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Emily Gertz's Posts

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Alive after Live Earth

Your intrepid Grist correspondent sweats through an arena concert, so you don’t have to

Don't ever say we never did anything for you. On Saturday, while you were cavorting in the surf, grilling organic free-range meat on the barbecue (or is that barbecuing meat on the grill?), or kicking back with a good book in the sweet, sweet air conditioning, Grist was sweating at Live Earth New York. Er, New Jersey. Whatever. We suffered through sets by Ludacris, Melissa Etheridge, Roger Waters, and the Police to report back -- to YOU, dear Grist reader -- from the front lines of global eco-activism. Or something like that. Check back soon for my report from the …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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The most important eco-books: an alternative list

Newer and cheekier!

With sincere respect to my colleagues across the Atlantic (this is all a matter of opinion, after all), I'm dismayed by some of the choices on their list of most important environmental books. Hoary tomes like The Lorax, an analysis of the impact of pesticides on the environment that's nearly a half-century old (I shake in my boots to criticize La Carson thus) ... if the list were of books that had a big impact in their time, or books that will bolster the sentiments of the already-sympathetic, then it would be enough. But the "small is beautiful," "earth as …

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Using grease and other goodies, small biodiesel producers are making a big difference

If you live in a city of any size, you've likely seen them out there: boxy little '80s-era foreign cars, bumpers adorned with pro-ecology and anti-war slogans, and references to "grease." Even the fumes they emit may smell different: literally like French fries, in some cases; like generic used vegetable oil in others. Foh sizzle my fuel-izzle. Photo: iStockphoto Welcome to the small-scale biodiesel movement, a grassroots challenge to Big Oil and Big Ag. While corporate giants create fuel by refining crude oil and fermenting corn, these more modest initiatives focus on a feedstock no one else wants: waste cooking …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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From cow poop to cow power: A journey in photographs

See post-bovine methane generate clean electricity!

On some days it's especially fabulous to be an eco-scribe. I had one of those days on Wednesday, Oct. 25. As part of a group from the Society of Environmental Journalists, I got to tour Vermont's very first cow-power operation, in which the non-dairy output of a herd of Holsteins is turned into cleanly generated electricity. It's got the potential to help more of Vermont's beleaguered dairy farmers stay in business, while cutting their operation costs over time and keeping the methane generated by decomposing cow poop out of our greenhousing atmosphere. The tour took place at Blue Spruce Farm …

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Green sex toy sound bites

Not as dirty as it sounds

I've had the pleasure of covering all sorts of environmental matters, and interviewing fellow enviro-writers, in the past few years, often for Grist. But so far no piece has reverberated quite like Naughty by Nature: Ever thought about the toxins in your sex toys? Not that I'm complaining; my reputation as the author of this article consistently precedes me into various NYC green gatherings, leading to all manner of astonishingly frank conversation with casual acquaintances or total strangers. And when asked at dinner parties to explain what I do as an environmental journalist, it sure beats the melting Arctic or …

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How birding and blogging changed one soldier’s time in Iraq

Glassing the evening sky for feather and foe. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Trouern-Trend. Jonathan Trouern-Trend has been a dedicated bird-watcher since he was about 12. So in 2004, when the now 38-year-old Connecticut National Guard sergeant got sent to Iraq, he had birds on the brain. While stationed at Camp Anaconda -- a huge American installation located about 40 miles north of Baghdad in the Sunni Triangle near the Tigris River -- Trouern-Trend got to know the better birding spots on the base, including a small lagoon and the camp dump. Since he was working in intelligence, the base MPs …

Read more: Living

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Two new nature books for city slickers

Lately, green is the new black in the American metropolis. Here in New York City, the cabbies are driving hybrids and the fashionistas are wearing organic jeans. Even in my decidedly un-hip Brooklyn neighborhood, the corner deli sells organic milk and cookies. Green is busting out all over. Photo: iStockphoto. Green-tinted consumerism is probably gaining ground in your city too. (Is that a Whole Foods opening up downtown? A Chipotle restaurant selling free-range pork burritos in the storefront that once nurtured a Krispy Kreme?) But if your city is anything like mine, centuries of energy, habitation, waste, and other systems …

Read more: Cities, Living

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Reporter Michael Grunwald gabs about his new book on the Everglades

For about 5,000 years, the waters of the peninsula we now call Florida flowed south into the Kissimmee River. The Kissimmee emptied into enormous Lake Okeechobee, which in turn spilled over into a vast, shallow sheet that slid slowly along the nearly flat expanse of south Florida to the ocean. This was the complex and subtle ecosystem of the natural Everglades, a seemingly endless marsh replete with sawgrass, birds, bugs, and muck dubbed "Grassy Water" by the Seminole Indians. "No country that I have ever heard of bears any resemblance to it," wrote one 19th-century U.S. soldier in a local …

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As the world swelters

Judging from this quip recently overheard in New York at the West 4th Street subway station, the Environmental Defense + Ad Council's new Fight Global Warming ad campaign can't start soon enough: Girl: ...I mean, who doesn't like being warm? It's not like they call it "Global Sweltering"! So who cares?

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Gale Norton resigns

The Denver Post, Associated Press, and other news services are reporting that Gale Norton is stepping down after five years at the helm of the Department of the Interior. Norton's taking her leave to "catch my breath, then set my sights on new goals to achieve in the private sector," according her letter to President Bush. While MSNBC.com primly notes that her "name came up" in connection with the Jack Abramoff inquiry, ThinkProgress is more assertive. Under the headline "Another Abramoff Casualty?" TP notes that Norton received $50,000 from the defrocked lobbyist, who also channeled half a million dollars to …

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