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Brave new world: Americans are learning to live with climate change

Allie Goldstein
Allie Goldstein.

The Great American Road Trip -- it’s a rite of passage, a national pastime, and increasingly, a tool for spreading the word about looming climate catastrophe. Each summer, a motley parade of veggie buses, vintage motorcycles, and bicycles circulates around the country, its participants out to preach the gospel of green living, and perhaps learn a thing or two in the process.

Two of these eco-minded road trippers, Kirsten Howard and Allie Goldstein, recently dropped by the Grist offices in Seattle to tell us about their adventures aboard a 2000 Toyota Sienna minivan. The duo, who recently graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment, called their adventure the Great American Adaptation Road Trip. Their mission: to ferret out tales of how local people are adjusting to a warmer world.

That’s a little defeatist, innit? What about preventing climate change, guys?

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Precious cargo: These bikes carry just about anything — pianos included

Copenhagen designer and transportation consultant Mikael Colville-Andersen has perhaps done more than anyone else in recent years to put the cool back into bicycling. Colville-Andersen, CEO of the Copenhazenize Design Co., founded the Cycle Chic blog, a brand that has spread to cities worldwide. He spends a good deal of his time evangelizing about the benefits of bicycling to cities, and taking photographs of cyclists in the streets.

Colville-Andersen is a particular fan of cargo bikes -- bicycles built to carry everything from parcels to people. (He himself pedals a Danish-designed Bullitt cargo bike that Grist Senior Editor Greg Hanscom recently took for a spin.) And in rifling through his photo archives not long ago, he realized that of the 15,000 or so photos he’d taken while documenting bicycle culture around the world, easily 3,000 were of cargo bikes. The result: A new self-published book called Cargo Bike Nation that features “photo after photo of cargo bikes, as well as bicycles with cargo.”

“At the end of the day I just wanted to produce the ultimate cargo bike photo book,” Colville-Andersen writes in the introduction. “Nothing sells cargo bikes like a long line of photos showing Citizen Cyclists and others using a cargo bike in their daily lives. As a vital tool for urban living.”

Read more: Cities, Living

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Keystone study contractor under scrutiny by State Dept. watchdog

Does the consulting firm studying the environmental effects of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline have a conflict of interest?

For months, climate activists have been raising the alarm about Environmental Resources Management (ERM), the main firm contracted by the State Department to write the official environmental impact statement for Keystone.

Now State's Inspector General is looking into allegations of improper ties and incomplete disclosures.

From The Hill:

The State Department’s internal watchdog has “initiated an inquiry” into whether the contractor Foggy Bottom used for a draft environmental analysis on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline had a conflict of interest.

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Koch brothers hire lobbyists to fight carbon tax, save poor and old people

Charles and David Koch
Charles and David Koch really, really don't want a carbon tax.

Carbon-tax proposals are going nowhere in Congress, but the Koch brothers aren't taking any chances.

A few non-office-holding Republicans and a few actual-office-holding Democrats are calling for a carbon tax, but the current Congress would never pass one, and even the Obama administration has said it doesn't want one.

Still, a grandstanding Republican representative, Steve Scalise of Louisiana, is pushing a House resolution declaring that "a carbon tax would be detrimental to the United States economy" and "to American families and businesses," and that it would "fall hardest on the poor, the elderly, and those on fixed incomes." (Never mind that many carbon-tax proposals are designed specifically to ease burdens on low-income Americans. Facts are not of interest here.)

The billionaire oil-mogul Koch brothers -- who've convinced many politicians to sign a "No Climate Tax Pledge" -- have now hired a gang of lobbyists to push Scalise's pointless resolution, The Hill reports.

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Anti-Keystone activists keep the heat on

Dozens of activists young, old, and in between walked 100 miles, from Camp David in Maryland to the White House, to call attention to their campaign for climate action and Keystone rejection. The Walk for Our Grandchildren, which wrapped up over the weekend, was one of many climate actions being coordinated all around the U.S. this summer.

