Cities

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 …

Live, baby, live

Architecture 2030’s challenge targets would provide five times the energy as offshore and nuclear

Because America’s energy crisis is adversely impacting our economy and national security, it is critical to take a realistic look at the energy solutions currently being proposed by politicians, industry, and the media. Architecture 2030 in its latest E-News Bulletin illustrates that the centerpiece of America’s proposed "Bold Energy Plan," consisting of 45 new nuclear plants and offshore drilling, would supply a meager three percent of the 118 QBtu of energy that the Energy Information Administration projects America will consume in 2030. The other proposed big idea is “clean coal” technology, which is at best 15 to 20 years out, …

Bush signs railroad-safety law, giving $13 billion to Amtrak

President Bush on Thursday signed a measure into law that provides some $13 billion to Amtrak and other passenger rail. The funding, which Bush originally opposed, is a companion piece to a railroad-safety bill; the legislation was pushed quickly through Congress after a Sept. 12 train collision in Los Angeles that killed 25 people and injured at least 130 more. Amtrak, which has been experiencing record ridership, will receive the $13 billion over five years, though Congress will have to approve the subsidy each year. By the by, for those paying attention to the presidential shenanigans: When the bill came …

A forest for all

Town forests gaining popularity

Living in Switzerland after college, I was amazed by the way communities both revered and used the landscape. Every facet of efficiency was enthusiastically explored, small farms abounded (growing grains on plots as small as an acre or less), and mountain trails were thick with orchids, green woodpeckers, and bell-toting cows. But my favorite thing was the town forest. Everyone had a right to enjoy and use these forests, and anyone who wanted firewood from it merely had to help in gathering it. Threaded with inviting access roads, there were long stacks of wood that had been cut and split. …

EPA not great at regulating stormwater pollution, says report

Stormwater pollution from cities and suburbs is fouling the nation’s waterways, and the U.S. EPA is failing to do much about it, says a new National Academy of Sciences report commissioned by the EPA itself. Rain and melted snow run along paved surfaces — which show up more and more frequently these days — picking up oil, trash, motor fuels, dog poo, chemicals, and more, and dumping it all in rivers, lakes, and streams. “EPA’s current approach is not likely to produce an accurate picture of the extent of the problem, nor is it likely to control stormwater’s contribution to …

Toyota Prius again tops EPA list of most fuel-efficient cars

It’s almost 2009 — do you know where your fuel-efficient car is? (And with oil dipping below $70 a barrel, do you care? Oh, calm down, we kid.) The U.S. EPA has released its annual list of the most and least fuel-efficient vehicles. Topping the list: the you-ain’t-cool-unless-you-have-one Toyota Prius, achieving an estimated 48 miles per gallon on the highway and 45 mpg in the city. It’s followed by the hybrid versions of the Honda Civic, Nissan Altima, and, in a three-way tie for fourth, Ford Escape, Mazda Tribute, and Mercury Mariner. The Smart Fortwo has vaulted onto the list …

Got 2.7 seconds?

We've devised the world's shortest survey to find out what kind of actions our readers are taking. You know you want to.

×