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Another urban legend is spawned

Prius ‘proven’ to get worse gas mileage than BMW 520d

This story in the U.K.'s Times Online is racing around the interwebs. Google "BMW 520d" and note how many pages deep it goes. Two goofballs journalists took a road trip, one in a Prius and the other in a BMW 520d. The BMW purportedly got about 4 percent better gas mileage than the "gas guzzling" Prius, which amazingly only managed a dismal 40 mpg. Coincidentally, that is exactly what our Prius got on a road trip last summer, which was not only jammed with people and camping gear but also had a giant cargo carrier strapped to the roof! Odd …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Passover as if the earth matters

A call to action: Street Speakout Seders

  Photo: iStockphoto The traditional Passover Haggadah teaches that in every generation, some Pharaoh will arise in destruction, and that in every generation, every human being -- not just every Jew -- must look upon herself or himself as if it is we -- not our ancestors only -- who must go forth to freedom. In this generation, what Pharaoh do we face, and what freedom must we seek? Pesach intertwines human freedom with the renewal of the earth: in the moment of spring when new grain, new lambs, and new flowers rise up against winter, the earth itself rises …

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For the last time, switch to CFLs

Please don’t use incandescent bulbs for heating

Please. As Andrew Leonard writes in his "How the World Works" blog, this all began with a column by ... Toronto Star energy reporter Tyler Hamilton that itself had summarized the conclusions of a study raising questions about whether it always makes sense to replace incandescent light bulbs with CFLs. The nub of the argument was that in some cases the heat generated by the incandescent light bulbs could be useful. Tyler is a friend of mine and a great reporter, so I sent him an email explaining why this is not true, which was not written for publication. Then …

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Let it all hang out

National Hanging Out Day on April 19

Utahns Martha Jensen and her mom Mary hang out several times a year to raise awareness. Photo: Martha Jensen. Here's a great way to mark Earth Day next month. Each year, the grassroots group Project Laundry List promotes the very picturesque observance of National Hanging Out Day, both to raise awareness about the enormous energy benefits of air-drying laundry and also to draw attention to the fact that, amazingly, this practice is severely restricted in many places around the U.S., especially green ol' California, where 35,000 homeowners' associations have banned the practice. But electric dryers are inefficient and expensive to …

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Umbra on trash bags

Dear Umbra, I am attempting to wean myself off plastic bags. I am also aware of the environmental impact of brown paper bags. So we are OK with cloth grocery bags, but can you suggest an alternative that can be used as a trash can liner (that's economical)? Lisa Columbus, Ga. Dearest Lisa, Plastic trash bags ... a Frequently Asked Question that I have never answered. Have I been saving this succulent trash bag question for a special day? No, not really. Late March, though, feels a bit like trash bag time, so let us slosh forward into speculation about …

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Livin' on a hair

Bon Jovi to offset next tour

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage. Remember back in 2006, when Jon Bon Jovi said he got into green stuff to offset his hair spray-related indiscretions in the past? Allow me to remind you: Actual quote: "Do you really want to know why I'm doing all this goodwill? ... It's because I feel guilty about the huge hole in the ozone layer my haircuts created. It's my responsibility to right the wrongs of the '80s." Well, apparently he's still doing penance, partnering with NativeEnergy to offset the band's upcoming world tour. Says Jon: "Through NativeEnergy, we are making an investment in renewable energy …

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A test of eight green bathroom-cleaning products

Forget the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker -- if your rub-a-dub tub is filled with grime and grub, it's time to scrub. But with what? Before you reach for just any cleaner, ask yourself whether those scrubby bubbles are going to make your bathroom surfaces even more toxic. To help you avoid soap-scummy gunk and harmful chemicals, I've taken a down-and-dirty look at a number of green-cleaning products. If she'd used Borax, she'd already be at the ball. Photo: iStockphoto Much like when shopping for detergents, I steered the cart away from products that include phosphates (which cause …

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How do you make people change?

What behavioral economics has to offer

Many critics of economists contend that because people aren't rational, economics has little predictive power. This is wrong for two reasons. First, people act relatively rational in many (if not most) circumstances; second, the deviations from rationality are predictable. As one of my professors at Berkeley used to say, it's not enough to say that people don't always act like perfect utility maximizers; the question is whether they do on average, and when they don't, what directions they take. It turns out that irrationality is not at all random, as claimed by some. What does this mean for environmentalists? A …

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Rev. Billy at the auto show

This protest/happening at Saturday's N.Y. Auto Show was most amusing: See StreetFilms.org for background.

Read more: Cities, Living

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How I met your popster

Clothing from Britney’s guest role to be auctioned for NRDC

Fallen popstar Britney Spears has a guest starring role on tonight's episode of How I Met Your Mother. And despite evidence that would predict otherwise, reviews suggest she pulls off the role fairly well. After the show, she'll be pulling off her clothes ... For charity, that is. Her wardrobe from the appearance -- including a navy print Juicy Couture dress, a yellow Nannette Lepore dress, and a cream Nannette Lepore cardigan with blue flower details -- will be put on the auction block once the show airs with proceeds benefitting the Natural Resources Defense Council. To which I say, …

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