HERE’S WHAT A YEAR OF GREEN ADVICE BOILS DOWN TO...

Dec 31, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Grist / Shutterstock Auld Lang Sign-off By Ask Umbra Dearest Readers, The champagne is chilling. The ball is hoisted and in position for a midnight drop. The shiny hats and noisemakers are lined up, ready to party. But before we get too busy ringing in 2016, I always like to look back on the year that was. In my role as mistress of the Ask Umbra inbox, I get a unique peek into the concerns, fears, and everyday hassles that fill your lives, dear readers. And in looking back over your letters, I can begin to see some themes emerge. Here’s what consumed you most in 2015 — from major water woes in California to just where we should be peeing. 2015: When drought questions showed no sign of drying up If one...

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Googleplex designer’s sky offices above London would suck people up from their homes...

Dec 17, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] by Lidija Grozdanic   INHABITAT Clive Wilkinson, who design the original Googleplex, came up with a quirky design that puts a satirical spin on the idea of office spaces. His design envisions a layer of single-level workspaces that hover above cities and suck people up from their homes via pneumatic tubes. Entitled ‘The Endless Workspace,’ the project is a tongue-in-cheek proposal meant to “solve” London’s commuting problems. The architect designed The Endless Workspace for the latest issue of Flaunt Magazine. The magazine asked Wilkinson to create a design which would combine the cultures of California and UK, particularly the differences between how people commute in Silicon Valley and London. The resulting concept covers London streets with a layer of open-plan co-working spaces. Related: Google’s new California headquarters is a greenhouse utopia by BIG and...

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FUTURISTIC TRANSPORT

Dec 14, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Gregory Han  METROPOLIS MAGAZINE Bringing eight modes of transportation together was not the only complex problem at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). The engineering firm BuroHappold worked with HOK, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Clark Construction not only to build the largest span of ETFE roof cladding in North America, but to also reduce energy and water use by 30 percent, and achieve an anticipated LEED Platinum rating. Courtesy Rick Horn The future of transportation in Southern California resides 28 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, in the form of a voluminous LED-illuminated carapace that could easily be mistaken for an outpost of the Magic Kingdom situated only a few blocks away. But while Disneyland’s promise of “where dreams come true” is popularly appreciated, the newly opened $185.2 million Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal...

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HERE’S HOW THE AIRLINE INDUSTRY COULD CUT ITS EMISSIONS IN HALF...

Nov 27, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Shutterstock By Nick Stockton   GRIST This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Fuel economy is hardwired into the airline industry’s DNA. After all, fuel costs money, and using less of the stuff is an easy way to beef up the bottom line. Well … maybe not easy, but certainly worth doing. Saving fuel, by reducing carbon emissions, can help save the planet. And those cuts could come at little to no cost to the companies themselves. At least, that’s what a bunch of researchers in the U.K. think. They estimate — in a new paper published today in Nature Climate Change — that airlines can cut emissions in half by the year 2050. Those savings would come in the form of things like new aircraft designs, fuel...

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TODAY’S U.S.-CHINA ANNOUNCEMENT IS THE MOST SIGNIFICANT MILESTONE TO DATE FOR BATTLING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE...

Sep 26, 2015 Posted by

[Translate]  ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE Today’s joint announcement by President Obama and President Xi represents the second time in two years the leaders have met to make significant climate commitments. Last year’s meeting focused on setting aggressive goals that reflect each country’s unique situation. This year’s meeting moved decisively to implementation commitments intended to deliver these results. The message is clear: the time for talking about climate is over. The two largest economies and emitters must lead in action. The commitments by the countries are sweeping and perhaps the greatest cause for hope yet in international attempts to address global warming—especially looking forward to COP21 in Paris this upcoming December. Among the outcomes are the creation of the world’s largest carbon market, market reforms within China that will help support accelerated renewables development, redoubled support...

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WHAT AMERICA CAN LEARN FROM EUROPE’S HIGH-SPEED TRAINS...

