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The Problem, My Friend, Is Blowin’ in the Wind

Blowing Desert Dust Is Growing Environmental Problem Dust blowing up from the Sahara Desert has increased tenfold in the last 50 years and represents a growing environmental threat, warned Oxford geography professor Andrew Goudie today. And SUVs are at least partly to blame. The replacement of camels with four-wheel-drive vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruisers in the Sahara, as well as the "Toyota-ization" of other deserts in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, has led to an increase in dust storms and a rise in the total amount of dust in the global atmosphere, to some 2 billion to 3 …

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Mort Utility Vehicles

SUV Occupants More Likely to Die in Accidents You surely already know that SUVs pollute the air, contribute to global warming, boost demand for oil, and shackle our security and economic fate to volatile, politically regressive Middle Eastern states. You might even know that SUVs raise the total number of traffic fatalities and squash drivers of smaller vehicles in crashes. But did you know that SUVs are more likely to kill their own occupants? According to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an SUV occupant in 2003 was nearly 11 percent more likely to die in a …

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New Jersey’s Democratic governor takes tricks from Bush’s book

Gov. James McGreevey (left) and DEP chief Bradley Campbell. In the run-up to the 2004 election, those who have high hopes that a change in administration will automatically mean the curbing of environmental abuses by government should look to recent events in New Jersey for a cautionary tale. In the Garden State, Democratic Gov. James McGreevey, who has historically been a friend to the environment, has perplexed and outraged environmentalists by taking several pages from the Bush administration playbook. McGreevey last month signed sweeping legislation giving developers fast-track access to 1.5 million acres of the state. The act radically streamlines …

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An abandoned Brooklyn warehouse heralds the onset of hipster environmentalism

Thinking outside the loft. Catch the aboveground S train in Brooklyn and you'll whiz through the neighborhood of Crown Heights, an industrial pocket of warehouses and factories that once stored and manufactured everything from artillery to pickle jars. These days, the buildings you pass appear to be abandoned relics in a bleak concrete landscape. But then, just as T.S. Eliot is coming to mind -- "What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow / Out of this stony rubbish?" -- you hurtle by a bright green oasis of richly vegetated roofs and a glossy black array of solar panels …

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A rabble-rousing conservationist answers questions

With what environmental organization are you affiliated? I currently spend 30 hours a week directing the National Public Lands Grazing Campaign (NPLGC), 5 hours a week advising Alternatives to Growth Oregon (AGO), and 15 hours as senior counselor for the Oregon Natural Resources Council (ONRC). I fill the remaining 10 hours of my 60-hour workweek (I'm a well-adjusted workaholic) with freelance environmental agitation through The Larch Company (TLC). The Larch Company has two profit centers: an electrical power division and a political power division. What does your organization do? What, in a perfect world, would constitute "mission accomplished"? The NPLGC …

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A gas tax might make good sense, but Dems don’t want to touch it

Who would have thought the day would come when environmentalists would want to high-five Gregg Easterbrook? Yes, the same Gregg Easterbrook who memorably dismissed widespread criticisms of the Bush administration's environmental record as "baloney -- baloney being rolled and deep-fried with cheese for purposes of partisan political bashing and fund-raising" in a Los Angeles Times op-ed in October 2003. [Read a past Muckraker column on this.] Easterbrook has finally made a cogent -- and possibly pivotal -- environmental argument. On Tuesday, he published an op-ed in The New York Times entitled "The 50-Cent-a-Gallon Solution" arguing that despite the current American …

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Schwarzenegger’s “Green Hummer” plan sparks cultish following

Does this look green to you? The Hummer has come to be associated with a number of things -- steroid-addled egomaniacs, over-compensating suburban dads, the highway to global-warming hell, even Monica Lewinsky's antics in the Oval Office ... But eco-friendly driving isn't one of them. Unless, of course, you travel in the "Green Hummer" underground, quietly developing in California thanks to the former steroid-addled egomaniac himself, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). The Governator claims to have traded in his Hollywood-powered ego for an eco-empowered worldview. Early in his gubernatorial campaign last year, Schwarzenegger presented a convincing motive for cleaning up California's …

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The Hydrogenator

California Governor Gives a Boost to Hydrogen Infrastructure California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is trying to kick-start the so-called hydrogen revolution. Yesterday, he signed an executive order establishing a public-private partnership aimed at building a network of some 200 hydrogen fueling stations in the state by 2010, at an estimated cost of $100 million. (California is in dire financial straits, so the money is expected to come from private investment and federal funds.) If successful, the plan could mark a metamorphosis in transportation, but there's no shortage of skeptics. A recent study by the National Academy of Sciences predicted it …

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Taxpayers could get stuck with tab for new diesel rules

When the Bush administration wants to gin up some environmental cred, it cites efforts underway to slash diesel emissions by requiring trucking companies to switch to cleaner engines. But the untold story is that it may be the taxpayers -- not the polluters -- who end up footing much of the bill. Big Mac attack. Photo: U.S. House. The trucking industry has long been a leading opponent of federal clean-air regulations, and since 1993 it has had a relentless advocate in Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.), former owner of Collins Trucking Co. -- a business that is now run by the …

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