Society

Competition dreams up new ways to harass suburbanites

Dwell magazine and Inhabitat have teamed up to sponsor a "Reburbia" competition in which designers re-envision suburbia in ways that make environmentalists seem as scary and dingbatty as possible. The finalists include a lot of inspiring ideas, but my favorite by far is the proposal to have menacing 3,000-foot-tall robots stomp into suburban villages, rip the homes out of the… read more →

Is population a problem?

I feel as though I cannot enjoy anything anymore. Every action seems tainted by nagging questions about environmental impact or sustainability. For example, I really like hamburgers but the carbon footprint of cattle production is so high that my beef consumption has dwindled to near-zero. I love sushi, but continually hear reports of how the world's oceans are overfished. Travel… read more →

The four-day work week works

17,000 Utah state employees have been working four-day weeks since last August. Non-critical government and agency staff have worked ten-hour days Monday-Thursday and then taken three-day weekends. Some of the first findings from the experiment are in: - Nine months in, the state had saved $1.8 million on energy and cleaning bills (the savings are likely to be even higher… read more →

Potty time

As our third child approaches his third birthday, my wife and I find ourselves contemplating how best to get him out of diapers. We've been through this drill with our two older children, once in the US and once in France, with one big difference: the social norms for "potty training" in the US suggests that it happen by about… read more →

Want to reduce your footprint? Take a vacation

I've just returned from a long-awaited vacation, a return to two of the many places that I have called home over the past several years. The planes, trains, and automobiles along the way, in addition to the widely varying accommodations and landscapes I encountered, brought me back to a simple question: how does where you spend your time affect your… read more →

Climate change skeptics: put your money where your mouth is

We tend to post sites and articles we've read and found interesting on our twitter feed (it also has all of our blog posts if you can't wait for the newsletter). But every now and again one crops up this is worthy of a full link from the blog. Fed up with comments such as "it's so cold this spring… read more →

Can Twitter help us to save energy at home?

There's a house that tweets all of it's energy usage. And that's really just the beginning of the information it dumps onto Twitter every day. Even the mousetraps are wired into the matrix... Residential energy use accounts for a little over 20% of US energy consumption and therefore represents a great opportunity for savings and efficiency. It's no wonder then… read more →

Does America still have the Right Stuff?

Forty years ago today astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out of their Apollo spacecraft onto the moon and into what Aldrin described as "magnificent desolation". On May 25 1961, when President Kennedy challenged America to put a man on the moon, the rocketry and computerization that would be required had not yet been invented, the funds to support… read more →

Wal-Mart launches Sustainability Index

By dint of its sheer size, pretty much everything Wal-Mart does is important. So the long-anticipated launch of the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index -- a company-led project to evaluate all of the suppliers whose products appear on Wal-Mart's shelves -- has met with a huge amount of scrutiny. The first version of the index is a simple 15-question scorecard (available here)… read more →

Urban waterways: Seoul peels back the pavement and reveals a river

About half the world's population presently lives in cities, and the proportion will increase to two thirds by mid-century. This trend is good for the natural environment, but also highlights the need to maintain the human environment within rapidly expanding urban areas. The New York Times recently highlighted a seemingly unlikely success: the city of Seoul recovered three miles of… read more →
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