6/30/2009 2:50:21 PM
The emerald ash borer is a persistently spreading pest that’s threatening many of North America’s ash trees. It turns out that in the northeastern United States and Canada, it’s also threatening the work of native basket weavers, who rely on thin strips of ash for their intricate work, according to Native Peoples magazine (July-August 2009)
Healthy ash trees, especially the favored black ash, are becoming increasingly difficult to find, and regulations meant to combat the borer “are severely hampering the weavers,” who produce some of the world’s finest baskets, the magazine writes.
Ash basket weaver Frank Meuse of the Bear River First Nation in Nova Scotia sees something more than a hungry bug at work here.
“The introduction of alien species was devastating to the First Peoples of this continent,” he tells the magazine. “Today we are still struggling to teach our children about the relationship they need to have with the land. We can only hope our elders are speaking the truth when they say the trees will make themselves invisible until we learn to respect them.”
Source: Native Peoples (article not available online)
Image of basket weaver Frank Meuse by John DeMings, courtesy of Digby Courier.
6/26/2009 1:51:56 PM
Check out the fascinating natural wonder that functions as the keeper of millions of gallons of radioactive waste. Miller-McCune's Matt Palmquist journeyed underground to a salt formation in southeast New Mexico that is home to the world’s sole functioning “deep geologic nuclear waste disposal site.” The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has been highly effective and accident free in its decade of existence, with one researcher boasting that it’s “safer than working at Toys R Us.” Bonus: There’s a video on the WIPP site if you’re interested in a visual overview of the storage process.
Image by dsearls, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/26/2009 12:50:04 PM
Can eating healthy become an eating disorder?
E Magazine reports on the disputed condition known as orthorexia nervosa, in which people become obsessed with healthy eating habits to the point of developing an eating disorder.
Orthorexia nervosa begins with a benign, even beneficial drive toward improving one’s diet. But over time, “even if physical and emotional health begin to falter, the sufferer continues a harsh dietary regime,” E reports. “Eventually, the all-consuming drive for nutritional purity can become a kind of spiritual quest.”
Not all doctors and nutritionists are convinced that orthorexia nervosa is a real condition. E cites Doctor Kelly Brownell, codirector of the Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, who writes on WebMD that in 20 years of working in the field, no one has ever come into the clinic with orthorexia.
Other nutritional professionals disagree. Joshua Rosenthal, director of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, tells the environmental magazine that he counsels individuals to “look beyond” diet as the only font of health. “I encourage people who become overly obsessed with eating the ‘right’ food to see the impact on their life,” he says. “This condition can impede other important elements of life, including relationships, creativity, and just feeling part of a community.
“I call these elements of life primary food—the parts that fill our soul and satisfy our hunger for living. You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you feel disconnected, how healthy and happy can you be?”
Source: E Magazine
Image by riot jane, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/26/2009 10:32:49 AM
Who needs to travel abroad when you can see new things (beavers! butterflies!) in your airport’s own backyard? A few notable airports around the world (including Beijing, Boston, and Toronto) have managed to go green with beauty and aplomb. In its June 2009 issue, enRoute profiles the environmentally conscious Zurich Airport, where, in addition to utilizing rainwater, geothermal energy, and solar cells to keep the place running, curious citizens can safely planespot (an activity in sad decline) and observe the airport’s adjoining “safe habitat for over 50 species of flora and fauna.”
Image by GIDESIGN, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/25/2009 10:26:04 AM
Modern zoos often try to mimic pristine, natural habitats when presenting animals. Penguins frolic in crystal-clear water and buffalo roam in lush grass. If zookeepers were really trying to recreate the natural world, the habitats would be far less pristine. The project “Trouble in Paradise” questions the authenticity of zoo restaging areas in a world where natural habitats are increasingly threatened.
Images courtesy of Rainer Dempf and Christoph Steinbrener.
6/24/2009 5:27:35 PM
Derrick Jensen is an environmentalist who sure knows how to rile up the environmentalists. The radical green author and Utne Visionary has launched a new column in Orion magazine, Upping the Stakes, and its first installment, “World at Gunpoint,” has set off a tempest on Orion’s website, landing 174 comments on 22 web pages when we last checked.
What did Jensen do to spark this upwelling? He suggested that mere “green living” lifestyle choices aren’t going to save our asses, and that much bolder actions are necessary to confront environmental devastation, which he likens to a gunslinging murderer:
If someone were rampaging through your home, killing those you love one by one (and, for that matter, en masse), would the question burning a hole in your heart be: how should I live my life right now? I can’t speak for you, but the question I’d be asking is this: how do I disarm or dispatch these psychopaths? How do I stop them using any means necessary?
