in the red hott seat

‘Love seats’ flirt with creating better bus times

Kadaver off the Record Copenhagen’s buses are introducing another way of getting around while you get around town: “love seats,” or “kærlighedssæder.” (Gesundheit!) A social experiment of Danish bus company, Arriva, these special spots aim to make things a little cozier for those would-be cuddlers who haven’t been feeling the love on public transit. “You can sit here either if you want to signal to your fellow passengers that you’re single or if you feel in a very good mood,” Marianne Faerch of Arriva said. Let’s just hope passengers don’t take love seats a notch too far. —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what …

Green is the new green

Ask Umbra on the word “green,” DIY laundry detergent, and computer batteries

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Whenever I read the word “green” in quotation marks, I get the same sensation as when I hear nails on a chalkboard. Can you help me understand how this practice came about and what differentiates something as being “green” vs. just plain old green (sans quotation marks)? Looking forward to getting to the bottom of my visceral reaction to the use of “green.” Thanks!KathyPhiladelphia A. Dearest Kathy, Eh, it’s not so hard being green.Photo: Ben+Sam via FlickrI have the same reaction when people use the word “edgy,” as in, “How can we …

The GINK Chronicles

50 years after the Pill and this is the best we can do?

Happy 50th Birthday, Pill.The media are making a big deal out of fêting the Pill on its 50th birthday, but forgive me if I don’t see much reason to celebrate. Of course I’ll grant that the birth control pill has vastly improved the lives of many women — more than 100 million are taking it right now — giving us unprecedented control over our bodies and our futures. But right from the start — May 9, 1960, when the FDA announced that it would approve the Pill — things weren’t rosy.  Laws in many states barred women from actually getting …

Producer credit

Keeping the farmer in farmers markets

Photo: Natalie MaynorEarlier this week, the Wall Street Journal aired a bit of dirty laundry that was hiding out in local food’s hamper — the ongoing fight over who gets to sell in farmers markets. Many markets require that sellers be actual growers, rather than “resellers” of some form or another. At a certain level, this makes perfect sense: despite the dropped apostrophe, they’re not called farmers markets for nothing. And once you open the door to resellers, you also open the door to things like “farmwashing” — sellers falsely claiming they grew their wares — or even California produce …

A giant win spill

Home Star energy retrofit bill passes House; is backed by broad coalition; rules

For years, energy-efficiency advocates have been beating their head against a wall. Efficiency saves money, reduces emissions, creates jobs, and enhances economic competitiveness. It ought to be the first item on the energy policy list — the “first fuel,” as they say — and the subject of broad bipartisan consensus. And yet … it’s not. Instead it’s mostly ignored or given lip service. Even the fairly strong efficiency provisions in the Waxman-Markey climate and energy bill passed last summer by the House were a fraction of what could profitably be achieved. Yesterday that finally began to change, as the House …

Toxic shocker

Does America cause cancer?

(Grist/iStockphoto)A new government report [PDF] suggests that comedian Bill Maher was on to something when he joked in an interview last year with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson that “America causes cancer.” The report, released today, says that thousands of industrial chemicals in our environment are indeed making Americans sick, and its findings cannot be easily dismissed. It originates “not from the fringe but from the mission control of mainstream scientific and medical thinking, the President’s Cancer Panel,” as Times columnist Nick Kristof observes. The four-decades-old panel comprises three distinguished experts who review America’s cancer program and report directly to the …

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

Woman feels burned by McDonald’s

Would you like fries with that?Photo: lille abe via FlickrWe love our McDonald’s stories (as evidenced here, here, and, oh yeah, here), so it’s no wonder that this one jumped out at us: McDonald’s Happy Meal “came with cigarette.”  According to the U.K. publication Metro, Nicky Holloway found an unused cigarette in the Happy Meal she purchased for her 1-year-old son. “‘My son can feed himself and I was watching him eat, but he could easily have put the cigarette in his mouth.’ Miss Holloway said the manager of the McDonald’s branch in her home city offered her another meal …

water hoarding

Down the Colorado

As a native Coloradan, photographer Peter McBride always wondered how long it took irrigation water from his family’s cattle ranch to reach the Colorado River and ultimately the sea. That question sent McBride (with author Jonathon Waterman) on a two-year journey to follow the water. He photographed the Colorado, mostly from the air, in an effort to document where the river’s water actually goes. The results will appear in the book The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict (Westcliffe Publishers), due out in September. This sneak preview of McBride’s work marks the launch of our “Follow a drop of water” series, …


Green cars do not make green cities

Cross-posted from PubliCola. In response to last week’s post about how cars cause significant greenhouse gas emissions in addition to what comes out of the tailpipe, some commenters contended that even so, car-dependency is not a problem because cars can be as energy-efficient per passenger-mile as buses and trains. But that perspective is classic “can’t see the forest for the trees,” because vehicle efficiency is just one piece of the puzzle that leads to an efficient urban transportation system. The sexy graph below tells the story (click it to see an enlarged version): For the U.S. we see that in …

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