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  • iFixit and the Right to Repair

    You deserve the right to repair your own car. You deserve the right to jailbreak your own phone. You deserve the right to fix your own stuff. This is the manifesto of the iFixit revolution, which seeks to create a user-sourced repair manual and troubleshooting guide for… everything. Think of that thing that you own that, […] More

  • Generation Gap: Wind Power Opens Big Lead over Nuclear in China

    By J. Matthew Roney In China, wind power is leaving nuclear behind. Electricity output from China’s wind farms exceeded that from its nuclear plants for the first time in 2012, by a narrow margin. Then in 2013, wind pulled away—outdoing nuclear by 22 percent. The 135 terawatt-hours of Chinese wind-generated electricity in 2013 would be […] More

  • Forage the Urban Bounty: 11 Crowdsourced Maps of Edible Plants

    The art of foraging goes back to our hunter-gatherer days, but most of us don’t spend much time any more walking the neighborhood looking for edible weeds and fruit trees. That’s changing, though, as many try to simplify and take advantage of food that’s available for the taking in our yards, parks, and other green […] More

  • U.S. Nuclear Power in Decline

    Nuclear power generation in the United States is falling. After increasing rapidly since the 1970s, electricity generation at U.S. nuclear plants began to grow more slowly in the early 2000s. It then plateaued between 2007 and 2010—before falling more than 4 percent over the last two years. Projections for 2013 show a further 1 percent drop. With reactors retiring early and proposed projects being abandoned, U.S. nuclear power’s days are numbered. More

  • Charge Your Cell Phone with Fire! (w/ video)

    Introducing the FlameStower, a portable charger for small electronics that converts heat energy to electrical energy to keep your high-tech gadgets alive off the grid. Way off, if it comes to that. Why would you ever need to charge up your cell phone or iPad that far off the grid? I’m glad you asked! Consider […] More

  • Cyborg Insects May be Post-apocalyptic First-responders

    Imagine a terrible disaster that leaves the air toxic and the soil contaminated with radiation. A disaster like that, one like Fukushima or Chernobyl or London towards the end of 28 Days Later, that humans might need to – but might not be able to – safely explore. In almost any scenario you come up […] More

  • The Great Transition, Part I: From Fossil Fuels to Renewable Energy

    The great energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy is under way. As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about pollution and climate instability cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new world energy economy is emerging. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced with an economy powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. More

  • Offshore Wind Energy Development Picking Up Pace

    Wind power is the world’s leading source of renewable electricity, excluding hydropower, with 238,000 megawatts of capacity installed at the start of 2012. Thus far, almost all of this wind power has been tapped on land; worldwide just 4,600 megawatts of offshore wind farms were operating as of mid-2012. Offshore wind capacity is growing quickly, however, expanding nearly six-fold since 2006. Twelve countries now have wind turbines spinning offshore, and more will be joining them to take advantage of the powerful winds blowing over the oceans. More

  • DIY Biomass: Briquettes, Presses, Logs, and More

    “Biomass” is one of those terms like “alternative energy”: it could be a sustainable approach to energy generation, but isn’t always. I once sat through a talk by an energy services company executive in which he argued that forest biomass (think trees, undergrowth, etc., cut for burning) was carbon-neutral because “the plants could grow back.” […] More

  • tires

    Building with Tires for Energy Efficiency and Disaster Resistance

    Scrap tires have been a disposal menace for decades: the EPA notes that “There are at least 275 million scrap tires in stockpiles in the U.S.,” and in 2003 (the last year for which there are figures, I assume), approximately 290 million scrap tires were generated.” Yeah, that’s a lot of tires. State and local governments […] More

  • cover crop

    A Vision For Truly Sustainable Fruit and Vegetable Farming

      Many responsible consumers would like to be able to buy fruits and vegetables that have been raised in a sustainable manner, and many retail and food service entities want to be able to respond to that demand.  There are multiple existing and in-process efforts to define “Sustainability” for the specialty crops that make up […] More

