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FAQ YOU

Ask Umbra on combating climate denial

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, This “year with no summer” and some alleged statistics I have seen quoted about earth-wide temperatures for the last ten years have resulted in claims that the earth is not heating — it may even be cooling. What about it? Arthur WaskowShalom Center, Philadelphia A. Dearest Arthur, The oceans are too getting warmer!That would be great. The planet needs some cooling, and humans certainly aren’t doing anything to help. But let us remember the difference between weather and climate. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration does confirm that summer 2009 in the …

Ditto

With Patrick Swayze’s death, perhaps the year could take a rest

The past few months have taken a mind-boggling assortment of icons, pop and otherwise, from our midst. As a green media outlet, we face a challenge on these somber occasions: How to pay tribute to people whose departure is felt by so many, but who might not have strong environmental connections. We don’t want to be in the business of creating artificial “ecobits” in which we glom onto some one-off quote from five years ago and use it to claim that, say, Patrick Swayze was a conservationist. It also doesn’t feel quite right to fall back on our usual schtick, …

Pulling out the Jay Game

Celebs to race Ford’s electric cars on Jay Leno’s new show

Jay Leno’s electric slide began long before the “Green Car Challenge.”Photo: Alan Light via FlickrOn his new show, which launched Monday night, Jay Leno will flaunt to the world his crush on electric cars. Leno’s show will feature the “Green Car Challenge,” wherein celeb guests race against each other in specially built Ford electric cars for the best lap times on a specially built race track. The first guest in the hot seat will be Drew Barrymore (an obvious guest to kick things off, since we all know she likes riding in cars with boys), when she appears on the …

how now, green Dow

Is the Dow Jones Sustainability Index worth a damn?

Recently, the web has been abuzz with stories about (and press releases from) companies ranked highly by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index review. The vaunted stock ticker-picker turned its eyes to green a full ten years ago to track the financial performance of “sustainability-driven companies worldwide.” Each year it releases a review of the companies in the index, using their economic, environmental, and social performance to rank them (and sometimes remove them). And the companies, in turn, use it as an excuse to make eco-happy headlines. So what’s with all the hubbub? And is it important to us mere mortals, …

Just Beak Ahhs

Ask Umbra on sex … chicken sex, that is

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Vegans don’t eat eggs because it’s an animal product like honey and milk and also because of how animals are treated. However, does eating an egg kill a baby chick that could have had a life? I am a vegetarian and people often argue that the eggs in the grocery store are not fertilized and would never have a life. Is that really true? I know being vegan is the best way of living but does eating eggs really kill something that could have had a life? It would be great to …

This 9/11, urban communities remember and serve

This September 11th, communities are honoring those who lost their lives eight years ago by participating in service activities. Churches, schools, and community groups are holding nearly 100 Green the Block service events in more than 24 states. All across the nation, people are choosing to act on encouragement instead of discouragement, on hope instead of despair. Both of us are often asked to speak for those who have no voice, and to remind others of those who are often forgotten. We are asked to respond to the frustrations of our communities and fulfill the aspirations of those who are …

earth daze

New film ‘Earth Days’ takes a sometimes devastating look at the history of environmental activism

In the 1970s, just after the first Earth Day and in the midst of oil shortages, recessions, and uprisings by restless youth, politicians were suddenly expected to show concern for the environment. President Jimmy Carter went above and beyond by installing solar panels on the White House in 1979. Solar panels on the White House! Seven years later, President Ronald Reagan took them down. This mind-bogglingly idiotic reversal is chronicled in Robert Stone’s new documentary Earth Days, about the history of the environmental movement. Seeing “history” and “environmental” in the same sentence probably makes you want to curl up for …

Citizens welcome return to sound science, sanity

EPA to hold 79 mountaintop removal permits for further review

Via Applachian Voices The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced the preliminary fate of 79 valley fill permit applications associated with mountaintop removal coal mining. In a move that pleased environmentalists and coalfield residents in central and southern Appalachia, the EPA recommended that none of the 79 permits be streamlined for approval. iLoveMountains has an interactive map and action page, as well as a little helpful background on what these permits are and why they are being announced today. This decision is not final, but is part of a coordination procedure outlined in a June “memorandum of understanding” between the …

Grow your farmer ...

USDA to unveil “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative

Vast potential: a farm grows in Brooklyn. Photo: Added ValueAs I prepare for five days of announcements next week, when USDA plans to unveil its new “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative, the buzz across my desk is about the potential for urban agriculture. EPA reminds that brownfield moneys can be used to convert polluted land into working farms in inner-city areas. I saw the excellent film “The Garden,” documenting the destruction of the largest community farm in the U.S. (South Central LA) in 2006. Will and Erika Allen are coming to Minnesota again. Over breakfast, friends asked about …