Hal Clifford

Hal Clifford is the author of Downhill Slide: Why the Corporate Ski Industry is Bad for Skiing, Ski Towns, and the Environment. He lives and works in Telluride, Colo.

You Cruise, You Lose

Hal Clifford reviews Cruise Ship Blues by Ross Klein

For all intents and purposes, during the summer, it is the 45,000 people found on the dozens of cruise ships that ply that state's southeastern coastal waters. And the effects of that "city" on the natural environment are indeed urban, in the worst imaginable ways.

Is biodiesel the fuel of the future?

The Granola Ayatollah of Canola, aka Charris Ford, slides behind the wheel of his 1980 International Scout truck and turns the key. The truck burbles to life and off we go, cruising down the gravel roads that divide the aspen groves of southwestern Colorado’s Horsefly Mesa. It would be just a standard evening joyride, except that Ford’s truck doesn’t run on gasoline. Or diesel. Or electricity, or even the sun. This truck is powered by grease, all of it drained from restaurant deep-fryers in the nearby resort town of Telluride. The Granola Ayatollah of Canola. Photo: Eric Limon. The truck’s …

Aspen, Colo., taxes its way to a healthier climate

Randy Udall charges more for a ton of carbon dioxide than anybody else in the world. Udall runs a unique, two-and-a-half-year-old program in Aspen and surrounding Pitkin County, Colo., that charges new homeowners up to $100,000 if they exceed the “energy budget” allotted to their property by the local building code. The money collected under the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program is invested by Udall in energy efficiency and renewable-energy projects. REMP’s goal is to keep three tons of carbon out of the air for every excess ton of carbon spewed on behalf of profligate new homeowners in Aspen. People can …

Better, By Design

A review of Cradle to Cradle

The idea that growth can be good is anathema to most environmentalists. Yet that's exactly the argument made by William McDonough and Michael Braungart in Cradle to Cradle. Take a look at nature, the pair says, and you'll see that growth is not only good, but necessary -- that nature's very abundance is what environmentalists (and the rest of us) depend on and celebrate. The key is the right kind of growth -- and the key to that is better design.

Coal bed methane extraction threatens Wyoming’s Red Desert

OREGON BUTTES, Wyo. Tom Bell remembers how plush the carpet was in Interior Secretary Stewart Udall’s Washington, D.C., office. Bell spent time on his hands and knees there during the 1960s, poring over a large map while making the case for preserving Wyoming’s Red Desert as a national pronghorn antelope refuge. The Pinnacles in the Red Desert. Photo: Erik Molvar, Biodiversity Associates. Udall liked the idea, but encountered a Wyoming congressional delegation that didn’t. More than 30 years later, Bell, a World War II veteran who founded both High Country News and the Wyoming Outdoor Council, is still fighting to …

Momentum grows for greener ways of farming

Rice as rice can be. In the humid hills of China’s Yunnan province, rice farmers make their living from plots of land smaller than many American yards. High, cool, and wet, the country here is rich, yielding almost a thousand pounds of rice per acre. But farmers face a perennial scourge: rice blast. Rice blast is caused by a fungus that cuts off nutrients to the rice seed head and destroys crops. It thrives in rice monocultures and particularly favors the short-grained, or sticky, strains of rice that bring the highest price at Yunnan’s markets. By 1998, many farmers had …

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