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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Let’s balance the budget by charging for CO2

The Center for American Progress has released a plan that could balance the budget by 2030, lower some people’s income taxes, and cut carbon emissions 83 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This isn’t just a Holy Grail, it’s an entire Holy Place Setting. The CAP plan proposes to eliminate the deficit mainly through taxes and fees that would primarily affect high earners and businesses -- including an oil import fee and a large and rising price on CO2 emissions. Individual income taxes would fall somewhere between the Bush tax cut rates and the rates we’d have if those cuts …

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The Yike Bike could make bike commuters of us all

You undoubtedly know someone who would totally commute by bike if it weren't for a whole raft of concerns: It's too dangerous! They're too cumbersome! I don't want to get sweaty on the way to the office! It is now time for those people to shut it. The YikeBike folds to the size of a briefcase, can take potholes and curbs with ease (plus gravel roads and cow rails in case you commute to rural Kentucky), and is fully electric instead of people-powered, so you're not peeling off damp spandex right before your morning meeting. Here are the things the …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Turn your car into a car-share

So you’ve successfully reduced your car usage, and now you have this hunk of metal sitting around outside your house, like a garden gnome that needs annual emissions inspections. Why not share it, and maybe make some money? Car-sharing service Getaround has unveiled a kit that will allow people to offer their cars for short-term rental to friends and neighbors. The kit is an easy-to-install GPS/WiFi/keyless entry doohickey that, along with Getaround’s iPhone app, makes it simple to arrange reservations, payments, and pickups. Your car still lives with you and everything, but during its idle time -- 22 hours a …

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Denmark calls in armed commandos to fend off Greenpeace

Hippies near an oil rig! Send in the SWAT team! The Guardian is reporting that armed Danish commandos have been helicoptered onto an oil rig off Greenland, out of fears that Greenpeace activists will interfere with the rig’s deepwater drilling. Apparently Greenpeace has sent two ships to monitor the rig, owned by Scottish company Cairn Energy. The group is concerned because if Cairn experiences a spill in the deep Arctic waters, it would be nearly impossible to clean up. The Danish government, in turn, has sent two WARships to monitor Greenpeace. And now, there are armed commandos. In a just …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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Are the Kochs pushing for an international oil pipeline?

House Republicans are trying to speed up the review process for Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline that would carry oil from Canada’s oil sands all the way down to Texas. This is potentially very dangerous, probably overpriced, maybe unnecessary, and almost certainly advantageous for certain corporate bigwigs. In other words, it stinks of unwashed Koch. That’s what Rep. Henry Waxman thinks, anyway. He’s asked the House Energy and Commerce Committee to demand more documentation about exactly how the Kochs stand to benefit from Keystone XL. In a letter to the committee, Waxman and Rep. Bobby Rush laid out their reasons for suspecting …

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No bike lane? Make your own!

"Safety First" is a video art installation in Prague, not an actual solution to the lack of bike lanes. We don't recommend projecting a custom bike lane off the front of your ride -- or, I mean, go ahead, but that doesn't really make that staircase/train track/highway into a protected lane. But it's still cool to watch artist Vladimir Turner (his partner in the project is Ondřej Mladý) turn the bike-lane-deficient streets of Prague into his personal cycling paradise.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Tim Pawlenty is not interested in winning Iowa

Here’s a great way to start your campaign in Iowa: Tell them you want to phase out ethanol subsidies. Classic Tim Pawlenty! Does he even want to be president? Grist is no fan of corn ethanol, mind you -- if you have a spare moment you should get Tom or Dave started, it’s super entertaining. Pawlenty was a fan, though, when he was the governor of Minnesota. But now that he’s running for president, he has the freedom to throw ethanol under the bus, because instead of trying to get people to vote for him for governor of a Midwestern …

Read more: Election 2012, Politics

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Monorails suddenly a thing again

Futuristic as they look, monorails never really got a toehold outside of airports, Disney World, and I Can Haz Cheezburger. Now elevated single-track trains might be getting a second chance to become the transportation of the future. Part of the problem with monorails is that they’re slow, and part of it is that they’re really really visible. Monorail track is probably less ugly, in an absolute sense, than elevated train track, but for NIMBYists it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. But for transportation-starved areas like Osaka, Japan (which has the longest monorail line in the world) …

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Two percent of U.S. energy goes to wasted food

The U.S. wastes a stunning amount of food -- 40 percent of what we produce, according to Jonathan Bloom, author of American Wasteland. That’s way above the already-staggering global average of one third. That means that 40 percent of the energy, water, and fuel we put into farming goes straight into the trash. All in all, Bloom says, “2 percent of all U.S. energy goes to food we’re throwing away.” And this waste is built into the system. Farmers are forced to toss crops that aren’t up to aesthetic standards, and often have to plow under whole fields if the …

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Get ready for solar airplanes

There’s nothing that exciting about a plane that uses no fuel and emits no CO2 -- I’ve been folding those since the fourth grade. A plane that uses no fuel, emits no CO2, has the same wingspan as an Airbus A340, and can transport people on international flights, though: That’s a big deal. And that’s Solar Impulse, the solar-powered plane that this month completed a successful flight from Switzerland to Belgium. Right now, the plane is something like a superpowered hang-glider; it can only transport the pilot, and its average speed is about 43 miles per hour. (The inaugural international …

Read more: Cities, Transportation