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Make Me Care: What’s so great about tiny houses, anyway?

Grist.org - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 12:08

Welcome to Make Me Care, a new and experimental vlog in which we try to get our writers and editors to explain why their topic du jour is worthy of your attention. In this episode, host and editorial intern Amelia Urry invites Grist fellow Eve Andrews into her (occasionally glitchy) Skype room. For the past couple of months, Eve has been writing about tiny houses by themselves, tiny houses in groups, tiny houses in love, and now tiny houses in cities.

There’s a lot to say on the topic — but why should you care? And for all of the thousands of words on tiny houses to which Eve’s subjected us, would she actually live in one herself? Watch the video above to find out!

And if, after all that, you’re still wondering if you could or should go tiny, check out our tiny house flowchart!


Filed under: Cities, Living
Categories: Environment

Ask Umbra: What’s the best way to get my local veggies?

Grist.org - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 11:02

Q. Is it better to have a veggie box from a produce delivery service sent to my home each week, or to just purchase the produce from the grocery store? They have many of the same products from the same producers.

SDL
San Francisco, Calif.

A. Dearest SDL,

Who wants local veggies? We do! When do we want them? Now! Where will we get them? Well…that one is a little more complicated. But dear readers, I don’t want you overthinking this. Eating lots of local produce is superhealthy for you, the environment, and the economic futures of small farms. There are some differences between the sources for these veggies, which we’re about to dive into. But if you point your compass toward local, organic foods, your choices will all be varying degrees of good, OK?

As you’ve discovered, SDL, there are a few ways to get your mitts on local veggies. You’ve mentioned two: produce delivery services and the grocery store. Let’s add a few more into the mix: community-supported agriculture (CSAs) and the farmers market.

Like I said, all have their pros. But if you must have a best option, it’s probably a CSA share. To the uninitiated: A CSA is a fabulous arrangement in which you pay a farmer up front and receive a box of fresh, in-season produce each week for the growing season. We heart this model because it provides crucial dollars a small farmer can invest in seeds, labor, infrastructure, and other costs for the year. You’re providing the farmer with a guaranteed market, and you’re getting your produce from a local source, which reduces its transport footprint. And on the especially warm-and-fuzzy side, you’re building a connection with the people who grow your food.

For all its benefits, a CSA share might not be 100 percent perfect for everybody, however. Because you’re committing to a local farm, your produce will be tied to the growing season – that means no berries in fall or tomatoes in early spring. By paying up-front, you’re also sharing the risk of drought and crop failures. And if you’re not that into cooking, or you travel a lot, you might appreciate a more flexible option. But if you think it might work for you, SDL, please do think about it.

The farmers market offers similar benefits – personal connections to farms, access to locally grown asparagus and peppers, buying directly from growers – and is more flexible and convenient for shoppers. But it’s riskier for the farmer, as they don’t have the promise of sales on any particular day. “It’s very fickle,” says Luke Woodward, co-founder of Oxbow Farm out here in Washington. “And to make $2,000 at a farmers market, you have to bring $4,000 worth of produce. In our CSA, you sell exactly as much as you have.”

Then there’s the produce delivery service. These are generally bigger organizations that source local, organic produce, but also cast a wider net to more distant farms. This means you have more variety of goodies for a longer amount of time – you might get cold-season mangoes! There’s the added convenience of getting the box delivered to your door. And for the farmers, a produce delivery service means access to a larger market. Of course, this option will usually be bringing you food from farther away, increasing its carbon footprint (though some offer local-only options). You’ll also lose out on that special connection to one farm that you get with a CSA or market.

As a final option, what about just buying local eggplant from the grocery store? That’s perhaps the easiest, most convenient option for consumers. And it’s great to show the supermarket there’s a demand for local produce, notes Chris Iberle, a CSA manger for food advocacy group Seattle Tilth. But keep in mind your local farmers are getting wholesale prices for those zucchinis, unlike in the middleman-free CSA and farmers market.

