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World's first carbon (and car) free city planned

Can it happen here?

From CNNMoney.com: It may seem strange that the emirate of Abu Dhabi, one of the planet's largest suppliers of oil, is planning to build the world's first carbon-neutral city. But in fact, it makes a lot of financial sense. The 3.7-square-mile city, called Masdar, will cut its electricity bill by harnessing wind, solar, and geothermal energy, while a total ban on cars within city walls should reduce the long-term health costs associated with smog. Masdar will be filled with shaded streets to encourage walking. A solar-powered transit system will take you to the airport. Masdar is still on the drawing …

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Encouraging better choices: What works

Here comes the science!

Interesting piece on how to get folks to make choices that are better for the environment: A new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) says that ethical consumption is most likely to happen when it is approached as a political or societal goal rather than encouraging individual changes in lifestyle. . . . The research findings present a clear message says Dr Barnett: "If ethical consumption campaigns are to succeed they need to transform the infrastructures of every day consumption rather than focusing on changing individual consumer behaviour."

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SpotBus

The next generation of riding transit

Riding transit just got way, way, easier. A new website called SpotBus is wildly better than existing online trip planners. For one thing, you can enter destinations like a normal person -- "Ballard," or "Ikea," or "ferry," or whatever -- not some arcane intersection. It's so much faster and more intuitive that it feels like giving up your old gimcrack five-disc CD changer for an iPod. It only works in the Puget Sound area, but there's no reason something similar couldn't be devised for other regions.

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No child left inside

Prying kids away from TV and video games costs … $100 million?

Here's a quote from one of today's electronic-gadget-loving kids: "The reason I prefer playing indoors is because that's where all the electrical outlets are." That was shared by Richard Louv (Grist interview here), author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, during a conference call I hosted recently for the Orion Grassroots Network, to catch us up on what's new in the "getting kids back into nature" movement (full audio here). Turns out there's a lot. The book documents how outdoor, unstructured play is critical to child development -- and is a bestseller, now …

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Burning too much energy at the gym?

New York Sports Club kicks in to conserve

The other day at the gym I was engaging in classic attention-deficient media trawling -- attempting to read my magazine, watch the morning newscast, and work up a sweat all at the same time. So it didn't bother me too much when the TV kept shutting off. The equipment at these high-traffic fitness clubs is renowned for breaking down, so I chalked it up to an electrical glitch. Today I learned that in late July, the New York Sports Clubs reprogrammed their televisions to automatically turn off when not in use (this doesn't account, I guess, for those who want …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Do 'green' appliances live up to their promises?

The WSJ asks and answers

As home-appliance technology continues to move toward the energy-efficient (and brightly colored), more and more consumers are looking to replace their old appliances. But is it really an upgrade? No, says Jeanine Van Voorhees, who spent $1,000 on a new energy-saving washer only to find that it coughs up dingy, cat-hair-covered clothes. "I curse that machine every time," she says, and she often washes her loads twice. (I'm no expert, but that doesn't sound energy efficient to me.) According to this Wall Street Journal article, Van Voorhees isn't alone, either. Many conscientious consumers are reporting that their energy-efficient appliances aren't …

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New food book

Where your dinner is mined

A friend sent me Tyler Cowen's thoughts on a new food book from Steve Ettlinger. I don't know who Tyler Cowen is, but he made me want to read the book: There are entire companies which do nothing but break eggs open for other companies; the largest such egg-breaking company is based in Elizabeth, New Jersey. That is from Twinkie, Deconstructed: My Journey to Discover How the Ingredients Found in Processed Foods Are Grown, Mined (Yes, Mined), and Manipulated Into What America Eats, by Steve Ettlinger. So far this is my pick for the best food book of the year. …

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Umbra on salt

Dear Umbra, What's up with salt, environmentally speaking? Is it good for the Dead Sea if I buy Dead Sea salt (but then it travels halfway around the world)? Am I getting trace amounts of Bad Stuff in any sea salt these days? Is a big box of Morton iodized salt going to overload the bath-soaker with iodine? And how much of my bath salt is going to mess with the Great Lakes -- not nearly as much as the salted winter roads, I suspect. Mo Ram Lakeside, Ohio Dearest Mo, A shaker full of salty questions. As you know, …

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Very well said

The green cartopia ain’t likely to happen

Kurt Cobb writes a smart and sensible review of Who Killed the Electric Car? Excerpt follows: The documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? is an excellent murder mystery filled with dislikable corporate and government villains. It also features heroic engineers, salespeople and average citizens as well as a sprinkling of good-looking actors and actresses who play, well, themselves. As I watched the film recently for the first time, I found myself doing something that I don't normally do: cheering for Hollywood celebrities and their cars. ... For those who must use private automobile transportation all or some of the time, …

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And baby makes ... 19

Yup, the Duggars do it again

Remember the Duggar family? Well, they followed through on that promise of more children.

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