Britain’s eco-town plans are on shaky ground

Thanks to the shaky economy, a struggling construction industry, and strong local opposition, sources close to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s eco-town plans say that only “one or two” of the 15 shortlisted sites are likely to go forward.

Save transit, save the world

Public spending on transit is an easy call

Katharine Mieszkowski tells the sordid story: in the U.S., ridership for public transit is up, demand is up, but funding is going down and transit systems are decaying. The Washington Post says "[D.C.] Metro and 30 other transit agencies across the country may have to pay billions of dollars to large banks as years-old financing deals unravel, potentially hurting service for millions of bus and train riders." Not good. Meanwhile! Reconnecting America recently released new report: "Jumpstarting the Transit Space Race: How the New Administration Could Make America Energy-Independent, Create Jobs and Keep the Economy Strong." Is shows that demand …

Prop. 1A

KQED takes a look at California’s high-speed rail ballot measure

Great look at California’s Proposition 1A: The mind-boggling myopia it takes to call something like this an “extravagance” mystifies me. When did we get so hinky about investing in our future? I will bet anyone $100 right now that ridership on this train, if it is built, exceeds the most optimistic assessments. I’ll bet another hundred that five years after it is built, a study will be done that finds that total social return exceeds invested capital by several decimal places. Once the first American high-speed rail system is in place, other heavily populated regions are going to start wanting …

And they’re super bad

Seoul is planning 129 miles of bike paths in the next four years. “We will make sure that bicycles will compete with vehicles for commuting in Seoul,” says mayor Oh Se-Hoon. Sweet.

The candidates on transit

Spokesfolk from the presidential campaigns talk transit in Our Nation’s Capital

Via Greater Greater Washington, representatives for both Barack Obama and John McCain spoke on a panel about transportation here in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Local radio station WTOP reports on what they had to say, at least about transit in Our Nation’s Capital: Where does your candidate stand on rail to Dulles? Mortimer Downey, adviser to Obama: He feels very strongly and favorably to rail. Rail to Dulles is the kind of thing we are looking for. Actually I’d like to see Dulles approved while the Bush Administration is still in place, because we need to get on with it …

Green group catalogs world’s 10 worst pollution problems

The world’s worst pollution problems kill millions of people each year and sicken hundreds of millions of others, mostly in developing countries, according to a new report from green group Blacksmith Institute. For the past few years, the group has ranked the world’s top 10 most-polluted sites in order to focus global attention and fuel efforts to clean them up. This year, however, the group broke slightly with its own tradition and instead focused on the worst pollution problems. In no particular order, the world’s top pollution problems include small-scale gold mining, contaminated surface water, contaminated groundwater, indoor air pollution, …

Electric-car infrastructure coming to Australia

In just a few years, Aussies will be driving to and fro in electric vehicles, plugging in to a grid powered entirely by renewable energy. At least, that’s the goal of California-based startup Better Place, which is heading Down Under to put its ambitious vision for an electric-car future into action. Some $671 million, raised with the help of Macquarie Capital Group, will put in place hundreds of thousands of charging and battery-swap stations by 2012; utility AGL Energy has pledged to expand capacity to power the electric-car grid with 100 percent renewable energy. Better Place founder Shai Agassi, who …

Umbra on straw-bale homes

Dear Umbra, Do you recommend building straw bale homes? And/or can you insulate an existing home with straw bales on the outside of the home and then finish it using siding, wood, or stucco? I wonder why this renewable, economical, and easily available resource is underused and undervalued … am I missing something? What do you think? Leni E.Hollywood, Fla. Dearest Leni, Anyone who has seen a straw-bale home will not be making any of the traditional jokes about the Three Little Pigs. The plastered walls are filled with solid bales of straw at least 14 inches wide, and the …

Electric Mini Cooper coming to the U.S.

What’s cute and teeny and charged up? An electric Mini Cooper, which BMW will unveil at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Even more exciting — especially if you are among “select private and corporate customers” — a 500-vehicle test fleet will be available for lease in California, New Jersey, and New York early next year. While the creatively named Mini E will be manufactured in the United Kingdom and Germany, BMW is still mum on specific plans for a European release. The two-seater Mini E takes about eight hours to fully charge, then can travel 150 miles before …

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