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Earth Awards

The Earth Awards look cool: Deadline is Oct. 31. Better get cracking.

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Making the world desirable and sustainable, video

Paul MacCready speaks at TED

A TED talk from Paul McCready: In 1998, aircraft designer Paul MacCready looks at a planet on which humans have utterly dominated nature, and talks about what we all can do to preserve nature's balance. His contribution: solar planes, superefficient gliders and the electric car. (thanks LL)

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From Junk to Trunk

Or are you just soapy to see me? Man Junk: "A line of organic shampoos for the discriminating scrotum." Members only, please. Drink, baby, drink! May we interest you in the organic Palin Syrah? It's a relatively new red, spicy and smooth, that pairs well with something old and tough. And for dessert, the baked Alaska -- or perhaps the moose? Got the dirt Bud's blog: Rained again today. Drank a lot, then soiled myself. Oh, shoot, gotta grow. Take it in stride These energy-generating shoes give a whole new meaning to power walking -- perfect for when you need …

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Do the locasexual motion

Slate encourages local dating for green’s sake

You try to eat locally, but do you, um, eat out locally? With the argument that long-distance dating hurts the earth, Slate says you should. The idea that many folks are "willing to be a locavore but not a locasexual," as author Barron YoungSmith puts it, builds on the notion of eco-hypocrites who aren't willing to curtail their air travel, but regularly do things like recycle, buy carbon offsets, or frequent farmers markets. But picking a local date could matter more than what's on your plate. For a hypothetical San Francisco resident dating someone in D.C., "breaking up would be …

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You can go home again

What I would like to say in the New York Times

I'm going to pretend that instead of a silly article diagnosing a pretend disease in The New York Times, I was given a chance to speak on the op-ed pages of the Times. Ignoring for a moment how unlikely that is, here's what I would have said. ----- Last weekend my family and I appeared in the New York Times as victims (or perhaps purveyors) of a new mental illness, "carborexia." Apparently this is the pathological inability to produce sufficient carbon, an environmental mania so extreme that it transforms ordinary lives into obsessive madness. The article began with the fact …

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A review of disposable eco-diapers

We got you covered. After having my first child this summer, I learned one thing right off the bat: The only thing I craved more than a good, long nap was a good, strong nappy. I had heard tales from other parents of astronomical blowouts, but not until I was faced with my own filial feces did I appreciate the wonders of a reliable diaper. In search of a green choice -- and having passed up the cloth option for reasons I won't go into here -- I loaded up on the various "eco" disposables available, their claims ranging from …

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The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Global recession? Must be time for the media’s alternative-energy backlash

My father used to say of his profession that newspaper editors are the people who come down from the mountaintop at the end of the battle and shoot the wounded. A massive credit crunch and a drop in the price of fossil fuels can mean only one thing to the editors of the traditional media -- an excuse for their favorite activity in the whole world, the backlash story. Faster than you can say "Joe the Plumber" isn't a licensed plumber, his name isn't Joe, and he has a tax lien against him, you can be sure that if the …

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The word of Lahde

The internets have been having lots of fun with a farewell letter sent by Andrew Lahde, who ran the hedge fund Lahde Capital Management. That fund was up 870 percent last year, so Lahde decided, screw it, he's rich enough and he's quitting. And going out with quite a bang too. The entire letter is worth reading. This is probably the best part: I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly …

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Umbra on straw-bale homes

Dear Umbra, Do you recommend building straw bale homes? And/or can you insulate an existing home with straw bales on the outside of the home and then finish it using siding, wood, or stucco? I wonder why this renewable, economical, and easily available resource is underused and undervalued ... am I missing something? What do you think? Leni E.Hollywood, Fla. Dearest Leni, Anyone who has seen a straw-bale home will not be making any of the traditional jokes about the Three Little Pigs. The plastered walls are filled with solid bales of straw at least 14 inches wide, and the …

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Electric Mini Cooper coming to the U.S.

What's cute and teeny and charged up? An electric Mini Cooper, which BMW will unveil at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. Even more exciting -- especially if you are among "select private and corporate customers" -- a 500-vehicle test fleet will be available for lease in California, New Jersey, and New York early next year. While the creatively named Mini E will be manufactured in the United Kingdom and Germany, BMW is still mum on specific plans for a European release. The two-seater Mini E takes about eight hours to fully charge, then can travel 150 miles before …