Space Evaders

Ask Umbra on ungreen roommates

Send your question to Umbra! Q. Dear Umbra, I would like to reduce the amount of energy that my household uses as much as possible. But I have a problem with my roommate. She refuses to use CFLs. She gets upset when I turn off phantom loads, like the power supply for her laptop computer, even if it is during the overnight periods when we are all asleep … she will insist on deliberately leaving lights on in rooms that are not being used for several hours or when no one is at home. She will turn on an electric …

Shut Your Mouth!

13 badass greens

Think people who love the planet are all wimps and weenies? Think again. Here are thirteen who are giving green a bad reputation — in a good way. Read on to learn more about these Mother-lovers — and leave your own nominations in the comments section below. Training day.Beige Luciano-Adams/ELLA13. Homeboy Industries. With the tagline “Nothing Stops a Bullet Like a Job,” you know these homeboys aren’t messing around. Thanks to an ambitious job-training program that includes solar-panel installation, the former East L.A. gang members are slashing energy use instead of each other. “I wanted a new way of life,” …

You want me to paint you a picture?

Burning Embers design contest seeks new ways to illustrate climate change

Photo courtesy spike55151 via FlickrNow here’s a great idea: The student-driven not-for-profit Artist as Citizen has a new Burning Embers design competition, inviting student artists to find new ways to portray climate change trends, causes, and effects. The contest, open to undergraduate and graduate art students and recent graduates, invites work in any medium that can be shown online–illustrations, graphics, photo montage, YouTube videos, flash movies, or any combination. Burning Embers was inspired by a problem familiar to anyone who’s spent time with scientific reports: graphics by scientists can be achingly dull or confusing. The project takes its name from …

Next, In Car Nation

Slideshow: The plug-ins and electric vehicles of 2009

Can’t wait until 2010 for the Chevy Volt (or Coda or Fisker Karma or Chrysler Circuit)? Check out these electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles that are either on the market now or will be by the end of 2009. In slideshow order: Aptera 2e Th!nk City Subaru Stella Toyota Prius extended-range hybrid Mitsubishi i-MiEV smart fortwo electric drive BYD Auto F3DM MINI E Tesla Roadster

Good Fish, Bad Fish

Is your favorite seafood unhealthy for the planet?

When I was growing up, my family lived in New Orleans for several years, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. One of my father’s friends had a boat, and he liked to take it out shrimping. My dad and I would often join him and his son. I loved those early morning boat trips (except for the time that I got very seasick — probably my fault for snacking on Fritos — and the trip that I’m about to tell you about). The lake was so big that you could barely see the shoreline. On one occasion, our nets …

A disturbing fish tale

‘The End of the Line’ is a compelling indictment of industrial fishing

If scientists are correct, 2048 will be a terrible year for sushi restaurants. And diners selling tuna melts, too. The End of the Line isn’t going to make you feel so good about hitting the neighborhood sushi bar.In fact, if I had any money to invest in a seafood venture, Carl Safina’s suggestion to “consider the jellyfishburger” may be the best advice. By mid-century, jellyfish may be the only “fish” left to catch. Though it lacks the starpower of a certain former vice president, The End of the Line does for the fish what Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth did …


‘Sea Change’ documentary highlights threat of ocean acidification

Sven Huseby and his grandson Elias during production of the film A Sea Change.Photo: Daniel de La Calle   If you’ve ever doubted the power of the printed word, strike up a conversation with one Sven Huseby, whose entire life was changed by one article in the New Yorker. The retired history teacher found himself one day reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s “The Darkening Sea” and the next traveling all over the world in search of answers about ocean acidification — with a documentary film crew tailing him all the way. The result is A Sea Change, a film about the largely …

Vanity Unfair

Ask Umbra on license plates

Q. Dear Umbra, Today I obtained a Wisconsin driver’s license and plates, after nearly a year of denying my residency in America’s Dairyland due to my pride in my home state (which has produced gems such as Rod Blagojevich, and his hair). But instead of accepting my olive branch, the DMV issued me license plates reading “365-PVC,” or “three hundred sixty-five days a year, polyvinyl chloride.” Great Odin’s raven–it’s an environmentalist’s nightmare! I suspect that via some elaborate government conspiracy they learned of my treehuggery research (which, ironically, being out of the reach of public transportation, requires me to drive …

A fine bromance

Snap, son! Baseballer Ryan Howard gets White House garden tour

Here’s some good stuff, via Obama Foodorama: While a camera rolls, White House chef/gardener Sam Kass shows baseball star Ryan Howard around the White House garden. They have some great dialogue, climaxing with Howard’s reaction to the garden beehive: “Oh snap, son!” Kass hips Howard to the genius of composting–food scraps go from the White House kitchen to the compost pile to garden beds, from whence more food and more scraps. “You can’t keep taking away without giving back,” Kass lectures, a gloss on the “law of return” propounded another great Howard, organic founder Sir Albert. For his part, Ryan …