That’s a long-winded answer to your question, SDL. I’ll let a farmer boil it down for you: “When a local farm is offering a CSA, that’s where you should get your produce,” Woodward of Oxbow Farm says. “In the off season, make your choice between the store and a delivery service.”

Or even easier: Local food is good food, wherever you can find it. I promise that won’t steer you wrong.

Bountifully,
Umbra


Filed under: Food, Living
Categories: Environment

Why we talk about the Kochs

Grist.org - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 10:42

Are we all too focused on the Koch brothers? That’s the argument of a feature in the current issue of Newsweek by veteran political reporter Matt Cooper. Cooper claims Charles and David Koch’s influence is overstated by Democrats, who raise money by fearmongering about the brothers’ nefarious plots, and by the media, which loves any pair of eccentric billionaires.

“With the Democrats possibly losing control of the Senate, Harry Reid, their leader in that chamber, has gone after the Kochs with what seems like unprecedented language against private citizens,” Cooper complains, noting that Reid called the Kochs “un-American” for “trying to buy America.” Here is Cooper’s argument in a nutshell:

Professionals in both parties have a vested interest in building up the already substantial impact of the Kochs. Republicans see them as loyal Americans coming to the rescue, while Democrats get a higher return on their solicitations simply by invoking the Koch name. Neither side has an incentive to say, “Yes, Koch money is a big deal, but it’s not determinative.” And neither side has an incentive to say the obvious: “Even if you believe that it’s crazy to allow that much private money in politics, the Kochs are playing by the rules.” It’s like cockfighting: Don’t hate the player, hate the game. The Koch geyser of money may be unusual but “un-American”? Oh, please.

As a writer for one outlet that talks about the Kochs frequently, let me explain why we do so: The Kochs threaten to destroy American democracy, regardless of their views. And, as it happens, their extreme and self-interested positions are taking over the Republican Party.

Cooper makes two arguments: One, that the Kochs are really not all that powerful, and two, that they are just libertarian-leaning philanthropists, not far-right loons trying to buy a favorable political climate for their lawbreaking, polluting company.

This is wrong on both counts. On the first: Cooper notes that the Kochs marshalling of more than $400 million in the last election cycle did not put Mitt Romney in the White House. That’s true, but if the Republicans had nominated a stronger candidate, the Koch money might have put him or her over the top. And Republicans in Congress and at the state level might have done even worse without Koch backing in 2012. Going forward, we don’t know how much the Kochs will spend. Perhaps they will conclude that buying the presidency simply requires a larger investment. They can afford it, as they are worth $80 billion. Suppose they and other Republican fossil-fuel plutocrats spend $4 billion instead of $400 million in 2016?

Cooper seems to argue that if you try to buy an election and fail, then you’ve done no harm. But that misses the point. Either you think it’s OK for billionaires to buy elections, or you don’t. Saying it’s OK because they probably will fail at it — except for when they succeed, like Mike Bloomberg in New York — doesn’t make sense.

Cooper does give the Kochs credit for one thing: turning the GOP against climate action, via Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the Koch-backed anti-regulation organization. “A few years ago, cap-and-trade curbs on greenhouse gas emissions was embraced by the GOP presidential nominee, John McCain,” writes Cooper. “There’s no way that’ll happen in 2016, in part thanks to the AFP.” Well, climate change is currently the worst catastrophe affecting humankind. Preventing one of the two major parties in the most powerful nation on earth from accepting its reality, and thereby preventing national and international action to fight the problem, is no small matter. It is, indeed, the whole ballgame. (Consider the effect of substituting another apocalypse into Cooper’s sentences, to fully appreciate the absurdity: “A few years ago, avoiding a nuclear war with Russia was embraced by the GOP presidential nominee, John McCain. There’s no way that’ll happen in 2016, in part thanks to the AFP.”)

