Five of the UK’s biggest price comparison sites are accused of “hiding” the best energy deals from consumers by one of their rivals
Continue reading Switching sites ‘hiding’ best deals
Five of the UK’s biggest price comparison sites are accused of “hiding” the best energy deals from consumers by one of their rivals
Continue reading Switching sites ‘hiding’ best deals
The energy and tech capitals of the U.S., Houston and San Francisco have little in common, but in the coming decades they are likely to become America’s dominant cities.
Continue reading War of the Upstarts: Houston v. SF Bay
Hungary has halted the delivery of gas to neighbouring Ukraine “indefinitely”, raising concerns about Ukraine’s energy supply.
Continue reading Hungary suspends gas flow to Ukraine
Regulator Ofgem is launching a review of energy firms’ communications with customers in debt amid concerns over potentially misleading letters.
Continue reading Review of energy firms’ debt letters
The developers of a tidal energy scheme in the Pentland Firth sign a deal to sell electricity generated by the project.
Continue reading Tidal turbine firm signs power deal
An estimated three million households are being encouraged to reclaim money they are owed by the big six energy suppliers, following pressure from the regulator.
Continue reading Millions to get energy bill refunds
The U.S. Energy Department, apparently, is being forced to close its eyes.
Continue reading Real-Life Armageddon Defense Plans Nuked
A realization has been gradually dawning on climate change activists: Too many Democrats vote the right way on their issues but never lead on them. Yet every big legislative victory requires lawmakers who will publicly argue for an issue and aggressively push legislation. And so activists have started launching political action committees (PACs) to identify and aid candidates who will be outspoken, active climate leaders. In California, the new state-level PAC Leadership for a Clean Economy endorsed its first two State Assembly candidates earlier this year. And now a national counterpart, Climate Hawks Vote, has gotten going as well, starting to build support for climate leaders in congressional races. (Tom Steyer’s NextGen Climate Action super PAC is also aiming to influence elections, but it’s mostly focused on knocking out bad actors rather than finding and supporting good ones.) Last Thursday, the Climate Hawks super PAC announced its first endorsements: Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz (D), who is facing a primary challenge from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, and Stanley Chang (D), a Honolulu city councilman running to replace Hanabusa in the House of Representatives. Climate Hawks has hired two field organizers in Hawaii to knock on Democratic voters’ doors and raise awareness about Schatz’s and Chang’s environmental credentials. (As a super PAC, Climate Hawks can endorse candidates and run ads and “education campaigns,” but it cannot donate directly to a candidate or coordinate with his or her campaign.) Schatz has already proven himself a leader on climate policy in the Senate. As for Chang, Climate Hawks Vote is impressed by his eagerness to talk about the issue. “Chang has a really, really sound grasp of climate politics and policy,” says R.L. Miller, cofounder and executive director of Climate Hawks Vote. “Compare his website to [Democratic primary opponent Mark] Takai, who only talks about clean energy but not climate. That’s a big tell if you stick your neck out to talk about climate rather than just clean energy.” Climate Hawks was borne of Miller’s frustration with Democrats’ timidity on climate change. “In 2013, I was noticing a pattern,” recalls Miller, a lawyer and longtime Democratic activist and liberal blogger (sometimes for Grist). “Republicans were writing a lot of message bills saying ‘Gut the EPA, raze it to the ground, salt the Earth where it once stood.’ Democrats were strictly playing defense. They were unified in voting these down but not pushing an agenda forward.” Moreover, Democrats from states with large fossil-fuel industries often side with Republicans on energy policy. “[Former Montana Gov.] Brian Schweitzer was considering running for Senate, and in my mind he was unacceptable because he pushes coal as a solution,” says Miller. “I thought, ‘The Democrats are united on things like reproductive rights but not on the future of coal, and we need to unite on that and we need to make [support for coal] unacceptable.’ So I decided I would push the Democratic Party to the left.” Broad measures of legislators’ voting records, like the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard, capture people’s positions but not their level of intensity or engagement. Climate Hawks Vote wants to “look at leadership, not just votes,” says Miller. “For example, [Sen.] Amy Klobuchar [D-Minn.] is a popular Democrat with a high LCV rating. I pulled her up randomly, and compared her with Sheldon Whitehouse [D-R.I.], who is our gold standard in the Senate. The last time she mentioned climate, at the time I did this, was in 2008. A lightbulb went off in my head: We’re trusting them to vote as a bloc but they’re not leading on this issue. We need to measure public engagement.” (Klobuchar has since spoken about climate change, including participating in the Senate’s recent all-night talkathon on the issue, and Miller hastens to note that she could have performed the same analysis