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Pro-mining propaganda comic from mid-1960s

As the Chilean Miner telenovela continues today, with mining company execs and politicians now transforming a barely-averted catastrophe into a publicity stunt: here's timely look back at some mid-century American mining industry propaganda in the form of a weird comic book unearthed by Ethan Persoff.

"With an environmental message!," says Ethan— "Specifically how strip mines are good for clearing landscape of pesky earth to make way for park benches and manufactured fishing (check out the very funny Sportsman's paradise joke on page 11).

Comics with Problems #41: "New Uses for Good Earth" (or, Ethan's title, "Gee Dad, can they flatten our mountaintop, TOO?")

CycLAvia attracts over 100,000 cyclists to car-free Los Angeles streets

Beginning of CicLAvia

If you'd told me a year ago that the City of Los Angeles would close off almost 8 miles of primary city streets to let cyclists have free rein for a day I never would have believed it. If I hadn't seen it actually happen with my own eyes yesterday, I'd still be suspicious. But it's true: thanks to the amazing efforts of the die-hard volunteers behind the project, yesterday the first ever CycLAvia (a riff on the South American Ciclovía idea) took place and some 100,000 residents took to their bikes and got a glimpse of what the city might be like if at least some parts of it were car-free.

As an avid cyclist living in LA, I've long said this is an amazing city to bike in and that it takes on a whole new life when you see it from a bicycle. But most often the reaction I get from non-cyclists is that I must be crazy to ride a bike in LA. I'm not, and judging by the photos on flickr and reactions on twitter a ton of people now see the city a little differently. With any luck this is just the first of many upcoming bike-friendly events in the city. I know I can't wait to see where this leads! (Follow @Cyclavia for future details)
CicLAvia

Photos by Tara Brown and Jory Felice

New Zealand: The milk ad that big dairy would rather you not see

Greenpeace produced this clever (and grotesque) "ad" for milk to draw attention to the destruction of South East Asian rainforests to sustain industrial-scale dairy farming in New Zealand. (thanks, Nick Young)

Urban foragers

Urban foragers across the US are picking fiddlehead ferns, plums from public trees, and even edible flowers sprouting from sidewalk cracks. Researchers from the Institute for Culture and Ecology studied the old but growing practice, focusing on several dozen Seattle foragers. From National Geographic:
 Blogs Thegreenguide  2 This tiny group of foragers--just a small percentage of the people in Seattle who gather wild plants--together picks a whopping 250 different species of plants, year-round. Some have been gathering in Seattle for over 60 years. Most act as caretakers for their favorite spots, which they return to year after year.

Foraging can be a risky business: in some municipalities, it's not allowed in public parks. Earlier this year, the New York Times' urban foraging columnist suggested that would-be gatherers pick day lily shoots from Central Park; the Times had to quickly post a clarification that picking plants from city parks was against the law.

"If 15 people decide to go harvest day lilies to stir-fry that night, you could wipe out the entire population of day lilies around the Central Park reservoir," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told the Times.

There's another risk: chemicals. "Most of the foragers we have talked to are expressing concerns about toxicity," Poe said. Public park managers aren't necessarily interested in preserving the edibility of the wild things that grow there--don't even start on whatever might grow in a median or alley. Park managers and city planners could make it easier for foragers, Poe suggested, by minimizing the chemicals sprayed or, at the very least, putting up signs to alert would-be foragers when pesticides are at their most potent.

"Urban Foragers Cropping Up in U.S."

Sea snot explodes near BP spill disaster site, threatening marine ecosystem

Via the BB Submitterator, Marilyn Terrell of National Geographic says,

Scientists studying the water surface near the BP rig explosion spotted relatively huge particles of sea snot, a mucus-like substance that phytoplankton produce when stressed. "It's possible that exposure to the Deepwater Horizon oil caused them to pump out more of the sticky stuff than usual." Sinking quickly en masse to the sea floor, the clumps of mucus may have temporarily wiped out the base of the food chain in the spill region. Adding oil to the snot makes marine mucilage, which can grow 100 mi. long.
"Sea Snot" Explosion Caused by Gulf Oil Spill? (Image: National Geographic News / Arne Diercks)

Fashion Week Dispatch: Samantha Pleet proves eco-couture need not "scream green"


Video: Samantha Pleet SS 2011, Starring Victoria Legrand, Directed by David Black.

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week might have a new location this year at Lincoln Center, but the freshest and most creative fashion presentations arguably were found off-site. A perfect example was Samantha Pleet's Spring/Summer 2011 presentation, which was part of the Greenshows downtown. A film created by Pleet's friend David Black featured BeachHouse singer Victoria Legrand as a star-crossed lover. The film and still images were projected onto the walls surrounding models styled by Christina Turner in jewelry by Bliss Lau and shoes designed specially for Pleet by Osborne.

Nothing about the clothing looked particularly eco-friendly, ethically sound or fair trade, but it was nice to know that fantastic design and styling can be all those things without screaming "green." To top off the evening, Pleet gathered friends and fans at the Classic Car Club, where she and I grabbed a seat in 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder for a quick interview...

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Changing attitudes about sanitation through toilet malls

Video link: not for the queasy of stomach.