On the second count, just how evil the Kochs are, Cooper is much too generous. He notes their libertarian personal beliefs — e.g., “David Koch told reporters in 2012 he disagreed with Mitt Romney’s opposition to legalizing gay marriage” — as if that matters. It doesn’t. David Koch backs candidates with intolerant, big-government social positions because they share his commitment to eliminating the social safety net and rolling back labor, environment, and public health regulations. Koch’s personal view of gay marriage matters as little as his patronage of the arts or academia — supposedly mitigating factors that Cooper also emphasizes. Sorry, but giving money to Lincoln Center and MIT, two institutions patronized overwhelmingly by the wealthy, does not diminish the harm the Kochs unleash on society as a whole.

“Explaining why, say, David, who donated millions to cancer research and the dinosaur wing at the American Museum of Natural history, is a monster is a tough sell,” writes Cooper. Well, I’m not much of a salesman, but I think I can close this deal. Even the brothers’ seemingly nonpartisan giving to laudable educational causes is tainted by their right-wing agenda. The David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History sows confusion about climate science and depicts climate change as a natural, harmless phenomenon.

And even when the Kochs don’t get their candidates elected, they still get their ideas adopted. As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently noted, David Koch’s far-right policies have moved from the periphery to the mainstream of the GOP over the last three decades:

In 1980, Libertarian vice-presidential candidate David Koch ran on a platform that called for abolishing the minimum wage. Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, not only does virtually every Republican in Congress oppose raising the $7.25 an hour minimum wage, many of them, including Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell and John McCain, are on record for abolishing the concept of the federal minimum wage. …

In 1980, the platform of David Koch’s Libertarian Party called for “the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system.” Thirty-four years ago, that was an extreme view of a fringe party that had the support of 1 percent of the American people. Today, the mainstream view of the Republican Party is that “entitlement reform” is absolutely necessary. For some, this means major cuts in Social Security. For others who believe Social Security is unconstitutional or a Ponzi scheme this means the privatization of Social Security or abolishing this program completely for those who are under 60 years of age.

Just this week, every Republican in the Senate but one voted to block a bill that would raise the federal minimum wage.

Most disingenuous is Cooper’s argument that the Kochs cannot be blamed for merely playing by the rules of unlimited campaign spending. Tom Steyer cannot be blamed for that. The Kochs can, since they have worked to elect Republicans who oppose campaign finance regulation and have appointed the Supreme Court justices who have ruled such regulations unconstitutional.

Cooper takes exception to calling the Kochs’ efforts to buy America “un-American.” Fine, let’s call it what it is: anti-democratic. We shouldn’t have to discuss just how “unusual” the Kochs are, because they shouldn’t matter more than any other two citizens. We shouldn’t have to wonder whether their billions can buy elections. The American government exists to govern in the interest of the majority. For example, it should regulate greenhouse gas emissions to prevent harm to everyone from fossil fuels that only benefit a handful of wealthy people like the Kochs. If, instead, the Kochs can buy off politicians to side with them over the public, we are headed for catastrophe.


Filed under: Article, Business & Technology, Climate & Energy, Politics
Categories: Environment

Friends of Science ask Psychological Sciences to Retract Lewandowsky...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Friends of Science are calling for a retraction of a controversial paper by Stephan Lewandowsky, published in Psychological Science, that claims climate change critics are hoax and conspiracy...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/03/prweb11703705.htm

Categories: Environment

HiveSSL Announces LED PAR30 Bulb with 90 Year Life Expectancy

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

HiveSSL will debut their new game-changing LED PAR30 light bulb in the fourth quarter of 2014. The new dimmable bulbs use only 6 Watts to produce 790 Lumens and have a life expectancy of 90 years and...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11797817.htm

Categories: Environment

Outdoor Decorating Made Easy with Costa Farms Tropic Escape Collection...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Try these tropical plants for beautiful blooms all summer long.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11808118.htm

Categories: Environment

Palms Costa Rica to Offer Amazon Kindle Paperwhite to Vacation Villa...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

As seen on major television networks nationwide, The Palms Costa Rica is set to reward their guests with a Amazon Kindle Paperwhite when booking a 4 night "Preview Stay".