with many liberal Democratic senators and gotten the same result.) So Miller created a scoring system to measure climate leadership. The outcome, painstakingly compiled over six months, is the Climate Hawks scorecard for each Democratic House member. The scores are based on “public engagement,” bills authored or cosponsored (the former earning more points than the latter), press releases, working caucuses joined and led, and statements on websites. Possible scores go from -100 to +100, with Rep. Henry Waxman (Calif.) scoring the highest at +96 and Nick Rahall (W.Va.) the lowest at -66. The need to promote climate leaders is especially pronounced now that Waxman is retiring, as is Rush Holt of New Jersey, who tied for second place at +76. One hope is that climate-minded voters and donors will use these rankings and act on them. But Miller also intends to use them to guide Climate Hawks’ strategic decisions. In some cases, that might lead to unexpected results. “[Rep.] Scott Peters in San Diego scored extremely high [+74] on my scorecard,” notes Miller. “I was surprised, because he has a no-labels, third-way, centrist reputation.” So Climate Hawks is considering backing him in his close reelection race this year. Miller is now working on rankings for Senate Democrats, and will use them to guide further involvement in Senate races. Mark Udall of Colorado, for example, is locked in a tight reelection fight against a right-wing Republican. Udall is generally viewed as a climate hawk and supported by environmentalists. But Miller says she cannot commit to getting involved until she’s crunched the numbers. “I think Tom Udall [Mark’s cousin, a senator from New Mexico] has a better record than Mark Udall,” says Miller. “I’d like to see how Mark Udall scores.” One big difference between Climate Hawks and Leadership for a Clean Economy is that the latter group focuses heavily on interviews and written responses from candidates in making its endorsements, while Climate Hawks focuses solely on public actions and statements. “We made a specific decision not to do questionnaires because people promise you everything, and if it’s not made public there’s not accountability,” says Miller. “We’re trying emphatically to look at what a candidate says in public.” The Climate Hawks Vote website has only been live a little more than a month, and the group hasn’t started actively fundraising yet. So far it has raised about $6,000 from Twitter followers and Facebook friends “without really trying,” Miller says, and it expects to raise $10,000 by the end of this month. The more the group can raise this year, the more field organizers it will put on the ground. “2014 is basically a pilot program,” Miller says. The super PAC plans to expand for 2015-16 and beyond. Having more Democratic lawmakers who make public pronouncements on climate change and push climate bills won’t help move today’s Republican caucus to support action. In fact, it may just polarize the issue further. But the status quo isn’t working either, and Miller thinks it’s time for a change in strategy. There were times in American history when the chances for civil rights or universal health insurance looked just as grim. It took leaders, not just passive supporters, to make those goals into laws, and the climate will need leaders too.Filed under: Article, Climate & Energy, Politics
Continue reading Now climate hawks have their own super PAC
June 23rd, 2014 | Tags: avatar, living, print, signs, world's end | Category: 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, Achievements, ack, action, activist, Activists, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, aid, Akin, AMA, Amazon, America, American, American history, Analysis, ANC, Ants, Apple, Architecture, arp, arrow, art, Article, ass, ATF, authors, avatar, AWK, AWS, bam, ban, bill, Black, blogger, Body, book, border, Box, BP, bra, Brain, Brian Schatz, BS, BT, business, Buttons, California, campaign, campaigns, candidates, CAP, CARE, centrist, CEP, challenge, change, CIA, Cities, City, City Council, civil rights, class, Clean, Clean Economy, clean energy, climate, Climate & Energy, climate bill, climate change, coal, coffee, collapse, college, College student, Color, Colorado, Comment, Commentary, committees, con, Congress, Conservation, Conservative, Conservatives, copyright, covers, credit, Cree, currency, cut, cw, data, dateline, DC, default, defense, Democrat, democratic, democratic lawmakers, Democratic Party, democratic senator, Democrats, Design, Devices, DINA, disco, div, DOE, DOMA, doom, e, earth, ebook, economy, education, El Nino, election, elections, elon musk, email, Endorsements, energy, Environment, environmental, environmentalists, EPA, EU, Events, evolution, excerpt, f1, fab, Facebook, fact, Feature, Featured, fellowship, fight, files, fix, food, fossil fuel, Fracking, Francis, fu, fun, Fundraising, Fur, future, FWW, fx, G8, GE, GI, gif, Global, Globe, goals, Gold, gold standard, good, Google, GOP, green, gun, hacks, Ham, hate, Hawaii, Health, health insurance, Heat, height, hey, hi, Hips, hire, history, HIV, hope, hot, House, House of Representatives, How To, hp, humor, ICE, ice t, ILO, image, import, influence, information, insurance, interview, Interviews, iPad, iron, IRS, ISS, it, Java, jet, job, jobs, joe, Jon Stewart, King, kiss, Koch, Koch Brothers, la, label, Language, law, lawmakers, laws, Lead, leader, leadership, left, legal, legislation, Liberal, liberals, Lists, Living, locke, logo, lulu, MAI, Make, make