Living

Sexy Retrofits

Vindication edition: Obama declares insulation “sexy”

Here at Sexy Retrofits, we’ve been pointing out for a while the absolute hotness of making buildings more energy efficient. Today, our President said this: “I know the idea [of investing in upgrades to inefficient buildings] may not be very glamorous, although I get really excited about it. Insulation is sexy stuff.” Know what else is sexy? Obama. Glorious day!

your liver, hfcs, and you

New research: Fructose increases risk of diabetes, heart disease [UPDATED]

You should lay off the sauce–it’s not good for your liver. [Author's Note:] This post, reacting to the findings of a University of California, Davis, study on fructose, quoted and relied heavily on an error-laden Times of London story. That said, the post generated a lot of valuable discussion in the comments section below, including a critique of the Times piece by Dr. Kimber Stanhope, one of the authors of the Davis study. In response to another comment, Dr. Stanhope agreed that the question remains how much fructose is safe to consume and she indicated that a current project of …

Two Legs Bad?

How about we stop claiming environmentalists are “anti-human”

Know what’s really depressing? Dragging out old saws about anti-human environmentalists.In the dark of night yesterday — OK, at 8:02 p.m. — Slate published a piece by Anne Applebaum that calls out the “anti-human prejudices of the climate change movement.” Specifically, she is worried that the news coming from Copenhagen is turning her nine-year-old son into a nihilist. Because her son used apocalyptic climate change as an excuse to not do his homework: “By the time I’m grown up, the polar ice caps will have melted and everyone will have drowned.” Seems to me her son is creative, clever, and …

The jobs of saving energy

Could AlertMe be the Apple of energy efficiency?

AlertMe iphone app.Photo: Courtesy of AlertMeI’m sitting in a conference room at a PR agency on the San Francisco waterfront when the chief executive of AlertMe, a British energy management startup, pulls out his iPhone to check on a colleague’s kilowatt consumption back in the U.K. The executive, who has the Vonnegutian name of Pilgrim Beart, taps the “history” icon on the screen. “I can see that his wife has arrived home,” he says before touching the energy button. “They’re watching TV right now,” Beart notes, staring at the iPhone screen. “I could turn the TV off if I wanted …

Sugar and Spice and…Lead and Mercury

Sandra Steingraber is my hero. Her book, Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, chronicles her own pregnancy from both a scientific and personal perspective. It’s beautifully and lovingly written—yet for a pregnant woman it’s also a tough read. Trained as a biologist, Steingraber meticulously documents the toxic hazards we live with every day, and that threaten each crucial stage of fetal development. It’s not a pretty picture. One point stands out: it’s the fetus, not an adult human, who really lives at the top of the food chain. Rethink all the textbook food chain charts you’ve seen in your …

Yes, they can

U.S Gov’t official: ‘avoid BPA’ in food packaging

Oh, you wanted it poison-free? Let’s hope this report represents a tipping of the government’s hand on bisphenol A and not a case of someone going rogue: The head of the primary federal agency studying the safety of bisphenol A said Friday that people should avoid ingesting the chemical–especially pregnant women, infants and children. “There are plenty of reasonable alternatives,” said Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, in an interview with the Journal Sentinel. While stressing she is not a medical doctor, Birnbaum said she has seen enough studies on …

Give and let live

Ask Umbra on holiday donations, green magazines, and more

Dearest Readers, I write to you from Copenhagen, where I have come to witness the big climate conference. O the life of a Grist columnist gets more glamorous by the day! Be sure to check out our coverage, and follow my adventures on Twitter. Yes, dear readers, I’ve finally succumbed to the tweet hereafter — but rest assured, I’ll still hole up in the stacks at good old Grist headquarters tracking down the answers to your burning questions. For now, I’m holed up in a Danish hotel room, climate skeptics banging on the door. Odds bodkins, they are persistent. Q. …

Protesting the headlines

On the message—not the arrests—at Copenhagen’s mass rally

Demonstrators at Saturday’s climate-change march in Copenhagen.Grist photo/Jennifer PredigerI skipped Copenhagen’s large demonstration on Saturday for the same reason I missed the Bright Green expo and Desmond Tutu speaking at the Bella Center—there’s so freakin’ much happening here, so many events worth attending and reporting at every waking moment. I’ll post more soon about the event I did attend, a gathering of corporate executives up the coast at Hamlet’s Kronborg Castle. But a quick word on Saturday’s rally. What happened: Tens of thousands of people showed up to demand, beg, shame and inspire world political leaders, all in hopes of …

Walk it out

From Big Ben to Brussels: Group walks to raise climate awareness

Here are the stats on our walk from Big Ben to Brussels: 3 countries, 15 days, 250 miles, an estimated 500,000 steps. Me and 4 footsore, fantastic friends. Our final day seemed almost too easy. We woke up with less than 10 miles to go, and had to dawdle along to allow the camera crew time to film us. Walking slowly was surprisingly hard after 2 weeks on the road we had settled into a natural rhythm, and to slow down was at least as hard as walking faster would have been. We ended as we had begun, in the …

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