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Will the Three Laws of Robotics be enough?

It's bad enough that we consume too much. Now we've gone ahead and created other beings who have the potential to do the same: robots. That's right, I give you the self-replicating robot. Whether you like it or not, robots are going to be produced. So, you can either fight it or help ensure that they will have as little impact on the environment as possible. I'll go with the latter. Robots are slowly being integrated into our lives. They regularly appear in movies, on television and in books. They clean our floors, entertain our children, diffuse bombs and explore …

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Where Have All the Wildflowers Gone?

Decline of wildflowers in forests worries scientists Sprawling housing developments, hungry deer, invasive plants, and other threats have sent many forest wildflower species in the U.S. into decline. Scientists say there are limited studies and surveys available on the delicate flowering plants, known as spring ephemerals, because they are only visible above ground for a few weeks of the year and/or may go several years without flowering at all. But the few records they do have indicate reason for concern. Historical data from Wisconsin reveal an 18 percent decline in the richness of native species, including spring ephemerals and other …

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A study says the world’s wind alone could meet its energy needs; the Senate disagrees.

A new study by some smart scientists at Stanford University suggests that global wind resources are good enough to produce 72 terawatts of electricity with current turbine technology. That's about 40 times the amount of electricity the world used in the year 2000! In other hot air news, Sen. Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy committee, described Sen. Wyden's (D-OR) proposal of funding parity for coal and renewables as a "joke" during the energy bill markup today. Question to Stanford scientists: How much electricity could the collective sighs of sustainable energy supporters produce?  

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A mug’s game

Ah, this is too good. A mug bearing a map of the world that, when filled with hot liquid, shows the effects of global warming. Why isn't there more stuff like this? (Via Jeremy at WC)

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New ads give recycling a smackdown

OK, I was watching bad TV last night, and this ad came on for Glad ForceFlex trash bags. Apparently these are very exciting trash bags because they stretch, which makes them better for bulky items. Such as, according to this chipper ad: cardboard boxes and two-liter soda bottles. Glad! Have you heard of a little thing called recycling? I know your success depends on people not recycling. But do you have to be such wankers about it? (In fairness, I should note that the company donated its stretchy bags for the Great American Cleanup. Which is noble and all. But …

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Bush wants to ride his bicycle bicycle bicycle

Via Chris, a pointed column from Marc Fisher in the Post today makes the point that Bush's blithe bicycle rides through wilderness refuges are ironic in light of the fact that he's consistently cut funding for them. Do you think he sees the disconnect? As with so many questions regarding this administration's environmental policies, it's hard to decide which answer would be worse.

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Is there tension between them?

I am an atheist. I wouldn't call myself a "militant" atheist, as I don't consider being an atheist a big part of my life or my self-image. I don't believe there are furry three-eyed ghosts floating behind me at all times, but I don't get militant about that either. Why bother? However, in these times we live in, there's a strange pressure to show extreme deference to religious proclamations, however expressed, no matter how absurd the content. Witness, for instance, the global media lovefest when the pope died, during which I read a quote from a bishop who said, "papal …

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Buying a Prius has benefits, but don’t forget the costs.

A reader of the Cascadia Scorecard Weblog had this question: What do we think about this piece of advice from the May-June Sierra Club magazine's "Hey Mr. Green" column? Hey Mr. Green, What's best for the environment, continuing to drive my perfectly fine 1990 Honda Accord, or trading it in for a new gas-sipping Prius? -- Heath in Los Angeles Well, Mr. Green hates to say this because you might be bonded to your trusty old Accord, but she burns twice the petrol and wheezes out twice the global-warming gas of a Prius or similar hybrid model. Being a conscientious …

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Kunstler

There's recently been a flurry of ecoblogospheric attention paid to James Howard Kunstler and his new book The Long Emergency. (We'll have an interview with Kunstler on Grist in the next week or so.) Kunstler gained an audience by writing several books about the evils of suburban sprawl, and then hooked up with "the kids" via a long excerpt from TLE published in Rolling Stone. What prompted the outpouring is this interview in Salon, which contains such juicy tidbits as this: One thing that I'm predicting is that there will be a vigorous and futile defense of suburbia and all …

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It’s cool.

I went to the grand opening of the Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library this afternoon (the old Ballard branch, a boxy, ugly blight, was replaced by a brand new one two blocks from my townhouse, oh happy day). It was a madhouse, with screaming, apple-juice-stained kids everywhere (I brought three myself), long lines at the desk, Bavarian folk music coming from one room and a chamber trio playing in another ... we had to flee fairly quickly. However! Although that other branch gets all the attention, the Ballard building is just awesome. A full list of its environmental …

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