Business & Technology

charging up

Three trends that favor electric bikes

Photo: Sightline DailyIn part 1, I described the appeal of and demand for electric bikes, and mentioned that three trends bode well for them in the Pacific Northwest and the rest of North America. Battery-juiced two-wheelers could finally break out of their current status as transportation novelties, helping us rise to challenges as great as climate change, oil addiction, and recession. In this post, I detail these trends. Technology, overseas markets, and political trends all bring good portents for e-bikes. Trend 1. Technical innovation keeps improving electric bikes. The latest Giant, with lithium ion batteries, reportedly has a real-life battery …

Juice Hawgs

The parable of the electric bike

Brynnen Ford carpools kids to school in her Madsen electric bike.Photo: Brynnen FordMmmm. An electric bike. Zipping through the city. Surging up hills without gasping for breath. Riding in business dress and arriving fresh and dry. Healthy, moderate exercise. No traffic jams. Free parking. Huge load-hauling potential. Near-free fueling. Zero emissions. Breeze in your face. Appealing! So why haven’t e-bikes caught on (yet)? Especially in the Pacific Northwest, which is brimming with well-heeled tech enthusiasts? What’s stopping electric bikes from devouring automotive market share the way DVDs killed VHS? At least in good weather? Why aren’t they as commonplace on …

potty pooper

Urine-separating NoMix toilet gets thumbs-up in European countries

NoMix toilet.Photo courtesy Sustainable sanitation via Flickr Being green is all about solving problems and grabbing overlooked opportunities. It turns out that there’s such a double-win in most bathrooms around the world; if we had “NoMix” toilets that separate urine from solid waste, municipal wastewater plants would have a significantly easier task (and produce more methane to generate electricity), and we could much more easily extract precious nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen for use as fertilizer (instead of using fossil fuels). So what’s stopping us from going NoMix? According to a pretty extensive review based on surveys from 7 European …

Don't you antitrust us

Seedy tactics in Iowa and Norway in the news this week

Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soybean seedPhoto: MonsantoThe first in a series of daylong federally sponsored workshops kicked off today in Ankeny, Iowa, to debate whether consolidation in agriculture — in particular in the seed industry — has stifled competition and harmed farmers. While it may be much more convenient for farmers to do their one-stop seed shopping at Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta, et al — assuming they don’t mind that the selection is starting to resemble Soviet-era grocery stores — it certainly hasn’t saved them money. In the past year, farmers have paid 32 percent more for corn seed and 24 …

Price cannot steer emission reductions properly

In my last two posts I argued two points: emissions pricing is less popular with the public than funding of trains, renewable requirements and other types of public investment and rule based regulation . And the public is right. Clean energy, clean industry and clean agriculture are fundamentally infrastructure.  Infrastructure depends much more on rules of the game and public investment than price fluctuations. Price fluctuations themselves depend as much (or more) on power relations as on supply and demand. Historically everything from U.S. agriculture, canals, telegraph, railroads, auto roads, air and water ports, utilities, wired and wireless communication spectrum …

oral fiber

Banana briefs are growing on us

Gents, if the thought of pesticides on your privates bums you out, then start thinking outside the boxer. AussieBum has gone down under to pioneer briefs that put a banana in your pants. That’s right, these skivvies are a smoothie mix of banana tree-bark fibers, organic cotton, Lycra (cough), and an “eco friendly flavor that will keep you coming back for seconds.” Mmm … yeah. Hat tip to our friends at HuffPost Green. We just couldn’t pass up the op-pun-tunity. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive our email roundup of pun-usual green news just like this — …

FOREVER PLASTIC

Breakthrough polymers promise versatile, immortal plastics — a good thing

If you want to build a sustainable street, neighborhood, city, or world, I have one word for you: plastics. The facts about plastic have become part of the green liturgy. More than 30 million tons of the stuff is dumped into the municipal waste stream each year in the United States. Disposable water bottles have become the Hummer of plastics — a petroleum-fueled symbol of extravagant waste, a F-You to the planet with some 13 billion of them ending up in landfills, littering landscapes and befouling oceans. But the reality is that even if you pried every Evian and Dasani …

Green hard hat or green lab beaker?

Retooling green jobs for the next generation

When you think “green jobs,” do you conjure images of green hard hats, caulk guns, and tool belts? Well it might be time to start thinking about “green” lab beakers, “green” drafting tables and “green” brief cases as well, because the careers needed to secure competitive clean energy industries will also run the gamut from cutting-edge researchers and high-tech engineers to innovative designers and fearless entrepreneurs, according to Dr. Henry Kelly, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency. Dr. Kelly spoke to an audience of Stanford University students Monday about …

Blanching Out

Farm lobby’s lawyer appointed as Ag Committee’s counsel

Here’s object lesson No. 452 in the ongoing corrosive handover of government power to corporate interests. And no, I don’t think I’m exaggerating. Over at Mother Jones, Kate Sheppard details the high-speed revolving door permanently located between the offices of Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.), chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and several top energy lobbying outfits. But Sheppard also drops in this little-noticed fact: The door to Lincoln’s office also spins the other direction … In December she hired Julie Anna Potts to serve as her chief counsel for the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, which Lincoln chairs. …

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