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Lisa Hymas' Posts

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Scared off the rails?

L.A. train collision dismays new riders

Speaking of trains, the horrific train wreck in L.A. last Friday came as ridership on the region's rail network was on the rise, The New York Times reports. Los Angeles has long been known for its car-choked freeways. But after gas prices in California rose to more than $4.50 a gallon over the last several months, more people here have begun to use public transportation. People who commute between Los Angeles and the suburbs of Ventura, Long Beach and three inland counties have traded $60 or more in monthly gas bills for $17 monthly Metrolink passes and climbed aboard. In …

Read more: Cities

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The secret life of Sarah Palin

Palin’s record of secrecy and cronyism affects environment among other issues

A passion for oil drilling isn't the only thing Sarah Palin has in common with Dick Cheney. "Interviews show that Ms. Palin runs an administration that puts a premium on loyalty and secrecy," The New York Times reports in a front page article on Sunday. "While Ms. Palin took office promising a more open government, her administration has battled to keep information secret," the Times reports. "The governor and her top officials sometimes use personal e-mail accounts for state business; dozens of e-mail messages obtained by The New York Times show that her staff members studied whether that could allow …

Read more: Politics

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Eric Roston on Colbert

Eric Roston, author of The Carbon Age: How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's Greatest Threat, tells Stephen Colbert all about his favorite element:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Atoning for a carbon footprint?

Ian McEwan writing a novel about climate change — with funniness!

Ian McEwan. Photo: Eamon McCabe Booker Prize-winning British novelist Ian McEwan, now best known for Atonement, is at work on a new novel about climate change that will include "extended comic stretches," The Guardian reports. The unnamed work isn't due out for another two years, but McEwan read an excerpt to an audience in Wales on Sunday. The protagonist of the forthcoming novel is Nobel Prize-winning physicist Michael Beard, who aspires to save the planet, and also fights a more mundane battle against his food cravings. Reports The Guardian's Judith Soal: [McEwan] said he had wanted to tackle climate change …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Entrepreneur Lyndon Rive wants to solarize your house for a low, low price

Would you pay $25,000 to $30,000 to put solar panels on your home? If you're like most cash-strapped Americans, you'd balk at that five-figure expense, no matter how green you aspire to be. OK, what if you could do it for $1,000 or $2,000? SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. SolarCity, based in sunny Silicon Valley, has just launched a new program that will push the upfront costs of a residential solar system down to a grand or two. Under the company's SolarLease financing program, backed by Morgan Stanley, SolarCity will own the solar panels it installs on customers' roofs, and homeowners …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Aspen Env't Forum: 'Soccer moms are the enemy of biological education'

E.O. Wilson calls for kids to be set free outside, scripted activities be damned

Renowned biologist and naturalist E.O. Wilson regaled the crowd at last week's Aspen Environment Forum with his wit and wisdom during an on-stage interview. A choice segment: The worst thing you can do to a child, in my opinion, is take them on a hike through a botanical garden where there are the names of the trees on the side. Rachel Carson once said, so true, take the child to the seashore, turn her loose with a pail, and tell her to go explore the tidepools. Don't tell her the names of any of these things. Let her find them, …

Read more: Living

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Go south, young polar bear

New campaign plans to relocate polar bears to Antarctica

[UPDATE: This post is a joke, as is the Polar Bear Conservancy website. Happy April Fools' Day!] While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service dawdles over whether or not to list the polar bear as a federally protected endangered species, a nonprofit group is ready to act to save the fast-disappearing mammal. The Polar Bear Conservancy has announced a new program that aims to relocate 3,000 polar bears from the rapidly melting Arctic to the Antarctic -- which, yes, is also rapidly melting, but still has a lot more ice for the bears to roam around on. GOP presidential candidate …

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Aspen Env't Forum: The word on gray wolves

Wolf recovery chief Ed Bangs talks about the species’ delisting

The gray wolf population in the northern Rocky Mountains is being dropped from the federal endangered species list on Friday, and on Thursday I just happened to run smack into Ed Bangs, the wolf recovery coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Such is life at the Aspen Environment Forum.) Bangs oversaw the celebrated and controversial reintroduction of gray wolves into Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho in 1995 and 1996, when the nice Canadians gave the U.S. government 66 wolves to set free in a region that hadn't seen the carnivores since 1926 (though about 60 had come …

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Aspen Env't Forum: Big ideas

Thinkers and doers exchange grand visions in the scenic Rockies

The first full day of the first-ever Aspen Environment Forum kicked off Thursday morning with a handful of the impressive invitees taking a couple minutes each to share a "big idea." Throughout the day, others tossed their sizeable thoughts into the ring. A sampling: Majora Carter. Majora Carter, founder and head of Sustainable South Bronx: "Make the invisible places visible." Carter talked about how her home borough and other low-income or minority communities all around the country have become "regional sacrifice zones" where the dirtiest business of our dirty economy is done -- landfills, incinerators, sewage plants, hog farms. She …

Read more: Food, Living

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Nader is in

Ralph Nader announces his presidential run, calls for carbon tax

Nader is officially in the race -- and he is now the only big-name presidential candidate who supports a carbon tax. On the issues page of his campaign site, Nader also declares "No to nuclear power, solar energy first." Only solar? Sounds like he hasn't thought a lot about renewable energy since the '70s.

Read more: Politics