Ignore the members of the peanut gallery bleating about whether or not we can blame hurricane Irene on global warming. What matters is that in the future, warmer temperatures will mean more moisture in the air, so more flooding. And higher sea levels will make cities, especially New York, substantially more vulnerable to storm surges. Elizabeth Kolbert, in The New Yorker: Are more events like Irene what you would expect in a warming world? Here the answer is a straightforward “yes."
Writing in the Times (of New York, not London), Roger Cohen points out that even though 82 percent of Brits are in favor of wind power, only one in three on-shore projects is ever built, owing to "Not in My Back Yard" attitudes. Apparently Her Majesty’s citizens are all for wind power as long as it happens in one of the colonies. (“We still have colonies, right?”)
With Hurricane Irene, now a tropical storm, going relatively easy on Gotham, some New Yorkers are feeling ripped off. The New York Times quotes several locals furiously white-whining about extra batteries, too much tuna fish, and the general "buzz kill" of not being subject to death and property damage.
According to Al Gore, climate skeptics are the new racists: they say crazy things in casual conversation that others let slide -- for now. Here’s why Irene gave NYC a break. NASA scientist James Hansen is planning to be arrested today at the Keystone XL protest. He told Climatewire that if President Obama approves the pipeline, he "was just greenwashing all along, like the other well-oiled coal-fired politicians."
"Oh, there's no way I'm that much of a hipster," you say. "Sure, I like to bike to my community garden to pick up some herbs to go with the eggs from my rooftop chicken coop while listening to Dave Roberts' latest music recommendation, but ironic facial hair for a bike — it's just a bridge too far." Bull crap. You know you want a handlebar mustache for your handlebars. Just go with it, they're only $5 for crying out loud. (Via @brainpicker)
Okay, so this is more amazing folk art than realistic urban design, but think of it as your Friday 10 minutes of Zen. Jerry Gretzinger has been making and remaking his incredibly detailed maps since 1963, and he's basically generated an entire alternate universe. In this mini-documentary, he details his complicated creative process, which is really not any more arbitrary than the way a lot of actual cities are laid out.
Unable to tell shiitake from Shinola? Don't know sea bass from a hole in the ground? Don't worry -- as long as you're willing to pay a giant wad of cash every month, you never have to be confused about what a "vegetable" is again. For a mere $49 a month -- only like a quarter of the average person's food budget! -- Whole Foods will hold your hand while you purchase their exorbitantly-priced groceries. In other words, if you're rich enough to eat healthy, you can spend more money to be assured you're eating healthy.
On the hottest days of the year, it's not uncommon for regional electricity systems to become so overloaded by demand that they come within a hair’s breadth of failing completely. (It happens in Texas all the time.) Fortunately, utilities have come up with a cheap and easy way to overcome this problem: they offer their customers a cash incentive to sign up for a special kind of thermostat over which the utility has limited control. Then, when it gets nasty out, the utility can literally save the grid by turning up the temperature in your home just a teeny tiny bit. This is what's known as "demand response."
The atmospheric pressure is dropping in D.C. as the hurricane prepares to move through. But in front of the White House, where protestors are pushing Obama to nix the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, the pressure has probably just ratcheted up. The State Department just released a report saying that the pipeline would have "minimal" environmental effects, which is a big step towards approving its construction. Thanks a lot, State Department.
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