Sep 5, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Shutterstock By Ben Adler GRIST Riding the high-speed train between Berlin and Hamburg, Germany’s two largest cities, is a radically different experience from riding its American counterpart, Amtrak’s Acela, which connects major East Coast cities. Germany’s InterCity Express (ICE) ride is as smooth as a Mercedes on the Autobahn. The conductor comes around politely offering to bring you coffee. The bathroom doors open electronically with the push of a button for disability access. There’s no perennial stopping and starting of the train, no grumpy barking conductor, no herky-jerky rolling of the bathroom doors, none of Amtrak’s chronically late arrivals. And on German trains, the wifi actually works. At 45 euros each way, roughly $50, it isn’t cheap. But it’s cheaper than Amtrak. Berlin to Hamburg is 179 miles, which is about the same...

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CHINA UNVEILS PLAN TO BUILD AN 8,000 MILE SPEED UNDERWATER RAILWAY LINE TO AMERICA...

Aug 12, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Written By Alex Klokus  FUTURISM.COM 1 month ago China-high-speed-underwater-train-1 In Brief China plans to build an 8,000+ mile railroad (sounds plausible) connecting China, Russia, Canada, and the U.S. that includes a 125 mile undersea tunnel spanning the Bering Strait. The plan was announced in China’s state-run newspaper, the Beijing Times, and apparently Russia is already on-board with the plan. According to the report, which cites a single expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, Chinese officials are considering a route that would start in the country’s northeast, thread through eastern Siberia and cross the Bering Strait via a 125-mile long underwater tunnel into Alaska. Unsurprisingly, No other Chinese railway experts have come out in support of the proposed project. Whether the government has consulted Russia, the US or Canada is also unclear. Read...

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SAVING LIVES WITH SMART URBAN DESIGN...

Jul 27, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] THE DIRT by Liz Camuti Globally, 1.24 million people are killed in traffic accidents every year, with more than 90 percent of these deaths occurring in low and middle-income counties. Traffic-related incidents are the eighth-leading cause of death worldwide, and the number-one leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15-29. A response to the United Nations’ declaration to create a “Decade of Action” on improving traffic safety, Cities Safer by Design, a new report by the World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities, offers urban design best practices and real-world case studies both developed and developing world cities can use to put an end to traffic deaths and injuries. Cities Safer by Design presents five basic urban design elements that create safer travel environments: block size, connectivity, lane...

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COLORFUL NOISE-POLLUTION BARRIERS GENERATE SOLAR ENERGY IN THE NETHERLANDS...

Jul 14, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] TRANSPORTATION Colorful noise-pollution barriers that also generate solar energy being tested in the Netherlands by Cat DiStasio, INHABITAT Technology research is often about finding ways to combine two different functions into one tool or, as you might have heard it said before, kill two birds with one stone. In the Netherlands, a consortium of research facilities and energy companies is a little closer to doing just that. By combining solar energy generation with much-needed noise-reduction barriers along a busy Dutch highway, the team hopes to prove that they’ve developed an environmentally-friendly solution to two of modern life’s biggest challenges.   Michael Debije at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is the researcher who developed the original concept, which he expressed in a report published in the journal Nature in March 2015. The technology is known...

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THIS AIRLINE JUST INVESTED MILLIONS INTO TURNING GARBAGE INTO JET FUEL...

Jul 3, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] by Ari PhillipsCLIMATE PROGRESS CREDIT: Shutterstock This week, a California-based biofuel company announced a $30 million deal with United Airlines to develop jet fuel using oils derived from animal and vegetable fats — i.e. household trash. Fulcrum BioEnergy will use the investment to develop up to five projects to produce up to 180 million gallons of this fuel per year, with United signed up to buy at up to 90 million of those gallons each year at competitive rates. “The Fulcrum announcement is a big deal precisely because of the need for low carbon solutions for aviation,” Jeremy Martin, a senior scientist in the Union of Concerned Scientists’ clean vehicles program, told ThinkProgress. “Other companies have made fats and vegetable oils into aviation fuels, but what is important about the Fulcrum technology is...