it stop, map, Mary, math, Media, Medium, Men, meth, metrics, Mexico, midterm, midterms, Mind, MIT, Mobile, Modi, money, Montana, moose, MoST, movement, NATO, Navigation, NEE, new, New Jersey, New Mexico, News, nfl, NHL, no, no thanks, npr, numbers, Obama, ok, old, Orb, organize, Organizers, ouch, own, pac, Pain, party, PATH, pc, Pennsylvania, people, pilot, Pinterest, plains, please, Policy, politics, Politics and Policy, Poll, polluters, poor, pow, power, PPR, pr, prep, Print, privacy, Production, profit, prom, Public, q&a, race, Rain, rally, ram, random, rankings, rap, rapper, Rats, rb, recall, Recalls, red, reddit, release, rent, reproductive rights, Republican, Republicans, Revolution, right, right wing, rights, rip, rise, Robots, Rove, run, Running, Rush Holt, Salt, san diego, San Francisco, Scott, search, SEC, secret, secrets, secure, Senate, senate races, Senators, Service, shot, signs, Sip, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, Solution, sound, speed, star, START, state, states, stats, sting, strategy, students, style, sue, super PAC, sure, SurveyMonkey, t.i., T1, talk, target, TARP, tax, tech, technology, test, the democrats, the future, the Left, the right, the Senate, Theme, things, Think, thor, thought, TI, time, timeline, Tires, tk, tmz, tnt, today, Tom Udall, Tools, treme, twitter, UBS, UC, Udall, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, united, US, USA, Va, vhs, via, vice, Voices, vote, voters, votes, voting, war, water, Waxman, we, web, weed, weight, well, West, what, who, will, Wind, work, worker, workers, workin, working, world, world's end, Writing, Xe, yo | Comments are closed
This weekend, Hank Paulson, the Republican former Treasury Secretary and Goldman Sachs CEO, wrote an op-ed calling for a carbon tax . Has the political landscape shifted enough to make a carbon tax a real possibility? Read more…
Continue reading The Politics of a Carbon Tax
June 23rd, 2014 | Tags: box, phones, rip, warnings | Category: 2010, 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 420, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, ack, action, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, afa, AIT, Akin, AMA, Amazon, America, ANC, anger, Antidepressants, Ants, Apple, art, Article, ass, assets, Audi, author chat, authors, avatar, AWK, backbone, battery, beats, bill, Billboard, blame, Blogs, Body, book, boomer, border, bounce, Box, BP, bra, Bread, BS, BT, bubble, business, Buttons, campaign, CAP, cap-and-trade, capital, capitalism, carbon, carbon emissions, Carbon tax, CARE, CEO, cereal, change, children, Christ, Christmas, City, class, Clean, climate, climate change, closure, collapse, Color, column, columns, Comment, con, Congress, Conservative, Conservatives, control, corporate, Cree, customer service, cut, cw, danger, data, DC, DEA, dead, Deadspin, default, demand, Democrat, Democrats, disaster, discussions, div, divide, DOE, dog, DOMA, domestic, domesticity, duke, Duke University, e, EADS, earmark, earmarks, ears, eating, ebook, economic, economics, economists, economy, EFF, energy, Environment, environmental, environmentalism, EPA, EU, excerpt, export, exports, f1, Facebook, fame, FCC, Feature, Features, fec, Fed, files, final, finally, fire, fitness, fix, forces, ford, foundation, fu, Fuel Efficiency, fun, funds, gawker, gawker media, GE, GI, gif, Global, global warming, Globe, GM, God, Gold, Goldman Sachs, good, Google, Gossip, government, greed, grid, GSA, gtl, Ham, Harvard, headlines, hedge fund, hedge funds, hey, hi, Hips, HIV, hmm, hope, Hopeful, hot, How To, hp, htc, ICE, Ice Age, image, images, import, industry, INM, investors, IRA, Iraq, iron, IRS, isis, ISS, it, ITN, Java, jay leno, job, jobs, kill, King, kinja, koans, Kotaku.com, Krugman, la, Lead, leader, left, legal, lies, Life, local, locke, logo, MAI, Make, Mali, map, Mark Twain, market, marvel, Mary, Maxim, Meat, Media, Medium, Men, merge, meth, metrics, mine, MIT, Mobile, models, mom, morning after, MoST, movement, movie, names, Navigation, nba, NEE, nest, new, News, no, nola, north, npr, NRA, NSA, Nsfw, NSL, ok, old, Opinion, Orb, ouch, own, oxford comma, pac, pace, party, PATH, Paul, Paul Krugman, Paulson, Pay, PBS, pc, people, phones, Policy, politics, Poll, polluters, pollution, poor, Ports, pow, power, PPR, pr, prep, primer, privacy, problem, profile, progress, progressive, prom, Public, rally, ram, random, rap, rapper, Rats, raves, rb, Reading, recession, red, rent, Republican, Republican Party, Republicans, research, respect, rich, right, right wing, rio, rip, Robots, rules, run, sale, save, search, SEC, secret, sentence, Service, sex, shit, Simple, Sip, Skin, snow, Solution, solutions, sons, Space, Sport, square, star, START, stats, sting, stories, strikes, stupid, style, suicide, Sun, sure, t.i., T1, target, tax, taxes, terror, terrorist, test, texts, the economy, the Left, the rich, the right, the va, the view, thor, TI, time, tips, today, Tools, Toys, trade, transparent, treasury, TSA, Tumblr, TV, twitter, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, unf, update, US, usmnt, Va, vice, Video, videos, vote, voting, Wall Street, war, warnings, we, web, weird, well, what, who, will, Wind, witches, women, words, work, Writing, Xe, yeshiva university, yo, youth, zen, zen koans | Comments are closed
A senior official describes the world’s forests as “fundamental” to human well-being as the UN publishes its State of the World’s Forests report.
