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College residence halls trending toward green … and not-so-green

I'm excited about this new trend toward green dorm design and decor, such as the Green Campus Program in California wherein new students can tour a dorm room pimped out with, for example, "hemp towels, organic cotton sheets, a reusable elephant grass shopping basket, and bed frames made of recycled train tracks." But I'm bummed that it's basically negated by another "trend" in college dorms these days: deluxe consumerism of the not-so-eco kind. Said one UCLA resident director, "The newest trend is the bigger-screen TV, the plasma -- I've seen some big ones, 40- and 50-inchers." In either case, however, …

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Bloggy backslapping

Adam Stein is never wiser or more perspicacious than when he's, uh, agreeing with me.

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Is Burning Man living up to its Green Man intentions?

The headline refers to a sign that appears as you drive (or as I drove, in a huge white pickup truck) into the Playa at five miles an hour, and it's not a bad summary of the enviro discussion here at Burning Man. How can you really be green at an event you have to drive hundreds of miles to, mostly through desert, with all your heavy crap in the car? Where will all those plastic water bottles end up? Is there such thing as a petroleum-free camp? What about all those Zip Ties, the preferred technology for securing dome …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Animal-rights groups point out the climatic effect of meat-eating

With which instrument do you cause more greenhouse-gas emissions: your car key or your fork? It's a question asked in an advertising campaign by the Humane Society, which, along with other big animal-rights groups, is striving to open consumers' eyes to an oft-overlooked connection: the climatic impact of eating meat. Bolstered by a recent United Nations report stating that the livestock business spews more GHGs than all forms of transportation combined, animal-rights groups say greens aren't stressing the point enough. "Environmentalists are still pointing their fingers at Hummers and S.U.V.'s when they should be pointing at the dinner plate," says …

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Leo’s feel-good press conference is interrupted by a feel-bad question

Leonardo DiCaprio at the premiere of The 11th Hour. Alex Berliner © Berliner Studio/BEImages When celebrities embrace environmental concerns, cranky naysayers pop up like toadstools after a rainstorm. But the mansions and private jets those critics seize upon, while easy targets, might not be the real problem. It might just be that green-leaning celebrities and their handlers need to open themselves up to harder questions from their media allies first, to help forestall that crankfest. At a recent press conference for The 11th Hour, Leonardo DiCaprio's eco-documentary, the ballroom of the Regent Beverly Wilshire wasn't packed with journalists eager to …

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Just the Ticket

Paper airline tickets soon to go extinct By the beginning of next summer, paper airline tickets will be a thing of the past for its airlines, the International Air Transport Association announced this week. The relevant stats: The IATA represents more than 240 airlines, which together operate 94 percent of international flights; 84 percent of its travelers already fly without paper tickets; and changing over to fully electronic ticketing will save the airlines $9 per passenger and keep 50,000 trees standing every year, or, if not standing, at least it'll keep them from being used as tickets. Says one IATA …

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Honda fights to regain green car company mantle

Honda entered the hybrid market before Toyota, but over time it made a fateful mistake: it failed to visually distinguish its line of hybrids. The Prius' distinct shape is like peacock feathers -- it signals your identity to the world. Who wants to be virtuous if nobody knows about it? Now Honda's gotten the message and it's returning to the fight: [Honda is] working on a new high-profile hybrid -- a Prius fighter that analysts expect will have the highest mileage on the road when it arrives in 2009. Code-named the "Global Small Hybrid," Honda's new gas-electric model won't be …

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Survey reveals truth about environmental fibs

A study by (insurance company?) Norwich Union has unearthed the truth about how green Brits really are: The good news: Of the 1,580 people surveyed across Britain, more than half considered unethical living as much of a social taboo as drunk driving -- or, as the Brits call it, drink-driving. The bad news: Due to this "green guilt," nine in 10 admit they lie to exaggerate their environmental commitment. (Rather than actually making the changes.) Even badder: More than half say they are "unlikely to alter their way of life despite pressure from the media, politicians, and their children to …

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How to stick it to the ice-cream Man

I've written a lot about the consolidation of U.S. food markets, and have become jaded to facts such as: just four firms slaughter 83.5 percent of cows, and so on. But I actually gagged on my ice cream when I read this bit in BusinessWeek: The days of mom-and-pop parlors and local brands are fading fast. Today, the $59 billion ice cream industry is dominated by two global giants: Switzerland's Nestlé (NESN.DE) and Anglo-Dutch conglomerate Unilever (UN). Together, they control more than one-third of the worldwide market -- and half of ice cream sales in the U.S. -- and they're …

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Australian newspaper identifies consumerism as warming culprit

I was just in Australia, spending some love miles (my wife is an Aussie) but also giving some talks, and while there I was interviewed by a journalist named Wendy Frew from the Sydney Morning Herald. She did a nice piece (August 9) on Greenhouse Development Rights called "Rich will have to help poor to save climate," which is perhaps notable for containing the dulcet phrase "coal is the enemy of mankind." But that's not what I'm writing about. What I'm writing about is another article by Ms. Frew, dated August 19, this one called "Top suburbs costing the Earth." …

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