OK, it only goes 65 mph, but that makes the Bean Machine the world's fastest coffee-powered car. Insert joke about cars stepping up to the counter and ordering a venti every morning, and do cars ever say "no foam," get it, because cars don't talk. But seriously, no foam. It does not run on milk. Just pellets made of coffee-grinding byproducts, which are burned for hydrogen to power the car.
The Bean Machine was designed by a British person, engineer Martin Bacon, which means it's actually also kind of cute, in a sort of under-the-radar, stubby pickup way. It's Simon Pegg cute.
We’ve heard it 38,942,038,417 times* before: The system we use to produce meat in the U.S. is really eff-ed up. Feedlots = horror movies, all this carnivory is making us fat, and to make matters worse, meat consumption contributes to climate change. Right, all good arguments for eating less meat.
What we rarely hear is a fair, honest conversation with the actual farmers raising the animals that produce the meat that most of America consumes. That’s what Graham Meriwether wanted to do with his documentary, American Meat. The film explores meat production from the farmer’s perspective -- and not just those who do it the free-range, organic, grass-fed way.
Meriwether initially set out to make a movie just about the alternative farms springing up across the country. He started off by talking to Joel Salatin of Polyface Farm, made famous by Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. But when he started using stock footage of slaughterhouses, something didn’t feel right.
“I think the most important decision we made in the production of the film was not to put any hidden camera footage in the film,” Meriwether says, “because then that set us off on a journey where we got to talk to [conventional farmers], the people that, for the most part, feed most of our country.”
In the end, he was able to get his own footage of what goes on inside a slaughterhouse, but he chose not to include it in the film. We’ve become so distanced from the reality of where our meat comes from, he says, that we just aren’t ready for it.
Streetsblog, a network of sustainable-transportation-focused websites that you should read regularly, used the occasion of the 10th anniversary of London's congestion pricing system to review its effectiveness. As you probably know, congestion pricing is a tool by which cities limit automobile and other traffic to certain areas by charging a fee for access. In London, that fee is £10, or about $15.
In its first few years, the London charging scheme was heralded as a solid traffic-buster, with 15-20 percent boosts in auto and bus speeds and 30 percent reductions in congestion delays. Most of those gains appear to have disappeared in recent years, however. Transport for London (TfL), which combines the functions of our NYCDOT and MTA and which created and operates the charging system, attributes the fallback in speeds to other changes in the streetscape and traffic management …
The congestion charge also raised millions in revenue, some $435 million in 2008 alone.
Fracking proponents like to use an evocative economic metaphor in talking about their industry: boom. The natural gas boom. Drilling is exploding in North Dakota and Texas and Pennsylvania. Only figuratively so far, but who knows what the future holds.
The Post Carbon Institute, however, suggests in a new report [PDF] that another metaphor would be more apt: a bubble, like the bubbles of methane that seep into water wells and then burst.
[T]he so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints -- not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling -- mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes.
PCI's strongest argument may be on the rapid depletion of drill sites. The case is made using the data in this graph, showing the amount of oil extracted over time from wells in the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota.
Morrissey, the lugubrious former lead singer for the Smiths, made an album in 1985 called "Meat is Murder." That was 28 years ago (I KNOW), but he has not since then altered his negative opinion of the consumption of animal flesh. That's why, during the singer's March 1 concert at Los Angeles' Staples Center, the venue's McDonald's will be closed. Yes, Morrissey is a pretty powerful dude.
We don't know if it's the British accent or just his general demeanor, but we do know this: Paul McCartney asked the Staples Center to shut down McDonald's too, and he got nowhere. (So, OK, it's not the British accent.) Former Beatle? Next! Goth hero with pompadour? RIGHT AWAY SIR.
I know Andy Revkin of The New York Times writes posts like this in part to bait people like me. But like Popeye, I yam what I yam. So consider me baited. Self-proclaimed moderates like to lecture anti-Keystone XL activists that they are "distracting" and "counterproductive," without spelling out what the hell that means, yet they seem bewildered when that makes the activists in question angry.
Let's review. This weekend, close to 50,000 people gathered for the biggest rally ever against climate change, a threat Revkin acknowledges is enormous, difficult, and urgent. Revkin and his council of wonks took to Twitter to argue that the rally and the campaign behind it are misdirected, absolutist, confused, and bereft of long-term strategy. They had this familiar conversation as the rally was unfolding.
As a result, Revkin suffered the grievous injury of a frustrated tweet from Wen Stephenson, a journalist who has crossed over to activism. This gave the wounded Revkin the opportunity to write yet another lament on the slings and arrows that face the Reasonable Man. He faced down the scourge of single-minded "my way or the highway environmentalism," y'all, but don't worry, he's got a thick skin. He lived to tell the tale.
This is all for the benefit of an elite audience, mind you, for whom getting yelled at by activists is the sine qua non of seriousness. The only thing that boosts VSP cred more is getting yelled at by activists on Both Sides.
So let's not yell. Instead let's take a calm look at the Reasonable Revkin take on Keystone activism, representative as it is of a certain VSP consensus. In his post, he says it could be "counterproductive" to focus an activist campaign on the pipeline. I want to dwell on that word for a second, because it's crucial to his case.
Pittsburgh, like many a post-industrial city, is not exactly awash in cash. But it turns out the city is sitting on a goldmine -- a recent audit found that its trees are worth $2.4 million.
Trees are usually thought of as a luxury for a city (you can tell because of how much greener it is in wealthier areas), and luxuries are something Pittsburgh can ill afford. So Pittsburgh, as Nate Seltenrich explains at Next City, decided to actually find out whether its trees were worth the cost of the maintenance they require. In other words, the city decided to measure its trees as it would any asset.
There is an attorney who works for BP (and almost certainly makes good money doing so) who is charged with making the following argument: You're blowing the deadly Deepwater Horizon thing way out of proportion.
With the start of the civil trial against global oil giant BP only a week away, the company's senior trial lawyer said Monday that he doesn't expect his client to be declared grossly negligent for the 2010 Gulf oil spill, a finding that would result in a four-fold increase in the fines BP would have to pay.
Rupert Bondy, BP's general counsel, also said he's confident the company will pay much less than the maximum $5 billion to $22 billion in Clean Water Act fines often cited by the media.
Why not? In part because Halliburton and Transocean fucked up, too.
When the EPA last year dropped its inquiry into methane seepage from wells fracked by Range Resources, it seemed like an unusual move. Texan Steve Lipsky's water supply was bubbling over with the explosive gas, after all, which seemed like the sort of thing an agency built around protecting the environment should look into. But Range Resources threatened to pull out of a key fracking study, and the EPA backed off.
Because, according to a report from Bloomberg, that's the game the frackers at Range Resources play: bullying, threatening, intimidating.
Critics say the Fort Worth-based company, which pioneered the use of hydraulic fracturing in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale, has taken a hard line with residents, local officials and activists. In one case it threatened a former EPA official with legal action; in another it stopped participating in town hearings to review its own applications to drill, because local officials were asking too many questions and taking too long.
“Range Resources is different from its peers in that it chooses to severely punish its critics,” said Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of Dish, Texas, and an activist who has been subpoenaed and issued legal warnings by Range. “Most companies avoid the perception of the big-bad-bully oil company, while Range Resources embraces it.”
The Bloomberg article outlines some of that bullying. A lawmaker who criticized Range had emails leaked to the local paper. And Steve Lipsky, he with the methane water, was sued.