Continue reading Forests ‘fundamental’ to well-being
June 23rd, 2014 | Tags: good, lies, mosque, q & a, stumbleupon | Category: 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014, 21, 24, 5@5, 9/11, abuse, access, ack, action, ADA, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, aging, agriculture, aid, AIT, Al-Jazeera, ANC, Animals, Ants, Apple, Apps, Army, arrow, art, Article, artillery, Arts, ass, assets, ATF, Audi, audio, Australia, authors, avatar, Babies, ban, Bangladesh, Bars, BBC, benefits, Bennett, Biden, biodiversity, bling, Blogs, Body, book, border, Box, bra, Brain, branding, Brazil, British, broadcast, BS, BT, business, Canada, CAP, carbon, casting, Census, CEP, change, children, Chinese, church, CIA, clash, class, Clean, clean water, coal, Coalition, college, Color, column, Comedy, Comment, common, con, construction, Cookies, Cooking, copyright, Cree, culture, cut, cw, Dance, data, DC, default, deforestation, demand, development, digg, div, diversity, DNA, documents, DOMA, domestic, Drinking, Dublin, e, E-Mail, ebook, economic, economy, ecosystem, Ed Wood, Editorial, editors, education, EFF, Egypt, electric, email, employment, energy, England, entertainment, Environment, EPA, estimate, EU, Euro, Europe, Evidence, fab, Facebook, farms, Feature, Features, fec, Fever, fire, fix, food, food security, forces, Forests, Fruit, fu, fun, future, gap, gas, GE, genetic, Getty Images, GI, gif, girls, Glass, Global, Global economy, GM, God, good, Goods, Google, government, green, gypt, Ham, hamptons, happy, Health, hell, hey, hi, high-speed rail, Highlights, hire, history, hp, humans, hype, ICE, identity, ILO, image, images, import, income, indigenous, indigenous people, INM, Insects, international, Internet, iPhone, IRA, Iraq, Iraqi Army, Ireland, iron, IRS, isis, it, Italy, jail, Java, job, jobs, journalism, journalists, kara walker, kerry, King, knowledge, la, label, Language, Latest News, Lead, leader, left, Li Na, lice, lies, Life, listen, Lists, Liver, Livestock, local, love, magic, MAI, Make, map, march, market, Mary, math, Media, Medium, Men, metadata, meth, middle east, militants, MIT, Mobile, Modi, Moon, mosque, MoST, mother, Mothers, mta, Murder, murdered, Mushrooms, Music, NATO, nature, Navigation, NEE, new, News, NIE, Nielsen, no, nola, north, NSL, nutrition, Nuts, obit, oil, ok, old, Opinion, Orb, ouch, own, pac, Pain, Painting, PATH, Paul, people, pilot, please, Podcast, Policy, politics, Poll, Population, pot, pr, preview, Print, privacy, profile, prom, Public, q & a, radio, Rain, ram, random, rap, rapper, rb, Reading, rebel, red, reddit, rent, rental, reporter, research, resources, Review, Rice, right, rio, rip, Robots, ROME, Rove, Rowing, run, safety, safety net, school, science, Scotland, Sculpture, search, SEC, secure, security, Service, signs, Skin, Slang, Soccer, Social, Social Media, Society, Software, Solution, sons, speed, split, Sport, star, START, state, stats, sting, stock, Storage, stories, style, sugar, Sun, Sunni, sure, survival, t.i., T1, tech, technology, Tennis, test, The FA, the french, the intern, the internet, Think, thor, threat, TI, tilda swinton, time, Tools, Top Stories, Translation, translations, transparent, Travel, trees, treme, trial, tributes, TV, twitter, UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, update, US, US Foods, USA, Va, vice, Video, vote, Wales, Walker, war, watch, water, we, weapon, weapons, weather, web, well, what, will, Wimbledon, Wind, work, worker, workers, world, World Cup, Xe, yo | Comments are closed
Walking down the street, that feeling swells up inside you – the buildings, the restaurants, the parks, the people: THIS is New York. Or maybe it’s San Francisco. Or Chicago. Or LA. Whatever your city of choice may be, you love it because it’s just got that je ne sais quoi, unlike any other. But Sep Kamvar, of the Social Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab, thinks it could be so much more interesting than that. With his You Are Here project, he and his group are on a quest to bring out all those little pieces that come together to make each city what it is, by creating a total of 10,000 data visualization maps of cities across the U.S. By doing so, he hopes that urbanites might recognize the elements that they love, and the ones they don’t, to shape their towns into more efficient, happier, healthier, and greener places. “Each map gives a different angle of what the city looks like,” Kamvar says. The group does this by collecting data from sources ranging from Google Maps to local police departments, and presenting it into compelling visuals — which he hopes can expose the things that need to be fixed. What do you get out of seeing that bicycle crashes in Brooklyn concentrate around Williamsburg and in San Francisco near The Mission, as shown in the maps above? Besides confirming our suspicions that hipsters can be clumsy with their wheels, Kamvar says the data can help city cyclists advocate for safer streets. And they can further build their case with the Best Mode of Transportation series, which shows that, in many cities, cycling beat out walking, driving, and public transit as the fastest way to get around. “Part of the challenge with urban design is that so much [of what makes a city] is invisible,” Kamvar says. “I kind of think of cities themselves as societal organisms. … Bringing attention to certain