Not all the respondents take issue with Jensen: Some hail his line of thinking, and others admit to deeply conflicted feelings. Which to me means that he’s asking important and necessary questions, taking the dialogue to a deeper lever. I eagerly await his next column, which will be online July 7.
6/23/2009 3:35:36 PM
With a significant climate change bill on the brink of passage in the House of Representatives, I’m embarrassed to say that one of my home-state legislators, Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson, is proving to be a major obstacle to the bill. Peterson, a farm-region Democrat who’s long bucked the party line and common sense on issues like gun control (he hates it), ethanol (he loves it), and global warming (he says it'll be good for farmers), is digging in his heels, using his position as chairman of the House Agriculture Committee to hold up and water down the Waxman-Markey bill.
Peterson, the Wall Street Journal reports, “wants the party’s leaders to soften the climate bill’s impact on coal-burning power plants, scale back existing regulation of ethanol, and make other changes that, if adopted, could steer huge sums of money to farmers who engage in environmentally friendly practices.”
One of the most maddening things about Peterson’s obstructionism, Chris Bowers writes on Open Left, is that major green groups aren’t calling him out on it. The League of Conservation voters, which has called itself “the national political voice of the environmental and conservation community,” in 2004 named Peterson to its “Dirty Dozen” list for having “repeatedly voted to let corporate polluters off the hook.”
Yet, Bowers writes, “there is absolutely no information on the LCV website about Collin Peterson’s obstructionist efforts,” despite a home-page call to “strengthen and pass” the climate change bill. “They have no press releases on the subject. There isn’t a single blog post mentioning either Collin Peterson or the Agriculture Committee. … why is the LCV apparently doing nothing to Collin Peterson as he is escalating his efforts to weaken the most important piece of environmental legislation in decades?”
This is where you come in. If you’re concerned about climate change and you’re sick of seeing baby steps taken where big, bold strides are needed, then contact Peterson right now. But be smart about how you do it: He’s inclined to ignore you.
“I am very interested in hearing your views on issues of importance to you,” his website proclaims. However, “Due to the large volume of U.S. mail, e-mail and faxes I receive, I am only able to accept messages from residents of the Seventh Congressional District of Minnesota.”
Well, that’s just great. The guy is a key player in the most global of all issues, and yet he pretends that his sole role in Congress is as a provincial legislator, beholden only to his constituents and no one else. (A call to his press secretary, asking for an explanation of this bizarre assertion, went unreturned.)
Here’s my suggestion: Use the phone. An e-mail is easily ignored and a fax easily thrown out. (Recycling seems like a long shot here.) If Peterson’s staff has to personally answer a flood of calls urging him to stop standing in the way of common sense, it’s going to have some sort of impact. If they ask you where you’re from, which they surely will, simply tell them that you’re a concerned resident of planet Earth.
At the risk of sounding like a blaring late-night infomercial, CALL NOW!!! Open Left reports that 9:30 a.m. Thursday is the cutoff for amendments to the legislation.
Peterson’s D.C. office number is (202) 225-2165. Do it.
UPDATE (6/24/09): Politico reports that last night, bill sponsor Rep. Henry Waxman struck a deal with Peterson in which Peterson "got every concession he was seeking," according to Open Left's analysis. I guess recalcitrance and provincialism have their political rewards. In my opinion, it's still worth calling Peterson to let him know you disapprove of his obstructionist tactics and his weakening of the bill.
Sources: Treehugger, Wall Street Journal, Open Left, Politico
6/23/2009 1:11:52 PM
It's not something we set out to do, but we've carved out something of a mushroom beat for ourselves. We've written about mushrooms at Chernobyl, a rennaissance mycologist, the medical magic of mushrooms, an annual Russian mushroom hunt, and clandestine mushroom harvests in America's protected forests.
Now there is a movie about mushrooms, and it seems to play right to our sweet spot. The trailer for Know Your Mushrooms tells us little, but it's beautiful:
The film's website is less coy:
The oldest and largest living organisms recorded on Earth are both fungi. And their use by a new, maverick breed of scientists and thinkers has proven vital in the cleansing of sites despoiled by toxins and as a “clean” pesticide among many other environmentally-friendly applications.