  • A Surprising Reason We Don’t Farm As Sustainably As We Could

    I recently posted a description of a highly sustainable form of row crop farming that combines high productivity with low environmental impact.  This is not just a theoretical vision but something which is actually being practiced on a significant commercial scale (e.g. non-tillage, cover cropping, controlled wheel traffic, variable rate fertilization…).  It is difficult to […] More

  • Five Key Limitations of Organic Farming

    (updated 8/22/11) Yesterday I posted about what I believe to be the five best things about Organic farming.  These are attributes that I seriously believe are good ideas for how we should farm, and ideas that make sense to increasingly bring into mainstream agriculture (more cover cropping, more diverse rotations, more focus on building the […] More

  • The Recycled, Post-Industrial Green Building Material: Urbanite

    Urbanite is the perfect symbol for the new natural building movement, the new wave of building that incorporates natural, local, and recycled materials in place of high embodied energy, destructive, and ultimately unsustainable building practices. Urbanite is the name for reclaimed, recycled concrete from the demolition of roads, buildings, and sidewalks. It is typically broken […] More

  • Organic Farming Would Be Better In Terms of Climate Change Impact. Right?

    [social_buttons] I’m probably going to irritate some people with this post.  I apologize in advance because that is not at all my intention.  For those readers that don’t think climate change is a real problem, I respect the fact that there is uncertainty in that science, but if the majority position of climate scientists is true, the […] More

  • Living Off-Grid: Our Micro Hydro Alternative Energy System

    As a follow up to Sean’s post on Micro Hydro Essentials, I thought I would share an overview of my system, which has powered my home for over 13 years. We are fortunate to live on rural mountain property in Northern California with a creek that is not seasonal, although the volume of water does […] More

  • sustainability

    Paper Matters

    Paper appears to be high on the agenda of a number of organizations this week. It’s necessary. Paper is so ubiquitous – from tissues to toilet paper to memo pads to catalogs to the mess on your desk – that it is easy to forget, or perhaps more convenient to ignore, that paper manufacturing has […] More

  • Ten (More) Ways to Change the World Through Social Media

    Blogging, social news, peer-to-peer philanthropy, microblogging, social networking, wikis, video sharing, and more. These are the new agents of change. Back in May, we penned the original 10 Ways to Change the World Through Social Media. Though most of those first 10 are still relevant, the pace of innovation and advancement on the social web […] More

  • laptop keyboard

    10-Step Guide to Buying a Used Laptop That Works

    Buying second-hand products is always green, but it’s easy to be discouraged by the stories of broken laptops from eBay or Craigslist. To quell these fears, here is a 10-step checklist on how to find a used laptop that isn’t just a high-tech lemon. Most wouldn’t flinch at the idea of buying a used car, […] More

  • Six Creative Upcycling Projects

    Editor’s note: Students — please feel free to use the information here. Just make sure to credit it appropriately (with a link if possible)… including credit to the owners of the images. Upcycling, a phrase coined by Cradle to Cradle authors William McDonough and Michael Braungart, is the act of creating useful products from waste […] More

  • Ecopreneur or Entrepreneur: What’s The Difference?

    There are many ways in which entrepreneurs and ecopreneurs are similar. Both embrace failure and are idea-driven, innovative, creative, risk tolerant, flexible, adaptable, freedom-minded and independent. Perhaps you could add a few more defining characteristics as well. However, ecopreneurs go beyond organic, beyond compliance to laws and regulations (or redefine them), beyond consumerism, beyond minimum […] More

  • Scientific American's Solar Grand Plan

    Scientific American has a thought-provoking proposal in its January 2008 issue. The magazine proposes a massive, far-reaching plan to get solar power generating 69 percent of America’s electricity 35 percent of our total energy by 2050, thus replacing all of our foreign oil needs and slashing global warming emissions. Below are some of the highlights […] More