things allows a society to subtly shape them.” The maps are pretty to look at, too. That’s because Kamvar approaches them with backgrounds in both computer science and art. He’s got a Ph.D in scientific computing from Stanford University, and his artwork has been exhibited across the world, including New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The idea to merge art, data, and software started from observing the food truck scene in San Francisco. Where did the sudden explosion of delicious mobile meals begin? More practically, how did they all get around SF’s strict food truck licensing? When he looked into it, as far as he could tell, the answer was Twitter. “They could drive to a different location every day and tweet where they were,” he says. “Which ended up shaping the city … and not in the traditional way software shapes things, but by enabling a social process that in turned shaped the city. And so that led me to a number of ideas of using software to shape real space.” If we’re looking for a road forward to shape the cities we love — to have more of what we love about them – Kamvar’s maps just might be able to show us the way.Filed under: Article, Cities, Living
Continue reading A mapping group at MIT wants to show us the way to greener cities
June 23rd, 2014 | Category: 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, ack, action, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, Akin, AMA, Amazon, ANC, anders fogh rasmussen, Ants, Apple, arp, arrow, Arson, art, Article, ass, ATF, authors, avatar, AWK, ban, bees, bicycle, Bite, Black, bling, Body, book, border, Box, BP, bra, Brain, brooklyn, BS, BT, business, Butter, Buttons, campaign, CAP, CARE, challenge, changing the world, Chicago, CIA, Cities, City, class, climate, Climate & Energy, collapse, Color, Comment, Commentary, Computing, con, Conservative, Conservatives, copyright, Crash, crashes, credit, Cree, currency, cut, cw, Cycling, data, dateline, DC, DEA, default, Design, Devices, disco, div, DOD, DOE, DOMA, doom, drake, driving, e, eating, ebook, eels, EFF, El Nino, elon musk, elves, email, energy, Environment, environmental, EPA, EU, Events, evolution, excerpt, explosion, f1, fab, Facebook, Feature, Featured, Fed, feds, fellowship, files, fix, food, ford, Fracking, Francis, fu, fun, Fur, future, FWW, fx, G8, GE, GI, gif, Global, Globe, Google, Google Maps, GOP, green, gun, hacks, hate, Health, Heat, hell, hey, hi, Hips, hipsters, HIV, hope, hot, How To, hp, humor, ICE, ice t, ideas, image, import, information, iPad, iron, ISS, it, Java, jet, job, jobs, Jon Stewart, King, kiss, la, label, Language, left, legal, Liberal, liberals, lice, lies, Lists, Living, local, local police department, logo, London, love, MAI, Make, make it stop, map, Maps, Mary, math, Media, Medium, Men, merge, meth, metrics, MIT, Mobile, Modi, MoST, movement, museum, Museum of Modern Art, NATO, Navigation, NEE, new, New York, News, NHL, no, no thanks, npr, ok, old, Orb, ouch, own, pac, pace, parks, PATH, pc, Pennsylvania, people, Pets, Philadelphia, Pie, Pinterest, plains, please, police, Policy, politics, pow, power, PPR, pr, prep, Print, privacy, Production, profit, Public, Puppets, Putin, q&a, radical, Rain, ram, random, rant, rants, rap, rapper, rb, red, reddit, rent, Restaurants, Revolution, right, rights, rip, Robots, Russia, Russian, San Francisco, science, search, SEC, secret, secrets, secure, Senators, Series, Service, shot, sia, signs, Sip, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, Society, Software, Space, speed, Sport, stanford, Stanford University, star, START, stats, sting, streets, style, sure, SurveyMonkey, t.i., T1, target, TARP, tax, tech, technology, test, The FA, the Fed, the future, the mission, Theme, things, Think, thor, thought, TI, time, tk, tmz, tnt, Tools, Transport, Transportation, twitter, u.s., UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, urban design, US, Va, via, vice, Victoria, Voices, Walking, war, water, we, weight, well, what, who, will, William, Williams, williamsburg, Wind, work, worker, workers, world, Xe, yo, you are here | Comments are closed
Send your question to Umbra! Q. I am able to buy from our local newspaper company the ends of their rolls of newsprint. They are too small to be run through the machinery, so they are not printed on. I am considering using long strips of this unused newsprint as mulch in my vegetable garden, but I’m wondering if it will supply dioxins or other undesirable chemicals to the soil as it degrades? PeterGreensboro, N.C. A. Dearest Peter, What’s black and white and read all over, and protects your veggies from weeds? Newsprint, that liner of birdcages and bulker of papier-mache projects everywhere, is also often touted as a useful garden or compost additive. But is it really safe to lay the classifieds alongside your cucumbers? In your case, it sounds like we don’t even need to consider any inks (head over here for that discussion) – it’s just a matter of whether or not that familiar, ashy-gray newsprint passes environmental muster. I won’t make you wait for the answer here, Peter: It does. The paper, composed primarily of wood fibers, breaks down rather slowly, making it an effective option for weed control that doesn’t introduce anything undesirable into the soil. If you decide to go this route, the West Virginia University extension has some tips for you. You