"So by this analysis dead-tree magazines have a smaller net carbon footprint than web media. We cut down trees and put them in the ground. From a climate change perspective, this is a good thing" explains Chris Anderson, Wired Magazine's editor-in-chief. While some decry this type of carbon footprint accounting as "cheating", the paper industry has lately been eager to convince the public that they are carbon-neutral.
The dangers of living in a zero-sum world economy - naked capitalism reprints (with added commentary) an FT article by Martin Wolf on why it's vital for (civilised) society to sustain a 'positive-sum' world, otherwise: "A zero-sum economy leads, inevitably, to repression at home and plunder abroad." Wolf's solution? "The condition for success is successful investment in human ingenuity." Of course! Some are calling for more socialism, while others would press on to build more megaprojects. For me, at least part of the solution lies in environmental accounting and natural capitalism :P
Nestle claims that it now puts it's water in ecobottles. "But how much lighter is the bottle?" Fiji also claims a commitment to the environment, but it's still "Bottled in Fiji. Shipped to you". Couldn't we just drink from the tap? Previously.
...you cannot run a linear system on a finite planet indefinitely. The story of stuff.
No wonder why Canada won't meet their Kyoto targets A University of Alberta researcher is calling on Canadian beer drinkers to go green and toss their energy-guzzling beer fridges, found in one of three households across the country.
DIY activists have been using human hair mats to soak up the carcinogenic bunker oil that's been washing onto Bay Area beaches since the spill. Now they're inoculating the oil-soaked mats with mushrooms that will break down the oil into harmless compost. See also: fungi breaking down plastics, synthetic dyes and organopollutants generally. A bit more from mushroom guru Paul Stamets. (If you're so inclined, here's a link to donate to the non-profit that coordinated the hair mats.) [more inside]
Thirsty Dragon at the Olympics Dai Qing on China's environmental crisis and the upcoming Beijing Olympics.
A two-ton 21-mpg 8-passenger V8 Chevy Tahoe? America, meet your 2008 Green Car of the Year!
Ecoble, an environment design and living site includes some interesting stories and info: Man (Re)Builds Mexican Island Paradise on 250,000 Recycled Floating Bottles l Who Has the Oil? Geography of the World’s Most Contentious Resource l BituBlock - The Sustainable Building Block Built from Trash and Sewage [more inside]
These Come From Trees "Testing shows a 'These Come From Trees' sticker on a paper towel dispenser reduces paper towel consumption by ~15%"
"The vast tar sands of Alberta in Canada hold oil reserves six times the size of Saudi Arabia's. But this 'black gold' is proving a mixed blessing for the frontier town of Fort McMurray, fuelling both prosperity and misery. As the social and environmental toll mounts, Aida Edemariam reports on the dark side of a boom town" - Mud, Sweat and Tears.
Look at that tail! Stephen Nash has illustrated the most endangered primates (image gallery: part 1, part 2) -- so faithfully over the years that one now bears his name. The just-released "Primates in Peril" report has full profiles of each animal, along with all of Nash's illustrations (including those replaced by photos in the gallery above -- don't miss the sumatran orangutan!).
Don Berto’s Garden. "The plants of the ancient Maya whisper their secrets to those who speak a shared language."
In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
Proposition 1 - Sound Transit & RTID: Dan Savage is for it ("I want 50 miles of light rail so bad, I don’t give a shit if they pave 180 miles with baby mice," sorta), while the Sierra Club is against ("It wants to support the Sound Transit/light rail portion of the ballot issue, but not the Regional Transportation Improvement District part, which seeks more money to expand and repair roads and highways"). On November 6, voters in Washington's King, Pierce and Snohomish counties will decide.
What do you know? Just when I thought ships were the way to go, I learned that global emissions of carbon dioxide from shipping are twice the level of aviation, one of the maritime industry's key bodies has said It came out on the BBC News this week.
