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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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How to prevent climate change: Blot out the sun

As Montgomery Burns reminds us, since the beginning of time man has yearned to destroy the sun. That’s lucky for the top brains who attended Sunday’s conference on climate change and geoengineering -- deliberately tweaking the Earth, sea, and atmosphere for improved performance. Of the several geoengineering solutions they discussed, only one promised to alter warming on a global scale: "solar radiation management," otherwise known as blocking sunlight. No word on whether they discussed sending the Planet Express ship to drop slabs of ice into the ocean. The likely SRM technique doesn’t look much like Mr. Burns’ sun-blocking machine -- …

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How public transport could make Milwaukee richer and less racist

Development policies in the Milwaukee metro area -- formerly the fiefdom of transportation two-face Scott Walker, who was a Milwaukee county executive before he was the train-hatin’ governor of Wisconsin -- are set up to encourage sprawl. That sucks for the obvious reasons (bad for the environment, forces car-reliance, etc.). But two new analyses suggest that the effect is even further-reaching. Setting up improved public transport could make Milwaukee more financially stable, and more ethnically diverse. From the Huffington Post: The financial crisis and economic downturn put millions of Americans out of work. Now, those same forces are making the …

Read more: Cities, Transportation

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Watch a baby eagle hatch on live streaming video

A fish hatchery in Decorah, Iowa is streaming a live feed of its bald eagle eggs. The first two hatched over the weekend, but number 3 is likely to go at any minute now (over the next couple of days, anyway). Keep an eye on the webcam for a rare chance to see an endangered bird get born. (Warning: The feed occasionally airs commercials about how BP has totally cleaned up the Gulf of Mexico, so watch out for eyeball sprain from rolling.) (Warning two: Baby bald eagles look ridiculous. Try not to let that influence your patriotism or your …

Read more: Animals

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Portable velocipede is the ultimate steampunk/hippy mashup bike

If you’re the type of green-minded soul who prefers handlebar mustaches to dreadlocks and watch fobs to Tom’s Shoes, you definitely need this swank pennyfarthing bike. More to the point, you need it if you’re short on bike storage space at your home or office -- it takes up roughly half the real estate of a typical bike. It costs €559 (roughly $800) if you're in Spain; the site looks like you should still be able to buy it in the likely event that you aren't, but it's not clear that you can yet, so nag your local bike purveyor/steampunk …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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A year after the deadly Upper Big Branch mine disaster, not much has changed

Today marks the one-year memorial of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster, which killed 29 workers. Massey Energy Co., which ran the Upper Big Branch mine, will idle production at its 60 underground mines today -- but as safety reports and lawsuits pile up, it becomes increasingly clear that a one-day shutdown is not enough. There have been at least 10 wrongful death lawsuits, including one that alleges several miners survived the initial blast and died later, counter to the official story. Safety investigations begun after the tragedy are now nearing completion, and the chief investigator says that “the explosion …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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Sen. Jim Inhofe hates planet, loves dictators

Okay, sit down for this one, because it’s just twisted. Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma senator who called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” and who was most recently seen trying to castrate the EPA, is practically besties with Ivory Coast despot Laurent Gbagbo, basically because they go to the same scary church. Gbagbo lost an internationally certified election in November 2010, but he hasn’t reacted the way a normal sore loser would (recounts and Supreme Court cases). Instead, his forces have embarked on a campaign of violence that Human Rights Watch has called "crimes against …

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How does your supermarket stack up to the world’s greenest grocery store?

The Whole Foods in Dedham, Mass. is bringing new meaning to the word “greengrocer.” It’s a showcase facility, which means it basically tries out all the company’s environmental best practices to see how they work in the wild. The result is a store with an inspiring combination of architectural and procedural innovations: The building’s steel frame is 100 percent recycled. A white roof reduces climate control bills and emissions. The building draws power from a 400 kWh fuel cell and 80 kWh solar panels, which provide 90 percent of its energy. Skylights reduce the need for artificial lighting. The kitchen …

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Environmental groups to be penalized for winning lawsuits

Two GOP-sponsored bills introduced last week would impose a penalty on environmental groups that sue the government under the Equal Access to Justice Act or the Endangered Species Act. That’s typical of the GOP, right -- they’re all about tort reform? Yeah, well, these bills would penalize successful suits, by making it impossible for the groups to recover their legal fees if their suit reduces any resources or diminishes property values.

Read more: Politics

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New reality show is ‘Ice Road Truckers’ for coal miners

The Spike network is set to run a show about coal miners, in the mold of Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers -- gritty dudes fighting their way through the world’s hardest jobs. This has the potential to expose coal’s seamy underbelly, or to glamorize it beyond repair (at least in the minds of Spike-watching meatheads). According to the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan, it sort of does neither and both. Here’s how it shakes out: The show is frank about the human dangers of mining -- and Spike has partnered with remembertheminers.org, which helps the families of 29 coal …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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Deepwater Horizon firm gives execs safety bonuses, with no apparent sense of irony

Transocean, the offshore drilling firm that ran the Deepwater Horizon rig, has given its top execs massive bonuses for having “the best year in safety performance in our company's history.” Seriously. Here’s what the annual report says: “Yeah, some people died and some animals died and some livelihoods were ruined, but that was only April through July. On average we did pretty good. Here is a suit made of money and a hat made of money.” Okay, they put it a little nicer: Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety …