Short Takes: News From All Over

In the Cards: Brits Consider Radical Plan to Measure Personal Emissions
By Mike Wendling, Grist
Utility companies have been trading air pollution credits — essentially the right to pollute — for years. Soon, individual British citizens may be able to do the same. A proposal by British climate researchers would create a system of ‘Domestic Tradable Quotas’ for measuring and exchanging personal carbon emission credits. Under the plan, every Brit would be issued a sort of debit card charged with an equal number of personal carbon credits at the beginning of the year. If you pollute more than your share, you could then buy more credits from someone more Earth-friendly. Sound crazy? One Labour parliamentarian already has introduced legislation pushing the idea. And last month the UK’s Sustainable Development Commission told Prime Minister Tony Blair that the government should ‘formally consider’ the proposal within two years. — Leif Utne

Pee-powered Battery Smaller Than a Credit Card
By Shaoni Bhattacharya,
Tired of holding it in? Well, now you can let ‘er rip for the sake of sustainability. Physicists in Singapore have developed a battery that harnesses the chemical power of urine. Small enough to fit in a wallet, the battery has the potential to power medical test kits for diseases such as diabetes, and maybe even charge a cell phone in an emergency. — Archie Ingersoll

Vanishing Point
By Jamais Cascio,
Mauricio Arango has teamed up with the UK’s Lo-Fi art group on Vanishing Point, an online project that illustrates the cartography of our world as seen through the G7 countries’ primary news sources. The interactive map provides viewers with a visual representation of each country’s media visibility, or invisibility, over the past 50 days along with country-specific information and a graph that tallies each country’s frequency in the news. — Rose Miller

Urban Oases
By Jeff Chapman
A public fountain addict, Canadian Jeff Chapman revels in frolicking under waterspouts and romping in coin-filled pools. Check out his photo gallery with shots of him getting soaked throughout North America and Europe. (Thanks, spacingwire) — Archie Ingersoll

Mammal: Star-Nosed Mole
By Amanda Gersh, The Believer
The star-nosed mole is a fabulous burrower with a 22-pronged schnoz six times more sensitive to touch than the human hand. Scientists compare the mole’s use of its fleshy, pointy extremity to the ‘visual tracking of an animal eyeball.’ This would explain why the largely blind animal has a brain cortex seemingly conducive to vision. These tactile and visual capabilities defy not only the concept of mole, but the concept of nose as well, making the species an apt subject for this literary critique. — Ty Otis

Good Skating — Great Lobbying
By Justin Berton, East Bay Express
In the dingy, dark space beneath a freeway overpass in Oakland, California, DIY skateboarders built a bitchin’ renegade skate park. The half-pipe haven gave area kids a place to skate and, according to skaters and local business owners, helped reduce crime in the neighborhood. So when highway officials announced that the unauthorized park would be demolished, skaters quickly organized a breakneck PR campaign that gained attention from local media outlets and support from California pols. Final verdict: the park stays. — Archie Ingersoll

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