Posts by: adam

Net zero water

Water and climate change are inextricably linked. As the planet warms, weather patterns will shift, exacerbating drought in some areas and delivering more rainfall to others. Water itself requires energy to deliver, so excess use compounds our energy problems. And many renewable sources of power, such as solar, require massive amounts of water as an input, creating further pressure on… read more →

The Earth’s limits

Surely the scariest aspect of climate change is the concept of tipping points: sudden and potentially irreversible changes in the earth's natural processes that render the planet much less hospitable for humankind. The melting of the polar ice caps is perhaps the best-known tipping point, but planetary systems are under pressure from more than just the accumulation of greenhouse gases.… read more →

They paved paradise and put up a paradox

I just finished David Owen's Green Metropolis, the book-length treatment of his 2004 article claiming that New York is the greenest city in America. A full review will have to wait until next week, but if you want a taste of the sort of twisted environmental logic that drives Owen batty, check out this USA Today article on "eco-friendly parking… read more →

EPA prepares to regulate greenhouse gases

Last week, the EPA made a minor rule change with potentially large repercussions. Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to regulate polluters who emit more than 250 tons of pollutants per year. For greenhouse gases, the EPA just raised that floor to 25,000 tons. This is a good thing. in 2007, the Supreme Court effectively ruled that… read more →

Compact fluorescents: a debacle?

Philips may claim the "L Prize," a $10 million award from the Department of Energy for any light that can reproduce the color and intensity of a 60-watt bulb using only 1/6 the power. Further, the winning entry must last at least 25 times as long as a standard incandescent. The L Prize was established, in part, to prevent a… read more →

Retrofitting suburbia for the elderly

I do understand the appeal of the suburbs -- the privacy, the open space -- but one thing has long seemed pretty clear: suburbs are a difficult place to grow old. I've certainly seen this with my own aging relatives. Especially after one spouse dies, big houses become empty and difficult to maintain. Yards are an expensive and unused amenity.… read more →

Left-wingers conserve like this, right-wingers conserve like that…

In a Grist interview, Colin Beavan (aka No Impact Man) muses over the question of why some critics seem eager to cast his project as a poor alternative to political activism, rather than as a complementary step: > I didn’t realize it when I started the project, but part of the reason is this: collective action is at the root… read more →

Light rail notches a success in the West

Any proposed new mass transit system inevitably touches off a religious war between those who see light rail as the saving grace of car-choked, sprawling metropolitan areas, and those who view it as an expensive boondoggle. Unsurprisingly, my sympathies lie with mass transit advocates, but of course it's important that expensive public works projects actually serve the taxpayers that foot… read more →

Beyond the bulb

Old-school incandescent light bulbs are going the way of the dodo -- already illegal in Europe and soon enough in the United States as well. Mostly CFLs will replace them in the near term, but as the price of LEDs drop, many expect them to become the bulb of choice. What comes after that? Perhaps we'll ditch the bulbs altogether,… read more →

Carbon in the French style

France is getting ready to impose a $25-per-ton carbon tax on heating oil, gasoline, and natural gas. President Nicolas Sarkozy claims that the new fee is really a tax shift -- the money will be rebated to citizens or used to reduce other taxes -- although critics have called it a tax hike in disguise. France is in an interesting… read more →
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