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LEED on

Green building builds on successes

The Leadership in Energy and Environmetal Design standard is becoming quite its own recognized brand name. Bill Walsh, founder of the Healthy Building Network, fielded some questions on it in his InterActivist interview this past winter. The standard no longer just applies to buildings, though. Neighborhood development is being targeted for a LEED certification as well. Sharing many principles with New Urbanism and Smart Growth, the certification aims to reward developers for thinking green on the neighborhood level (or larger).

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Walking the walk

The World Bank gets called out

One look at the World Bank's homepage would certainly give the impression that the institution has a new focus -- climate change. "Working together to beat the heat," the banner declares. The bank has its work cut out for it if those words are going to be anything more than just that, words, says Daphne Wysham of NPR's Marketplace (see also her essay on the subject in Grist). She has a few suggestions of her own -- ending funding for coal and oil projects, increasing funding for renewables, and, ahem, actually measuring the impacts of its projects on global warming, …

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J.K. "Luddite" Rowling

Is the popular Potter author a ‘Luddite fool’?

While enviros were praising the Canadian publisher of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince for printing the book entirely on recycled paper, I didn't hear any talk about the greener eBook option. Maybe because there isn't one -- at least not legally. As Wired reports: Although Potter has become a multimedia cash cow, with 52 million books sold and products ranging from figurines to a $2.35 billion movie series, Rowling has so far decided against publishing the stories in e-book format, a medium growing by up to 40 percent annually, according to the New York-based Open eBook Forum, a trade …

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The Hills Are Alive …

As Europeans flock to urban centers, wildlife reclaim the countryside Wild boars on the outskirts of Berlin. Bears scaring schoolkids in Austria. New summer blockbuster about a wildlife invasion? Nope, it's Europe in the 21st century. Animals long considered scarce are reappearing in the countryside as folks across the continent abandon rural villages for cities, leaving behind "old mines and quarries" and "farmland that can no longer be profitably harvested," says one researcher. Wolves, which disappeared from Germany in the mid-1800s, now range over abandoned Soviet military reservations in the eastern Saxony region, perhaps having migrated from Poland's Carpathian Mountains. …

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Beak Truth to Power

Scientists question ivory-billed woodpecker evidence Conservationists and bird lovers have been enjoying their euphoric high from the rediscovery of the legendary, turns-out-not-extinct-after-all ivory-billed woodpecker. So leave it to a trio of meddling scientists to come along and harsh the buzz. Three biologists have written a paper questioning whether the evidence gathered to support the alleged re-emergence of the woodpecker -- including the now-famous grainy four-second video -- is in fact conclusive. "In my opinion," said Jerome Jackson, one of the paper's authors, "the data presented thus far do no more than suggest the possibility" that the woodpecker is back. The …

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Kids sue the strangest things

Denver U. law students work on green case against feds.

Did you know this? Thirteen years ago ... Congress passed a law mandating that, by 1999, 75 percent of the federal fleet of light-duty vehicles (excepting emergency and tactical vehicles) be capable of running on alternative fuels rather than on gasoline. State governments were given until 2001 to meet the same mandate. It's true.The law in question is Public Law 102-486, otherwise known as the Energy Policy Act of 1992. The bill begins with a bang: SEC. 101. BUILDING ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS. (a) IN GENERAL.-Title III of the Energy Conservation and Production Act (42 U.S.C. 6831 et seq.) is amended- …

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Hello earth, goodnight moon

Google expands its borders

Google Earth has been out for a while now, so I hesitate to post on it, since anyone who thinks it's a cool idea has probably already heard about it. But it hasn't been mentioned here yet, and this little treat today (make sure you zoom all the way in) seemed occasion enough. People have also been using the software to look at large-scale impacts humans have had and continue to have on the environment, a la the UN atlas, only more interactive.

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Wilson weighs in; corn withers

Kelpie Wilson, environmental editor of truthout.org, writes today on the possibility of corn as fuel. Fuhgeddaboutit, is the short answer. Citing the Patzek/Pimentel paper mentioned in the lively comments section of biodiversivist's "Bad idea" post, Wilson notes that the current energy bill (great resource on that here) is going to have some interesting results if it's passed -- it will both encourage ethanol production and demand that less fossil fuels be used. But increased ethanol production will actually lead to an increase in the amount of fossil fuels used: "We would use less fossil fuel and produce less greenhouse gas …

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Holmstead resigns

Jeff Holmstead, head of the Bush administration's EPA air department and all around promoter of the "Clear Skies" initiative, just announced his plans to leave the agency at the end of August. Next steps for him? Traveling the world with his family for a year. Best decision the guy ever made ...

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A walk on the slippery rocks

"Philosophy," you scoff. "What is it good for?" Not much, really. But I studied it for a long time and still enjoy seeing it pop up here and there. I was happy, for instance, to see my favorite philosopher make it to (a distant) No. 2 on the BBC poll of best philosophers evar, and also to see him given a 9 out of 10 on Sartwell's rather more idiosyncratic ranking. "Generally speaking," ol' Dave Hume said, "the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous." So true. Just to pretend this post is about the environment, here …

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