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BABY, YOU CAN DRIVE MY CAR

Jun 18, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] METROPOLIS MAGAZINE Point of View Mason Riddle Nissan’s Autonomous Drive concept car The future of driving is changing, rapidly. So declared John Eddy in his persuasive keynote presentation at last month’s “Designing a Driverless World: The Future is Now” panel. The event, which was co-sponsored by Urban Land Institute Minnesota and the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM) in Saint Paul, and held at the latter, saw a lively discussion about driverless technology and how it might change the fabric of our cities. Eddy, a principal at Arup in San Francisco, led the proceedings—which also featured opening remarks from SMM president and director, Dr. Eric Jolly and Patrick Hamilton, respectively—with  a stirring talk, in which he diplomatically disabused his audience of any preconceived notions about what a driverless world might look like. For Eddy, there isn’t a shortage of motivating...

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COULD A CALIFORNIA LABOR RULING DRIVE UBER UNDER?...

Jun 18, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Edward Hopper | Amelia Bates   GRIST By Heather Smith GRIST The internet is in a tizzy at the moment at the news that the California Labor Commission has ruled that an Uber driver who worked for the company in San Francisco is an employee, not a contractor. It’s “Uber’s worst nightmare,” says the headline in Slate. Meanwhile, Uber maintains that the ruling is a non-binding resolution that applies to a single driver. But the California case is not the only one. In May of this year, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity decided that a former Uber driver was also an employee, and was therefore eligible for unemployment. The California case is very specific to Barbara Ann Berwick, the Uber driver in question. But the commission’s overall decision  reads as though its members...

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SOLAR-POWERED AIRPLANE IS ABOUT TO MAKE HISTORY...

Jun 14, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] The Huffington Post  |  By Landess Kearns Aviation history is in the making — no fossil fuels necessary. Solar Impulse 2, the revolutionary airplane powered exclusively by sunlight, is about to depart on the longest leg of its around-the-world journey. The 4,000-mile flight from Japan to Hawaii will kick off as soon as weather permits. Because the aircraft’s maximum speed is only 90 mph and it typically flies even slower to conserve energy, the non-stop journey is predicted to take four to five days. A Boeing 777, with a top speed of around 600 mph, can make the trip in about 8.5 hours. The Solar Impulse 2’s maiden flight. Solar Impulse 2 is mostly made of carbon fiber. It has 17,248 solar cells on the wings that recharge four lithium polymer batteries. It...

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EPA Moves to Regulate Airplane Emissions Under Clean Air Act, Citing Danger to Human Health...

Jun 11, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Commercial aircraft are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the transportation sector that aren’t currently regulated. By Bobby Magill / Climate Central  VIA ALTERNET Photo Credit: Tom Bilek/Shutterstock The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday said it has found that greenhouse gas emissions from commercial aircraft cause climate change and threaten public health and that it plans to take steps to regulate those emissions. When the EPA’s so-called endangerment finding is finalized in 2016, it will follow a similar determination made in 2009 that emissions from car and truck tailpipes also threaten public health because they cause climate change. The commercial aircraft the EPA is proposing to regulate — everything from smaller commuter jets to double-decker super jumbo jets — are the largest source of greenhouse gases in the transportation sector that aren’t currently...

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SEATTLE’S SMART PLAN TO REMAKE ITS STREETS...

Jun 5, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Daniel Penner Seattle: City of the Future By Greg Hanscom   GRIST On Tuesday, March 24, an overturned fish truck turned Seattle into a parking lot, giving residents of this traffic-clogged city yet another reminder of the pitfalls of a transportation system built almost entirely around automobiles. The truck was headed south on State Route 99 carrying a load of frozen cod when it tipped, blocking all southbound lanes of one of just two main north-south arteries through the city. (This is the same highway that will someday run underneath Seattle if the tunnel-boring machine Bertha can ever be repaired.) That was at 2:23 p.m., as people were beginning to leave jobs downtown and tailgaters were rolling in for a Sounders soccer game at the nearby CenturyLink Field — an event that was...