David Kuria runs EcoTact Limited, an organization with a groundbreaking approach to a difficult issue. In many poor parts of Africa, basic sanitation is nonexistent, and open sewers drain untreated waste directly into the water supply, causing 80% of the disease.

Kuria quotes Gandhi: "Sanitation is more important than independence," adding, "We want to do a social transformation, where people don't think this is a toilet, where they think a toilet is a dirty place. So for us to change that community and social mentality of a toilet, then we want to put in more activities in the toilet. Then they start interacting with the facility not as a toilet, but more of a community convenient point."

Amenities include a small kiosk with snacks and personal items for sale. Kenyan comedian Makhoha Keya even worked up an act to make learning about basic sanitation entertaining. Ecotact provides safe drinking water at no cost, and the toilet usage fee is about five cents a day, usually recouped through fewer doctor visits and lost days of work.

EcoTact Limited website

Energy Literacy part One: Energy is invisible

Saul Griffith is an inventor and entrepreneur. He did his PhD at MIT in programmable matter, exploring the relationship between bits and atoms, or information and materials. Since leaving MIT, he has co-founded a number of technology companies including www.optiopia.com, www.squid-labs.com, www.instructables.com, www.potenco.com, and www.makanipower.com.

You might have just driven home. When you filled your car with gasoline, most likely you didn't even see the fluid as it was pumped into your gas tank. Once home, you probably turned on some lights, some music, your computer, and maybe even heat, so you could read this web page. You can't see the power running through the electrical lines that lead to your light bulb, and you don't feel it, but you do enjoy the results. Our society has made energy invisible. This invisibility makes energy convenient to use -- and the modern age is arguably wonderful as a result -- but it also makes it easy to take it for granted. Here we try to make our appetite for energy visible.

Climate change is a phenomenon we now recognize as one of the most important challenges to ever confront humanity. Like energy use, it is also mostly invisible to us, and in two important ways.  Firstly, the enormous volumes of green-house gases -- carbon dioxide, methane, CFC's etc, are quite literally invisible to our naked eyes. Secondly, the changes in climate progress so slowly that they seem invisible amidst the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. Because these consequences accumulate over decades, generations, and centuries, it is easy to not see them as pressing and urgent. Here we try to make visible these complicated and largely invisible things.

The global energy and climate conversation is about choices, both individual choices and collective choices. By choosing the amount and type of energy we consume, we are choosing the look and feel of our future. Everyone is involved in that choice. Don't be fooled: individual choices collectively have enormous effects.   A large coal power plant has a power output of 1GW (GigaWatt) which is 1 billion (1 000 000 000) Watts.  If 1 billion people reduced their power needs by just 1 watt ( About what is required to keep a compact fluorescent burning for just 1 hour a day), that's a coal fired power plant you don't need to build.  

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Koalas may go extinct in 30 years

koala.jpg

[Image: Koala, a CC-licensed photo by Mshai]

The Australian Koala Foundation reported this week that koala populations are declining because we humans continue to invade their habitats. Wildfires and global warming aren't helping, either. They could become extinct within a few decades. More: BBC, Reuters.

Abandoned bowling alley becomes furniture

Ape Lad sez, "The bowling alley I once enjoyed as a child (in Riverside CA), is now furniture."

An abandoned bowling alley finds a second life in this beautiful series of furniture by LA-based designer/woodworker William Stranger. Crafted from reclaimed strips of wood salvaged from a local defunct Tava Lanes Bowling alley, the collection springs to life in a variety of forms including a series of wall hangings and a low coffee table.
Recycled Bowling Lane Furniture is Right up Our Alley (Thanks, Ape Lad!)

The Harvest

harv.jpg

Our friends at Good have a post up with striking images by photographer Mathieu Young. These photos were shot during harvest time (last year) in California's Mendocino County region, where an awful lot of marijuana is grown.

"On the one hand it seems like an illicit activity," Young told Good. "But on the other hand, you have a bunch of people who are living off the land, which is beautiful."

Picture Show: The Harvest [GOOD]
Full gallery here, in larger rez: The Harvest [ mathieuyoung.com ]

LEDs: Throwing Some Light on the Hype

Let’s start this off with a quick clarification. When I say “LED light”, I’m not talking about the nifty, little blinky things that are frequently part of the ingredients list in Make projects.

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Freakonomics Sequel Gets Climate Change Wrong

The Freakonomics guys have apparently either really dropped the ball when it comes to understanding science, or they're willfully ignoring it. Either way, I'm pretty disappointed.

The sequel's contrarian take on climate change--and the bad science it's steeped in--have been analyzed in exquisite detail by everybody from Paul Krugman, Berkeley economist J. Bradford DeLong, to the Union of Concerned Scientists, to various climate scientists spread hither and non about the Web.

That's a lot of links, but they're there so you can go back and read page-by-page breakdowns of the mistakes and inaccuracies, by experts, if you want. I think that's important, because I know at least some of you are going to assume that any criticism of this book and its contents is all about some violation of pseudo-religious orthodoxy. I want you to be able to go see that this is about science. If you just want a quick summary, though, read on...

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Sawfish: mining the forgotten forests of the sea

Giant underwater logging machine

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How'd They Do That?: Poison Ivy and Carbon Dioxide Studies

Poison ivy invades America

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