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Christopher Mims' Posts

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Windmade is the next Fair Trade, gets backers like LEGO

Coming to a breakfast cereal box near you? Windmade's new logo. By December of this year, the next box of Legos you buy could be stamped "made with 100% Wind Power." Subsequently, countless other goods you buy could bear the Windmade stamp, which -- like Fair Trade, Organic, Recycled, etc. -- is competing to become one more differentiator for goods made with sustainability in mind. This video explains it all in tones more sonorous than I could ever hope to: Windmade could push more companies to use wind power, as well as allowing the ones that do to tout their …

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Six reasons free parking is the dumbest thing you didn't know you were subsidizing

Photo: James Bridle The U.S. has as many as eight parking spaces per car. That's more than a billion parking spaces, or one for every person in China, should they need them once they're done buying all our post-crash assets for jiǎos on the yuán. This isn't just overkill -- it's stupid, destructive, expensive overkill. 1. Parking spaces are bad for the environment at least three different ways, says PRI. "A recent study found that parking spaces may be just as environmentally harmful as the cars that fill them. [...] It takes a lot of energy to create a parking …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Climate change helped end the Roman empire, says study

If you thought the fall of the Roman Empire was caused by lead poisoning or that old standby, the gays, you're terribly mistaken! It turns out that agricultural societies are (surprise!) highly dependent on a cooperative climate. Why should you care? Ever since some wit started calling the U.S. "Pax Americana," presidents, historians, and D.I.Y. punk bans from Helsinki can't get enough of the parallels between the decline of American hegemony and the slow unraveling of history's other great power. So do the droughts that felled the Roman Empire hold any lessons for a country whose breadbasket is rapidly escaping …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The Climate Post: Amidst a giant snowstorm, 2010 declared hottest year ever

Snow in Huntsville, Alabama.Photo: James ReynoldsNot everyone can have the media savvy of Snooki, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's timing couldn't be worse: with snow in every state but Florida (yes, even Hawaii), the agency just announced 2010 tied with 2005 as the warmest year for global temperature. And scientists wonder why they continue to see polls like this. Looking at just the United States it was merely the 23rd warmest year on record, no doubt a factor in the aforementioned poll. A quick glance at NOAA's 2010 temperature anomaly map revealed the most significant warming not only …

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Deep water: The devastating flood of Brisbane [SLIDESHOW]

Photo: Erik VelandThe city of Brisbane thought this would never happen. After the devastating floods of 1974, engineers built a massive system of dams to hold back future deluges. But this year, unusually warm sea surface temperatures -- the kind of temperatures that will become the new normal as the Earth warms -- revved up an unusually strong weather phenomenon known as La Nina, leading to a volume of water far beyond what anyone had projected. [Related: read the remarkable account written by a designer and new urbanist on the reasons that Brisbane failed to cope with the flood.] The …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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The regular person's guide to who's to blame for the BP oil spill

You've heard there's a gigantic plume of toxic muck at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico; you've seen the fouled beaches and even bought the commemorative tar ball tchotchke. But unless you're a policy wonk, you might not have known that there was a commission tasked with figuring out who should go in the stocks for it -- or that yesterday, they issued their final report. Let us walk you through the basics ... Spoiler Alert: Everyone screwed up BP, the contractors, everyone. Indeed, the entire industry is responsible for "systemic" failures: The commission's final report... says the blowout …

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Are Australia's floods the revenge of Gaia?

Flooding in East Toowoomba, Australia.Photo: Kingbob86 Brisbane, Australia's third largest city, home to 2 million, is bracing for massive flooding this week as storm waters rush down on it from the west. Meteorologists predict this will be the worst flood in a century for Queensland, Australia's north-eastern state. Three quarters of the state, an area equal to Germany and France combined, is already a disaster area. Damages are projected to reach $13 billion. This could be the worst natural disaster in Australia's history: The dams designed to prevent annihilation of the city are already completely full, which means that "[a] volume …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Birds are dying because of Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal, says prophet

At Grist, we've been hesitant to touch the mass die-off of animals story for fear of leading readers astray: It turns out that, hey, this sort of thing happens all the time. (Remember cancer clusters?) That was until we came across the most eminently reasonable explanation for the carnage -- and a few other, weather-related natural disasters, as well -- yet offered. It turns out that these animals are dying because we successfully repealed Don't Ask Don't Tell. Or so says Cindy Jacobs, a self-described mouthpiece of God at an organization called Generals International, which is in the business of "prophetic intercession." …

Read more: Uncategorized

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The Climate Post: In an energy-scarce world, is energy efficiency finally king?

In 1865, William Stanley Jevons pointed out something paradoxical: Historically, the better we get at efficiently using a resource, the more of that resource we use. Known as the "Jevons paradox," it's been the elephant in the room for advocates of energy efficiency, who cite it as one of the core technologies that could reduce the carbon intensity of our industrial civilization. But perhaps it's time to lay this "rule" to rest, says Energy Circle Founder Peter Troast, who points out that increased resource usage has always taken place in the context of ever-increasing supplies of energy and an expanding …

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Environmentalism is a plot to take over the world, says coalition of Evangelical Christians [VIDEO]

Climate change has split the Evangelical Christian world asunder. On one side, a minority say that the biblical edict to look out for the poor and be good stewards of God's creation makes them natural allies of those who would limit human emissions of greenhouse gases. On the other, a far larger group argues that climate change is a fairy tale that progressives tell their children to scare them into being good little humanists, and environmentalism is a "false gospel" that threatens to co-opt the teachings of Christ himself. • A new 12-disc (!) DVD series on the threat of …