Cities

New CIA campus goes green

The CIA has apparently been green for years — yet somehow, nobody managed to find out. But the secret-keepers’ Chantilly, Va., campus was just outed as neerg gniog (that’s code for “going green”). The new campus is LEED certified and features a green roof, preferred parking for carpoolers, energy-efficient equipment, waterless urinals, and more. We’d tell you more, but then we’d have to kill you. Or kidnap you and fly you to secret prisons offshore to be tortured. Or maybe, just maybe, we’ll go old-school and support a coup against you. (But don’t worry, we’ll buy carbon credits to offset …

Mexico City encourages transit ridership with women-only buses

Women in Mexico City have long been deterred from riding public transportation by the very real possibility of being groped or verbally harassed while packed in with other passengers. “A woman could enter a metro car a virgin and come out pregnant,” says one female rider. The subway system has female-only cars during rush hour to address the problem, but now city officials are taking it a step further, introducing women’s-only buses along three busy routes. Women’s buses, designated by a pink sign in the window, will be added to 15 more routes by April. The city’s female riders are …

Pork porn

Eating extremely local pigs

For pork lovers squeamish about hunting, check out this fascinating account of an intrepid urban farmer who doesn't let the fact she lives in the hood in Oakland, Calif., get in the way of her commitment to eating local. Very local. Like backyard local. So ... here's the piggies on day one. And last days.  Read up from the bottom. She's a beautiful writer, and she has some insightful things to say.

Report warns of new security threats from climate change

Climate change will create a range of new security threats, including millions of displaced climate refugees, according to a new report from Britain’s Oxford Research Group. The report forecasts a tumultuous climate-changed future by as early as 2050 where some 200 million climate refugees fleeing environmental disasters in their homelands will try to immigrate to the U.K. and other wealthy nations. To his credit, the report’s author recommends actually tackling climate change now to avoid encountering such a situation instead of beefing up anti-immigration policies and fortifying police and other armed forces. However, given the current pace of action on …

Moving on out

There are limits to the positive environmental change we can expect from high gas prices

You can scarcely pick up a paper or turn on the television these days without hearing the word recession. Leading economic indicators have wiggled in different directions over the past few months, but the general trend appears to be negative. The conventional wisdom points toward an economic downturn of some kind during 2008, and businesses in all sorts of consumer markets are bracing for the inevitable tightening of purse strings. A funny thing happened on the way toward economic slowdown, however. As one might expect, oil prices dropped on expectations of reduced future demand. As one may not have expected, …

The hybrid solar home

An alternative housing concept

Seattle is having a cold snap. It's 25 degrees outside. Our rare freezing winter days correspond with equally rare clear winter skies. Days like this make me wish I had a solar powered home that could harvest and store that free burst of energy for later use. The bottom line is that American homes are just too large to be cost effectively heated with solar energy. The push has been to get the cost of solar panels down. But, what would you get if you crossed an expensive solar heating and cooling system with an optimally sized home? By optimal, I mean not larger than you need. You would get an affordable solar powered home like the one shown above (click here to see the details). By affordable, I mean in the $150-200 thousand range excluding land, sewer, and water systems. Picture the north face with fancy wood and slate trim, a deck off of the loft doubling as a carport, double french doors, and lots and lots of windows (and window plugs). Essentially, this is a well insulated 10 x 40-foot park model trailer stocked with highly energy efficiency dual mode gas/electric appliances, and lots of diode lighting under a standardized solar energy system optimized for a given area of the country. Picture an entire neighborhood (or trailer park or commune) of these all facing south. Ninety percent of the people on this planet would jump at the chance to live in a home like that. Home size is relative, dependent on wealth and how far the "my house is bigger than yours" arms race has progressed. It's all a matter of perception.

Green suburbia bleg

How are you greening your suburban life?

Are you a green-living suburbanite? Do you want to tell your story to a major news organization? Even majorer than Grist? Tell us about your creative green approaches to living in the suburbs. Have you replaced your lawn with switchgrass? Offered to install solar power for everyone in your cul-de-sac? Organized a carpool to a commuter-transit junction? Share your adventures below in comments.

High-speed rail

High-speed rail, already kicking ass (in Europe), is set to kick much more ass (in Europe): Last July seven operators banded together to form Railteam, an alliance that is working to create a seamless, high-speed network across a large swath of Western Europe. Functioning much like an airline alliance, Railteam is setting up a common reservation system that’s set to begin operations in 2009. It is also helping member railways coordinate their schedules to reduce layover times. A frequent-traveler program will even be offered — another page from the airlines’ playbook. For now, Railteam does not include operators in Italy, …

Maldives builds higher-altitude island, can’t attract residents

The tiny island nation of Maldives is at high risk of being swamped in years to come: it rises a mere three feet above sea level. So officials are building Hulhumalé, a human-made island with an altitude of more than six feet, capable of housing as many as 150,000 of the nation’s 369,000 inhabitants. There’s only one problem: Very few people want to move there. In the words of one Maldivian, who lives contentedly in the capital city of Malé with nine relatives in 730 square feet of space: “People are just being shifted from one island to another — …