The American Institute of Architects has picked a winning design in its Barbie Dream House contest, and it's green as well as pink. The four-story edifice, presumably built with input from Architect Barbie, features solar panels, low-flow toilets, EnergyStar appliances, a greenhouse, eco-friendly bamboo flooring, and "decidedly NO parking garages and driveways." It also has a meditation space, a home gym, and a 1,500 square foot entertainment area. It's hard to reconcile green design with a client so into overconsuming that she's actually a plastic toy.
What do Astroturf and the Canadian tar sands have in common? They're both made of petroleum, and now they've both got fake grassroots. An employee of the American Petroleum Institute, which supports the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, has apparently been setting up multiple fake Twitter accounts to give the illusion of public support.
So what is it with Michele Bachmann and hating on energy-efficient lightbulbs? She's like a lightbulb crusader. Mother Jones has done some digging, and it turns out this is because she basically believes that a science fiction parody of environmentalism is going to ruin America.
A new web tool from the Natural Resources Defense Council lets you map climate change threats — excessive heat, disease risk, pollution, drought, and flooding — anywhere in the United States. Above is the full U.S. map showing the average number of extreme heat days in 2000-2009, but you can also zoom in on your area. It's not just designed to depress you, either; each state's map includes information about how to address climate change impacts, and details the state's preparedness plan (if there is one).
Is Fox News getting bored now that Obama's produced his birth certificate and the Casey Anthony trial is over? Apparently, since their new barely-tethered-to-reality flogging point is that SpongeBob SquarePants is indoctrinating kids with a sort of extremist environmental zealotry. The Department of Education hosted an event where kids got to pick out free SpongeBob books, and the Fox hosts' heads promptly exploded. Why? Because in one of the books on offer, SpongeBob and Mr. Krabs try to use car exhaust to cause global warming, in order to sell pool admission tickets.
One step up from "save the whales" on the environmentalism ladder is "do nice things for whales, they've had a hard time." You know, fruit baskets, flipper rubs, playing music outside their tanks because they don't have Spotify. This beluga is LOVING. IT. He's like "Christ, finally, after 30 years of people singing me that Raffi song 24/7 I was really ready for something new."
Bee populations are struggling everywhere, but ironically they may be better off in cities than in the countryside. Why? Because rural areas have larger swathes of flowering plants when they're in season, but cities have them year-round in the form of urban parks and gardens.
Designer Renee Walker's food labels, which just won the Rethink the Food Label contest, are elegantly simple. They're dominated by a color-coded box that shows the breakdown of ingredients, including unappetizing shades of gray for additives and preservatives. So in one glance you can tell, say, which of these peanut butters has added filler and which one is mostly ground-up nuts.
This video on rooftop beekeeping in Brooklyn features Tim O'Neal, who blogs at Borough Bees and sometimes teaches Beekeeping 101. If you've been curious about putting together an urban apiary, this will give you an overview of what it's like and why it's good for the world. (Also, handy advice: "[Bees] are somewhat less chatty than a dog or a cat." The more you know!)