanity. Which is good because if the global temperature raises by 4 degrees we're all dead. However only 44 percent would be willing to face any financial hardship in the name of a solution.
Rich people's rooftops in NYC offers a fun birds-eye view into a few sky-high secret decks and gardens. Roofs are the new frontier for innovative urban architects, but they aren't exclusive to the wealthy. All kinds of people and organizations are starting rooftop gardens. See the impressive results that two Chicago denizens had growing heirloom vegetables on their roofs (2). [more inside]
In 1991, the New York Times reported on the development of a new salt-water crop called salicornia that produced seeds rich in high-quality protein and oil. While it was acknowledged as having great potential for becoming a valuable crop in subtropical areas, the LA Times talks about a farmer who thinks the crop could help solve world hunger, provide abundant clean fuel for vehicles and slow global warming. This particular farmer has been touting salicornia for quite some time now, and he seems to have been successful in small-scale operations he's been allowed to lead.
Tropical fish in New York? The Gulf Stream sweeps immature tropical fish up north, and aquariums scoop them up off Long Island. "Catching the fish up north is cheaper and less disruptive to ocean ecosystems than trapping them in the tropics. And the collections are rescue missions of a sort, because these Gulf Stream travelers are unlikely to survive the winter." (New York Times) [more inside]
Can you identify these common plants and animals? A study shows that increasingly, 9- to 11-year-old children can't. Quoth David Attenborough: "The wild world is becoming so remote to children that they miss out, and an interest in the natural world doesn't grow as it should. Nobody is going protect the natural world unless they understand it."
Andy Grove on Our Electric Future - "Energy independence [viz.] is the wrong goal. Here is a plan Americans can stick to." Perhaps some infrastructure spending1,2 is in order? [etc., &c., cf.] [more inside]
Want to know what actions can have the biggest impact on your carbon emissions? Bloom helps you choose actions tailored to your home and lifestyle, then lets you compare them by how much CO2 they save and how cheap they are. With background guides for recycling, organic foods, energy ratings, and emissions. From the BBC.
The ocean gives us life. It gives us oxygen, the rain, food, excitement, wonder, and mystery. The ocean buffers the weather and helps regulate global temperature. It manages vast amounts of our pollutants, contains all kinds of amazing creatures, and supports all life on our planet. But, the ocean is just now beginning to be understood and with that understanding comes the increasing realization that the ocean is in trouble. Marine conservation efforts are outnumbered by the problems. MarineBio is here to call attention to those issues and to provide information to inspire the actions necessary to address them.
Dystopian storytelling is pillar of Western narrative tradition, but this decade has seen a significant shift in the way our apocalypse is told. Orthodox tales of government tyranny are giving way to visions of humans running helpless in the wake of environmental meltdown. From the plausible to the fantastic, most of this fiction remains hauntingly real while the non-fiction can get downright scary. In 2008, the 20th anniversary of climatologist James Hansen's landmark speech before Congress, popular art is beginning to reflect an increasingly bleak public sentiment on the future, playing out some of our worst nightmares. It may be that these writers and directors are wishing for the end of the world, but even so, they are certainly giving voice to the creeping feeling that indeed, we might not make it.
One World Journeys produces exciting and educational photo-documentary expeditions that connect online viewers to unique wilderness areas around the world. Travel to the remote mountain forests of the former Soviet Georgia, track jaguars in Mexico, dive on pristine coral reefs, swim with wild salmon and wildlife of British Columbia and step into the heat of the Sonoran Desert.
In Lester R. Brown's new book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization (2008, full-text)) - an update to Plan B 2.0: Rescuing a Planet Under Stress and a Civilization in Trouble (2006, full-text) - he calls for a war-time mobilization (ch.13) to save global civilization (already showing Early Signs of Decline (ch.6)) from Deteriorating Oil and Food Security (ch.2), Rising Temperatures and Rising Seas (ch.3), Emerging Water Shortages (ch.4), and Natural Systems Under Stress (ch.5)
Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project ― the grizzly bear has had a threatened status for more than 30 years now. Several zones have been established in the northwestern U.S. and Canada to monitor recovery. Kate Kendall of the USGS led a project to investigate recovery through DNA monitoring of the bears. Since the funds dried up, Kate and her team have used remote cameras to capture some interesting footage of bears and other wildlife.