Cities

The forgotten solution

Transit investment should and will be a part of the peak oil solution

Joseph Romm has made a number of very good points in his new Salon piece (and accompanying Gristmill post) on the problem of peak oil. He is, in my view, quite correct that oil prices will continue to increase based on supply and demand fundamentals. He is right that alternative oil source development would be a monumental mistake, and that biofuels are unlikely to be much help either. And I’d like to strongly associate myself with his statement that a solution to the climate problem is also a solution to the peak oil problem. But I strongly disagree with him …

EPA announces new lead standards for renovation of older buildings

Contractors will have to train workers to follow “lead-safe work practice standards” when renovating or repairing older dwellings that house children or pregnant women, according to new standards introduced Monday by the U.S. EPA. The new requirements are an attempt to keep lead out of the bloodstreams of babes, as structures built before 1978 are likely to contain lead-based paint. The standards will go into effect in 2010. By the by, the EPA was supposed to adopt lead-safe regulations for renovations in October of 1996. My, how the time flies.

Peak Oil? Bring it on!

Solving the climate problem will solve the peak oil problem, too

I have a new article in Salon on perhaps the most misunderstood subject in energy: peak oil. Here is the short version: We are at or near the peak of cheap conventional oil production. There is no realistic prospect that the conventional oil supply can keep up with current projected demand for much longer, if the industrialized countries don't take strong action to sharply reduce consumption, and if China and India don't take strong action to sharply reduce consumption growth. Many people are expecting unconventional oil -- such as the tar sands and liquid coal -- to make up the supply shortage. That would be a climate catastrophe, and I (optimistically) believe humanity is wise enough not to let that happen. More supply is not the answer to either our oil or climate problem. Nonetheless, contrary to popular belief, the peak oil problem will not "destroy suburbia" or the American way of life. Only unrestrained emissions of greenhouse gases can do that. We have the two primary solutions to peak oil at hand: fuel efficiency and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles run on zero-carbon electricity. The only question is whether conservatives will let progressives accelerate those solutions into the marketplace before it is too late to prevent a devastating oil shock or, for that matter, devastating climate change.

Washington Nationals will play in first U.S. green-built stadium

The Washington Nationals will play their baseball season opener Sunday in the first green-built professional stadium in the U.S. The LEED Silver certified ballpark was built on a restored brownfield, and many building materials were produced locally. The stadium boasts efficient lighting and plumbing, drought-resistant plants, a concession area with a green roof, filters to keep stormwater runoff out of the nearby Anacostia River, and proximity to public transit (as well as a shortage of parking). Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch as the Nats take on the Atlanta Braves: President George W. Bush. He’s sure to be hit. Er, …

Think globally by thinking locally

A new study bolsters the importance-of-place arguments made by people like Wendell Berry: the strongest way to get people to engage with the problems and to act responsibly for the global environment is to focus on the threats to their own place). This doesn't really surprise me -- but it does prompt me to change my signature line to "Save your community -- cut greenhouse gas emissions 5% per year."

Boston looks to generate electricity from indoor composting

The city of Boston is looking to build an urban, indoor composting facility. Most cities, if they compost at all, transport food and yard waste in gas-guzzling trucks to dumps outside the city limits, where energy and methane from decomposing biomass get lost to the atmosphere. The first-of-its-kind proposed Boston facility would generate electricity from rotting leaves and fruit, enough to potentially power 1,500 homes. The project would create green jobs, make fertilizer available to sell, and, of course, put all of those colorful New England leaves to good use. The facility is still in planning stages, but Mayor Tom …

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