Business & Technology

Why the next light bulb you buy will last 22 years

By 2014, it will be illegal to sell traditional incandescent light bulbs in the U.S. You've got a handful of alternatives, and one of them, the LED bulb, will last up to 22 years. And the quality of the light it produces will be every bit the equal of traditional bulbs — maybe even better. This might come as a shock to the trendsetting readers of Grist, but three quarters of the sockets in America are still occupied by incandescents. A recent survey conducted by GE revealed that the same proportion of Americans have no idea that the light bulb …

Critical List: EPA gives chemical industry a pass; Rolls-Royce owners snubs EVs

The EPA could ask chemical companies to report on Americans' exposure to their products, but it's not. "Where's there's coal, there's opportunity": The energy industry funds brainwashing — sorry, "education" — for students. The Grand Calumet river ferries about 200,000 cubic yards of toxic crap into Lake Michigan each year. The federal government is cleaning it up. Slowly. Bill McKibben lays out the strategy for pushing back on Obama's energy choices. Rolls-Royce owners poo-poo electric cars. The company's CEO thinks it's because his customers live in sprawly suburbs where 100 miles, the range of most EVs, just won't cut it.

Green Cars

Americans want fuel-efficient cars — can Detroit keep up?

The fuel-efficient Ford Focus is in high demand. The Ford Econoline van? Not so much.Photo: Ford Motor CompanyCross-posted from Climate Progress. This post was cowritten by Tyce Herrman. With gas prices just below the $4 per gallon mark and possibly climbing to $5 per gallon later this summer, Americans are demanding more fuel-efficient automobiles. But U.S. automakers are having trouble keeping up with that demand, according to a poll by Reuters: Higher car prices and a shortage of fuel-efficient vehicles likely threw a roadblock in the U.S. auto industry’s recovery path in May, when the Japan crisis had its biggest …

How solar power will become cheaper than fossil fuels in three to five years

Are you ready to flip the bird at your utility company? Lord knows you probably will be after you get the bill for what's shaping up to be an especially hot June. Luckily, a whole host of companies working on improving a novel solar technology would like to help you do it. The new tech is called thin-film solar, and the global research director of GE thinks it will soon be cheap enough to compete with the retail price of electricity from the grid. This is called "grid parity" and it's the Holy Grail of rooftop solar. When this magic …

Once and for all, do cell phones cause cancer?

Maybe. The World Health Organization has released a report [PDF] on the connections between cell phone use and cancer. It concluded that cell phones are a "possible" carcinogen, and there was much out-freaking. But what does this really mean? It does not, it turns out, mean that cell phones definitely or even likely cause cancer. It would be more accurate to say that the report says cell phones do not definitely NOT cause cancer. The majority of studies still show no causal link between cell phone use and cancer, writes science blogger extraordinaire Ed Yong. All studies have limitations, which is …

Renewable Energy

Apollo and BlueGreen Alliance merge — a smart move at a time of clean-energy trouble

Last week, the Apollo Alliance and the BlueGreen Alliance, two of the most important national nonprofits supporting clean energy development and good jobs, announced that as of July 1, they would merge. The much larger Minneapolis-based BlueGreen Alliance, a five-year-old collaboration of big green groups and unions, will become the parent of San Francisco-based Apollo, which was founded in 2003 and gained its renown for being the first organization to understand that the transition to an economy primarily fueled by something other than oil and coal could produce a flurry of useful results — jobs, climate action, energy security, and industrial …

Buildings that make more energy than they use gain steam

If every building made more energy than it uses, would all the world's power plants pack up and go home? Maybe education would be fully funded and the military would be forced to have a bake sale! But really: There is a building in Bellenberg, Germany that produces more energy than it consumes, mostly by being super energy efficient in the first place. It also has solar panels for electricity and ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. It doesn't just produce a little more energy than it uses, either: It's making 80 percent more juice per year than it …

How the ‘Arab Spring’ makes massive solar in North Africa more likely

Desertec is a massive project to to build solar thermal plants in the deserts of North Africa — you know, the same North Africa that had all the revolutions just now. But proponents are saying there’s no reason to put the project on hold just because of political unrest. In fact, they say, the economic benefits afforded by the Desertec plant might help the region in its shift towards democracy. The plants would take advantage of the Sahara’s sunshine — it gets so much that covering only 1 percent of its area in solar thermal plants could power the entire …

Greener cars and fuel mean fewer deaths tied to vehicle emissions

Cars idling in traffic lead to more than 2,200 premature deaths each year, according to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health. But lower vehicle emissions and cleaner fuels have been driving down that number for past decade, and the number of deaths will continue to decrease until about 2025, the study says. Here's a graph from the study showing projected premature deaths connected to congested traffic from 2000-2030: What happens in 2025? Presumably, increased emissions from congestion begin to overtake gains from greener fuel and car design. The study was funded by a coalition of transportation …

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