Business & Technology

Critical List: New fuel economy standards; flat screens use less energy

Both options currently on the table for raising the debt ceiling would cut environment and energy spending. The president will announce new fuel economy standards -- cars and light-duty trucks will need to be at 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. The EPA is proposing the first air standards for fracking.

Business & Technology

The biggest green scam in America

Wayde McKelvy raised tens of millions of dollars for a new, clean-energy company that the SEC says was nothing more than an old-school Ponzi scheme.

The plastics industry will do anything to keep you using plastic bags

Plastic bags are the genital warts of litter -- they're incredibly widespread, nearly impossible to get rid of, and can lead to much worse problems down the line. The only thing that works is prevention -- i.e. not using them in the first place. But the plastics industry doesn't take too kindly to that. Here's a sampling of the tactics the industry has used to keep people from weaning themselves off plastic bags:

Toyota concept bike has psychic gear shift

Parlee Cycles and tech company Deeplocal are working together on a bike inspired by the Toyota Prius. It's a reasonably slick-looking machine, but the really weird and bizarre part is the "neuron shifting." The bike uses a gaming neuroheadset, which detects the brain's electrical activity like an EEG, to let riders shift between gears using only their minds.

Energy Policy

Conservatives try to force military to accept dirty fuels it doesn't want

The U.S. military has said that it does not want to use high-carbon fuels, but congressional conservatives are trying to force it to.

Could you use the internet to heat your house?

Servers generate so much heat that they have to be kept in super-cooled rooms, lest the entire Cloud collapse. People's houses need heat, at least in the winter months. Two great tastes that go great together?

A dress with a built-in air purifier

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion's "catalytic clothing" strips pollutants out of the air and breaks them down harmlessly. Here's an atmospheric (ha) video of an air-purifying dress, but they've also got jeans, which significantly improves the chances of getting enough people wearing catalytic clothing to actually make a difference in air quality. (None of this is available for purchase or anything crazy like that, but in theory, if it were, you'd probably want the jeans.)

Why China's winning the cleantech contest

One Block Off the Grid, a company that organizes collective purchasing for green home improvements, put together a very loooong infographic about, in their words, "Why China is Kicking Our Ass in Clean Tech." Fast Company very helpfully chopped that infographic up into digestible pieces. But here is the only picture you really need to understand:  

Paper antennas pull electricity from the air

The air is full of energy -- not in a woo-woo crystal-gazing way, but in a scientific electromagnetic-radiation-from-TV-stations-and-phone-networks kind of way. That ambient energy is just being wasted. But a team from Georgia Tech is developing inkjet-printed paper antennas that could generate enough energy to power a small gadget, right out of thin air.

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