Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Cities

Comments

Elizabeth Grossman reviews High and Mighty by Keith Bradsher

You see them poised astride rocky crevasses, fording forest streams, or rising huge and solitary in the shadow of a mountain peak. No, we're not talking about grizzly bears; we're talking about sport utility vehicles. Spoiling the view. "Jawbone Chatters. Spine Shivers. Engine Roars. Everest at -11 degrees," proclaims one ad for the Toyota 4Runner. "If you really want to put your life on the line, the new V8-powered GX is more than capable of taking you to the kinds of places where danger lurks at every corner," promises an ad for a new Lexus SUV. SUVs are sold on …

Read more: Cities, Living

Comments

Maple Syrup

Canada yesterday set aside $1.3 billion over five years to slash its greenhouse gas emissions and another $660 million for other environmental initiatives, as part of what Environment Minister David Anderson called "the greenest budget this country has ever seen." The government also approved a tax break for cleaner diesel and agreed to prioritize infrastructure projects that will help reduce pollution. Ottawa has not yet decided how to spend most of the $1.3 billion earmarked to help the country meet the terms of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Options on the table include pumping money into alternative-energy projects and …

Comments

Who Ya Gonna Call? Coast Busters!

The California legislature has passed a bill to alter the structure of the California Coastal Commission, thereby enabling the powerful board to continue regulating development along the state's coast. Seven weeks ago, a state appeals court ruled that allowing the legislature to remove commissioners at will violated the state constitution's mandate to maintain separation of the legislative and executive branches of government. Under the new structure, commissioners appointed by the legislature would serve fixed four-year terms; those appointed by the governor could still be removed at her or his will. Gov. Gray Davis (D) is expected to sign the bill, …

Read more: Cities

Comments

London Bridge Is Clearing Up

Traffic in central London fell by roughly 25 percent Monday, the first day of a congestion-mitigation plan that was the controversial brainchild of Mayor Ken Livingstone. Under the plan, it costs about $8 per car to enter central London from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., with steep penalties for those who don't pay. About 80,000 people ponied up the money yesterday, while the rest took alternate routes or public transportation, leaving quiet roads and no gridlock, even during rush hours. Some of the reduced traffic was the result of the beginning of school holidays, but Livingstone and others still hailed …

Read more: Cities

Comments

Mr. Blackwell’s Worst Polluting List

No surprise: Pickup trucks and oversized SUVs scored the lowest on the U.S. EPA's latest ranking of vehicles based on tailpipe emissions. The list graded vehicles on a scale of 0 to 10. Large SUVs like BMW's X5 and General Motors' Hummer H2 earned a 0 and a 2, respectively, while most small and medium SUVs earned between 2s and 5s; cars were more likely to fall in the 6 to 7 range. The SUVs and light trucks on the list emitted anywhere from two to 10 times the pollutants of an average Honda Civic. (Honda's cars ranked high on …

Comments

Umbra on homegrown activism

Dear Umbra, I have been changing my way of living in the past year or so to become more environmentally friendly. I have been recycling (my city recycles almost everything) and I started composting. I have been cutting meat out of my life, and I have been surrounding my home with plants and herbs. I buy biodegradable, organic products that haven't been tested on animals. I've also signed online petitions and became a member of Greenpeace. I carpool with someone and reuse everything. I even make art from recyclable items. I am planning to build an environmentally friendly home, too. …

Read more: Cities, Living

Comments

A travel club provides a greener alternative to AAA

It's not easy to knock AAA. The venerable organization has 45 million members who count on it for trip insurance, travel advice, and, most of all, emergency services. It's no wonder that many members have sworn lifetime loyalty to Triple A: Rescuing drivers marooned on dark, lonely highways can do wonders for membership renewal rates. Triple eh? But is there a seedier side to this respected organization? Environmental and smart-growth activists say AAA's small team of lobbyists uses the group's outsized membership and down-home image to promote an agenda that is ecologically irresponsible. In recent years, AAA spokespeople have criticized …

Read more: Cities, Politics

Comments

Smart Attack

Smart-growth policies, designed to put a damper on runaway development and preserve local character, have recently come under attack in a handful of U.S. communities. In Loudon County, Va., on the outskirts of Washington, D.C., nearly 200 lawsuits were filed last week against the county's growth-control policies. Also last week, the mayor of Erie, Colo., a small mining town, had to beat back a developer-funded campaign to oust her because of her efforts to curb excessive development; she won a recall vote 1,065 to 874, but not without a difficult battle. "This is very shortsighted," Elise Jones of the Colorado …

Read more: Cities, Politics

Comments

Hydra-gen

President Bush yesterday tried out several neat-o gadgets powered by hydrogen fuel cells (a video camera and cell phone, among others) and reinforced the lofty language of his State of the Union speech, saying that he would ask Congress to spend $1.2 billion on "a new national commitment to take fuel-cell cars from the laboratory to the showroom." Enviros and Democratic presidential candidates, however, say the administration's plan is a crock. First, they point out that fuel-cell cars won't be clean unless the hydrogen they run on is generated by renewable energy, rather than from fossil fuels. Second, they aren't …

Comments

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hydrogen

In his State of the Union address, President Bush outlined a vision of nonpolluting, hydrogen-powered fuel-cell cars and promised to pony up $1.5 billion over five years to make that vision a reality. Almost everyone, from environmentalists to automakers, agrees that the transition toward hydrogen is a good thing, at least in theory: It is clean, abundant, and could ultimately free the U.S. from ecologically devastating resource extraction and reliance on foreign oil. But it will take at least a decade to surmount all of the technological, economic, and political barriers to developing fuel-cell cars. To date, the technology is …

Read more: Cities, Politics