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AS A BRIDGE CRUMBLES, CONGRESS FUMBLES...

Jun 2, 2015 Posted by

[Translate]   Isaiah J. Poole  AMERICANS FOR A SAFE FUTURE Scott Klinger of the Center for Effective Government explains how fair corporate taxes would help close the nation’s infrastructure spending deficit.It’s too bad that Congress was out of session this past Friday. Members would have gotten a first-hand look at the consequences of their inaction on infrastructure spending. Authorities began barring tour buses and other heavy vehicles on Memorial Bridge, a key connection across the Potomac River to the Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and other historic spots, after discovering that the bridge had become so corroded that will require extensive repairs. The bridge is on U.S. Park Service property, and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Washington Post that the $250 million cost of the required repairs is more than the Park...

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Does America’s Transportation Future Really Need More and Bigger Roads?...

May 28, 2015 Posted by

[Translate]   Lynn Daniels  ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE Sr. Associate Rethinking the Highway Trust Fund. One of the bigger debates in Congress last summer centered on where to find more money to put into the Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the federal government’s mechanism to fund transportation infrastructure projects—usually new road construction or road expansion. The HTF is funded by the gasoline tax, which hasn’t been adjusted since the 1980s. In those 30 years, improved fuel economy and alternative powertrains like hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs), and extended-range EVs have eroded gas tax revenues. Gasoline consumption is just no longer a reliable proxy for a vehicle’s impact on highway infrastructure. With decreasing revenues, the HTF has been spending more than it collects and was on its way to insolvency. Yet finding more money for the HTF overlooks...

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EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT TACTICAL URBANISM...

May 21, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] THE DIRT  by Jared Green Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change, a new book by urban planners Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia is the first book to really organize all the small fixes that seem to have spontaneously sprung up in so many communities in a way that everyone can understand. These fixes — some temporary and others long-term — aim to address common problems in communities today, often in streets and public spaces: a lack of safe sidewalks or crosswalks; the absence of clear signage; the dearth of neighborhood parks and plazas, and, more broadly, the lack of community connection and solidarity. Shedding its perception as an illegal or “guerrilla” approach, tactical urbanism is becoming a method of choice for innovative local governments, developers, or non-profits as well. What one learns...

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AARP’S NEW LIVABILITY INDEX...

May 18, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] THE DIRT   by Jared Green Over the past few years, AARP has become a much more vocal advocate in Washington, D.C. for walkable, affordable communities for seniors, and, well, everyone, but they have recently put the full weight of their 38-million-member organization behind livability, with their new Livable Communities Index, which was announced at the American Planning Association conference in Seattle. Given how powerful AARP is on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures around the country, this is a boost for all of us focused on reducing the real social, economic, and health costs of car-dependent, sprawled-out communities. At all levels, AARP is pushing for policies that support aging in place, which is what their research tells them 80 percent of seniors want to do. AARP argues that a livable community has...

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What’s the cheapest new car to drive? Hint: It’s an EV...

May 11, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] By Bentham Paulos GRIST There is a common perception that electric cars are really expensive. It isn’t helped by media fawning over the high-end Tesla Model S, which has a base price of $71,000. But most EVs cost much less than that, and measured over a five-year span, the total cost of owning and operating the more affordable EVs can actually be lower than the cheapest gas-swilling econo-boxes. Edmunds.com, the “car buying platform” that tracks auto sales with obsessive detail, calculates the “True Cost to Own” or TCO for hundreds of models. “In many cases,” it writes, “TCO points buyers toward an unexpected conclusion: Sometimes the cars that are cheaper to buy are more expensive to own.” According to Edmunds data for my zip code, here’s how popular electric cars compare with a...

