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Meet power rock and his sidekick spurt

Coal coloring book teaches kids all about dirty energy

Update below The coal-industry group Families Organized to Represent the Coal Economy, which doesn’t actually allow families to join, has a wonderfully crappy coloring book for children. Let’s have a look! Plot, character development, and drawings that kids would actually want to color don’t seem to be priorities for “Eyes for Frosty.” At least it picks a relevant topic in snowmen—they won’t be around for long if the coal industry succeeds in stomping all over climate change legislation. And kids will be stuck with the consequences of our fossil-fuel pollution, so it sort of makes sense to at least leave …

General Musings

GM: Innovators or crackheads?

Some assembly required.GM.comAt one of our news meetings last week, I mentioned a story I had seen. “GM says the Chevy Volt will get 230 miles per gallon,” I told my fellow editors. The number struck me funny because it was ludicrously far beyond any current mpg rating, and because GM acknowledged that the Volt, due in late 2010, would be difficult to recharge given current infrastructure. It’s as if you had a pony that delivered lollipops door to door, except it didn’t have anywhere to buy them. But to a couple of staffers, it was funny for a whole …

Horror Show

‘The Cove’ pulls no punches in documenting Japanese dolphin hunt

The Cove documents a the hunting of dolphins in one Japanese fishing village.Early on in The Cove, director Louie Psihoyos describes how he assembled an “Ocean’s Eleven”-like team of specialists to infiltrate and expose a secret, brutal, for-profit dolphin-killing operation in Japan. The description fits the film, which is structured more like an action thriller than a documentary. And the team, which includes a pair of world-class free divers, a “clandestine operations” specialist who’s discovered Caribbean shipwrecks, a rock concert organizer, and a spiritual surfer dude who co-founded Surfers for Cetaceans. (Cetacea, for marine-illiterate folk, is the order of marine …

Car-Bon Voyage

Ask Umbra on dream trips

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Like any married couple, my husband and I occasionally fantasize about what we’ll do with our life in our retirement years. We’ve had the typical RV fantasy as we do love to travel, but we worry about the gas consumption and resulting emissions that would come of that route. We could tour around in our Prius and stay at budget hotels (and probably break even monetarily), but we’re concerned with their poor laundering, heating/cooling and other consumption choices. Of course we love foreign travel, but the emissions from airplanes are hard to …

Bill McKibben talks climate on Colbert Report

Bill McKibben—author, Grist board member, and 350.org leader—appeared on The Colbert Report Monday night to talk climate change and spread the word about the International Day of Climate Action on Oct. 24. He also gave a solid explanation of the significance of the number 350. The ever-courteous Stephen Colbert threatened to upstage him by launching his own 349.org.

Legs Dimin'

Would you pay more for walkability? Should you?

The Truth About … via flickrForget letting your fingers do the walking: A study released today shows that homebuyers are letting their wallets do the walking, paying more for homes in neighborhoods where you can get around without wheels. Conducted by CEOs for Cities, the analysis looked at 94,000 real-estate transaction in 15 markets across the U.S., from Fresno, Calif., to Arlington, Va. Researchers found that in 13 of the markets, housing values were higher in more walkable neighborhoods. (What about the other two markets? In Bakersfield, Calif., no correlation was found; in the other, which starts with Las Vegas …

How much is that brainwashing in the window?

Our addiction to cheap stuff has become very expensive, new book argues

American retail is riddled with cheap, fall-apart merchandise. We know this. Sales are a ploy to get a shopper to spend, as opposed to a boon for penny pinchers. Right. And how much mileage do we get from that old, overused adage, “You get what you pay for”? More than we’d like to admit. So why is Ellen Ruppel Shell’s new book, Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture, so shocking? Shell deftly weaves a compelling, cautionary tale out of disparate strands: the psychology of manipulating shoppers, the environmental costs of our lust for inexpensive things, the deskilling of the …

Jet Smart

Ask Umbra on flying less

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, Do we really need to fly less or do we need planes that are more fuel efficient? Am I assuming correctly when I say that planes have little or no emissions standards? I didn’t see that mentioned specifically in your previous article on planes and trains. So the real answer would be, fly less for now until planes become more fuel efficient and green. Justin B.East Tawas, Mich. A. Dearest Justin, Don’t fly — the friendly skies will thank you.Robert Scoble via flickrYes, fly less for now until planes become more fuel …

Caption needed! UPDATE: Caption found

When you discover a picture of Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack posing with Cookie Monster and broccoli, it’s caption contest time! Submit captions below in comments. Funniest idea gets a priceless Virtual High Five. UPDATE:  The winner of the Virtual High Five is … Ed Abbey! Scroll down to see the new caption. Thanks for playing! How many puppets do you see in this picture?

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