Well it's about time. DaimlerChrysler has announced it will bring the fabulous Smart to the U.S. Apparently that dollar-a-gallon price increase everyone's been going on and on about (everyone who doesn't smugly commute via public transportation that is) has finally convinced the man to bring us the most stylish car in Europe. When it arrives, the Smart will out MPG even the best of the current Hybrids at 60 mpg, while avoiding nasty battery question mark. You can expect to see them fill up the streets of Brooklyn faster than the Fit has, but I'll hold out for this most awesome A-Team Smart in the photo above.
Both money and environmentalism are green, so Wal-Mart's promising to go green (environmentally friendly) and an effort to make more green (money). This could be a silver lining to all the evils of the wal-monster. A great read from the SF Gate:
Like any giant company suddenly "embracing" the green initiative (hi, GM
and Ford), Wal-Mart's rationale for all of this, of course, has absolutely zero
to do with any sort of deep concern for the planet (though it does make for
good PR), nothing at all to do with humanitarian beliefs or honest emotion or
spiritual reverence, and has absolutely everything to do with the corporation's
rabid manifesto: cost cutting and profit.
The reason...that Wal-Mart will double the fuel efficiency of
its huge truck fleet within a decade? Not to save the air but to save $300
million in fuel costs per year. The reason it aims to increase store efficiency
and reduce greenhouse gases by 20 percent across all stores worldwide? To save
money in heating and electrical bills and also to help lessen the impact of
global warming, which is indirectly causing more violent weather, which in turn
endangers production and delivery and Wal-Mart's ability to, well, sell more
junk. Ah, capitalism.
Seems Wal-Mart has realized one vital maxim that so many fundamentalist
right-wing capitalist GOPers have so far failed to grasp: The apocalypse is
just really bad for business.
I wish my mom made these lunch boxes for me... like today. Check out this great blog - another day, another vegan lunch box (well, what did you expect) prepared by a Washington State vegan for her obviously much-loved kid.
New York State is home to some notable pollution. Niagara Falls is chalk full of it - as the birthplace of electrified industry you would expect no less - starring both the remains of the Manhattan Project and Love Canal. Endicott, NY has a less celebrity in the accumulated waste generated by the birth of IBM in this decidely less glam part of NY - the clean up of which has only just begun to ramp up in the past 10 years.
That brings us to Mr. Mark Bacon and his unsubtle message to New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in the photo above:
In 2003, traces of trichloroethylene (TCE) were found entering homes and buildings through vapor intrusion. The former IBM building, where the highest concentration of the pollution has been documented, is across the street from Bacon's property. He fears that the pumping, which is taking place in the rear of his home, will cause the pollution to travel directly under his home.
"It's almost a guarantee that I'm going to get cancer," he said. "If you were in my situation, would you be happy?"
Hard to know how to resolve such a mess where the real boogy man is a faceless corporation that fled Edicott for a more fashionable home after devastating this small down. They should have just bought out the whole town to save the worry of folks like Mr. Bacon, but they have more lawyers...
Part of my mid-winter cleaning around these parts is a linkage update - a friends & family update as it were, thought luckily these friends and family share my world view (and know a lot more than I about their respective fields), so both will be more than insufferable link pandering. Go. Click. Now.
First is Green Baby Goods, an eco-conscious baby-outfitter run by my sister-in-law Debby (and modeled by my family's scion over there on your right. well, the non-patrilineal scion who - let's be honest - couldn't be any cuter). She's got newer generation cloth diapers and cute moby wraps among her environment-friendly products, so if you've got the need, this could be a feel-good source. Small, independent, woman-owned + environmentally aware = win win.
Next is Zebratista, a dear old friend and one of the feminists who helped deprogram the suburbia right out of me. Heidi claims her blog is just a mechanism of procrastination, but really - adding a right-on voice to the larger conversation provides a service we all need. Who else is going to direct our attention to sexy Inuit fashion? For our sake, I hope that thesis never gets done...
Brownstoner's picked up a story in the Brooklyn Skyline from last year highlighting some of the recent (well, a few months ago) developments in the Newtown Creek oil spill - Greenpoint's own little environmental disaster - and the presumed explanation for why it's normal to see crews taking core samples around the hood. Kind of a boring recap (a better resource is riverkeeper's excellent site, from which I sampled sample above - you'll have to click over to see if my blue zone is a good zone.) but this passage jumped out at me:
Over time, oil and oil byproducts release gases that can build up
underneath concrete foundations and pavement, creating combustible
pockets of gas beneath homes and driveways.
So in addition to wondering if the petrol is seeping into our water mains, we should worry about the ground exploding? That's hardcore. We're a tough little neighborhood, eh? In related news... ExxonMobil is enjoying record profits... Greenpointers are pissed about cancer rates (and the bs that it will take 20 years to finish clean-up).
Just when you thought that searing chemical smell that gives you a headache was good for you, it's not:
New car smell could contain up to 35 times the health limit set for volatile organic chemicals in cars in Japan, making its enjoyment akin to glue-sniffing. The chemicals found included ethyl benzene, xylene, formaldehyde and toluene used in paints and adhesives.
So car manufacturers have actually built in a drug-like euphoria to the new car shopping experience? What's next, a clam-bake test drive? Treehugger says that smell might be phased out, as there's a suspected link to cancer. Might be a good move, but I'll continue my avoidance strategy by continuing to avoid new cars. I wonder what ills the foul odors in the subway cause? Ignorance is probably bliss here.
The Sierra Club's launched I Will Evolve, a new campaign promoting hybrid cars (and taking shots at the too-easy-target of the H2 and the USA's asinine reliance on air-killing coal-powered electric plants) The site has a lot of great talking points (especially great language promoting renewable energy - wind, solar and geothermal) and takes a great tone (blunt, but playful) criticizing the bushista energy addiction and big oil in general. BUT, I cannot stop myself from bringing up the same unanswered question about the impact all these batteries will have on the environment. There, that's over, though I have lots more to say after the jump. (no, nothing about batteries and how they're not recyclable and massively toxic - promise)