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We graded the feds on their environmental justice programs — here’s how they fared...

May 10, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Shutterstock By Brentin Mock   GRIST As the winds settled from Hurricane Sandy, Shaun Donovan, then-head of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), vowed that his agency would give the communities that were most impacted by the superstorm the highest priority for revovery efforts. Donovan’s federal task force on post-Sandy rebuilding did adopt some of the ideas forwarded by the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, whose members were among those most devastated by the storm. Yet we learned later that African Americans and Latinos were still stiffed on relief funds. This is material, classic environmental injustice, and it’s the kind of thing that community organizations don’t have the capacity to monitor. But the federal government has a task force in place that can ensure that environmental justice is considered in these kinds of settings. It’s called Federal...

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Oil trains have 3 more years to explode, thanks to weak Obama rule...

May 5, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Shutterstock By Luke Whelan   GRIST This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. Trains hauling crude oil have continued to explode across the United States and Canada this year as oil production booms in North Dakota and Alberta. Nearly two dozen oil trains have derailed in the past two years, many causing fiery explosions and oil spills. Lawmakers, environmentalists, and communities in the path of these trains have ramped up pressure on the Obama administration to toughen what they see as lax safety regulations at the heart of the problem. Finally, some new regulations. Friday morning, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stood next to Lisa Raitt, Canada’s transportation minister, to announce coordinated rules across both countries aimed at making the industry safer by catching...

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The U.S. Is Getting Serious About Oil Train Explosions. Here’s How It Plans To Stop Them....

May 5, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] by Ari Phillips  CLIMATE PROGRESS A cyclist rides by train tank cars with placards indicating petroleum crude oil standing idle on the tracks, in Philadelphia in April, 2015. CREDIT: AP/Matt Rourke Oil is a global commodity, traversing vast distances by pipeline, tanker, and recently in the United States by rail car. A resurgence in domestic crude oil production due to technological advances in drilling has led to a transportation bottleneck between landlocked oil fields and coastal refineries and ports, and that bottleneck has opened up the door for more oil shipment via rail. But increased shipment by rail has also led to an increase in accidents, and on Friday, the U.S. Department of Transportation released long-awaited safety standards for train cars carrying oil and other flammable materials following a series of dangerous derailments....

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Futuristic Transport

May 4, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Metropolis Magazine A striking silhouette against the Southern California landscape, the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center is an intriguing feat of collaborative engineering. Gregory Han Bringing eight modes of transportation together was not the only complex problem at the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC). The engineering firm BuroHappold worked with HOK, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and Clark Construction not only to build the largest span of ETFE roof cladding in North America, but to also reduce energy and water use by 30 percent, and achieve an anticipated LEED Platinum rating. Courtesy Rick Horn The future of transportation in Southern California resides 28 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, in the form of a voluminous LED-illuminated carapace that could easily be mistaken for an outpost of the Magic Kingdom situated only a few blocks away....

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What if roads could be certified as ‘green’ just like buildings?...

Apr 29, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] by Michelle Kennedy Hogan, INHABITAT With over four million miles of roads cris-crossing the nation, and as much as 32,000 miles of new roads being added annually, it would be wonderful if we could make these roads a little greener. Just as the building industry has undergone its own evolution in the last few decades, making buildings greener, more energy-efficient and eco-friendly overall, Greenroads is a rating system dedicated to certifying roads that are built “greener,” similar to LEED certification for buildings. But just what is a greener road? According to Greenroads.org, roads can be made more eco-friendly by utilizing existing knowledge, smarter design and available technology. Greenroads-certified roadways will take into account the local environment into account, reduce stormwater runoff and other pollutants by improving systems, design roadways for multi-modal transportation (to...

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L.A.’s New City Plan Will Make You Want To Move There...

