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Thanks to these sweet posters, green habits have never looked cooler

dothegreenthing-poster1
Oliver Cheshire

It's that time of year again! Do the Green Thing is celebrating Earth Hour by releasing a new poster every day until March 29. The posters, often created by big designer names, are aimed at encouraging folks to, well, do the green thing. Here are some of our favorites. See more great posters and follow the project

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New report warns of “cascading system failure” caused by climate change

hurricane-sandy
Shutterstock

From roads and bridges to power plants and gas pipelines, American infrastructure is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, according to a pair of government reports released Thursday.

The reports are technical documents supporting the National Climate Assessment, a major review compiled by 13 government agencies that the U.S. Global Change Research Program is expected to release in April. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory put together the reports, which warn that climate-fueled storms, flooding and droughts could cause "cascading system failures" unless there are changes made to minimize those effects. Island Press has published the full-length version of the reports, which focus on energy and infrastructure more broadly.

Thomas Wilbanks, a research fellow at Oak Ridge and the lead author and editor of the reports, said this is the first attempt to look at the climate implications across all sectors and regions. Rather than isolating specific types of infrastructure, Wilbanks said, the report looks at how "one impact can have impacts on the others."

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Big Oil’s new strategy: If you can’t build a new pipeline, just overload the old one

pipeline
Shutterstock

Yesterday, Canadian pipeline behemoth Enbridge won government approval for its plans for 9B, one of the most contentious pipes in pipe business. While it doesn't get much press, 9B is important because it's part of a hot, new trend in trans-national pipe dreams: Skirting environmental review, and public scrutiny, by pumping dirty crude through existing pipelines rather than building new ones.

Enbridge wants to use 9B to carry up to 300,000 barrels of tar-sands oil per day to Quebec for refining and export. And it is determined to not repeat the mistakes of TransCanada, the company behind the much-maligned (and very publicly held-up) Keystone XL pipeline. Thus the tactic of reusing old lines, a game that it has already played with several other pipes.

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No, we’re not “environmentalists.” It’s more complicated than that

complicated-environmental-relationship-revised
Image by Maria Popova

We’ve been called out: Millennials are not environmentalists. A new Pew Research Center report says that only 32 percent of people born after 1980 identify themselves as such -- versus 42 percent of people born between 1965 and 1980, or even 44 percent of those born after 1945. But, as someone born in 1988, I find it hard to believe any of those numbers actually matter.

The old guard loves to harp on us for being an apathetic, unmotivated, and lazy bunch (old guards tend to make a habit of this, regardless of the era). OK, as a generation, we might not be storming the streets, or the seas, a lá Greenpeace -- but judging by the host of things still going badly for planet Earth, while that kind of activism may be admirable, it seems clear it's not the silver bullet. Growing up with a universe of information constantly at our fingertips means we know every issue is complicated and loaded with unintended consequence. We know solutions that rely on preachiness or dogmatism won't last. So think of us as hipsters who embrace the complicated (though I would never call a unique individual such as myself a hipster. Ahem). 

Read more: Living

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House Republicans just passed a good environmental bill, believe it or not

suited man with "efficiency" button
Shutterstock

Political junkies have become so accustomed to House Republicans’ venomous hatred of environmental regulation that they could be forgiven for assuming that no environmental legislation would pass the House as long as the GOP controlled it. But on Wednesday, proving that one should never say never, the House approved a measure to improve energy efficiency in both the public and private sectors.

The Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, which overwhelmingly passed by a vote of 375-36, is similar to a bipartisan bill that was reintroduced in the Senate last week. The House bill calls for several steps to reduce electricity waste, including:

  • Create a “Tenant Star” program, modeled on Energy Star, that would establish best practices for efficiency in commercial tenant spaces and set up a voluntary certification system.

