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Perchlorate

We get lots and lots of press releases here. Occasionally I like to pass one along. Earlier this month, virtually every paper in the nation published a story on a National Academy of Sciences report on the rocket-fuel ingredient perchlorate. The report, they claimed, showed that perchlorate is some 20 times safer than U.S. EPA estimates, which could save businessses millions. But according to the Environmental Working Group, this isn't actually what the report said. Read on: SECOND THOUGHTS ON PERCHLORATE STUDY? National Academy Scientists Say Many Reporters Missed the Real Story OAKLAND, Calif., Jan. 18 - Last week, a …

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Dimming hopes

Let's get one thing straight: Grist was into global dimming before global dimming was cool. Now: A BBC documentary is pushing, with great hype (not to say hysterics), the notion that efforts to reduce fossil fuel use will reverse global dimming and thus -- irony! -- accelerate global warming. I have already grumpily blogged this once. Now the folks over at RealClimate, about whose site I use the adjective "indispensable" with numbing regularity, have addressed the subject, saying, in effect, Slow down, cowboy! We don't really know that much about dimming. Now that some perspective has been added to the …

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Plenty

Everybody else is talking about it so, being joiners, we shall as well: Check out Plenty, a new glossy mag that dares to assert that "if we make the right choices, we can have a world of Plenty." I have not seen the magazine, but I agree with the sentiment. Check it out on your local newsstand. (An aside to the folks responsible for the Plenty website: Splash screens are bad. And useless. FYI.)

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MLK Jr.

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day (despite Dick Cheney's objections), and while Grist is taking the day off, it's worth remembering both the incredible progress the U.S. has made on civil rights in a relatively brief time (Matt Yglesias has some good stuff on this subject) and one area where justice continues to lag, namely, the environment. The low profile of the environmental justice movement within the larger green movement is a scandal, and one of the issues we'll be discussing more in our ongoing series on the (alleged) "Death of Environmentalism." For more on environmental justice, check out …

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Plastic, now with fresh, fruity scent!

Of the nasty things about plastic -- a subject upon which our own Umbra is prolific -- perhaps the worst is its origins in petroleum. What if the many wondrous benefits of plastic could be had without the petroleum inputs? That would be cool. Along come researchers at Cornell University, who have apparently discovered how to make plastic from citrus fruits and carbon dioxide. Use less oil; use more CO2 (rather than pumping it into the atmosphere). Nifty. (via BoingBoing)

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Top green products

organicARCHITECT, a green architecture firm and research think-tank, today announced the recipients of its 2004 organicAWARDS. This first annual award recognizes the most exciting products introduced in the past year that promote both design innovation and environmental responsibility. Check it out. (I'm particularly fond of the stapleless stapler.)

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The important thing

I have great respect for Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., but this AlterNet essay exemplifies a fundamental flaw in the thinking of current mainstream environmentalists. His argument is that, despite Bush's re-election, the election actually demonstrated broad support for environmental protections. He says: In the face of recent rhetoric about an alleged mandate, it's clear the challenge is greater than ever. But the important thing is that the fundamental politics of the environment did not change with this election. But this gets things backwards. The "important thing" is not that despite Bush's election, people still support green positions. The important thing …

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What a Falloon!

I groaned when I saw this story on global dimming the other day. It's about a documentary soon to be aired on BBC, presenting the research of Dr. Peter Cox. The spin Reuters' Matt Falloon puts on it is that reducing fossil fuels will accelerate global warming. Who knows why he's adopting that spin. (Or why he says "Scientists differ as to whether global warming is caused by man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse" gases, by natural climate cycles or if it exists at all," which is narrowly true but distorts what is a broad and robust consensus …

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Waste to energy

Folks in the U.S. tend to be convinced that technology will save us. Traditionally, environmentalism has opposed itself to this tendency, scolding that technology is, in fact, the source of all eco-evil. I would suggest that, while technology's record is, shall we say, mixed, this is the wrong way to go, both substantively and politically. More on that subject later. I certainly count myself a technological optimist, so I get excited about every story like this: Today, Treehugger gives the rundown on two new machines that make energy from waste. The first creates (brace yourself for some technical jargon) a …

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Climate models

A favorite rhetorical tactic of global warming skeptics is to point out that climate scientists use models, which they imply are less scientific than the hard data used by other disciplines. This is, on its face, dumb. Every scientific field uses data to develop models, uses models to predict future data, and where there are discrepancies modifies either the data collection methods the models (or both). Climate science does the same. There are, however, interesting and unique features of climate models, and the indispensable RealClimate offers a quick synopsis thereof. It's slightly technical, but good reading nonetheless.

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