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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Super modulars

Listen up, hipsters: Your next home will arrive on a truck

When we last checked in with prefab housing, it was reeling from the market crash, and green modular homes were turning into yet another thing you could only have if you were rich. But things are looking up, as USA Today reports a rise in popularity for prefab houses, which -- in addition to being appealingly simple to snap together -- range from "a little greener than a normal house" to "zero net energy," and can incorporate all sorts of green building features. The modular revolution is back on track! Next I want swappable hairstyles like a LEGO minifig. Small: …

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not a real green dress, that's cruel

Is that a solar panel in your pocket? Because I'm getting energized by your pants

Eco-fashion designers are starting to think beyond organic, Fair Trade, and sweatshop-free: Instead of just not harming the world, clothes now need to save it. There's a vogue for duds that do double duty, not only covering your junk but also checking the air quality and hand-feeding the wildlife. Top designers are going tree-huggy for Runway to Green (i.e. Eco-Fashion Week) this March; we'd tune in just in the hopes of seeing Karl Lagerfeld in Birkenstocks, but we'll also be on the lookout for this sort of TOTALLY RELEVANT TO THE REAL WORLD fashion inspiration.Because Diesel jeans are so last …

Read more: Living

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on the make

MAKE magazine provides a glimpse of the open-source, upcycled, electric future

MAKE magazine, favorite publication of mad scientists, has handed out awards in its Tag Your Green contest for imaginative DIY green solutions. The grand prize winners get tickets to the Maker Faire, which is sort of a cross between a Science Olympiad and Burning Man; runners-up get magazines and books. Apparently that's a sweet enough pot to attract some real (perhaps independently wealthy) innovators, though, because the winning projects are pretty badass. A child could raise this village: The grand prize winner, a group called Open Source Ecology, is basically trying to fabricate -- on the cheap -- the Leatherman …

Read more: Living

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this is why you're sad

Six ways to cheer yourself up on the most depressing day of the year

Photo: Jeff and Caroline CampbellIf you're wondering why you feel like the inside of your compost bin today, wonder no more: Apparently this is mathematically determined to be the most depressing day of the year, probably. It's dark and grim, your holiday-season bills are due, and you can't even fool yourself that you're keeping those New Year's resolutions. Is there anything you do about this that's greener than flying to Cancun but healthier than gin binges? We managed to drag ourselves out of our torpor to scrape up a few. 1. Get some sun, hon. This'll brighten your day: No-upfront-cost …

Read more: Living

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driven crazy

New report quantifies just how much a car commute crushes your soul

Car commutes sap your life force -- that's common knowledge. But can you quantify exactly how much, and how quickly? The Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University can. It's just released its annual Urban Mobility Report, which includes data on how much time, money, and mental health urban-area car commuters lose to congestion every year. D.C. and Chicago are most congested: By the "years delay per auto commuter" index, which is the one you've most likely seen reported, the D.C. metro area and Chicago are worst off. This is a measure of the difference in travel time between congested …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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u.s.a.! u.s.a.!

It takes more than 70 countries to equal the U.S. on emissions

Suck it, Morrissey: America is the world, more or less, at least when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. This image from the Sightline Institute shows how the U.S. measures up to other countries on emissions -- or, more accurately, how small state-sized chunks of the U.S. measure up.  

Read more: Climate & Energy

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pika boo

Pikas: The cutest animal you may never see again [SLIDESHOW]

Photo: Kimon BerlinIs the pika America's cutest rodent lagomorph? Think fast about that one, because global warming is herding it towards extinction. A recent study published in Global Change Biology found almost a fivefold increase in the local extinction rate of pikas. We've put together a slideshow, so you can get your fill of their cuddly little faces before it's too late. (You can also get a free, annoying pika squeak ringtone for your phone, if you're worried about their calls disappearing from our mountainsides.)            

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we got a great big convoy

'Road trains' can improve fuel efficiency — and driver downtime — by turning cars into conga lines

It's 2011, where's your self-driving car? With "road train" technology, now in development by Volvo, it could be the car you already own. Road trains, or platoons, create semi-autonomous conga lines of cars following one leader vehicle with a professional driver. Volvo's calling the project SARTRE -- Safe Road Trains for the Environment. (You can exit, though -- cars can leave the train at any time.) But what are the real environmental effects? A little cleaner, a little safer: Volvo claims an 80 percent reduction in accidents and a 20 percent reduction in emissions with road trains. The cars all …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Mark Ruffalo's position on fracking deserves a standing O

Photo: Christopher HarteWe got all excited when we heard Mark Ruffalo was getting involved in the debate over the destructive natural-gas extraction process called "fracking." Turns out that's because we thought he was Mark Wahlberg. Mark Ruffalo is a serious actor, who was never in any Funky Bunch! We have no jokes about that at all. It's admirable on all fronts. Bah. Huffington Post doesn't have any jokes either, but they do have an interview with Ruffalo about his anti-fracking activism, and a report on a recent panel that the actor attended. Some of the most ovation-worthy quotes: Fight the …

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Flooded Queensland city may now be living every week like it's Shark Week

Artist's conception Writing about the Queensland floods, Grist cities editor Sarah Goodyear wrote: "If you were to anthropomorphize the flood, you might say it is taking a perverse pleasure in pointing out just where the shiny, mighty city is weakest." Little did we expect that it would start finding cities' weakest points AND PUTTING SHARKS IN THEM. Residents of Goodna, 15 miles from Brisbane, have reported seeing bull sharks swimming down flooded city streets near the McDonald's. There's no photographic evidence yet, but bull sharks are native to the area, and we're guessing they also really like fillet-o-fish sandwiches.

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