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Ferry Ferry, Quite Contrary

Hawaii's first-ever inter-island ferry service comes under protest Hawaii's first-ever inter-island passenger ferry service set off this weekend amidst protests that it could harm marine life, spread invasive species, and worsen pollution. The docking of the ferry's second voyage was delayed by a dozen steamed surfers, while hundreds more protesters stood on the island seawall shouting and carrying signs. (Perhaps most eloquent: "Stupid ferry, stupid riders.") Hawaii's Supreme Court had ruled Thursday that the state should have required an environmental review before letting the Hawaii Superferry go forward; in response, the ferry service moved its maiden voyage up by two …

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Urban agriculture does more than provide healthy food for those who need it

Phoebe Connelly and Chelsea Ross have a detailed and incredibly heartening story on urban agriculture in In These Times. It focuses on urban ag projects that target inner city "food deserts," where liquor stores outnumber groceries 20-to-1 and the most easily available food is fried. It's not just about food, though: "We are what most folks would consider organic, but we're not certified," the Food Project's Burns says. "That's not as important to us. We're in the community; folks can just come by and see our practices. It's about transparency." Accessibility is at the heart of what these groups call …

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Building professionals overestimate costs and underestimate benefits of green building

A new study (PDF) from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development finds that folks in the real estate and construction businesses overestimate the cost of building green by 300%. Specifically, the 1,400 professionals surveyed across the globe estimated that: green building costs 17% more than normal building, when the reality is 5%, and greenhouse gases from buildings are 19% of the global total, when the reality is 40%. Got that? People in the relevant industries underestimate the damage their products are doing, and overestimate how much it costs to clean them up. You can read the study as disheartening, …

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Haiku Times on community gardens (with gorgeous photos)

There is a really nice issue of Haiku Times devoted to community gardens. The haikus are variously lovely, funny, and insightful, and the photos are absolutely beautiful.

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Seattle enviros face a Hobson’s choice in November

This November, those of us who live in and around Seattle will vote on a $17.7 billion transportation package that would expand light rail (by 50 miles) but also include billions for road expansion -- including roads that will primarily serve sprawling developments to Seattle's south and east, making the package a Hobson's choice for environmentalists. (The state legislature tied the roads and transit votes together last year, on the theory that road supporters will only support transit if it's accompanied by pavement, and vice versa.) A lot of the debate around whether the package is good or bad, environmentally …

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The Nation reports on sustainable revitalization of the New Orleans neighborhood

This article by Rebecca Solnit is reprinted from the Sept. 10, 2007 issue of The Nation, released today, which focuses on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, two years later. Solnit is the author of a dozen books, including, most recently, Storming the Gates of Paradise: Landscapes for Politics. ----- The word "will" comes up constantly in the Lower Ninth Ward now; "We Will Rebuild" is spray-painted onto empty houses; "it will happen," one organizer told me. Will itself may achieve the ambitious objective of bringing this destroyed neighborhood back to life, and for many New Orleanians a ferocious determination seems …

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Will bikes or cars win?

China has an environmental problem. No, I'm not talking about weathering huge dust storms, opening one coal power plant a week, surpassing the U.S. as the largest emitter of carbon dioxide, or flooding ecosystems with huge dam projects. I'm talking about something serious: If pollution does not get better in Beijing in time for the 2008 Olympics, the long-distance track events may be canceled. According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, "China's new middle class in love with cars -- big cars": The auto boom has dire implications for next summer's Olympic Games in Beijing because it contributes …

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Would the biosphere care?

Recently we've had a couple of discussions here at Gristmill concerning various aspects of peak oil; that is, the assertion that very soon (if it hasn't happened already) the global supply of oil will peak, and even though demand is going up, supply will start to come down, so prices will skyrocket. It seems to me that some of the contention in these discussions boils down to the question: would it really be so bad if the oil started running out? After all, we would stop mucking up the planet with the pollution, carbon emissions, and infrastructural damage we have …

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And New York City is the healthiest of all

As rural and suburban areas have grown, they have become more car dependent. Meanwhile, cities have reduced air pollution. As a consequence, the old urban health disadvantage has disappeared. City dwellers have higher life expectancies and better health on average [PDF] than people in suburbs or the country. And according to New York Magazine, New York City, probably the most urban of U.S. cities, has the greatest health advantage. The difference seems to boil down to walking. People in urban areas walk more than people in rural or suburban areas (on average). Why do New Yorkers do better than, say, …

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Umbra on community-supported agriculture

Umbra, Please illuminate CSAs for us, how they work, and how your readers can join one. Thanks! (And by the way, that photo of a peach in your recent column is an apricot.) Bobbe Santa Fe, N.M. Dearest Bobbe, Alas for stone-fruit misidentification. Hopefully corrected by the time this question hits the screen, but still. A fruit ignorance that community-supported agriculture might solve, if one lived where apricots and peaches grew. Learn to share. Courtesy of MACSAC CSA is a way to get the freshest food, grown right near where you live or work, and to support small-scale farmers. In …

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