Living

An unwelcome status update

Does Facebook deserve the hell it’s catching from Greenpeace?

Social networking giant Facebook has been taking heat from enviros recently for its decision to site a massive new data center in Prineville, Ore. The issue? Pacific Power, the utility that serves Prineville, gets most of its power from coal, the enemy of the human race. Greenpeace International has started a Facebook group opposing the move. Facebook, clearly feeling some heat, responded to the controversy over the weekend. Its new data center will involve all sorts of efficiency efforts, but the company’s main argument is that the dry, temperate climate in Oregon will allow it to forego any mechanical chillers …

Smellin' mighty fined

AXE bodyspray pays for stinking up the atmosphere

The AXE effect? Air pollution! Photo: Unlisted Sightings via Flickr Calling all smelly guys who AXE too much: We’re scenting you an order to cease and desist your deodorizing. California says your BO paranoia is stinking up the aerosols. Wouldn’t want to get a whiff of the $1.3 million in fines just to smell like a million dollars, now would eau?

Abandonment issue solved

Amusement park grows amid rail line ruins

Photo: TreeHuggerIt’s one of Lima’s most unusual spaces: a set of structures that were going to be the railways of an electric train. In 1986, the project was dropped and the construction was left as-it-was. For years, these concrete columns and pass ways ‘adorned’ Lima’s landscape with no purpose, until this February. Spanish group Basurama, known for projects like the ‘You are what you drop‘ installation, thought this was an amazing place to make an urban intervention and came up with an amusement park. The Ghost Train park features amazing bright colors and games made with recycled materials such as …

Give 'em a heart time about it

How (not) to work out climate vs. weather at the office

Eat their heart out, Al Gore! Even if your climate change-doubting colleague doesn’t snow the difference between weather and climate, you can patiently teach him the truth without being such a beef jerky. But if that doesn’t work, urine trouble!

Nuclear kids on the block

Ask Umbra’s pearls of wisdom on nuclear energy

Dearest readers, Not all of your questions are as manageable to navigate as selecting local versus organic apples or how to recycle your light bulbs/baby food jars/yogurt containers/cell phones. Some are downright difficult, controversial, and ambiguous, which is frankly all the more reason to dive into these quandaries. One such pickle: nuclear energy. It’s recently found a revival in the headlines via the Obama administration’s proposal to triple nuclear power loan guarantees in 2011 and Bill Gates touting high tech nuclear reactors at the TED Conference, which led me to the Ask Umbra archives to dig up some pieces of …

Is that a lettuce in your pocket?

The incredible edible urban jungle [SLIDESHOW]

How does your garden grow? Deeply urban denizens are ingenious at getting their greens. We’ve searched out some of the more outrageous efforts.  

Do I get my own balance beam?

Old Olympic village for rent: cheap!

Photo: Energy AustraliaWant to live rent free for a year, and pay no costs for energy and water needs? Not enough incentive for you? How about the possibility of having a plug-in electric car in your garage, as well? This is the deal that Energy Australia is offering, in concert with Sydney Water. They’ll be interviewing successful applicants, who will ideally be a family with kids to spend 12 months live-testing an energy and water smart home in the west of Sydney. The project that has been described by the NSW state government, one of the backers, as a ‘bit …

the breeding edge

Veggies not challenging enough? Try home ‘aquaponic’ gardening

Last year, thanks in large part to the White House kitchen garden, the country saw a resurgence in interest in backyard gardening. But this being America, where one-upsmanship sometimes seems like a national pastime, the vanguard has apparently moved on … to “aquaponics.” The New York Times illustrates what makes this “breeding edge” of backyard agriculture different with a visit to hobby farmer Rob Torcellini’s hand-built installation in Connecticut: There are fish here, for one thing, shivering through the winter, and a jerry-built system of tanks, heaters, pumps, pipes, and gravel beds. The greenhouse vents run on a $20 pair …

Do you know the muffin, man?

Ask Umbra on how to make organic dog treats

Brianne DiSylvester, owner of Get Lick’d Organic Dog Treats and Change Agent featured in today’s Ask Umbra video, was kind enough to give us this tasty treat recipe for your furry friends. Enjoy, dearests, and let me know how your pups like the muffins in the comments below (FYI, you can eat them too, but they may not be up to your palate standards). I’m the size of a muffin. Get Lick’d Organic Peanut Butter Carob Treats Makes 48 muffins 2 cups organic brown rice flour 1 cup water 1/4 cup vegan carob chips 1 Tb organic peanut butter 1 …

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