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We’re hypnotized by these artsy time-lapse animated GIFs of cities

Sunset at the Bund
© Fong Qi Wei
Sunset at the Bund

Fong Qi Wei is a super-talented photographer from Singapore who happens to have combined two of our favorite things: time lapses and GIFs. (Oh yeah, and cities. Three favorite things.) The artist captured China, Indonesia, and Bali over a several-hour period, usually sunset, and then spliced the photos together to create beautiful animated images:

Chinatown Sunset
© Fong Qi Wei
Chinatown Sunset

Writes Wei on his site:

Read more: Cities, Living

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Bernie, if you care about the climate, don’t run for president as an independent

Bernie Sanders
350.org, Josh Lopez

Are you feeling frustrated by the lack of action in Washington on the biggest problems facing the nation, such as economic inequality and climate change? Are you tired of watching a moderate Democratic president stuck in stalemate with Republicans in Congress? Well, help may be on the way, in the form of a left-wing presidential campaign that will make you feel good about yourself. Don’t worry that it could take votes from the Democratic nominee and potentially toss the election to the Republican. Ralph Nader did just that in 2000, and things worked out OK, didn’t they?

In an interview with The Nation, Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who caucuses with the Democrats, says, “I am prepared to run for president of the United States.” But he hasn’t made up his mind about whether to run in the Democratic primary or as an independent. He says, “I haven’t reached a conclusion on that yet. Clearly, there are things to be said on both sides of that important question.” And then he muses about how there's a record-high number of independent voters in the country, but getting in televised debates as an independent would be impossible. (Sanders must expect that like Nader, but unlike Ross Perot, he wouldn't have the polling numbers to qualify for the debates.)

Based on the experience of right-wing insurgent candidates such as Ron Paul, Pat Buchanan, and Pat Robertson, it seems obvious that running in the primaries will attract the most attention to a candidate who is at one end of the political spectrum. By competing in the Republican primaries, conservative extremists have generated headlines and extracted concessions at the Republican convention.

But that's less important than the fact that presidential elections are not just an opportunity to advertise a platform. They result in the election of the most powerful officeholder in the world.

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This tool to design your own tiny house is way too fun

blu-homes-tiny-house-builder
Blu Homes

Warning: If you like tiny houses, carve out the next half hour, because this is some serious tiny house crack. California-based Blu Homes specializes in prefab houses ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, all of which can be LEED silver-certified. They’re built with green features including recycled steel frames, FSC-certified hardwood floors, energy-efficient lights and appliances, and recycled insulation. You can even opt for radiant floors (mmm!).

blu-homes-tiny-house-outside
Blu Homes

But the best thing is that you can customize them to your heart’s content (well, practically). The 3D Blu Homes Configurator gives you nine home options to choose from. Then you get to pick the flooring, paint color, cabinets, lighting, bathroom fixtures, and fanciness level of the kitchen.

Read more: Living

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The week in GIFs: Pee, pigeons, and pencils

Inspiration meets desperation in this week's green news. (Last week: cheese, RuPaul, and an Amish paradise.)

Jordan Catalano Jared Leto wrote John Kerry an open letter rejecting Keystone XL:

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Gotta pee? Airpnp helps you find a toilet to rent:

pee-bar-scott-pilgrim
Tumblr
Read more: Living

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Please don’t knit a sweater for a penguin

no-sweater-penguins-VERY-BAD

You’ve probably heard that penguins get covered in muck from oil spills, which makes them chilly. Thus, we should all take a break from infinity scarves and snail jumpers to knit sweaters for penguins. Not true! Put down those knitting needles!

As we mentioned when this story went around in 2011, there really have been calls for penguin sweaters from wildlife conservation groups. But response tends to be disproportionate, and organizations are flooded with seabird apparel, a fraction of which -- if any -- gets used. Plus, penguin advocates dispute whether the knitwear is a good idea to begin with.

Being squeezed into a sweater can freak a penguin out -- and it’s really not necessary, thanks to heat lamps. The New Zealand Herald explains:

A keeper at Auckland Zoo said the idea of making the little birds wear the jerseys might cause them extra stress ...

"Putting something like that on a penguin, it's probably only going to stress it out even more than they already are. These are wild penguins; they haven't had any interaction with humans. There's already enough stress on a bird without trying to put a sweater on it," [bird keeper Natalie Clark] said.

Adds International Bird Rescue:

Read more: Living