Earth, 2100 AD. Atmospheric CO2 has doubled to 1000 ppm. From shore to the horizon, there is but an unending purple color -- a vast, flat, oily purple. No fish break its surface, no birds. We are under a pale green sky, and it has the smell of death and poison. Paleontologist Peter Ward's new book links past mass extinctions to global warming and shows, absent major changes, "Our world is hurtling toward carbon dioxide levels not seen since 60 million years ago, right after a greenhouse extinction." Maybe it's time for a heresy: nuclear energy's green, and renewables aren't.
An interview with Lebbeus Woods -- designer and illustrator of speculative futuristic landscapes and buildings. Woods just set up his own website, which has an amazing quantity of drawings, photographs, and text focusing on his lesser known projects [for those willing to deal with a frustrating flash interface and sound. It's better in IE than Firefox.] [more inside]
The Right Livelihood Award "celebrates and supports people of vision. People who have ideas and apply them in concrete initiatives for the public good. They give hope for tomorrow, for a world in peace and balance. They demonstrate how we can overcome oppression, war, poverty, the destruction of our environment, and a widespread sense of meaninglessness and fear."
Superfund365 is an online data visualization application by Brooke Singer. Each day for the next year, Superfund365 will visit one of the EPA’s Superfund sites and collect data on contaminants, corporate responsibility, photos of the sites, and stats on local inhabitants. In the end, it will have 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S. [Via The Underwire.]
The North Pacific Trash Vortex - Researchers have discovered a Texas-sized area of (mostly plastic) rubbish floating in the Pacific Ocean. [more inside]
Not ones for subtlety, the Death of Environmentalism guys (previously) are at it again with a Manifesto for a New Environmentalism. Their Apollo Alliance is getting early support from both Clinton and Obama. But it's not the only "new environmentalism" out there. There's this New Environmentalism, while others would include both market-based approaches among the the idols of old environmentalism.
"California has a decision to make. We either brace ourselves for long-term [water] cuts that threaten our economy and our very way of way of life, or we invest in a solution to fix the [San Francisco Bay] Delta and expand our water toolbox so we can meet future challenges head-on.” [more inside]
Navarre now generates more than 50% of its energy needs by wind power: a profile of the small autonomous region in northern Spain that is leading the way in renewable energy. This is one of many free access articles in this special supplement on energy issues to the journal Nature.
The US Clean Air Act makes it illegal to sell highly environmentally-friendly cars in 42 states. Apparently.
Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin. This Saturday will mark this article's four year anniversary. Frankly, I was mildly surprised not to have found it mentioned before in MeFi. It's a good read about a sad state of affairs; how our government is turning its own people into outlaws, because freedom has been traded in for an illusion of security. ...but then we already knew that. Don't we?
Appalachian Apocalypse. Mountaintop removal mining (previously) has a devastating effect on the environment and local populations. The Bush administration wants to loosen regulations and expand the practice. [Via Wired Science.]
Kerr Magee had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to call their waste an "experimental fertilizer" and just spread it over the top of the land.
Depleted uranium is now understood to have many medical consequences unique to its modern application as munitions, due to its incendiary, aerosolizing behavior when pulverized. (Rosalie Bertell explains, youtube) It has become a leading candidate for the cause of Gulf War syndrome, and was associated with massive increases in cancer and birth defects in Basra. The EU has called for a moratorium on its use four times, and WHO is deeply concerned with its consequences, but the USA (with Canadian complicity) and Russia continue to use it in Iraq and elsewhere. (prev: 1 2 3 4 5)
Is it a taxi? Is it a train? Actually it is a bit of both. Technically speaking it is a personal rapid transport system, a new hybrid form of transport that some have already taken to calling the podcar. Similar systems have been proposed before and failed to make it into development, despite some less-personal versions built in the 1970s in the US. But with the current desire for low-carbon transit as keen as ever, has the time finally arrived for this kind of low-emission people mover?
The Case for Resilience. How Efficiency Maximizes Catastrophe.
