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Southern vacation

A few random observations before getting back to work

Well, here I am, back from a nine-day vacation in the South, sunburned, mosquito-bitten, jet lagged, and generally dazed. Rather than wading through the 300 or so emails demanding my attention, how about a few vacation observations? I split my time between big-city Atlanta and the sort of not-quite-rural, not-quite-city, not-quite-suburb nether regions that, it seems to me, don't get enough attention in the kind of lay sociological analysis we enviros are prone to. Anyway, everywhere I went looked almost exactly the same: big highways, endless, indistinguishable strip malls, and isolated residential areas separated from any retail or services by …

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Sure it's 100 in the shade, but man, nice plane!

While planet burns, Boeing scores a PR victory

At the gym, in between hearing an EMT talk about the heat stroke issues he expects tomorrow, I marveled at how awful news programs were today, devoting huge chunks of time to talking up Boeing's new "Dreamliner" jet, which the blow-drieds say will consume 20 percent less fuel per mile. I even heard one blow say "eventually reducing the cost of air travel." Man, talk about delusional. (Oh, and I know I'm not supposed to connect things like our craze for jet travel and high temperatures, as if to suggest a connection between another spate of record breaking temperatures in …

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The catch phrase of the millennium

Catchy, catchy!

Someone -- possibly Bart A., who frequents these haunts -- came up with a magnificent line that ought to be widely repeated and put on T-shirts, bike stickers, etc: "The Future Has Pedals." Love it!

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Report: Diesels will outsell hybrids in the U.S. by 2012

What next? Socialized medicine?

A new report (PDF) claims that more Americans are likely to opt for diesel vehicles over hybrids in the near future in the quest for fuel economy: total sales of hybrids and diesels will hit 2.7 million annually by 2012, and diesels will account for more than half (1.5 million) of those sales. "A new diesel's cost burden is lower than hybrid's for similar fuel economy -- even with the 'clean' technologies needed to meet tough U.S. emissions regulations (including California)," the report claims. Good or bad, there's little doubt that more diesel vehicles are on the horizon.

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It's sexy to Texxi

Can text messaging solve some of our cities’ climate & traffic challenges?

A story in the new Plenty magazine gives details on a cab company that's giving the late-night clubbing crowd of Liverpool great green service with the magic of text messages: It's a solution any 14-year-old would love: The challenges of foreign oil dependency, global warming, and gridlock are not so big that you can't text-message your way out of them. The Texxi text-dispatchers arrange carpool cab rides based on who's texting from where and their desired destinations. Besides the other benefits, it also saves its riders money, which is proving popular. The company is planning to leap the pond and …

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Just what India needs!

Really cheap cars. And so, hope continues to recede into the distance. Vroom vroom!

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Ignorance is bliss

Do parents lose or gain by taking kids outdoors?

I'm a little bitter about not playing soccer. Or softball. Or piano. I did take dance lessons, but the name "Klutzy Chrissy" didn't happen by accident. My parents preferred to send me outside. Even in our Detroit neighborhood, which developed a reputation during the last 30 years of offering a wide assortment of crack houses, my friends and I explored the alleys while making sure to wear shoes as protection from broken bottles. Ah, nature. My parents certainly didn't view themselves as the last of a dying breed. But as the National Forum on Children and Nature works to get …

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Hastings Makes Less Waste?

Central Nebraska town wins greenest city in America contest We say "greenest city in America," and you say -- Portland? Seattle? Savannah? Try Hastings, Nebraska. The town of 25,000 beat out some 350 other cities to win a contest sponsored by Yahoo! as part of the portal's "Be a Better Planet" initiative. Yes, we're pretty sure we just got suckered into giving Yahoo! a free plug, and we're not entirely sure that Hastings -- birthplace of Kool-Aid -- is ultra-green so much as ultra-good at organizing its residents to use Yahoo!. But we're still going to celebrate the fact that …

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Barrier Methods

Galveston, Texas, expected to approve history-defying development plans The city of Galveston perches precariously on a Texas barrier island; some 8,000 people were killed there by a hurricane in 1900. But hindsight shmindsight! Officials are set to OK construction of over 1,000 acres of hotels and homes, the largest development in city history. Geologists hired to study the issue have strongly criticized the plan, questioning the wisdom of, for example, creating artificial lakes and boat channels that could help along surging waters during a storm. They also criticize plans to build right up against quickly eroding beaches. "Some of these …

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Innovative ideas for a new West

An annual conference for perennial inspiration

Westerners are known for their pluck and willingness to solve problems with grit and imagination. Combating climate change, developing renewable energy, promoting rural economies and local agriculture, strengthening communities, and ensuring equitable access to transit ... these are all pieces of a Western manifesto put forward by the Sopris Foundation's great annual conference, this year in Missoula from July 13-15. Elected officials, planners, ranchers and farmers, grantmakers, citizens, activists, and entrepreneurs are there for this indispensable conversation every year. How about you?

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