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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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don't reload, retreat

California city is the first, but not the last, to flee rising sea levels

Photo: Chuck AbbeWell, here we go: Threatened by rising ocean levels, the city of Ventura, California is starting to pick up stakes and move inland. It's removing a bike path and pushing back a parking lot at a spot called Surfers Point, in the hopes of resisting submersion for another 50 years. This "managed retreat" is the first of its kind in California, but it's not likely to be the last. The L.A. Times has the story on how climate change is starting to change life along California's coast. Receding coastline: California stands to lose a lot more than a …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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noaa's ark

California 'superstorms' could make quakes look tame, and Brisbane look dry

Photo: Bruna CostaRemember how we were saying that what happened in Brisbane could happen to us? That might get tested sooner than you think. In the not-too-distant future, California could be at risk for Old Testament-level storms that could do four to five times the damage of a major earthquake. A recent scientific conference took a good hard look at this possibility, and what could be done. Forty days and forty nights: No, really. That's how long a "superstorm" could last, according to the Associated Press: A storm scenario released by the U.S. Geological Survey this week says such a …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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here comes the sunni

How solar power is keeping America's hired muscle from getting killed in Afghanistan

Long thought to be the sole domain of quiche-eating pantywaists, solar energy has finally picked up some macho cachet -- by saving lives and dollars in Afghanistan. A Marine company that deployed solar panels for its energy needs reports that its diesel fuel consumption dropped by almost 90 percent. Plus, alternative energy keeps soldiers safer by limiting how often they need to go out for fuel. Fuel use is a major malfunction: In a New York Times op-ed last week, retired brigadier general Steven M. Anderson laid out the reasons why the military seriously needs to revamp its energy use: …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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jump to contusions, video

Using wind energy: You're doing it wrong [VIDEO]

From the "please do not the fuck try this at home" files: This sets off all our grandma impulses -- for heaven's sake, get down off of there! If you break your leg, don't come running to me! What is this dillhole music you kids listen to these days? -- but we have to admit, we don't see people BASE jumping off oil derricks very often. While you gotta appreciate that these guys are inspired to get EXTREME!!! with alternative energy, we're pretty sure dude-splatter qualifies as pollution.

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turn off, tune out, drop off

Artificial lighting: even worse for your health than it is for the environment

Photo: Anders AlexanderJust in case you need another reason to turn out the lights: It turns out they mess with your head. A new study has found that spending your evenings in a lit room delays and suppresses the brain's production of melatonin, the hormone that (among other things) regulates your biological clock. Limiting your use of artificial lighting doesn't just save energy; it can also improve your health. A little light is all right: Here's why Abe Lincoln was smarter than you: He slept better. Participants who were exposed to dim light in the evenings -- equivalent to lighting …

Read more: Living

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why chinese tree-huggers are superior

Is Amy Chua's parenting style going to help China save the environment?

Photo: Ivan WalshMy fellow Americans: China is drinking our milkshake. While we fuss and argue about green energy, the former burgeoning pollution giant is racing ahead with wind power, clean technology, and emissions controls. We're starting to wonder whether the Amy Chua essay that's been blowing up the internet, "Why Chinese Mothers are Superior," has some applications on a geopolitical level. Does American green energy just need some old-fashioned discipline? Here's the evidence that the "mister, you're not leaving this room until this gets dealt with" approach is working: China spends its pocket money better: "The Chinese are spending one-sixth …

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dirty business

Think composting stinks? Here's a fresher idea

Photo: VokashiOh, Brooklyn. You've got a bear who will come get rid of your relationship refuse, and a bear who will let you punch him, and ... okay, for some reason most of Brooklyn's entrepreneurial endeavors involve bears. But now you also have Vokashi, a composting service for people who don't want to harbor rotting vegetable matter in their kitchens. Composting in a small space can present a logistical challenge. If you've got a stinky bin, it can really overwhelm a little kitchen, plus your apartment might not come with a wide rolling lawn to use your compost on. Vokashi …

Read more: Living

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topless bar

EPA blows up industry's plan to blow up a mountaintop

Mountaintop removal: It's the mining process so destructive, they couldn't even come up with a spinny euphemism that makes it sound like a good idea. The EPA struck a blow against the high-impact mines today, killing one of the largest proposed mines in history, Spruce No. 1 in West Virginia, by revoking its permit to dispose of mining waste in local waterways. The permit was approved by the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007, and the Bush-era EPA didn't challenge it. But mining activities at Spruce No. 1 have been delayed by litigation, and in the meantime, the administration has …

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unnatural disaster

How sprawl killed Brisbane: A report from inside the flood

Photo: Dan HillSydney-based designer Dan Hill happened to be in Brisbane this week when floodwaters overtook the city. (Here's our photo gallery of what that looks like, by the way -- it's pretty stunning.) Bad luck for him, good luck for the rest of us, because his coverage of the disaster is amazing. Writing (in a masterpiece of irony) by candlelight on an iPad, Hill has composed an extraordinary document, a melding of Twitter recap, photo essay, and thoughtful exegesis on the problems of modern city design. You should read it, but this is the internet, so most of you …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Who you calling a birdbrain?

More reasons why birds are dumb and humans are terrible

Whatever you may have heard recently from garishly-dressed prophets, the recent mass bird deaths are probably not a sign of God's displeasure. (Even Kirk Cameron says so!) But are they really a coincidence? It's true that mass deaths are not particularly uncommon, and there's no real reason to believe the recent ones are directly connected. As explanations start to come to light, though, it becomes inescapably obvious that these events have something in common: Birds aren't all that bright, and more to the point, humanity is awful. Terror: The prevailing explanation for the blackbird deaths in Beebe, Ark., is that …

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