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Business & Technology


The eBay of solar

California moves to set up auction market for green energy

The sun is shining on California solar.Photo courtesy Ryan Jesena via FlickrIt's been a big week for Big Solar. On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission approved a license for the nation's first new large-scale solar thermal power plant in two decades. Over the next month, the energy commission is expected to green-light three more big solar farms to be built in the Mojave Desert. The projects would collectively generate nearly 2,000 megawatts of electricity. At peak output, that's the equivalent of a couple of large nuclear power plants. Less noticed but equally momentous were developments this week on the small-scale …


doctor's alders

Swapping health care for people to get health care for forests

Could this be the cure for what’s ailing U.S. forests? Photo: Daniel Kulinski via Flickr If we want carbon-sequestering forests to be the picture of health, perhaps we've been barking up the wrong tree. About 60 percent of U.S. forest land is privately owned -- and often by people who like to keep it in the family. But when towering medical costs fall in those woods, the timber owners hear it loud and clear -- and are then more likely to swallow the bitter pill of selling off the family land to pay the bills. This news came out of …


Trucks stop here

Three mobile vendors that are 'Feeding the City' one quick, guilt-free snack at a time

With the economy in full recession, yet the good-food movement swelling in size -- spurred in part by mass recalls of salmonella-tainted cheap eggs and listeria-contaminated sandwiches -- mobile eateries cooking up tasty, mid-priced meals from fresh, local ingredients are gaining speed. Emily Gertz recently reported on this trend for Grist's Feeding the City series; here's a closer look at three of these sustainably minded and social-media-savvy small businesses. Are there food trucks like these roaming your city? Give them a shout-out in the comments! Curb appeal: Primo's Parilla setting up for the lunch crowd in Emeryville, Calif.(Bart Nagel Photography) …


'Wiches brew

Walmart, Tyson recall 380,000 pounds of tainted 'deli meats'

We’ve got beef with these bad ’wiches.Spooked by the half-billion salmonella-tainted eggs floating around the United States, some consumers might be tempted to skip the egg salad and opt instead for a "deli sandwich." But that could be a painful mistake, especially for Walmart shoppers. Get this, from the USDA's meat-industry watchdog, the Food Safety and Inspection Services: Zemco Industries, a Buffalo, N.Y., establishment, is recalling approximately 380,000 pounds of deli meat products that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Yikes. And what, pray tell, is "Listeria monocytogenes"? According to FSIS, "listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, …


bag of tricks

Eco-amnesia costs the U.S. $20 billion a year

Plastic bags may be free, but it costs the U.S. almost $20 billion in raw materials every year to produce them.Photo courtesy mtsofan via FlickrA science advisor to the U.K. government predicts the growth of artificial meat in tanks to meet the needs of a burgeoning global middle class and to address the impacts on natural resources from raising livestock in more natural ways. The Environmental Protection Agency is poised to grant approval to a Swiss chemical company to coat underwear with nano-particles of silver that would allow us to wear the same skivvies for weeks without washing (ugh!). And …


"He deserves the win"

Prius will no longer be silent under 5 mph

The silent approach of the Prius' hybrid-electric motor is legendary. And by legendary, I mean it's pretty incredible that a mundane fact about the Prius' (lack of) noise has successfully managed to percolate pop culture. Fans of the TV show The Office will, of course, realize that I'm talking about how this quietly creeping car was turned into the weapon of choice in modern TV duels. "The Prius is silent if he keeps it under 5 mph. He deserves the win." But all this hilarity about the not-a-peep Prius will soon be drowned out by the news that, as of …


California greening

Anti-Prop 23 campaign taps out-of-state donors

Prop 23 opponents, like its supporters, are now tapping out-of-state donors to help bankroll their campaign.With the campaign season revving up, even more money is starting to flow into the campaign to defeat Proposition 23. Prop 23 is the California ballot initiative that would suspend the state's landmark climate change law. Its opponents had been relying mostly on the largesse of a California coalition of environmental groups and Silicon Valley's venture capitalists and tech elite to finance their No on 23 campaign. But now the No forces are tapping out-of-state donors. On Thursday, they got $250,000 from New York investor …


shifting gears

A global shift to renewable energy: But will it be fast enough?

A new energy economy is on the horizon.Photo courtesy Kevin Dooley via FlickrAs fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced by one powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Despite the global economic crisis, this energy transition is moving at a pace and on a scale that we could not have imagined even two years ago. And it is a worldwide phenomenon. Consider Texas. Long …


Friday Flashback

Mystery island, magical bikes, and 8 other green stories to keep you in the loop

What a week. While scientists testifying on Capitol Hill trashed the government's estimates on how much oil lingers in the Gulf, sound-sensitive munchers everywhere trashed the new compostable Sun Chips bag because it's louder than a New York subway train. Really. But here's some under-the-radar items that will provide even more snappy repartee fodder for your weekend social soirees: The Copenhagen Wheel.Photo: SENSEable Cities LabThe wheel deal: Hybrid bikes may soon be getting a lot cooler. Using a principle from Formula 1 racing, a team from MIT's SENSEable Cities Lab is moving forward with an invention they call the Copenhagen …


Waste not, want not

Flush away greenhouse gases

FuelCell Energy: Giving new meaning to the phrase "a powerful poop."Photo courtesy starryeyez via FlickrIt's been a crappy week -- and I mean that in a good way. On Wednesday, I wrote about the California egg farm that bought a 1.4-megawatt fuel cell powered by biogas produced from chicken poo. (Forget free-range eggs; carbon-free could become all the rage with fashion-forward foodies.) Now the company that makes the fuel generator, FuelCell Energy, said it has signed a deal to provide two 300-kilowatt fuel cells to a Southern California water district that will install the devices in wastewater treatment plants. These …