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Carbon Conscious Consumer contest

Go car-free, win stuff

Here's something most Gristers are probably already doing: going car-free once a week. So step up, take credit, and get entered to win these prizes from New American Dream: Grand Prize: A one-week Bike Tour of Oregon for you and a friend, provided by Sustainable Energy in Motion Second Prize: A Villager U-frame Breezer Bike Third Prize: A $200 carbon offset from Native Energy (and a snazzy t-shirt as well)

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Engines could easily gulp less gas

MIT lab rats cook up a less wasteful gasoline engine

Don't hum the requiem for the gasoline engine just yet. MIT brainiacs say it's easier than imagined to flip a car between the usual gas-guzzling state to a low-pollution, ultra-efficient mode. The researchers have tested a system that can run on a quarter less than the usual amount of gas without needing any fancy fuel. With the flick of a switch, the setup alternates between regular, spark-triggered combustion and experimental homogeneous charge compression ignition. In the latter system, premixed fuel and air combust when compressed, spewing less soot and NOx from the engine. Volvo has explored the hybrid technology, but …

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Running the gauntlet

Time to get serious about bikes

I participated in another Critical Mass bike ride last Friday and thought I'd share some observations. This was the first time I have seen a patrol car at a gathering, although they didn't seem to know what exactly was going on. They cited one guy for drinking in public. The goofball had an open bottle of red wine. I had to smile as they dragged him off because half of the crowd watching was standing there with beers hidden in riding gloves or drink bottles. The ride got off to a rocky start. Normally, a few of the several hundred …

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Our brittle infrastructure, our nonresilient economy

Bridge to the 21st century?

Since 1998, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has been publishing an "infrastructure report card" detailing the sorry state of the various parts of our infrastructure. Unfortunately, national attention on the physical infrastructure only rises when something catastrophic happens, as it did in New Orleans in 2005, in Minneapolis on Wednesday after the collapse of a large bridge, or during an electrical blackout. Like our ecosystems, the physical infrastructure is an essential part of the economy; the economy literally rests on the foundation of ecosystems and the infrastructure. Like the various ecosystems, such as forests and grasslands, lakes and …

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Ask a Brokeass: Trade wins

At last, a use for that old Milli Vanilli CD

Long ago, I promised an interview component to Ask a Brokeass. I've talked to some badass brokeasses since then, but I haven't gotten around to transcribing all of those interviews. The intern needs an intern. Then last week I received an email from Mark Hexamer, co-founder of the innovative new media trading site Swaptree.com, who saw my posts on the greening of Harry Potter and the virtues of sharing and wanted to talk up his project. What's greener than an eco-edition of Harry Potter? Well, the edition of Harry Potter that never had to be printed, argues Hexamer. Lucky for …

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Coach buses provide long-distance, low-emission convenience

Greyhound gets some competition from Megabus.com

Buses, on average, get low passenger miles per gallon in the U.S., because they stop often and don't use most of their capacity. Coach buses -- providing prebooked travel between cities -- don't suffer from these limitations. Megabus.com, a new niche player in this market, provides cheap, comfortable travel between nearby cities with travel time comparable to driving or taking commuter airlines (in a very small portion of the U.S.). Efficiency is 184 passenger miles per gallon -- without using hybrid buses or using any particular efficiency technology. They just use yield management ticket booking, where the earlier you book …

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Of cars and carbon

How the Prius stacks up against other cars

Sure, everybody knows that what you drive affects how much you warm the climate. But after the jump: a chart that proves the point. Just to be clear: this includes only the emissions from the highway fuel itself. It doesn't include upstream emissions from drilling for oil and refining it into gasoline or diesel. And it doesn't include emissions from vehicle manufacturing. In other words, these are conservative figures -- so use them with caution. This is all fairly obvious stuff -- I mean, at this point, doesn't everyone understand that a Hummer pollutes more than a Prius? Still, I …

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More ways to use our friend the wind's energy

Clever video

A short video -- proof that ingenuity is alive and well:

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They're counting on you

To count … heh

WNYC is calling on New Yorkers to go outside and count the SUVs in their 'hood as part of an experiment in getting citizens involved in the reporting process. Sez their website: This our experiment in "crowdsourcing," where we employ you, the listener, in an act of journalism. We're trying to find out just how much gas-guzzling SUV use there is throughout the New York area, with all the talk of environmental sustainability in the city. So you go out and report, then leave a comment with 1) your neighborhood, 2) your block (street and cross street) 3) the number …

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Piquing interest

How does the Home Interest Mortgage Deduction affect sprawl?

Now that the housing market is tanking, is it a good time to talk about the absurdity of the Home Interest Mortgage Deduction? I mean, it's truly crummy social policy. The biggest benefits go to the people in the highest tax brackets, own expensive homes, and earn enough income that they can itemize their deductions. So in essence, the HIMD is a ginormous housing subsidy for the well-off -- and one that dwarfs all of the housing subsidies to lower-income folks. This NY Times article lays out the case nicely: apparently, half the benefit of the deduction goes to the …

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