mention that you’re specifically worried about dioxins, so you probably know that these cancer-causing, hormone-disrupting, all-around-nasty chemicals are a byproduct of paper-bleaching processes that use chlorine (among a number of other sources). Fortunately, though, “There is no reason to expect there to be dioxins in newspaper,” notes Martin Hubbe, professor of paper science at North Carolina State University, via email. Newsprint is instead typically bleached with the more environmentally benign hydrogen peroxide. This isn’t necessarily the case for other white paper products, such as glossy magazine paper, paper towels, or coffee filters, by the way, but any chemical present is in such small amounts as to be considered safe by the EPA. If you’d rather keep your arugula as dioxin-free as possible, though, keep that in mind and steer clear of bleached papers. Still, paper products in the garden are small potatoes when it comes to dioxins. About 90 percent of our exposure comes to us right on our dinner plates, especially if we’re having fish, shellfish, dairy, or fatty meats. Here’s how it happens: Dioxins are released into the atmosphere through industrial processes (like bleaching, chemical manufacturing, or coal burning), burning trash, vehicle exhaust, or even forest fires. The nefarious particles are swept far and wide, then settle on our crops, grasses, aquatic plants, and soils, to be eaten by unsuspecting sea and land creatures. The dioxins build up in fatty tissue, and – you see where we’re going with this? So, really, the primary reason to avoid bleached paper and other dioxin-producing purchases (like vinyl, pesticides, and herbicides) is not so much to protect our homes and gardens individually, but to shield the environment from further mass accumulation. We’re all in this boat together, Peter. That said, we’d be wise to take a few precautions to reduce our risk of exposure, and that goes double for pregnant women and kiddos. You’re already on top of one tip: Eat more greens! The veggies in your backyard, along with fruits and grains, harbor the lowest levels of dioxins. (Unless you regularly burn tires out back. Then I’d rethink the garden produce.) Cut down on fatty meats and dairy, and when you do eat fish, poultry, or meat, remove the skin before cooking and trim as much fat as possible. Don’t smoke, and don’t burn household garbage (duh). And of course, vote with your dollar and choose chlorine-free products. Someone explain to me why, exactly, our toilet paper needs to be pearly white? Mulchily, UmbraFiled under: Food, Living
Continue reading Ask Umbra: Is it safe to use newspaper as garden mulch?
June 23rd, 2014 | Tags: city, fab, hiv, peter, secrets | Category: 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, ack, action, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, aid, AIT, Akin, AMA, Amazon, ANC, anders fogh rasmussen, Ants, Apple, aqua, aquatic plants, arp, arrow, art, Article, ass, ATF, atmosphere, authors, avatar, AWK, ban, bees, Bird, Black, Body, book, border, Box, BP, bra, Brain, BS, BT, burning, business, Butter, Buttons, campaign, cancer, CAP, CARE, chemical, Chemicals, CIA, Cities, City, class, classified, climate, Climate & Energy, coal, coffee, collapse, Color, Comment, Commentary, Compost, con, Conservative, Conservatives, control, Cooking, copyright, corn, cornell, credit, Cree, crops, currency, cut, cw, Dairy, data, dateline, DC, DEA, default, Devices, disco, disrupt, div, DOE, doll, dollar, DOMA, doom, dos, drake, duh, e, ebook, EFF, El Nino, elon musk, email, energy, Environment, environmental, EPA, EU, Events, evolution, excerpt, f1, fab, Facebook, fact, FDA, Feature, Featured, fec, Fed, feds, fellowship, files, fire, fires, fix, food, ford, fortunate, Fox, Fracking, Fruit, Fruits, fu, fun, Fur, FWW, fx, G8, garbage, GE, GI, gif, Global, Globe, GM, good, Google, GOP, Grain, Grass, green, greens, gun, hacks, hate, Health, Heat, hell, hey, hi, Hips, HIV, hot, House, How To, hp, humor, ICE, ice t, illness, image, import, information, iPad, IRA, iron, ISS, it, Java, jet, job, jobs, Jon Stewart, Jr., King, kiss, la, label, Language, left, legal, Liberal, liberals, lies, Lists, Living, local, local news, logo, MAI, Make, make it stop, Mary, math, Meat, Media, Medium, Men, meth, metrics, Mind, MIT, Mobile, Modi, MoST, movement, NATO, nature, Navigation, NEE, new, News, NHL, no, no thanks, north, North Carolina, npr, oil, ok, old, Orb, ouch, own, pac, papers, PATH, PBS, pc, Pennsylvania, people, Pesticides, Pets, Pie, Pinterest, plains, please, Policy, politics, pot, Potatoes, Poultry, pow, power, pr, pregnant, prep, Print, privacy, problem, Production, profit, Public, Puppets, q&a, questions, radical, Rain, ram, random, rap, rapper, rb, red, reddit, release, rent, research, Revolution, right, rights, rio, rip, risk, Robots, run, Russia, Russian, science, search, SEC, secret, secrets, secure, Senators, Service, shield, shot, sia, signs, Sip, Skin, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, Soil, sound, speed, star, START, state, stats, sting, stock, style, sue, sure, SurveyMonkey, t.i., T1, target, TARP, tax, Tea, tech, technology, tension, test, the environment, the Fed, Theme, Think, thor, thought, TI, time, timeline, tips, Tires, tk, tmz, tnt, Tools, trade, trash, trial, Tuna, twitter, UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, US, USDA, Va, via, vice, Virginia, Voices, vote, war, water, we, weed, weight, West, West Virginia, West Virginia University, what, what to do, who, will, Wind, wisdom, women, work, worker, workers, world, Xe, yo | Comments are closed
