Living

The half-life of convenience

Will train travel get annoying too?

As more trains catch up to air travel, time-wise, one thing that can put them over the top is the time saved avoiding the hassles of getting to the airport, parking, security, waiting, etc. But what if one of the first mid- or long-range train systems suffers some kind of attack, or even threat of attack? A pipe bomb, a lone gunman, what have you. Immediately would come the metal detectors, shoe examinations, long lines, and the rest of it. Train travel would become frustrating too. Cheap mass travel — safe enough to satisfy American anxieties — is probably just …

How to green your entertainment center

When it comes to watching television, it’s practically your environmental duty to gaze at Adrian Grenier on Planet Green and cheer on Major League Baseball’s efforts to become more sustainable. (That’s what we tell ourselves, anyway.) But did you know the chemicals in that idiot box could be rotting your brain even more than the trashy reality shows? The lead in TVs and even dust resting on top have come under scrutiny for posing health risks, and nitrogen trifluoride (a chemical used in manufacturing flat-screen TVs) has been criticized as a contributor to global warming. Environmentally speaking, the boob tube …

15 creative ways that students and colleges are going greener

Kappa and Trade Green the Greeks, a student organization at UCLA, is trying to educate the school’s Greek system about sustainability issues. Frats and sororities use a disproportionate amount of energy, the group says, so it’s aiming to “harness the resources of the Greek community for the environment,” its website explains. The rush to get eco-friendly is happening elsewhere, too: At Dartmouth, the Green Greeks Program involves a sustainability coordinator in each house who orchestrates composting, recycling, and energy conservation. Green Greeks at the University of Michigan held a recycling competition that raised almost $1,500 and recycled over 60,000 cans …

Sick transit

Public transit and oil dependence

Those of you interested in strengthening the ability of public transportation to reduce our dependence on foreign oil should check out Congressional testimony from Brookings metropolitan policy expert Robert Puentes, entitled, um, "Strengthening the Ability of Public Transportation to Reduce Our Dependence on Foreign Oil." I’m not sure the general public — or even the interested, paying-attention public — is aware of just how dysfunctional our system for allocating transportation funding is. Says Puentes: … federal transportation dollars continue to be distributed to its grantees based on archaic funding and distributional formulas. There is no reward for reducing the demand …

Student activist gets Phoenix buzzing with green biz expo

Chris Samila Age: 23 School: Arizona State University Sometimes people do things because they don’t realize they can’t. If this makes no sense to you, you haven’t met Chris Samila, a (permanent, as he jokingly puts it) senior at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he had some epiphanies, founded a business (Green Summit Inc.), and somehow managed to pull off a wildly successful green business expo on campus. With no experience. And no real cash. And about five volunteers. “We had no idea what we were doing,” Samila says. “There were so many nights where I was like, ‘Oh …

New study links BPA to heart disease and diabetes

Ubiquitous chemical bisphenol A is linked to heart disease and diabetes, says new research released Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The Food and Drug Administration recently declared that BPA is safe; the new study’s release was timed to coincide with an independent panel’s review of that conclusion. Researchers studied urine samples from 1,455 American adults; BPA was detectable in 90 percent of the samples, though all were within currently recommended exposure levels. However, participants with the highest levels of BPA in their urine had nearly three times the chance of having heart disease than those with …

A Grist special series on college eco-activism

It’s that time again. College students have settled into their dorms, started their classes, checked out some parties, and started cramming for the gnarliest pass-fail test of all time: saving the planet. Not all students are engaged in green endeavors, of course, but fast-growing numbers are — and the results have been eye-popping. Students today join green frats, launch green business ventures, and host green bashes. At many U.S. colleges and universities, buildings are going efficient, cafeterias are serving local and organic fare, administrators are pledging to fight climate change, and some lucky students are even getting degrees from new …

‘Transition Towns’ get ink

The Christian Science Monitor — one of the best of a dying breed —does an excellent job on the "Transition Towns" movement here.

Ace reporter joins Environmental Health News

Marla Cone to lead expanded news operation

Award-winning environment reporter Marla Cone is leaving the Los Angeles Times to join the ranks of nonprofit journalism, becoming the top editor of Environmental Health News starting today. Cone, whose work at the L.A. Times includes a series of articles highlighting the environmental threat posed by brominated flame retardants and investigations into the health of ocean ecosystems, will spearhead an expanded news operation dedicated to producing original, investigative journalism on environmental health issues. For too long, environmental health issues have received little attention from major media organizations, Cone said. “It’s a very complex, very nuanced beat requiring deep understanding of …