Inspired by a chance conversation with fellow filmmaker and mushroom buff Jim Jarmusch, Rob Mann set off to the annual Telluride Mushroom Festival in Colorado. It was there he encountered the unique sub-sub-subculture surrounding fungi that includes an unlikely assortment of nerds, nuts, hipsters, tripsters, artists, chefs, musicians, foodies, foragers, and seekers all paying homage to the mighty mushroom.
(Thanks, The Fader.)
6/19/2009 4:55:40 PM
Shouldn’t residents have a say in the city planning process? Julie Ramey at Next American City talked to Mark Gorton, who has been busy developing programs such as The Open Planning Project in an effort to bring about transit reform and make urban planning a more interactive process. Gorton says, “to a large extent my motivation is trying to restore the quality of the streets to a place where they’re oriented to people.” This means reversing the typical planning process—which revolves around planning for cars foremost, not people. Gorton adds:
The design of the street is really very crude and simple. When you start talking about what you’d like in front of your house—it’s not that pros couldn’t do a good job there, it’s just very hard to justify the time to send them around to talk to people and spend hundreds of hours on it. But people who live on that street are not daunted by the idea of having 10 to 20 meetings about what’s in their backyard. In that sense you can really leverage a lot of the local strength of the community. Right now [change] requires people who are very committed grassroots activists. I would like it if you didn’t have to be quite as determined.
Source: Next American City (article not available online)
6/18/2009 3:09:26 PM
The technology firm AgriHouse has figured out a way to let plants send text messages when they need more water, IEEE Spectrum reports. The tiny sensors clip onto plant leaves and calculate the plants moisture. Then, when the plant gets too dry, the sensors a text the farmers. I envision it probably saying something like this:
OMG, I needs drink, pls.
Considering the roughly 129 billion liters of water consumed every day by commercial agriculture in the United States, AgriHouse believes the sensors could make a dramatic difference in agricultural water consumption.
6/17/2009 2:09:36 PM
On any given night, thousands of people gather together in the total darkness of Alonquin Provincial Park, silently waiting to hear a wolf cry.
"This is probably the largest naturalist-led interpretation program in North America, if not the world," says Rick Stronks, the park’s chief naturalist in On Nature in their field guide to decoding the elusive call of the wolf.
The mysterious howl may mean “I’m a wolf, and I’m over here,” or “Go away—you’re not welcome here!” You’ll have a better idea of what to do after browsing this beautiful, photo-heavy piece by Ray Ford, complete with hair-raising wolf recordings. He writes:
The roots of the public wolf howl reach back to the late 1950s, when biologist Douglas Pimlot was trying to locate wolves concealed in the park’s dense bush. Pimlott played recorded howls on truck-mounted speakers and listened for the response. The broadcasts received an almost instant—and unnerving—reply. The air filled with howls.
Source: ON Nature
6/16/2009 6:07:50 PM
Perhaps you’ve seen urban anglers in your city—you know, the folks dropping a fishing line into waters along rip-rapped canals, seedy waterfronts, and murky riverways. Many of these anglers are recent immigrants, and many of them are fishing not so much for sport as for dinner. The Northern California environmental magazine Terrain reports on the difficulty that environmental officials have had in warning these communities that their catch may be seriously harming their health. Warning signs can be misinterpreted, and even when they’re clear, cultural traditions often trump their message.
Any urban bay, lake, or river is a virtual “cocktail of mean and nasties,” says marine scientist Timothy Fitzgerald of the Environmental Defense Fund, and many are polluted with toxins including mercury, PCBs, and pesticides. And yet,
Big American cities are also home to ethnic populations who love seafood and are accustomed to catching what they eat, rather than buying it retail. Many subsistence fisherfolk living in Northern California see no reason to break cultural tradition, especially during an economic downturn when passing up free meals feels like madness.
The story is part of an excellent cover package called “Sea Change” that includes articles on seaweed harvesters, rising sea levels, a program for tagging and tracking sea predators, and the general state of the oceans. As you might guess, it’s not always cheery reading, but it’s important for anyone concerned about the fate of the world’s waters and their intricate web of life.
, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/16/2009 10:01:13 AM
Check out Treehugger’s amazing slideshow of innovative water-collecting mechanisms, including a personal fog collector, an aqueduct, the brilliant Hippo Roller in action, a crazy-looking dish drainer that positions drying dishes atop your flowerpot (as they dry, they drip water onto your plant), and lots of other interesting methods. Of particular interest: a helpful diagram of the Aqua H20, a surprisingly cute urine-recycling device that engineers potable pee.
Image courtesy of Erdem Selek.
