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Have You Hugged Your Tree Today?

On Arbor Day, appreciate the trees Urban forest cover in many U.S. cities has declined about 30 percent over the past 10 to 15 years, according to the green group American Forests, and that's just not cool. Literally: loss of trees means loss of shade, more AC, and higher energy costs. On Arbor Day (you remember that today's Arbor Day, right?), it's worth remembering the many benefits trees provide. Urban trees reduce pollution and prevent storm water runoff. They boost surrounding property values by up to 25 percent. One study showed that hospital patients who can see trees from their …

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Ford Too Shall TerraPass

Ford teams up with TerraPass to help drivers offset emissions Like the man said, the times they are a-changin'. Slowly, but a-changin' nonetheless. Ford Motor Co., manufacturer of all things carbon-emitting, is partnering with TerraPass, a carbon-offset company. Tomorrow, Ford is expected to announce a new "Greener Miles" program, whereby customers can visit a website to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide they produce in a year of driving, then invest money -- from $29.95 to $79.95, dependent on vehicle, miles traveled, etc. -- in clean-energy projects to offset their impact. Greener Miles contributors get a sticker to show off …

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How Wendy Brawer put green on the map

Don't let Wendy Brawer's urban address fool you -- this New Yorker has a soft spot for nature. After all, she's the founder of Modern World Design, an eco-design firm, and has spent the last 11 years at the helm of the Green Map System, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping citizens all over the world document and map their local environmental resources. Wendy Brawer with two Green Map System staffers. Photo: Paper Sky. It all started with a map of New York City. With U.N. delegates swarming in for several weeks of preparation for the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, …

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Who Killed the Electric Car? launch date set

In addition to An Inconvenient Truth, we've been also tracking the film Who Killed the Electric Car? This morning Grist received an email concerning the official launch date, which is scheduled for June 28th of this year. The movie was screened at Sundance and will also be appearing at the following festivals: San Francisco Film Festival (April 21-22)USA Film Festival, Dallas (April 29)Tribeca Film Festival, New York City (May 2, 4-6)Mountain Film Festival, Telluride, Co (tentative: May 28)Seattle Film Festival (tentative: June 9)Atlanta Film Festival (tentative: June 11)

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SOL: Sustaining Ourselves Locally

According to the Current TV Studio blog, SOL, a viewer-contributed piece about a sustainable development project in Oakland, will be airing on TV. I think this is a good example of how people like you, armed with a camera and a passion, can produce a short film that could potentially reach 28 million homes (according to a company press release [PDF]). Here's the synopsis on Current: This is specifically a piece on an urban sustainable development project in Oakland that consists of 9 people working together to do community environment work. Amazing project that focuses on everything from compost and …

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Oh No He Didn’t

Chrysler official takes public potshot at oil companies What's more fun than a quiet, simmering feud between Big Auto and Big Oil? A public catfight! Chief Chrysler spokesflack Jason Vines minced no words on a company blog Monday: "Despite a documented history of ... hoarding their bounty by avoiding technologies, policies, and legislation that would protect the population and environment and lower fuel costs, Big Oil insists on transferring all of that responsibility on the auto companies." The tirade was in part a reaction to a recent ExxonMobil print ad that called attention to the auto industry's conspicuous failure to …

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Fuel Me Once …

Enviros sue Bush admin over lax fuel-economy rules for light trucks In a new lawsuit, the Center for Biological Diversity has charged the Bush administration with violating the 1975 Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which requires the feds to regularly update fuel-economy standards to the "maximum feasible level." With currently available technologies, light trucks could readily achieve 38 miles per gallon by 2015, says CBD, as opposed to the just-updated federal standard of about 24 mpg by 2011. The suit also claims the government failed to account for the air pollution and global-warming impacts of the new standards -- instead …

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Two new nature books for city slickers

Lately, green is the new black in the American metropolis. Here in New York City, the cabbies are driving hybrids and the fashionistas are wearing organic jeans. Even in my decidedly un-hip Brooklyn neighborhood, the corner deli sells organic milk and cookies. Green is busting out all over. Photo: iStockphoto. Green-tinted consumerism is probably gaining ground in your city too. (Is that a Whole Foods opening up downtown? A Chipotle restaurant selling free-range pork burritos in the storefront that once nurtured a Krispy Kreme?) But if your city is anything like mine, centuries of energy, habitation, waste, and other systems …

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Bay City Tollers

San Francisco looks into congestion charging If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear ... a money clip. The city creatively known as "The City" plans to study the possibility of "congestion charges" -- making drivers pay to enter downtown during business hours. Critics include some stores in high-traffic areas, which fear that disincentives for downtown motor travel would hurt business. In London, which pioneered the concept three years ago, congestion charges have reduced downtown traffic by 30 percent and brought in about $350 million for the government. They take it very seriously there: London mayor Ken Livingstone …

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Does Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods say anything new?

OK, call me a crank, a malcontent, a hypercritical reviewer with a small, crabbed heart. But despite all its earnestness, despite its heartfelt message, which an environmentalist and concerned parent like me should embrace -- in brief, that nature is good for children -- Richard Louv's plea to reengage our children with nature left me strangely uninspired. As with all good ideas, it is one worth repeating, but I would have been happier reading Emerson, I think, for the lesson. Last Child in the Woods, by Richard Louv, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 336 pgs, 2005. Louv, a columnist for …

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