Living

Coal hard facts

Audio slideshow: Chris Jordan on America’s coal consumption

Artist Chris Jordan is known for his creative representations of American consumption habits, but even he was shocked to find out the numbers involved in producing coal-fired electricity. After learning about mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachian range, Jordan decided to illustrate just how much coal we consume each day — and the project turned out to be much more immense than he had realized.

Fired up

Audio slideshow: Facing climate change — and wildfire

  Photographer/writer duo Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele have traveled to the Arctic and back to record the impacts of climate change. And while they realize we are facing a global problem, they’ve found that every community has a local story. Through their multimedia project “Facing Climate Change,” they aim to tell those stories via striking images, frank interviews, and alarming facts. In this multimedia piece about wildfire suppression in the American West, Drummond and Steele talk with wildland firefighter Joe King about the costs of fighting wildfires and the ways climate change is adding fuel to the fire. …

Oh, Here It Is!

Four years after my pleading essay, climate art is hot

That pleading little essay I wrote in 2005? It was probably the last moment I could have written it. Clearly there were lots and lots of people already thinking the same way, because ever since it’s seemed to me as if deep and moving images and sounds and words have been flooding out into the world. Bill, built from Flickr pix.Kalman Gacs, 350.org/galleryThat torrent of art has been, often, deeply disturbing — it should be deeply disturbing, given what we’re doing to the earth. (And none of it has quite matched the performance work that nature itself is providing. Check …

Visionary position

Portrait of an artist as a climate activist

This image of a polar bear on Barnard Harbor in Alaska was used in a Senate debate about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.Photo: Subhankar Banerjee   “Art has always reflected what is in our world and in our horizon and what our fears are — which is all tied in to climate change.” Coco Howard, Seattle artist In 2003, a Senate debate turned into an art show for a moment. In the heat of an argument over drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) held up an image of a polar bear crossing a frozen harbor. …

Go green, save green

How to green your grocery shopping on a tight budget

Three months ago, my husband and I took a magnifying glass to our finances, examining a mountain of bills and receipts. We had two main concerns: paying the lingering tab for the birth of our second son (now one), and finding a way to afford a year of preschool for our highly-energized, insatiably-curious three-year-old. We pored over our monthly spending and came up with a budget we thought our family of four could live on. We made cuts all over the place. One major change was canceling satellite TV. That alone freed up $90 per month. We also scaled back …

Micture This

Peeing in the shower goes, um, viral

Dearest Readers, Today brings news — oh, and wildly spreading it is — of an ad campaign in Brazil aimed at convincing people to save water by peeing in the shower. Here is the video, and here is the website, if you are seeking extra credit for your Portuguese skills (beware, it starts with a series of yes-or-no questions). Great minds think alike: Just two weeks ago, I made a video advising shower-peeing as a water-saving, money-saving step (see below). And my whiz-dom extends even further back: it was a bit more than two years ago that I first addressed …

Bygones

Kimberly-Clark, Greenpeace hug it out

Greenpeace USA Engaging in a bit of a lovefest, Greenpeace and Kimberly-Clark announced today that the paper-products giant has finally agreed to clean up its act. It will source the fiber for its tissue products, under brand names that include Kleenex, Scott, and Cottonelle, from “environmentally responsible sources,” including those that are FSC-certified and recycled. The company has also committed to end the purchase of non-FSC fibers from Canada’s Boreal forest by 2011. For its part, Greenpeace will drop the five-year-old Kleercut campaign that has long urged Kimberly-Clark to quit destroying the Boreal just so cold-sufferers can experience a softer …

Two Prongs Make a Right

Ask Umbra on smarter outlets

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I recently spent several months in New Zealand and was impressed with the simple energy-saving electrical outlets they used. Every outlet is equipped with a small switch allowing you to “turn off at the wall” whatever device you have plugged in. I want to replace my current outlets with ones such as those in NZ but I’ve never seen anything similar being used in the States and cannot find a retailer. I’m sure they have to be out there somewhere — any ideas? Casey F.Austin, Tex. A. Dearest Casey, No outlet?Since telling …

Tour de fab

Would you trade your car for a bike?

Would you trade your car for a bike? That’s what the folks behind the Tour de Fat want to know. New Belgium Brewing’s now-annual cycle celebration is pedaling to Seattle this Saturday — and they’ll be taking a car off the hands of one (lucky?) local driver and handing him a cool commuter bike in return. (Patrick explains why he wants to reduce his wheelprint from four to two.) So what else does the Tour de Fat offer aside from the car/cycle swap-o-rama? A six-mile bike parade leaves Gas Works Park at 11 a.m. — think Solstice cyclers … but …

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