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Jess Zimmerman's Posts


Republicans voted against environmental protections 110 times in six months

Reps. Henry Waxman (Calif.) and Edward Markey (Mass.), of the Waxman-Markey climate change bill, have been keeping tabs on Republican votes to undermine environmental legislation. They say that since taking over the majority in January, Republicans have voted 110 times to block or weaken legislation intended to protect the environment. Waxman says of the findings that "the new Republican majority seems intent on restoring the robber-baron era," and Markey compared the GOP agenda to a rifle "pointed right at the heart of America's clean energy future." This is fairly colorful, but the thing is, you don't have to take their word …

Read more: Politics


Owning a car is like having a second mortgage

Auckland Transport Blog points out a sobering calculation from the book The Option of Urbanism: The financial cost of owning and maintaining a car is equivalent to the cost of owning a small house. (Well, a small house in a cheap area. But still.) AAA calculated that the average cost of car ownership and maintenance for a typical car in 2006 was $7,800 per year. This covers loan payments, fuel, parking, maintenance, insurance and incidental costs … … The result is that owning an average car is the equivalent of having an additional $135,000 mortgage (mortgage interest is tax-deductible, and …

Read more: Cities, Living


New site shows how far public transportation will take you

Mapnificent lets you see how far you can get on public transportation in a set amont of time, in more than 60 metro areas worldwide. (Above: 15 minutes on bus and rail in Chicago.) It's a new way of visualizing how easy it is to navigate a city without a car. You can use it to check out places where you might want to live or visit, to get an idea of how far transportation will get you and how much of your day it might take up to get where you need to go. Here's what 15 minutes looks …

Read more: Cities, Transportation


Your next plastic cup could be made out of fish

Plastic is actually a pretty revolutionary material -- we wouldn't want to go back to a time before it existed (just a time before people started throwing it in the ocean). But it's made from petroleum, and we haven't really got any to spare. So viable plastic alternatives -- corn plastic, algae plastic, chicken feather plastic -- could be big business. The newest approach comes from art student Erik de Laurens, who developed a plastic made out of fish scales discarded by the fishing industry. There's nothing added to it but dye for color, so you could probably throw it …


Bill Nye explains science, the moon, and climate change to Fox News, using very small words

Bill Nye's years of experience teaching science to children seem to have prepared him well for talking to Fox News hosts. Here, he attempts to help Happening Now host Jon Scott grasp difficult concepts like "volcanoes are not connected to the burning of fossil fuels" and "the science that happens on the moon ... is the same science that happens on Earth." Favorite line: "When you say to yourself, well, I'm going to ignore all the evidence of climate change, you're saying, I'm going to ignore the best ideas anybody's ever had." The best part of BIll Nye's show, for my …


Good lord, American homes are huge

This infographic from the BBC shows how much newly built North American, and especially U.S., homes dwarf those currently being built in Europe. The average new U.S. home is more than twice as big as the average new home in the U.K.

Read more: Cities, Green Home, Living, Sprawl


Chill your beer without using any electricity

A one that is not cold is scarcely a one at all, but keeping beer frosty on a hot day normally sucks up energy. Not anymore. This ancient innovation uses clay pots, sand, and water to keep stuff cool even on a hot day. 


The plastics industry will do anything to keep you using plastic bags

Plastic bags are the genital warts of litter -- they're incredibly widespread, nearly impossible to get rid of, and can lead to much worse problems down the line. The only thing that works is prevention -- i.e. not using them in the first place. But the plastics industry doesn't take too kindly to that. Here's a sampling of the tactics the industry has used to keep people from weaning themselves off plastic bags: Lobbying (to the tune of millions of dollars) against legislation that would ban or put fees on plastic bags at the local level. Trying to trade bag …


Destroying nature so people can look at nature in Yosemite Park

Yosemite National Park is a great place for appreciating nature, what with the mountains and the wildlife and so forth. But there's one thing spoiling the bucolic beauty for everyone: All those damn trees. They are so in the way! They're like the mist that comes up off Niagara Falls and ruins all your photographs. If only they'd cut them down, so we could get back to looking at nature! That's what the park's wildlife officials say, anyway. They want to cut down about 1,000 cedars and Ponderosa pines, which have gotten too big for their britches from living in …

Read more: Climate & Energy


Introducing the world's first compostable bikini

Women hate swimsuit shopping, am I right? And we all know why: Because swimsuits do not disintegrate when buried underground for 180 days. Luckily, designer Linda Loudermilk has come out with the world's first line of compostable swimwear. Yes, they're hideously unflattering (warning: image mildly NSFW, definitely NSFA where A is aesthetic sense). But they achieve the thing women really care about in a swimsuit: disposability. Plus, they look like garbage bags, so their compostability is never far from your mind -- because when people look at you in a bikini, you want their first thought to be about decomposition. Loudermilk …

Read more: Living