Delaware AgricultureA field dominated by palmer amaranth, or pigweed, one of the plants that has gained glyphosate resistanceThere’s a clear scientific consensus that heavy use of glyphosate — the active ingredient in Roundup and other brands of herbicide — has sped up the evolution of glyphosate-resistant weeds. And it’s reasonable to assume that crops genetically engineered to work hand in glove with glyphosate (like Roundup-resistant soy) are part of the problem, contributing to the popularity of the weed killer. Now crops genetically engineered to work with other herbicides — such as dicamba and 2,4-D — look like they will soon come on line. The seed companies’ answer to the Roundup-resistance problem is: let’s just fall back on older herbicides. An editorial published by the journal Nature recently criticized this plan. If we do the same thing with dicamba and 2,4-D that we did with glyphosate, the editorial argued, history is likely to repeat itself. This got me wondering what we should do, then, so I started calling weed scientists. I ended up talking with three from around the country. They all agreed on the basic premise. The increase in glyphosate use resulted in “way more glyphosate-resistant weeds, that’s indisputable,” said Andrew Kniss, an assistant professor at the University of Wyoming. “Glyphosate was so effective, and so cheap, and so easy, so that’s what we did. People thought it was a miracle,” said Larry Steckel, a weed specialist at the University of Tennessee, a state where farmers have had serious problems with herbicide-resistant weeds. They cautioned that the main problem was glyphosate itself, not the GMOs: The first glyphosate-resistant weeds popped up in Malaysia and Australia where — at the time — there were no glyphosate-tolerant GMOs, Kniss said. But they also agree that the main boom in glyphosate use really did have something to do with GE crops. “The way the GMO herbicide-resistant crops were deployed was like the worst possible scenario for developing resistance,” said Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed science at Oregon State University. Of course, weeds would have developed resistance sooner or later even without the GMOs — evolution is inevitable that way. But the widespread use of these crops meant that many farmers went from one application of glyphosate every few years to multiple applications every year, and that increased the evolutionary selection pressure on weeds. In other words, the problem is less the technology than how we use it — and we used it in precisely the wrong way. The next question is, how could we change the rules so that farmers conserved these herbicides to maximize their useful life? It’s a classic tragedy-of-the-commons scenario. Every farmer is good at making the best weed-control decisions for an individual farm and choosing glyphosate, but all these individual decisions add up to a bad outcome for farmers as a whole: glyphosate-resistant weeds. One solution would be for the federal government to wade in with regulations — the Nature editorial suggests that the EPA should crack down on the use of herbicides — but none of the weed scientists I talked to thought that was a great idea. It’s tricky for a bureaucracy in Washington D.C. to make good decisions for a multitude of farmers in different areas. “It’s hard to imagine an herbicide resistance plan that would work for more than one farm, or even more than one field,” said Kniss. “Let alone a whole country.” If we want a healthier environment, it doesn’t necessarily make sense to force farmers to use less herbicide, Mallory-Smith said. “Part of why we are so focused on herbicides has to do with environmental concerns,” Mallory-Smith said. We’ve asked farmers to do less plowing and to stop burning their fields, and so they have turned to herbicides. Many people have a deep aversion to the idea of spraying chemicals on the fields, but Steckel said that herbicides are often the most environmentally friendly solution. “Herbicides to me are kind of like medicine. If used correctly they are not a danger to people or the environment,” he said. In contrast, he says, killing the weeds by plowing has proved to be an environmental disaster in his part of the world. “These soils just won’t hold it,” Steckel said. “When tillage was commonplace, all our soil was headed to New Orleans.” That’s not to say that herbicides are harmless, but they have to be weighed against the alternatives. It would make the most sense to mix it up, varying by the dirt, the weather, and what the farmer did the previous year. Centralized control would surely force farmers to make some dumb decisions that were actually worse for the environment. When economist Elinor Ostrom proposed her Nobel-winning solution for the tragedy of the commons she rejected both centralized control and just letting the market guide itself. Her solution has people coming together to govern themselves with rule that make sense on the ground. Kniss suggested something like this: Perhaps farmers could make their own weed-management plans and submit them to some local authority, who would make sure everyone was doing