Jay Mallin captured the highlights on video:

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Grist mix-a-lot: Readers create audio love letter to parks

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We kicked off this month’s foray into the urban jungle with an ode (in the form of a playlist) to the public spaces that shaped hip hop. “Parks,” Ben Adler wrote, “are where people without big houses, and people who are too young or too poor to gather in bars, go to party.” Even if you’re not a hip-hop head, you probably still feel the draw of the neighborhood park when you’re craving a collective good time, and you probably have a favorite jam or two that you automatically associate with kickin’ it outside.

So we took to Facebook to ask our park- and party-loving readers what their favorite day-in-the-park songs are. There was some inevitable overlap among the 150 or so responses (y’all love Chicago, don’t you?), but we ended up with an impressively diverse collection of 42 songs that we put together into a Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

Read more: Cities, Living

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Women take back the farm, and Grist takes to the airwaves

Twenty-five-year-old Hannah Breckbill is the owner and operator of Humble Hands Harvest in Elgin, Minn. This is her first season of farming on rented land.
25-year-old Hannah Breckbill is the owner and operator of Humble Hands Harvest in Elgin, Minn. This is her first season of farming on rented land.
Last month, Chicago writer Lori Rotenberk reported for Grist that women are the fastest growing segment of the American farming landscape:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reported last month that the number of woman-operated farms more than doubled between 1982 and 2007. Add primary and secondary operators, and there are nearly 1 million women in farming, accounting for 30 percent of U.S. farmers.

So hot is ag life that novels about farming are replacing chick lit, offering an unexpected twist to the notion of dirty romance.

Today, Rotenberk was a guest on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, where she talked about the trend and the women who are spurning office jobs for work in the fields and on urban farms. Joining them was Hannah Breckbill, a 25-year-old who walked from a career as a mathematician to farm in Elgin, Minn. They took calls from several farmers and a fellow who Lehrer dubbed a “farmer’s husband.” Ah yes, times have changed.

Read more: Food, Living

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A message for Grist’s Google Reader users

This is a special message to readers who subscribe to Grist's RSS feeds. If you are one of our many RSS subscribers who use Google Reader, then you probably already know that Google is shutting down Google Reader on July 1.

If you don't use Google Reader to manage your feeds then nothing will change -- we will continue to support our feeds. But if you do use Google Reader and haven't found a new replacement, then you'll need to act soon to ensure you continue to be able to read Grist's feeds.

If you are looking for an alternative to Google Reader, Feedly Cloud is a popular and free option. Feedly has many of the same features as Google Reader and offers a single-click migration from Google Reader. Popular phone apps like Reeder have promised to work with Feedly in their next versions. To help with the migration, the folks at Feedly have written a post about migrating to Feedly.

There are other options including the paid service Feedbin, which is already supported by Reeder and other apps; the new Digg Reader; Newsblur; and many more. Of course you can also find links to many of our posts via our Twitter feed.

If finding a replacement right now sounds like too much of a hassle, you can also sign up for our daily or weekly emails so you don't miss our coverage.

Whatever replacement you choose, thanks for reading.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Stephen Colbert knows that New York City’s bikeshare is a scourge

Someone tipped off Stephen Colbert to the recent rant against the city's new bikeshare system by Wall Street Journal editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz  -- and thank god for that. "The most important danger in the city is not the yellow cabs. It is the bicyclists," Rabinowitz says, adding that the new "blazing blue" bikes-for-rent have "begrimed" the city's neighborhoods. Uh, we'll just let Stephen take it from there.

Read more: Cities, Politics

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Andrew Revkin, David Roberts, and you?

Editor's note: The chat's over now, but you can watch a replay of Revkin's conversation with David Roberts.

Andrew Revkin has been on the front lines of environmental journalism for decades. He picked up the climate story before many of us had heard of it. He's best known for his Dot Earth blog at the New York Times, where he covered environmental issues as a reporter from 1995 to 2009.

Read more: Climate & Energy