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Heart Trouble

High levels of pollution lead to increased heart disease in women, study finds News flash: pollution is bad. And women living in highly polluted areas are 76 percent more likely to die of a heart attack or stroke, according to a rigorous study published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday. "The magnitude of the findings are substantially higher than what's been seen in prior research on long-term effects of air pollution," says report director Joel Kaufman. Researchers monitored the health of 65,893 post-menopausal women for up to nine years, as well as the soot levels near their homes …

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You, yes you, can act to fight climate change

If the wacky weather we've been having, the suffering of endearing creatures, the possible cancellation of this year's Polar Bear Club swims, or the catastrophic melting of Arctic ice has you hot and bothered, you're not alone. Though it's easy to cower in your basement wearing your duct tape bodysuit and motorcycle helmet feel defeated, here are 10 small things, and one really big thing, you can do to change the changin' climate for the better: Sharing is caring. Sharing your bed home with others cuts back on energy use, as does living in a multi-unit dwelling, choosing a house …

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Merkel, May I?

E.U., Germany duke it out over auto emissions standards Once upon a time, the European Union proposed a carbon-dioxide emissions limit on all vehicles made or imported there. But Germany -- home of Volkswagen, BMW, DaimlerChrysler, and Porsche -- has yanked on the e-brake. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the country would not support a blanket emissions rule, though it would support case-by-case standards. So the E.U. is backing down -- but not without Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, who authored the failed plan, shaking his tiny fist and threatening to replace his Mercedes with a Prius. Sock it to 'em, …

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The Airspeed Velocity of an Uneaten Swallow

Food imported by air may lose organic certification in Britain Foods imported into Britain by airplane may not qualify as organic if the country's main certification body has its druthers. On Friday, the Soil Association announced it will spend a year considering a proposal to factor flight distance into its organic standards. While it will ponder different labeling options, fair-trade schemes, and carbon offsets, Director Patrick Holden says there is "a pretty strong chance" that the association will end up giving the boot to flown-in foods. The Soil Association certifies more than 70 percent of organic produce sold in Britain; …

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The Mile-High Clubbed

Prince Charles gets environmental award, pisses off environmentalists When is a green not a green? Some say it's when he jets across the Atlantic to accept an award for ... being green. Prince Charles raised eyebrows this weekend as he made a quick trip to the U.S. to receive the Global Environmental Citizen Award from Harvard's Center for Health and the Global Environment. Although Chuck and the missus crammed their schedule with visits to urban neighborhoods in Philadelphia and New York, taking an electric train between the cities instead of flying, it wasn't enough to quell cranky critics. "It is …

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Baoxing Match

Fast-developing China to push for $200 billion energy-efficiency investment China will try to nudge its burgeoning economy in a green direction by prompting building owners to spend some $200 billion by 2020 on energy efficiency for apartments and office buildings, Vice Minister of Construction Qiu Baoxing announced yesterday. Construction makes up 27 percent (and rising) of China's total energy consumption, and inefficient buildings have helped make the country the least energy-efficient major economy; the country's resource-sucking structures have "become an obstacle to national development," says Qiu. The newly tightened standards slice allowable energy consumption of heating, lighting, and air conditioning …

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An urban denizen beseeches nature writers to focus on cities for a change

A plea to nature writers: Come write about Los Angeles. To all the young aspiring Thoreaus out there: Head to this megalopolis in droves, as if to Mecca. Chicago is also good. New York. Pittsburgh. Atlanta. Reno. Providence. Houston. Indianapolis. Who needs the woods? Photo: iStockphoto Why does the venerable American literary genre of nature writing continue to ignore cities? Sure, a few wonderful writers are traveling the mean streets: very recently, Michael Pollan has rooted urgently through our supermarkets and kitchens. But when I browse the state-of-the-genre bible, the 2002 Norton anthology of nature writing, I can find only …

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Happy Feat

GM unveils plug-in hybrid at Detroit car show, sticks out tongue at greens The media got a peek at Detroit's North American International Auto Show yesterday, and manufacturers had a surprise in store: cars so green they could play hide-and-seek in a cornfield. The biggest buzz surrounded the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid from General Motors, long vilified for yanking its original electric car in the 1990s. Bob Lutz, GM's vice chair of global product development, took the opportunity to bridge the chasm between the company and its eco-critics. "Well, here it is ... an [electric] car from General Motors. …

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Ready Orleans Not

Big Easy residents move back into homes that remain in danger's path While officials continue to debate the best way to rebuild New Orleans, those who lived there just want to go home. But as residents slowly but surely return, many are reinhabiting houses that may not stand up to severe weather and returning to areas planners think should be abandoned, some of which were submerged in 20 feet of water when Hurricane Katrina hit a year and a half ago. New federal flood guidelines say "substantially damaged" homes must be raised on foundations up to three feet off the …

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A pedal-tastic roundup

On a personal new year's note, I can't help but mention the only-months-old but hopelessly addictive new habit I know I'll be nursing throughout the year: mountain biking at night. No idea why I only started doing this recently, and in the winter no less, but there you go. And since I splurged on a set of burly studded mountain-bike tires that should be arriving any day now, snow and ice riding on both trail and street at all hours are up next. That, and on snowmobile trails. Any others out there who want to join the ranks of proud …

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