Trip the light rail fantastic

Seattle light rail finally opens doors to passengers

Photo: wings777 via FlickrIt’s been a long time coming, but starting this Saturday, it’ll be “all aboard!” when Seattle’s light rail trains pull into the station. The Sound Transit trains will travel 14 miles from Westlake Center, in the center of downtown, south to Tukwila, two miles short of the Sea-Tac airport. By the end of the year, the trains will reach the airport. Thanks to generous Seattle voters, this $2.3 billion “starter line” will eventually reach north to the University of Washington campus (2016) and out to other suburbs like Federal Way, Overlake, and Lynnwood on a 53-mile track …

Good policy pays off

Proof of concept: Well-crafted standards spur innovation in lighting

There was an excellent article in the NY Times last Sunday, detailing the unexpected rise of super-efficient incandescent light bulbs as a result of the standard in the 2007 energy bill. The article quotes NRDC’s own lighting and electronics efficiency guru, Noah Horowitz, and really drives home an important point – well crafted standards spur innovations in energy efficiency. Back in April, Green Inc. ran a similar story on another new technology that leads me to draw the same conclusion. These technologies would not be evolving if not for the federal standard. The 2007 energy bill set this standard covering …

Going Topless

Ask Umbra on buying a convertible

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Long story short, my parents have been thinking about buying me a car since soon I will be going to University and that way, I won’t constantly be using their cars. My mom suggested a Volkswagen Beetle Convertible, which I love the look of. However, it doesn’t appear to be very environmentally friendly. I didn’t do a lot of research since I don’t really understand all the car terms, but the website I checked said that the Mini Cooper was a lot more eco-friendly for about the same price. I was just …


Farm City author cuts the foodie-elite snobbery from urban farming

Food writer and urban farmer Novella Carpenter is everything the elitist, foodie stereotype is not: she squat-farms near downtown Oakland, Calif., dumpster-dives to feed her rabbits, and offers to show anyone who still thinks otherwise exactly “what urban farming smells like.” Novella Carpenter and cute baby animals today, dinner tomorrow.Photo: Courtesy of Novella CarpenterIn Seattle while touring for her new book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer, Carpenter took a few minutes to give Grist the low-down-and-dirty on the up-and-coming trend of urban farming. From roof-top gardens to city chickens, an increasing number of city slickers are becoming …

It Could Be Verse

Climate-news poem: G8 edition

With deepest apologies to INXS. Congregate, heads of state, don’t be late, big G8Planet’s fate, cannot wait,Don’t stall debate or hesitate, designate your carbon rateA one world state, Italianate, on July 8, won’t abrogateA gentle trait, a balding pate, a girlish gait, pontificateWe’ll predicate our specs ornate, officiate, not deviateGreen groups berate, gesticulate, packed in a crate, their sounds abate.Congregate, heads of state, pasta ate, it was great. Fritter away more of your time by checking out previous verses.    Boom boom, ain’t it G8 to be

The Grist List: From Timberlake to Taco Bell

Justin Timberlake brings sexy back to green, and more

Photo: jurvetson via FlickrBring it on down to GolfersvilleJ Tee is bringing sexy back to green. The putting green, that is. And with eco-friendly practices par for this course, we’ll hold your wood any day, Mr. Timberlake.                            

Buzz Off

A guide to non-toxic pest control

You know how it goes: you’re in your kitchen, happily chopping veggies for that night’s meal, when an ant comes wandering by to check out the menu. Or you turn on the light in the bathroom and spot a silverfish scuttling away. Or you finally lie down for a well deserved rest, only to be plagued by the incessant whine of a bloodthirsty mosquito. This sucks.dr_relling via flickrThere’s a reason they’re called pests, and modern science has come up with plenty of sprays, baits, and potions to kill them or keep them at bay. But those remedies aren’t just bad …

Readin', writin', 'n' (global) warmin'

New group inspires teens to combat climate change

These high school students aren’t taking climate change lying down.“Who knows about those farting cows? Give it up for the farting cows!” Farting cows are definitely gross-out funny, but they also produce methane, which contributes to global warming. That’s why they get a shout-out in the multimedia presentation on climate change that the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) offers free of charge to Bay Area high schools. ACE (not to be confused with ACES) is an Oakland-based nonprofit that aims to educate teenagers about climate change in a way that’s hip, engaging, and might actually inspire them to action. “You’re …

Steel Yourself

Ask Umbra on paperback writers

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Hi Umbra, I’m in the book business, and there are many who try and make sure books never make it to landfills and are donated to worthy causes. However, I have been wondering for some time about the environmental impact of such authors as Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts, and Tom Clancy, whose books quickly become worthless, and how they feel about their environmental impact, and what if anything they are doing to improve the clearcutting they might be causing? Just a thought. Joe HoppeAustin, Tex. A. Dearest Joe, Is this misplaced blame? They are …