6/15/2009 5:48:58 PM
More than a few daydreaming co-op shoppers have entertained the notion: When we get fed up with the rat race, we’ll move to a sweet patch of land in the country and start up a small organic farm. After all, people are paying good money for organics, and the market share for this segment is growing every year—what a great cottage industry for a newly minted back-to-the-lander.
Hold on just a minute there. Before anyone gets too far into their modern agrarian fantasy, they should seek out the May-June issue of In Good Tilth magazine (not available online) and read all about the nitty-gritty details of organic farming. In a series of articles grouped under the cover headline “Fresh Young Farmers,” the magazine profiles people who’ve actually put their hoes to the humus and arrives at an inescapable conclusion: It’s really, really hard work—but it’s also very rewarding for those who’ve got the right stuff.
In the leadoff article, “Want to Farm?” Katie Kulla, who runs a community-supported agriculture (CSA) farm in Oregon with her husband Casey, writes that “going from the early dream to today’s farming reality has required more work, money, and time than we ever anticipated.” In the spirit of helping others follow their path with fewer obstacles, she offers advice that she wishes she and Casey had gotten before they started: “Pay off debt and start saving money,” “Get in the best physical shape of your life,” “Learn about the reality of farming,” “Know yourself (and your partner),” “Set goals and persevere,” and “Stay open.” Having doled out these hard truths, Kulla offers encouragement by noting that “our life is richer and fuller than I thought possible.” (Read more about that life on their farm blog.)
In “Cross-Roads Generation,” Erin Volheim writes about an influx of young farmers in the Applegate Valley area of southwest Oregon who “wanted something different for the future, beyond the McJob,” and started farms in the 1990s. These Generation Xers had to learn a lot on their own, but they persevered and now are positioned to provide help and advice for the next crew: Generation Y, or the Millennials. As one of them, “Mookie” Moss, says, “The longer you farm, the more you learn from this dialogue with the land.”
In “No Stone Unturned,” newbie farmer Zoe Bradbury writes that “anyone who has the passion for farming should have a fair shot at it.” She guides prospective farmers through some of the resources available to them, noting that she didn’t always take full advantage of them. Still, her story is instructive: “Considering that I was relatively well prepared to take the leap into independent farming, it was still a tough go,” she writes.
So go ahead and dream—but make sure you do your homework before you buy the farm.
Sources: In Good Tilth, Oakhill Organics
Image by jessicareeder, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/15/2009 11:33:48 AM
In a laboratory in Yolo County, California, scientists are infusing grapes with jellyfish genes. This process, called a “transgenic event”, helps the fruit resist disease as it journeys to your produce stand or into your box of wine. Frederick Kaufman visited the UC Davis Plant Transformation Facility for Vice and learned, among other things, a few ways to put the “gene” into genetically modified food:
1) Use a DNA gun, also known as a Model PDS-1000 Helium Biolistic Particle Delivery System, in which one bombards microscopic genetic bits into a plant using tiny bullets made of real gold (I’m not making this up).
2) Create a genetic tumor made from the desired DNA inside the target plant. Called the “agrobacterium” method, this process involves cutting the desired host plant and soaking it in a bacterial soup, from which the DNA will grow into a “controlled infection” that will become a permanent part of the plant.
Sound delicious? Kaufman writes that these scientists hope that “biopharming will help feed the world by creating next-generation drought-resistant crops, flood-resistant crops, insect-resistant crops, herbicide-resistant crops, and crops that can be grown under harsher conditions than traditional varieties can stand...”
Still, “biotechnology has many foes, all of them happy to assert that next-generation groceries pose a threat to public health as grave as tobacco, asbestos, and DDT.”
6/15/2009 11:05:32 AM
Climate advocates should quit talking about “global warming” or even “climate change.” The terms are too loaded, too stale, and lack the punch needed to convince skeptics to start respecting the environment. According to the non-profit PR company ecoAmerica, and reported on Grist, eco-evangelists should start using the term “deteriorating atmosphere” instead.
Environmentalists should focus on values, rather than specifics or facts, to get the point across, according to the ecoAmerica study. They should also ditch the term “cap and trade” in favor of “clean energy dividend” or “clean energy cash back.”
The organization has attracted plenty of criticism, as Grist points out. Their approach to PR and the environment was characterized in the New York Times as “cynical and, worse, ineffective.” Criticism aside, according to Grist: “For anyone who communicates about climate and energy, it’s worth reading the whole report.”
