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Ashley Braun's Posts

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Browse the web like an eco-chic geek

The eco-revolution will not be televised. This time, it's on the web in the form of a sleek new web browser at Flock.com. If you want to keep tabs on the latest green scene while staying caught up on whatever your friends are doing, then the Flock Eco browser is all you need. Based on the Mozilla/Firefox setup, Flock allows you to be logged into all your social networks at once -- Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, etc. -- while at the same time collecting your fave green media and RSS feeds in one place. Because Grist is partnering with Flock …

Read more: Living

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Celebrate Earth Day by ditching annoying green clichés

I'm all about the three R's that have been the standby of every Earth Day since 1970: reduce, reuse, recycle. Got it. Even so, this Earth Day, I'm beseeching the world to do the unthinkable: stop recycling ... those annoying green clichés, that is. I think it's gee-golly-swell that environmental issues have started gaining such mainstream momentum recently, but if I read, see, or hear another overly trite use of "It is/is not easy being green!" or "An Inconvenient X," I think I'll start puking mini green recycling symbols. And enough already with the "Make every day Earth Day!" e-cards …

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Google Checkout maps the spread of donations and Earth Day lovin’

I think Google has a crush on the planet. First, they announced a goal of achieving carbon neutrality for 2007 and beyond. Then, they unleashed their RE<C campaign (Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal), aimed at producing one gigawatt of clean electricity more cheaply than coal. Next, you may have noticed their blacked-out search page on March 29, in support of Earth Hour, the global awareness movement to turn out the lights and turn up action on climate change. And now, in anticipation and celebration of Earth Day (April 22), Google is winking flirtatiously at the neglected planet once more. This …

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As nonstop flights between the U.S. and E.U. increase, what will be the effect on climate?

Throw open the skies and get your passports ready! You may have heard by now that the proverbial jump across the pond is about to get much easier and, perhaps, cheaper. As of March 30, an "open skies" agreement between the United States and the European Union has gone into effect, opening up more possibilities for the recently struggling airline industry than you can shake a complimentary pack of peanuts at. Read it in all of its legalese glory here [PDF]. "Open skies" translates to several significant changes in international air relations. First, it lifts restrictions on which airlines can …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Wind farms get sponsored

It seems that if you have enough money, you can slap your name on any ol' thing: stadiums, theaters, sporting events, and now wind farms. When John Deere Wind Energy opens its eight-turbine, 10 megawatt wind farm in Texas this May, it will be setting a precedent by allowing Steelcase, a furniture company out of Grand Rapids, Mich., to purchase the rights to name its little windmills. From The New York Times: [Steelcase] has committed to buying the farm's entire output of renewable energy credits -- the alternative energy version of carbon offsets, usually just called R.E.C.'s -- for its …

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Geo-engineering: cooking up solutions just like nature used to make

Geoengineering may be an awful idea for reversing the warming effects of climate change, but it sure makes for a sweet subject of satire, à la this retro-style informational video. Like they say, "If you can't fix the problem, techno-fix the problem!" After all, technology will save the world. Because we know everything there is to know about the planet and all. Not to mention what happens when we mess with it. So, instead of cleaning up and trimming the world's energy glut, let's focus on dumping SO2 into the atmosphere to stop global warming. We probably wouldn't get literally …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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When the world gives you an extra day, use it to celebrate amphibian conservation

Leaping long-toed salamanders, Batman! We need your help to save the nearly 2,000 amphibian species that are currently threatened with extinction. That's one-third of all known species of frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, and caecilians across the globe. And the status of the other two-thirds ain't looking so hot either. Small wonder, too, what with an unprecedented onslaught of amphib-unfriendly human activities: habitat destruction and alteration, climate change, pollution, and now a mysterious but devastatingly fatal skin-infecting disease caused by the chytrid fungus, which has spread to every continent but Asia and Antarctica. Things haven't looked this bad for such a …

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Strongbadia gets a gulp o’ greenwashing

Remember that goofy 'toon site Homestarrunner.com and its boxing-gloved, email-answering hero, Strong Bad? Well, apparently not even web cartoon characters are safe from the fierce green gaze of environmental imperialism: his readers finally call him out on his lack of eco-initiative. So what does Strong Bad do to help save the planet? You mean, besides watering flowers with recycled cigarette butts? (Hey, he did switch from using bleach!) Fortunately, Strong Bad learns loads more about being green when he's interrupted by a '60s-style protest trying to pull the plug on his blackout-causing computer, the Lappy 486. ("That Lappy is energy …

Read more: Living

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A Christian quest to cut carbon

With the start of Lent, Christians the world-over are praying, fasting, and giving alms in preparation for Easter. This often means also making some kind of sacrifice in the name of solidarity with the poor and the Church ... you know, getting guilted into giving up your most savory sins: gorging yourself on Moose Tracks ice cream or ogling Al Gore. Going without. For forty days. In a row. It's often perceived as a chore akin to New Year's Resolutions -- and adhered to about as strictly. Part of the problem lies in the negative and obligatory framing of Lenten …

Read more: Food, Living

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On battling (plastic) bottled-up rage

My favorite surprise gift this past Christmas was an aluminum water bottle from my older brother, the family member I'd vote as "most likely to make fun of me for being an environmentalist." After all, when I emailed the family my Christmas list with hopes of secondhand books and recycled running gear, he replied saying, "Please tell me you weren't always this much of a hippie, what the crap is this?" These immortal words preceded his gift of a shiny new aluminum water bottle, which replaced my recently retired but still beloved Nalgene. The newcomer's apple-red enamel bears the words, …

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