Apr 11, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] by Ari Phillips CLIMATE PROGRESS Palm trees at the Magic Hour in Los Angeles, C.A. CREDIT: flickr/ Chris Goldberg Los Angeles is a city of a million intersections, and a new sustainability plan intends to cross some of the biggest ones in an effort to transform the city into a breezy renewable metropolis rather than an overheated desert island in the coming decades. On Wednesday, L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti released an ambitious plan that puts environmental, economic, and equality issues front and center in helping determine the trajectory of the city, which plans to add another half-million residents by 2035. The plan comes at a pivotal moment for the state and the city, as a four-year drought prepares to settle in for the summer months. Governor Jerry Brown just announced statewide water restrictions...

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10 cities drearier than Seattle...

Mar 25, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] Chris Blakeley By Katie Herzog   GRIST CityLab recently reported that Grist’s hometown Seattle was named America’s Dreariest City by meteorologist Brian Brettschneider. Brettschneider came up with this designation based on annual days of precipitation, annual days with cloud cover, and annual days Macklemore is in town. And if this dubious honor weren’t depressing enough, Brettschneider is forcing us to share the title with Buffalo, a city best known for chicken bones covered in orange sauce.But as those of us in Seattle know, dreariness isn’t all about cloud cover. Sure, the sky may be the hue of a soiled bed sheet, but there’s plenty of color elsewhere. For instance, I just saw a man with bunny ears and a leather mask walking down the street in broad daylight. How’s that for color! Plus the grass really...

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Are millennials really just future suburbanites?...

Mar 25, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] By Ben Adler GRIST Over at FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman argues that the supposed millennial affection for cities is a myth. Casselman points out that more millennials are moving to the suburbs than to cities: According to U.S. Census Bureau data released this week, 529,000 Americans ages 25 to 29 moved from cities out to the suburbs in 2014; only 426,000 moved in the other direction. Among younger millennials, those in their early 20s, the trend was even starker: 721,000 moved out of the city, compared with 554,000 who moved in. Somewhat more people in both age groups currently live in the suburbs than in the city. Indeed, for all the talk of the rebirth of American cities, the draw of the suburbs remains powerful. Across all ages, races, incomes and education groups, more...

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The First Solar-Powered Flight Around The World Just Took Off...

Mar 9, 2015 Posted by

[Translate]   by Ari Phillips  CLIMATE PROGRESS CREDIT: Courtesy of Solar Impulse© On Monday in Abu Dhabi, two Swiss pilots set off in a solar-powered airplane in an attempt to circumnavigate the world — a first-of-its-kind, 22,000-mile endeavor that is scheduled to come full circle in five months. The pilots, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, will take turns flying the Solar Impulse-2, which, with its one-person cockpit and streamlined 236-foot wingspan, resembles a futuristic version of the Wright Brothers’ original aircraft more than anything seen in the sky today. The flight, which will use zero fuel and relies entirely on 17,000 solar panels canvassing the plane’s carbon fiber wings, is meant to create awareness about replacing “old polluting technologies with clean and efficient technologies,” according to the pilots. Lithium-ion batteries, which make up about...

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IS ONLINE SHOPPING BAD FOR THE PLANET?...

Feb 25, 2015 Posted by

[Translate] David Friedlander   LIFE EDITED Behavior For those who, like this author, loathe shopping, Amazon Prime is a major life-editor. It allows us to get the majority of non-perishable items sent to our houses in a day or two (and yes, Amazon Fresh and Fresh Direct can do the perishable stuff). It saves massive amounts of time, hassle and often money. But even though I love the convenience, I often wonder how online shopping compares in terms of carbon footprint to conventional, brick-and-mortar shopping? The extra packaging, the idling, diesel-gulping delivery truck–it can seem like my need to get a two-pack of pacifiers is trumping my stewardship of the planet. But is it? A couple years ago, a paper written by MIT’s Center for Transportation & Logistics attempted to answer this question. Their study...

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