China Praises Its Progress Toward Olympics. With one year to go before the 2008 Olympics, China still has many challenges ahead, like dealing with Beijing's terrible air pollution. There is still much criticism over China's record on human rights and freedom of the press, and some protests. But perhaps the most embarrassing public relations setback is that one of the official mascots, Yingsel (aka Yingying) the Tibetan Antelope, has defected from China's Olympic team and gone underground to campaign for a free Tibet. [Some links via BB and MoFi.]
"The model of economic development that we are currently pursuing is unsustainable. Our energy consumption per unit of GDP is seven times that of Japan, six times that of America, and even 2.8 times that of India. China’s labour productivity is less than 10 per cent of the world total, and yet our emissions are over 10 times higher than the global average." ~ Pan Yue - deputy director of China's State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA). Part of a new generation of outspoken Chinese senior officials, Pan has given rise to a tide of environmental debate, attracting enormous attention and controversy. Read his articles here : - China: economic powerhouse, environmentally unsustainable - part one and part two
Walk Score helps people find walkable places to live. Walk Score calculates the walkability of an address by locating nearby stores, restaurants, schools, parks, etc.
The Green Leap Forward "Environmentalism is China’s fastest-growing citizen movement. Beijing isn’t cracking down on these new activists—it’s empowering them."
Unnatural Disaster: Global Warming and Our National Parks (PDF). A new report from the National Parks Conservation Association explores the impact of global warming on America's national parks. [Via Gristmill.]
Reduced-lead bullets and recyclable explosives are among the developments being put forward by arms manufacturer British Aerospace (BAE) as part of a major investment in ecologically-sound weaponry. The company, one of the world's biggest arms-makers, says it has been making investments in creating products that reduce the collateral damage of warfare.
The Algalita Marine Research Foundation's video Synthetic Sea is pretty shocking. "All we can do is stop polluting and hope the system will clean itself up in hundreds of years." So, what will be the fate of the plastic bag until the inevitable ban comes? Should they be Taxed? Should they be Banned ? Should stores charge extra for them? We don't really have a lot of time to argue about it.
Personally, I always thought the whole global warming thing was a little bit overblown. Got to admit this guy makes a very compelling argument without debating any details. (via)
First discovered by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1978, the Greenpoint spill has been estimated at anywhere between 17 million and 30 million gallons—three times more oil than the Exxon Valdez spill. [NY mag permalink, with ads]
"Future House Now is dedicated to exploring ideas about better living in family homes that are affordable, modern, efficient, healthy, environmentally responsible and available today."
The Happy Planet Index presents an alternative to GDP for measuring standard of living. It ranks countries by measuring life expectancy and self-reported life satisfaction against an "ecological footprint" needed to support that country's lifestyle. The press release claims that well-being is not based on high levels of consumption, but many don't agree. Full report in PDF here. Vanuatu tops the charts, while Zimbabwe and Swaziland lie at bottom. Critiques here, here, here, and here. A critique of happiness indices generally here.
John Doerr: Seeking salvation and profit in greentech. This is a grim talk from a man who is well-connected with the tech industries best and brightest. He spent a year talking with scientists, experts, and politicians the world 'round about industry and the atmosphere. And as a result he has put a few hundred million dollars toward disruptive technologies... because he is scared -- scared shitless -- about what lies ahead. He also calls us to action.
Recycle your computer junk. A large US office supply retailer just became the first to offer everyday, in-store recycling for computers & other office technology, and will recycle them using EPA guidelines. Only $10 an item (smaller stuff like mice and keyboards are free).
"Pro-environmental nations experience better economic outcomes on several measures, controlling for other factors, than nations with lax environmental policies."
Environmentalism, globalization and national economies, 1980-2000 [Schofer and Granados in Social Forces, Dec 06] Triple-punch! (1) "We find no impact of environmentalism on foreign investment and trade. Firms and investment do not appear to be fleeing countries with strong environmental standards." (2) "While it is common to assume that environmentalism targets industry, the agricultural sector may be [negatively] affected more significantly." (2) "[S]ociologists influenced by world-system theory [posit that] the relationship between environmentalism and growth could be spurious: environmentalism does not cause growth, but rather coincides with the economic success of core nations. However, broader results do not support this."