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  • A clean tech firm accuses a carbon credit nonprofit of forcing kids to do fieldwork

    You might blame a leading carbon-offset provider of forcing poor kids to work, according to The Times of London. Or not.

    child labor

    Carbon credit firm Climate Care pays families in India to use human-powered treadle pumps to get water out of the ground for drinking and farming. As a result, half a million foot pumps have replaced diesel ones, which pollute and cost a lot to fuel. Unfortunately, Climate Care doesn't ensure the diesel pumps are retired instead of finding new life with other owners.

    Nor does it stick around to make sure that kids aren't doing all the pumping. It probably never crossed the minds at the British nonprofit that this would come into question. Children have done backbreaking farm work for eons in regions where sustaining an income in the field is a family necessity. And the foot pumps are supposed to be easier to operate than hand pumps.

  • MIT lab rats cook up a less wasteful gasoline engine

    Don't hum the requiem for the gasoline engine just yet. MIT brainiacs say it's easier than imagined to flip a car between the usual gas-guzzling state to a low-pollution, ultra-efficient mode.

    The researchers have tested a system that can run on a quarter less than the usual amount of gas without needing any fancy fuel. With the flick of a switch, the setup alternates between regular, spark-triggered combustion and experimental homogeneous charge compression ignition.

    In the latter system, premixed fuel and air combust when compressed, spewing less soot and NOx from the engine. Volvo has explored the hybrid technology, but many kinks would need to untangle before you could get behind the wheel.

    If car makers adopted such hybrid gasoline ignitions, the petroleum wouldn't get any cleaner, but less of it would be used, potentially adding a few miles per gallon of efficiency to a car. That might keep the grins up at oil companies and gas stations -- but in dreamland, only for a fleeting moment, as the world weans off of fossil fuels. Right?

    This and other stopgap car-greening measures of now and the near future are giving people more driving options than ever. What's more interesting -- the novelty of this innovation, or that it's reaching the not-quite-there-yet phase of development more than a century after Daimler and Benz got props for the modern gas engine?

  • Are we raping the planet in some cracked attempt to look hot?

    Car enlargement guaranteed resultsGot it? You'll flirt and flaunt it. But the human drive to mate could be killing our planet and ultimately our species, according to Matt Prescott via the BBC. We're collectively thinking from the seat of our pants and using the wrong brain, so all of our little earth-saving intentions add up to vain fluffing, he adds. Why? Cheap energy and oil have given us new, ecologically toxic ways to compete for partners:

  • Showing off sustainability slide shows from around the world

    Al Gore's PowerPoint presentation (which was actually done in Keynote on a Mac) may be the most famous global-warming slide show, but it's one of probably millions. Scores of save-the-planet slide shows have been shown off in boardrooms and classrooms around the world. Here are some cooked up by people from around the globe.

    Alas, the cute factor is conspicuously missing.