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Designer furnishes an entire room with trash

recycled-chairs-paulo-goldstein-small

“In an increasingly deskilled society,” wrote the sociologist Richard Sennett, “‘making' can be viewed as a form of political resistance.” British designer Paulo Goldstein recently took this to heart, dumpster-diving not only as part of a design job, but as an opportunity for commentary on our culture of consumption.

London’s Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design tasked Goldstein with outfitting one of its entry rooms. Inspired by the idea that scarcity could be an opportunity rather than a constraint, the recent grad put together a team that scoured London for bits of broken furniture. Using only 980 feet of rope and pieces of old chairs and tables, Goldstein’s team furnished the entry room with 10 cobbled-together chairs, a side table, main table, and wooden mobile.

Writes Fast Company:

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Finally, a way to actually make your office a comfortable temperature

You can finally do something about the frigid temperatures at work other than whine and pretend a Snuggie is business casual. New app CrowdComfort tallies employee votes about whether it’s too hot or cold straight from your smartphone, mapping out what parts of the office are uncomfortable and helping building managers save energy.

CrowdComfort’s creators are based in the Boston area, where humid summers and snowy winters make climate-controlled workspaces a must. The app, however, is more quantitative and, ultimately, more fair than just having your bossiest coworker get up to fiddle with the thermostat.

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This tandem bike shrinks to a solo one for after you’ve been dumped

Before your breakup.
Gizmag
Before your breakup.

Calfee Design makes some pretty sweet bamboo bikes, but now it's even anticipating your change in Facebook relationship status. To make breakups a little less painful -- or just make tandem bikes more versatile -- the cycle company created a convertible tandem that you can turn into a solo bike. (It’s a bicycle built for two! Slash one!)

...aaand after.
Gizmag
... aaand after.

The carbon fiber bicycle was a custom design for a couple, so it’s not widely available (yet), but it was recently on display at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show for people to drool over. Gizmag explains the bike’s logistics:

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Sticky green

Can the pot industry make buds with sustainability?

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The first thing Scott Durkee does when he picks me up at the ferry dock is laugh. "You’re funny," he says. "You thought you could just hail a cab on Vashon Island, just like that? This isn’t Seattle!"

And indeed, Vashon is not. With its winding rural roads, vegetable stands, and slow-paced island charm, it's hard to believe that the island of a little more than 10,000 residents is only a 20-minute ferry ride across the Puget Sound from the city.

Durkee's lived on Vashon since 1990. A self-described "freelance factotum," he reuses just about everything he can find from his various jobs around the island. He makes garden beds out of old barrels from his job at a nearby winery. He powers all three of his cars with vegetable oil from his gig inspecting grease traps for restaurants. He used to build water systems and wants solar panels to make his rainwater catcher "carbon footprint free."

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Birthday, it’s ya birthday: Fracking technology turns 65

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Gather round, ladies and gentlemen, for today the technology behind hydraulic fracturing turns 65. We’d personally like to take this moment to remind all the fracking wells out there that they’re now eligible for a free beverage at Taco Bell. Get that Pepsi, girl! The American Petroleum Institute has thoughtfully organized a publicity campaign around this momentous occasion. In the spirit of birthdays being the time of year that we lie to ourselves to feel better about our lives, API’s "happy birthday, fracking!" press release is basically chock-full of fun falsehoods: “Americans have long been energy pioneers, from the 1800’s …

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Alabama wetland still infested with oil, four months after train accident

Aftermath of a arain derailment in Alabama
Public Herald
Cleaning up this oily mess turned out to be hard, so it looks like the railroad pretty much gave up.

The derailment and explosion of a train passing through Alabama wetlands in November helped bring attention to the dangers of hauling oil by rail. But the mess left behind after the explosion has been largely ignored.

The Associated Press recently visited the derailment site near the town of Aliceville and found "dark, smelly crude oil still oozing into the water." Waters around the oil spill's epicenter are lined with floating booms to help prevent the spread of surface oil, but environmentalists have detected toxic chemicals from the oil flowing downstream. And questions have been raised about a decision to rebuild damaged tracks without first removing all the oil that surrounded them. Here's more from the story:

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Judge rejects latest Koch-led bid to snuff out Cape Wind

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Wind won, and Bill Koch took another one in the crotch.

A U.S. District Court judge rejected a long-running legal effort by the Koch-funded Alliance for Nantucket Sound and other groups to strip the planned Cape Wind energy farm of its federal approvals, which have taken more than a decade to secure. Bill, a lesser-known Koch brother, has spent millions leading a battle against construction of the 130-turbine offshore wind array, which he says would mar his views of Nantucket Sound.

The alliance had alleged a laundry list of shortcomings in the federal government's approval process. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, this was the alliance's 15th legal challenge to the project, and the 15th to fail.

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Keystone XL and the energy rush that could change America forever

Tank Farm
Shovelling Son

The following is excerpted from Tony Horwitz's BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever, published by Byliner. BOOM is available at Byliner.com, or at AmazonApple, and Kobo.

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Meandering south from Cold Lake on small roads, I entered a new landscape. The boreal forest of northern Alberta gave way to rolling prairie, grain silos, and rural crossroads. The oil sands were now behind me -- or rather, flowing beneath me. Every road had pipeline crossing signs or ditches for new lines alongside or piles of pipe sections waiting to be laid. All pipes led to the place I was headed: Hardisty, home to Canada’s largest oil depot and the site where the Keystone XL was slated to begin.

51FAGvDveJLAt first glance, Hardisty, population 650, looked much like other sleepy settlements I’d passed. But in the distance loomed a field of circular white storage tanks, like metal mushrooms sprouting from the prairie.

“Most people see that from the highway and think it’s the town,” said Shari Irving, the innkeeper at the Solitaire Lodge, where I pulled in for the night. The Solitaire was more barracks than motel, housing a dozen dorm-like rooms along a narrow corridor. “No one comes to Hardisty for a holiday,” explained Irving, who ran the lodge with her husband, a native of New Zealand. “Oil is bloody good for business,” he interjected. “Why shouldn’t we profit instead of those piss pots and communists in Nigeria and Venezuela?”

Hardisty, however, had yet to prosper from the oil-sands boom. The storage depot lay beyond the town limits, so no tax from the terminal flowed into local coffers. Most workers lodged and shopped in a more distant town that had better facilities. Also, as I saw the next morning, the oil depot didn’t employ many people, at least not directly.

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Will frackers cause California’s next big earthquake?

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The Ring of Fire, an earthquake-prone area around the edges of the Pacific Ocean, might not be the best spot for earth-rumbling fracking practices. But fracking is exploding in the ringside state of California, raising fears that the industry could trigger the next "big one."

More than half of the 1,553 active wastewater injection wells used by frackers in California are within 10 miles of a seismic fault that has ruptured within the past two centuries, according to a jarring new report. The fracking industry's habit of injecting its wastewater underground has been linked to earthquakes. (And Ohio officials are investigating whether fracking itself was enough to trigger temblors early this week.)

From the report:

shaky-ground-table
shakyground.org

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Blacking out America would be a cinch, because there’s not enough distributed solar

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Crippling America's old-fashioned electrical grid for a long period of time would be disturbingly easy. Saboteurs need only wait for a heat wave, and then knock out a factory plus a small number of the 55,000 electric-transmission substations that are scattered throughout the country.

That's according to the findings of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission analysis. "Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer," wrote FERC officials in a memo for a former chair of the agency.