Living

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: Tck, tck, tck edition

Clock block.This week saw heated multitudes descend on NYC Their passions were aflame, though some were acting quite icy. A human countdown filled the park with cries of Tck, Tck, Tck And Indy told his corporate pals this problem they could lick. Obama wowed the world by saying nothing much, and how! He met his match in vagueness in our old friend Hu Jintao. Hugh Jackman, Heather Graham, and other pretties lent their heft.(Without celebs we might be feeling much, much more bereft!)And then there were the Yes Men, those wry stunters we love most Who tizzied up the city …

Head to Toe

Highs and lows from the world of green fashion

What? Take away my Aqua Net?!nyki_m via flickrOK, really just one high and one low. It’s been a busy day. The high, fittingly, is related to hair. When I first saw an email subject line that began “Directional Runway Hair” float into my inbox earlier today, I honest-to-god thought it had something to do with airports. Even when I realized it was fashion-related, my brain was still confused, and I found myself picturing a runway model with “directional” hair shaped like an airplane. But the news here has to do with inhalation, not aviation: A company called John Masters Organics …

the crude cost of fuel

Two new documentaries — ‘Crude’ and ‘Fuel’ — examine two sides of our petroleum problem

Two new documentaries show the damaging effects of the world’s addiction to oil, each film from its own unique angle. Crude, which opened in New York on Sept. 9, traces the story of a lawsuit brought by 30,000 rural Ecuadorians against Chevron, which denies responsibility for turning their traditional rainforest home into a dumping ground for crude oil waste, sickening and killing generations of people. And Fuel, which opened in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 18, follows director Josh Tickell on his quest to convert the world to biofuels, eliminating the need for oil and thus …

A Djimon in the rough

Actor Djimon Hounsou wants to show the human costs of climate change

Djimon Hounsou at the U.N. Climate SummitPhoto: United NationsActor Djimon Hounsou is just as snacky in real life as he was on the big screen in Blood Diamond, The Island, and Gladiator.  Better yet, he’s also a climate activist and humanitarian. As a global ambassador for the aid and development group Oxfam, Hounsou has traveled in sub-Saharan Africa and seen the direct links between climate change and human suffering.  “I’ve witnessed firsthand devastation with drought,” the Benin-born actor told reporters after he helped to kick off the U.N. Summit on Climate Change.  “Year after year, [local farmers are] still expecting …

Hitting the Green Carpet

Umbra reports from the Age of Stupid premiere

What do Stephen Baldwin, the Pope, and the Environment Minister of the Netherlands have in common? They’re all getting hot and bothered about climate change, and they were all at the premiere of Age of Stupid. (OK, the Pope sent a lackey, but he totally would have been there if he could.) Umbra Fisk surveys the scene, talking with Heather Graham, Moby, and others about the future of the planet.

Interior Monologue

Ask Umbra on that new-car smell

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I have an old and dying Cash for Clunker-eligible SUV with well over 210,000 miles on it … My problem is I find the VOC offgassing of new cars intolerable. Is there any way to offgas a new car before I drive it so that I am not inhaling that not so healthy “new-car” smell? Alli K.Spokane, Wash. A. Dearest Alli, Take a deep breath … outside the car.Either you or I or both of us are a little behind the times, as the Cash for Clunkers program ran out of money …

Plastics, the Silent Obesogens

Can plastics make us fat?

Hmm… That title doesn’t quite seem to capture the urgency of the issue, does it? Yet despite rampant skepticism, the data continue to pour in — chemicals in some of the most common plastics and household products, things that surround us every minute of the day, are major culprits in the obesity epidemic. At least now that fact is now getting some well-deserved attention. From Newsweek: Evidence has been steadily accumulating that certain hormone-mimicking pollutants, ubiquitous in the food chain, have two previously unsuspected effects. They act on genes in the developing fetus and newborn to turn more precursor cells …

Youth activism guy talks about the youth, the activism

MTV-approved advice on reaching those who aren’t paying attention

He seems cool.Courtesy Energy Action CoalitionPete Griffin spent three years working at Think MTV, the “social issues” and volunteering arm of the entertainment behemoth. He helped run its Choose or Lose election campaign and its Break the Addiction environmental series. He knew these do-gooder campaigns were far from MTV’s sexiest offerings. “Social issues weren’t why people tuned in to MTV,” he said. “They tuned in to watch The Hills or Real World and that’s why they interacted with our brand. My challenge there was figuring out to engage people who weren’t interested in an issue. Or they’re interested but don’t …

Straight from the Resource's mouth

Ask Umbra on giving advice

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, This fall, as part of an environmental ethics course, I would like to create a class blog somewhat along the lines of your column, with students posting questions and answers to environmental quandaries specific to our campus. I wonder if you have any words of wisdom. What sort of education and skills are most helpful to you in researching and writing about environmental questions? What are the most valuable resources you use in answering questions? Thanks for any help! Brian C.Atlanta, Ga. A. Dearest Brian, Dispense with care.Solo with others via flickrAdvice …

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