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From Bono to Booty

And ... action! Costner's not too merry about Sherwood's fate, Bono's building a skyscraper with or without you, Gore gets animated for Futurama, Jacko goes eco, and Guns N' Roses wants you to Slash energy use. And that's just this week; next week, Hollywood Goes Green. Photo: James Devaney / WireImage.com I can't stop this eeling Yule wanna rock around this Christmas tree -- because it's electric (boogie woogie woogie!). For eels, yo. Photo: iStockphoto Postal's well that ends well Have piles of lemons? Make lemonade. Have piles of junk mail? Make art. Image: S A Schimmel Gold The best …

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Prius smackdown, round two

High gas prices make hybrids look even better

A couple of years ago, I ran some numbers trying to figure out which was the better buy for the planet -- a biodiesel Jetta or a hybrid Prius. And I came to the tentative, but perhaps counterintuitive, conclusion that the best buy was ... wait for it ... a Toyota Corolla. The Corolla, you see, was thousands of dollars cheaper than the Prius (the runner-up), even after I accounted for all the savings on gas from driving a fuel-miser. And if you were a green-minded consumer -- someone whose top priority was reducing climate-warming emissions, say -- you could …

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Umbra on Jell-O shots

Greetings, A very important discussion among my colleagues this week: is it better to purchase reusable, petroleum-based products (plastic) or to use paper disposables? Specifically, we're talking about Jell-O shot cups. A recent (and brilliant) invention is this little plastic shot cup with a twistable ring inside. Ostensibly, a flick of the wrist will free even the most stubborn Jell-O shot and allow hours of fun. Some of my friends have argued that the traditional sucking method is more green (and more fun) because the paper Dixie cups are renewable, unlike plastic. But the plastic ones can be reused time …

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Green group tests toys for toxins, publishes results online

You may remember that a child's plaything or two has been recalled for high lead levels recently -- and by a plaything or two, we mean millions. So it's a tad troubling that in testing 1,268 toys, the Michigan-based Ecology Center found that 35 percent contained lead, mercury, cadmium, and/or arsenic -- and only 23 of the toxic toys had been recalled. Seventeen percent of the tested toys exceeded the federal recall standard for lead, including a Hannah Montana card-game case with five times the safe lead level. "Plenty of toys don't have these chemicals in them," says the Ecology …

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Environmentalists upset over Dublin’s planned U2 Tower

Bono and his fellow U2-ers are stuck in a melee (and they can't get out of it) over a plan to construct a skyscraper in band members' native Dublin. The tower, monikered U2 Tower in the name of self-love, would be the highest building in Ireland. Ian Lumley of heritage group An Taisce says the building is not the sweetest thing -- it would "be an incongruous blot on the skyline." Lumley still hasn't found what he's looking for: he charges that no environmental impact study was carried out and that "no provision has been made as to the effect …

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Divorce is bad for the planet, says research

Breaking up is hard to do -- and bad for the planet too, says new research. Divorce rates around the world are rising, with the consequence of multi-person homes dissolving into multiple residences, which use more land, water, and energy. Ecologist Jianguo Liu, publishing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that in 2005 in the U.S. alone, divorced households used 73 billion more kilowatt-hours annually of electricity and 627 billion gallons more water annually than would have been used if folks had stayed hitched. "People have been talking about how to protect the environment and combat …

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Keep Cool, the game

Gift idea for the eco-educator on your list

Maybe the kids won't think this is as cool as an XBox ... perhaps it's better for a classroom's holiday wishlist: Keep Cool! is a "Risk"-style board game about "gambling with the climate." (Or put another way: setzen sie das klima aufs spiel! The half-English half-German directions in this are as interesting as the game itself -- the authors are from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact in Germany.) Each player takes a role in global climate politics, from nations to economic interests, and aptly, the "ruthless track" of pursuing narrow self-interest results in all players losing.  

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Umbra on cooking oil, again

Dear Umbra, You missed a fantastic opportunity to promote biodiesel use of the cooking oil. There are many people collecting frying oil from restaurants and the like, and perhaps the reader could find a person collecting as well. Check newspaper ads for persons collecting or check the restaurants in your neighborhood for who is collecting. Thanks for the great articles. Keith McCready Waterloo, Iowa Editor's Note: Oh, how Umbra would love to address this issue -- but she's been kidnapped! Please donate to Grist by 11:59 p.m. Pacific on Dec. 11, 2007, to secure her safety. The sooner we see …

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This Hanukkah, make time to reflect on climate and conservation

There are three levels of wisdom through which Hanukkah invites us to address the planetary dangers of the global climate crisis -- what some of us call "global scorching" because "warming" seems so pleasant, so comforting. Light a candle, heal the earth. Photo: iStockphoto We can encode these three teachings into actions we take to heal the earth, each of the eight days. 1. The Talmud's legend that for the Maccabees to rededicate the Temple desecrated by the Seleucid Empire, it took only one day's oil to meet eight days' needs: a reminder that if we have the courage to …

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What will we look like in 2050?

America’s climate and energy future

This post is by ClimateProgress guest blogger Bill Becker, Executive Director of the Presidential Climate Action Project. A few weeks ago, one of the presidential candidates' advisors challenged a group of climate leaders to describe America's future. His challenge triggered a flurry of e-mails as we attempted to articulate a vision. We talked about carbon caps and price signals and new investments in R&D. That's fine, the advisor responded, but what it the vision? What is America's perfect future? I'm not sure we ever satisfactorily answered this very good question, but I found myself trying to describe what America might …