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11808230.htm

Categories: Environment

Discounted 60 KG Single Door Magnetic Mini Locks Now Offered By China...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Recently, SWAccessControl.com, one of the world’s leading magnetic lock companies, has released its new designs of 60 KG Single Door Magnetic Mini Locks. According to the company’s development...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11810626.htm

Categories: Environment

Steven Winter Associates Project Nominated as a Finalist for Urban...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

The Twin Parks project marks Steven Winter Associates’ third consecutive nomination for this prestigious award.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11813032.htm

Categories: Environment

Arizona Air Conditioning Center Launches Information Portal for...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

American Cooling and Heating today announced the launch of...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/arizona-climate-change/information-portal/prweb11813145.htm

Categories: Environment

Austin Dumpster Rental Company Providing Roll Offs for LEED...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

At Your Disposal (AYD) Waste Services, Inc. is currently providing two roll-off dumpsters and regularly weekly hauling services on the construction of a new office building in West Austin, TX.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/rentadumpsteraustin/constructiondumpster/prweb11814537.htm

Categories: Environment

LED Grow Boxes by SuperCloset Now Contain the KIND LED K3 Series

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

LED grow box manufacturer, SuperCloset, has begun to include the KIND LED K3 series in their turnkey hydroponic grow cabinets and hydroponics systems. LED grow lights are becoming more prevalent as...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/SuperCloset/LEDgrowlights/prweb11814953.htm

Categories: Environment

Star Refrigeration Group Launches New US Subsidiary, Azane Inc.

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Azane Inc., based in San Francisco, will act as the regional headquarters to serve the North American industrial refrigeration market to meet the demand for their revolutionary “low-charge ammonia”...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11769227.htm

Categories: Environment

Software Company Anahata Develops JavaFX Building Inspection...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Perth Software Company Anahata develops JavaFX / Java EE system for Perth, Western Australia Building Inspection company Thermal Building Inspections Pty Ltd.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/javafx/australia/prweb11778386.htm

Categories: Environment

ATL Airport Parking Reviews Show that Greenbee Parking...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Greenbee Parking has come out as a preferred choice for their clientele of travelers using the busy Atlanta (ATL) airport. The latest ATL airport parking reviews show that they are ahead of their...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11785829.htm

Categories: Environment

Deco Lighting Announces Appearance at LightFair International Show Via...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Deco Lighting has announced that the company will attend LightFair International Show in Las Vegas, Nevada on June 3rd through June 5th, 2014 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/Deco-Lighting/LAD-Solutions/prweb11795375.htm

Categories: Environment

EY Announces Information Systems Resources President/CEO Luther...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Prestigious award for innovative entrepreneurs in region

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/04/prweb11802719.htm

Categories: Environment

Waste2Wear® Wows the Crowd at the 4th Global Leadership...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Gala dresses made from recycled plastic bottles help people to rethink how we view plastic waste.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11805831.htm

Categories: Environment

Natural Home Remedies for Dog Injuries and Ailments

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

Royal Flush Havanese shares with readers common household items that can help relieve minor canine injuries and ailments.

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/royalflushhavanese/complaintspuppies/prweb11806128.htm

Categories: Environment

Comm Solutions Recognized as Aruba Networks East Partner of the Year...

PR Web - Thu, 05/01/2014 - 09:53

The Comm Solutions team accepted the East Partner of the Year Award at Aruba Networks Americas Partner Summit 2014. Comm Solutions, a Platinum partner, attributes their success to both their customers...

(PRWeb May 01, 2014)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2014/05/prweb11809082.htm

Categories: Environment

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