Posts by: tim

Affordable LED lightbulbs on the way

The news out of Lightfair International (the lighting industry tradeshow) is that Lighting Science will soon introduce a 60-watt equivalent LED bulb in the "affordable" $30-40 range. I used to live in a rental house with two five-bulb chandeliers - hey, don't blame me, it was a 1910 Victorian, and I certainly didn't design the lighting situation. The chandeliers came… read more →

Are paper towels or sponges more efficient?

Skepticism about claims of greater efficiency or lower energy use are healthy, but Catherine Mohr (as she acknowledges) may be trying a bit too hard to make the right choices when it comes to building her home: OCD jokes aside, it's a really important exercise to examine the assumptions we often make about how sustainable or environmentally friendly a given… read more →

Obama to expand offshore oil drilling

A few days ago President Obama announced plans to open up large areas of the Eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico to exploration for oil and natural gas production. My initial reaction was strongly negative. Why elect a Democratic president if he's going to tow the Republican line? Upon further reflection - and a significant cool down period -… read more →

People use fewer bags when charged for them

Since we're all about plastic bags over here lately, it may interest you to know that the bag tax in Washington D.C. reduced the total number of bags used last month to 3.3 million, down from 22.5 million in the previous month without a tax. This is great news! Not only are far fewer bags being used and thrown away… read more →

A plastic bag seeks its destiny

If you've got 18 minutes to spare, check out Ramin Bahrani's moving biography of a plastic bag: "Plastic Bag" is part of the Future States project, which, in 11 episodes, envisions the future by asking what will become of America in 5, 25, even 50 years. The tragically existential tale is perfectly voiced by Werner Herzog (of *Woyzeck*, *Fitzcarraldo*, and… read more →

Wal-Mart reaches beyond low-hanging fruit

I'm a bit late to this story, but a few weeks ago Wal-Mart pledged to cut 20 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from their supply chain by 2015. Catalyzing steps like this make it a lot harder for me, as a full-fledged environmentalist, to hate on Wal-Mart, though there are others who are doing so. The greenhouse gases embodied… read more →

Environmental NGOs in bed with industry

There's a lesson to be learned from Johann Hari's screed in The Nation about corporate sponsorship of environmental NGOs: perception is important. In a fairly long article, Hari argues that a wide swath of environmental organizations are undermining their missions and their members by accepting corporate sponsorship. The targets are rather scattershot, but along the way Hari manages to accuse… read more →

New transit system powered by magnets underground

An amusement park in South Korea recently unveiled a new transit system that powers itself via electricity transferred from subterranean magnetic strips. This is very cool. Electric buses are not particularly new, but there's something novel and fun about a transit system that recharges itself off magnetic strips hidden underground. Aside from reducing the ungainly system of overhead electric lines… read more →

Warmest January, ever

Europe is freezing and the Eastern U.S. just experienced a snow-pocolypse, so surely the whole global warming thing must be wrong, right? Sorry, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), but global warming is still happening, even though it snowed in January (of all things). According to the latest satellite data analyzed by climate scientist and IPCC member Neville Nicholls, this last January… read more →

Forests help cool the planet

Climate change can be counterintuitive. For example, one way to cool the planet would be to clear cut the entire Northern hemisphere. Trees are dark, and absorb heat much more strongly than snow, which reflects light very well. By replacing large swaths of the planet’s dark surfaces (the boreal forest) with light ones (snow and rock), we could pretty significantly… read more →
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