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Dams

I missed this TIME story on the growing dam-removal movement a few days ago -- it's worth a read.

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A dKos wind farm?

Famed progressive blog raises money to buy turbines.

Dang, I don't know how I missed this: The Kossacks over at famed progressive weblog DailyKos are trying to raise money to build a wind farm. A dKos-branded wind farm, no less! Another Kossack suggests that the money would be better spent establishing "a foundation dedicated to funding independent and innovative energy technologies that help people, not corporations." The comment threads on both posts are well worth reading. So what do you think? If you had a huge group of investors, where would you put the money? (Via Mobjectivist)

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Sunny share

Car-sharing starts to take off.

Here's a bit of interesting news on car sharing companies, which, according to The New York Times, are catching on a bit in Europe. The most salient bit: Studies suggest that one shared car replaces 4 to 10 private cars, as people sell their old vehicles...The result is a 30 to 45 percent reduction in vehicle miles traveled for each new customer. Now, 30 to 45 percent is a pretty sizeable decline in driving. But this shouldn't come as too much of a surprise; as any economist would predict, converting a fixed cost (e.g., the cost of buying the car) …

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Yup

Sam Rosenfeld is right about this.

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Dubai

A grim vision of the future mega-city.

Mere moments ago I was whinging about Seattle being unable to build the monorail, paralyzed by an excess of open, transparent democratic process. Then I read this -- "Camel trainers claim that the children's shrieks of terror spur the animals to a faster effort." -- and I remembered that there are worse problems to have than too much democracy. That problem certainly does not plague Dubai, the subject of a mind-bendingly fascinating essay from Mike Davis (author of City of Quartz, among other books), hosted on Tom's Dispatch. The Persian Gulf city-state is rapidly being fashioned into a kind of …

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Free parking -- nun such thing

Free parking is bad, bad, bad.

So what, exactly, do nuns drive?  Don't search for the punchline; it's an important question raised by Governing Magazine's Alan Ehrenhalt in his recent, useful recap of Donald Shoup's The High Cost of Free Parking: How many parking spaces should a convent be legally required to provide? If you immediately answered "zero," then you probably have some common sense. Parking at a convent shouldn't be a zoning question. Shoup condemns zoning laws that require businesses to provide free parking without much regard to type of business and neighborhood. Ehrenhalt notes in his article the appropriately large fuss Shoup makes about …

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Evil, not hypocrisy

Pick on the bad guys, not the kinda bad guys who claim to be good.

I've said before that the unremitting negativity of the environmental movement toward corporations bugs me. I'm fully aware of the evils committed by corporations, but the tactic seems to be to find those that are talking about green issues and accuse them of hypocrisy, thus creating a massive disincentive. The lesson for corporations is: keep quiet. But don't we want them talking about green issues? The example I always use is Ford -- Bill Ford is, by all accounts, a committed environmentalist and has been pushing against the massive inertia of the Ford bureaucracy to do some good things (yes, …

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Gimme corruption

Is local government corruption required to get mass transit moving?

Robert Farley speculates that more corruption in local government might be just the trick in getting mass transit projects built, using as his example the endlessly stalled Seattle monorail. Matt Yglesias links approvingly and says: The problem with this, of course, is that insofar as corruption is driving your infrastructure investment, you wind up paying a certain "corruption premium" on your investments -- i.e., they're suboptimally efficient. Nevertheless, it turns out to be the case that America significantly underinvests in public infrastructure from a purely economic point of view under the status quo. Thus, the corruption premium might very well …

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Get a free (Terra)Pass for $79.95

For you all SUV drivers who fear the "eco-terrorists" mentioned here, and must continue to drive said SUVs, there is some potentially good news: TerraPass decals. In Washington, DC, eco-vandals smear SUV door handles with dog crap. In Santa Cruz, California, protestors tag more than 60 gas-guzzlers with anti-oil graffiti. In Los Angeles, a Caltech grad student is sentenced to eight years in prison for trashing more than 120 SUVs around the city. It's almost enough to make you feel bad for SUV drivers. After all, some of them are green, too - just not as hardcore about it. Now …

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Cost-Benefit analyses

Necessary evil, or just evil?

The other day Clark expressed some ambivalence about cost-benefit analyses in the realm of environmental policy. It so happens Dan Phaneuf at the Environmental Economics blog has some thoughts on that very matter. For my part, I think Phaneuf -- whose comments are generally quite sensible -- underplays the risks of CBA. He acknowledges: The benefits of environmental regulations can include, for example, reduced human and wildlife mortality, improved water quality, species preservation, and better recreation opportunities. The costs are usually reflected in higher prices for consumer goods and/or higher taxes. The latter are market effects readily measured in dollars, …

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