Source: Grist, ecoAmerica
6/11/2009 3:55:38 PM
You’ll never look at bacon the same way again. The folks at Meatpaper have hipped us to the completely disgusting nature of a botfly infection. Apparently in Central and South America the parasites’ eggs are transferred during mosquito bites—causing maggots to grow underneath the unlucky recipient’s skin. There are many ways to treat the infestation, but this one is the most unappetizing:
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that if they covered the “larval aperture” (which is to say, the oozing pore atop the wriggling lump containing Dermatobia hominis) with bacon fat, the larva would rise to the surface within three hours, at which point it could be removed with a pair of tweezers. ... If you’re not squeamish—if you were, would you have read this far?—you can even cook the bacon afterward. If you’re hungry that is.
It doesn’t look like these folks used the bacon trick, but here’s a little live-action botfly removal for those of you who can stomach it—don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One last thought: In a death match between the botfly and the queedle-queedling butcher bird, who do you think would win? I put my money on the bird, but not before he is implanted…
Image by stonebird, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/11/2009 11:22:10 AM
The biodiesel fueled tours of mainstream bands like Radiohead and Pearl Jam have been making headlines. A piece on green touring in Alarm notes that "environmentally friendly touring isn't just for the rich and famous, and they aren't the pioneers of the movement either."
Underground musicians from Indiana-based metal band Iscariot to Fuck Yeah Fest organizer Sean Carlson toured in a vegetable oil converted "veggie van." Folk duo The Ditty Bops garnered some press for green touring last year with their cross-country bicycle tour. Minnesota-based Cloud Cult has long been a leader in gree friendly practices in both their touring and production.
Atlanta-based Rob Del Bueno, formerly of Man or Astroman?, started a biodiesel brewery in his home to supply veggie-powered touring acts passing through town and has fueled the likes of David Byrne, Radiohead, and Jonathan Richman through the nonprofit Refuel Biodiesel where he is program manager.
Del Bueno tells Alarm that green touring requires occasional reinvention. "What bands have to be aware of is that you have to have someone in the band who understands the process and sustainable practices. There's a lot of hands-on work and questions to ask."
Source: Alarm (article not available online)
6/11/2009 9:31:50 AM
Nobody wants to stare out their window at a neglected, decrepit, empty plot of land that might sit waiting for a developer's blueprints for months or even years. The mandate of Salt Lake City's Redevelopment Agency is to buy up property in blighted neighborhoods and sell the land to developers. But as one official explained to City Weekly, Sometimes, because we're trying to create large properties, we sit on property for such a long time, it causes more of the blight we are directed as an agency to turn around."
Enter the People's Portable Garden. "The partnership between the city and Wasatch Community Gardens has erected above-ground planters that can be moved to another location when it’s time to develop the property," reports City Weekly. "All available $25 plots were immediately snapped up."
It's a perfect solution for now, but long-view types have their concerns. Eventually, developers will come for the land. And despite the temporary status of the garden implied in its very name, "Other cities that have allowed community uses for vacant land have faced protests when it finally came time to develop."
Source: City Weekly
6/5/2009 5:30:32 PM
What’s the thirstiest industry in the United States? If you thought of agriculture, you’re spot on. But coming in second—guzzling 40 percent of U.S. freshwater withdrawals—is a surprisingly different undertaking: electricity.
Environmentally motivated researchers and policymakers are just beginning to grasp the importance of illuminating the complex relationship between water and energy, Sustainable Industries reports. The clock is ticking. By 2025, the United Nations forecasts half the world will meet with freshwater shortages. By 2050, upgrade that pinch to scarcity spanning three-quarters of the planet. And, oh, wouldn’t you know: All forms of energy production require water (and on the flip side, heating, treating, and distributing water requires energy too).
“Increased implementation of renewable power sources is key to securing future water supplies, but when it comes to water use, not all renewables are created equal,” writes Sara Stroud, SI’s Bay Area correspondent.
Wind and solar photovoltics are among the lesser offenders; they require only one gallon of water for each megawatt hour of electricity produced (excluding water used in manufacturing). (A megawatt is one million watts, and one megawatt hour could power 400-900 homes for that hour.) Compare that to corn-derived ethanol, which sucks anywhere from 5 to 2,000 liters of water for each liter of fuel. That higher number comes courtesy of agriculture undertaken in arid states, like California and Colorado.
“Federal incentives happened so quickly without evaluating consequences,” Dulce Fernandes of Network for New Energy Choices told SI. “If we are investing in alternatives, we have to get it right.”