their share to slow the evolution of resistance. Mallory-Smith had a different solution: “My suggestion to Monsanto was to take their salesmen off commission and put them on salary,” she said. That suggestion didn’t go over so well, but ideally the companies should be suggesting that farmers use products from their competitors, depending on the situation. Change things up enough and you’ll slow resistance. But companies have to do just the opposite: Advise farmers to buy only its chemicals. In the end, she’s pessimistic. “My guess is that we’ll go down the same path again,” Mallory-Smith said. Steckel disagrees — he doesn’t expect to see these herbicides dominate the market the way glyphosate did, because they just aren’t as good. Dicamba and 2,4-D have been around for a long time, and have never had the addictive appeal of glyphosate. Dicamba, for instance, only works if you spray weeds when they are less then 5 inches tall, while glyphosate can kill a full-grown weed (or at least it could). And that huge difference in effectiveness will remain if dicamba and 2,4-D tolerant GMOs are released. What’s the best way through this tough spot? Pursue the science further and look for alternative controls, Mallory-Smith said. Look at the big picture, Kniss said. “This really is a symptom of the larger problem, of not enough diversity in our cropping systems,” he said. And we should also count our blessings: The intense use of glyphosate had led to less use of the other herbicides. We’ve sped up the development of glyphosate-resistance but slowed other forms of resistance, he said. Meanwhile, farmers will make do, one way or another. Some have actually gone back to a primitive technology: hiring laborers to weed by hand. But, Kniss said, even that’s not foolproof. In India, workers weeded barnyard grass out of rice paddies by looking for the red stem. Eventually, the weed evolved a green stem — so it looked just like the rice. It had evolved resistance to hand weeding. Nature always finds a way.Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Food
Continue reading Weed wisdom: What to do when nature outfoxes herbicides
June 23rd, 2014 | Category: 2014, 21, 24, 3D, 5@5, 9/11, ABA, access, ack, action, ade, adl, ads, Advertising, advice, afa, aging, agriculture, aid, Akin, all natural, AMA, Amazon, ANC, anders fogh rasmussen, anger, Ants, Apple, arp, arrow, art, Article, ass, ATF, Australia, authority, authors, avatar, AWK, ban, bees, Black, Body, book, border, Box, BP, bra, Brain, brands, BS, BT, bureaucracy, burning, business, Butter, Buttons, campaign, CAP, CARE, CERN, change, chemical, Chemicals, Childbirth, CIA, cialis, Cities, City, class, climate, Climate & Energy, coal, collapse, Color, Comment, Commentary, commission, common, commons, companies, con, Conservative, Conservatives, control, copyright, cost, country, Crack, credit, Cree, crops, culture, currency, cut, cw, danger, data, dateline, DC, DEA, deal, default, Delaware, development, Devices, disaster, disco, div, diversity, DOE, DOMA, doom, drake, Dumb, e, ears, ebook, Editorial, EFF, El Nino, election, elon musk, elves, email, energy, engineer, Environment, environmental, environmental disaster, EPA, EU, Events, evolution, evolve, excerpt, f1, fab, Facebook, fall, farmers, farming, Feature, fec, Fed, federal government, feds, fellowship, files, fix, food, ford, Fox, Fracking, fu, fun, Fur, FWW, fx, G8, GE, genetic, genetically engineered, GI, gif, Global, Globe, Glyphosate, GM, good, Google, GOP, government, Grass, greed, green, gun, hacks, hate, Health, Heat, hey, hi, Hips, history, HIV, hot, How To, hp, humor, ICE, ice t, image, import, India, information, iPad, IRA, iron, IRS, ISS, it, Java, jet, job, jobs, Jon Stewart, kill, killing, King, kiss, la, label, Labor, Language, law, left, legal, Liberal, liberals, lies, Life, Lists, Living, local, logo, love, MAI, Make, make it stop, Malaysia, management, market, Mary, math, Maxim, Media, medicine, Medium, Men, mers, meth, metrics, MIT, Mobile, Modi, Monsanto, MoST, movement, NATO, nature, Navigation, Nebraska, NEE, new, New Orleans, News, NHL, NIE, no, no thanks, npr, NSA, oil, ok, old, oof, Op/Ed, Orb, Oregon, ouch, own, pac, PATH, pc, Pennsylvania, people, Pets, photos, Pie, Pinterest, plains, please, Policy, politics, pot, pow, power, PPR, pr, prep, Print, privacy, problem, Production, profit, Public, Puppets, q&a, radical, Rain, ram, random, rant, rap, rapper, rb, red, reddit, regulation, regulations, release, rent, resistance, Revolution, Rice, right, rights, rio, rip, Robots, Roundup, Rove, Rowing, rules, Russia, Russian, salary, sale, science, scientists, search, SEC, secret, secrets, secure, Senators, Service, shot, sia, signs, Sip, Slides, slideshow, slideshows, Social, Soil, Solution, speed, spot, star, START, state, stats, sting, style, sue, sure, SurveyMonkey, t.i., T1, talk, talking, target, TARP, tax, tech, technology, Tennessee, test, the big picture, the environment, The FA, the Fed, the natural, the situation, the worst, Theme, things, thor, thought, TI, time, timeline, tk, tmz, tnt, Tools, tragedy, TUC, twitter, UBS, UC, ugh, UK, UN, undefined, University of Tennessee, US, Va, vhs, via, vice, Voices, war, Washington, water, we, weather, weed, weed man, weight, well, what, what to do, who, will, Wind, wisdom, words, work, worker, workers, world, writer, wyoming, Xe, yo | Comments are closed