Cities

Polluting vehicles must pay to drive in London under new scheme

Starting today, high-pollutin’ trucks and buses will be fined for driving in London‘s new Low Emission Zone, which stretches for a not-too-shabby 610 square miles. …

Commission approves NYC congestion charge

A New York commission has approved a plan to charge a fee to drivers entering Manhattan during peak hours. The proposal, aimed at reducing traffic …

Majora Carter

If this doesn’t get you in your gut, you’ve got serious problems:

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 …

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 …

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 …

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 …

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.