Source: Sustainable Industries
6/5/2009 2:47:11 PM
When we last checked in with Toronto street artist Posterchild, it was flowers planted in unused newspaper boxes. Now the guerrilla gardener has moved on to unused sidewalk planters, marking what is there to illuminate what is not. In one planter, a plant label reads: WEEDS AND BANANA PEELS. Another reads: NADA.
The action, Posterchild writes at Blade Diary, is an attempt to "encourage/shame municipal authorities into doing some real gardening with their many derelict planter boxes. It is also meant to inspire Guerrilla Gardeners to take action of their own!"
Animal New York
Source: Blade Diary
Image by Posterchild
6/4/2009 1:46:12 PM
We’ve previously written about “The True Cost of Leather,” citing the Ecologist’s reporting about toxic tanneries in Bangladesh. It turns out there’s even more to the story if you follow the shoe industry’s supply chain to Brazil—and it might change the way you feel about the shoes you’re wearing right now.
Greenpeace this week announced the release of a report, “Slaughtering the Amazon,” that calls out several major shoe makers for using leather from cattle farms in the Amazon, which are gobbling up rainforest at an alarming rate and hence driving greenhouse gas emissions. Among the makers singled out in the report are Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and two brands that have a place in my own closet: Timberland and Clark’s. I specifically sought out the Timberland brand because of the company’s stated environmental consciousness.
Grist’s Tom Philpott notes that the report “is really about the perils of using state policy to prop up global, corporate-dominated trade” and notes three clear themes:
The expansion of cattle production in Brazil drives Amazon deforestation—and deforestation in turn drives climate change.
The Brazilian government and the World Bank actively support the expansion of the nation’s cattle sector.
The real beneficiaries of such policies are not Brazilians. Indeed, labor conditions on Amazonian cattle farms are harrowing—and often tantamount to slavery, Greenpeace shows. Rather, it’s the companies that buy the products cheap and sell them dear.
Greenpeace allows that some of the companies named may not in fact know that they are using leather from unsustainable Amazon farms, due in part to a convoluted supply chain that effectively “launders” leather supplies from criminal or “dirty” sources. But that doesn’t let them off the hook, it argues, and suggests that people write to the companies and urge them to clean up their acts. Timberland and Clark’s, my letter is in the mail.
(Prologue: Timberland spokeswoman Kate King writes that “Timberland wants to engage with Greenpeace on the issue of tropical deforestation” in a response on Greenpeace’s blog.)
Sources: Greenpeace, Grist
, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/3/2009 3:18:29 PM
Wind turbines don’t just collect energy. They collect attention. Environmental Building News writes in its May issue about the ways that many big green structures nowadays are incorporating “building integrated” wind power into their designs—and not always to generate much power but rather to make a loud and public statement about their greenness. EBN’s headline calls it “The Folly of Building Integrated Wind,” and for this rather staid publication that’s a pretty damning indictment.
Editor Alex Wilson, who reported the piece, doesn’t arrive at his conclusion lightly, however. In typical EBN style he come at the issue from an objective, information-driven approach that parses the pros and cons of wind turbines on buildings before concluding that “it’s usually a bad idea.”
“A green building is not green because it has [solar panels] on the roof—or a ground-source heat pump or a vegetated roof or integrated wind,” writes Wilson in his editor’s column in the same issue. “It’s green because it has an energy-conserving envelope, because it relies on natural daylighting, because it effectively controls unwanted heat gain, because it reduces dependence on automobiles, because it’s compact and resource-efficient, because it’s healthy, and because it’s stingy on water use. The heavy lifting in green design has to come from these measures, not from the window dressing. … Construction budgets are tight these days. Let’s not squander these limited budgets on high-profile visual statements.”
Image of Bahrain World Trade Center by Ahmed Rabea, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/2/2009 3:36:37 PM
Carbusters—a Prague-based magazine defiant of all-things-gasoline-powered—spots a real doozy of an “activity” at the U.K. theme park Diggerland, which offers Bobcat-crazed children opportunities to ride in and drive construction machinery. (Which, admittedly, sounds pretty cool.) The new attraction, “Novice Driver,” puts young people (9 and up) behind the wheels of their parents’ cars, confined to a large off-road space. “If a parent’s car is too uncool, then a 4x4 is available for hire to teach kids how to be good citizens—one loves cars,” Carbusters observes. Imagine the blank stares of park execs were one to propose: “Walk or Bike to School: The Ride.”
Image by plasticrevolver, licensed under Creative Commons.
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