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Weekly Grist, 10 Jan 2006 January 10, 2006 11:31 AM

New Year's Resolutions 2006
We resolve to be as green as Britney and to never, ever have another year like 2005, in this week's Grist List. Sign up to get The Grist List by email.


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Get Richard or Die Tryin'
Enviros plot to beat Pombo in November

Just who is it that Pombo represents? Photo: AP/Katie Falkenberg. We're just barely into this election year and already a cadre of D.C.-based environmental leaders is elbow-deep in plots to green Congress come November. Top priority: defeating Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), chair of the House Resources Committee and champion of a lengthy list of environmental rollbacks, from weakening the Endangered Species Act to selling off national parks. Muckraker examines Pombo's prospects.

new in Muckraker: Get Richard or Die Tryin'

Stockholm-ward Bound
Stockholm is second Euro capital to charge for driving into the city

All the cool cities are doing it! (Wait, is Stockholm cool?) Last week, Sweden's capital began a trial run of a new system that will charge for the privilege of driving into the city, and officials have declared it a success so far. On the first day of the new fees -- which can run up to $7.50 a day -- the number of cars traveling into central Stockholm fell by a quarter, and commuters reported bigger crowds on public transit. The government hopes the congestion-charge system will reduce traffic on the busiest roads by 10 to 15 percent and improve air quality. Stockholmers have been polling squarely against the charges, even though they tend to agree that traffic jams are a real problem. They'll get to vote in September on whether to make the system permanent. In London, where congestion charges were established in 2001, traffic has gone down by 18 percent and the city now has plans to extend the zone in which drivers are charged.

straight to the source: Reuters, Niklas Pollard, 04 Jan 2006

straight to the source:
 [ send green star]
 January 10, 2006 11:32 AM

straight to the source: Reuters, Niklas Pollard, 05 Jan 2006

Tea Here Now
In India, fair trade is changing the centuries-old tea industry

Processing tea leaves. Fair-trade certification and organic farming practices are revolutionizing the way tea is grown at an increasing number of estates in India -- and transforming the lives of the people who pick it. Nina Luttinger and Gregory Dicum visited three lush, sweeping tea estates to see what's brewing and report back with a striking photo essay.

new in Main Dish: Tea Here Now

The Mod Quad
Green buildings, sustainability studies going mainstream on campus

More than 110 colleges and universities around the U.S. have or are building eco-friendly structures, saving on energy costs and attracting students who want to go to a school that "gets" being green. At Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, for example, students designed a green roof that now features prominently in class projects, and a recently constructed green dorm -- billed by school officials as the first in the country -- has become a living lab for students, architects, and engineers studying energy use and sustainable construction. Carnegie Mellon is integrating sustainability into coursework, and leading in a national effort to green up the nation's 1,500-odd engineering programs. The idea is "to take some of the ideas of sustainability out of the fringes and put them into the mainstream," says engineering professor and green advocate Cliff Davidson.

straight to the source: The New York Times, Timothy Egan, 08 Jan 2006

When the Rubber Hits the Road
On recycling condoms

Ah, those wacky green dilemmas. This week, a reader from Italy wonders if condoms are recyclable. Advice maven Umbra Fisk cuts to the chase, then spins the question into an opportunity to review the success of her 2005 New Year's resolutions.

 [ send green star]
 January 10, 2006 11:33 AM

Diss Diss Bang Bang
Feds hand management of Idaho gray wolves over to the state

Uh oh, there's gonna be some shootin'! The Bush administration has transferred management of the gray wolf population in Idaho to the state government -- even though the animal is still listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The deal was sealed at a Thursday ceremony in Boise attended by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. Wolf advocates worry that the handoff will lead to weaker protections for the state's recovered wolf population, noting that while there are currently around 61 packs of wolves in Idaho, the state's management plans call for maintaining a minimum of only 15. "The provisions allow 11 different tasks that Idaho Fish and Game and the state will be responsible for," said Suzanne Stone with Defenders of Wildlife, and "eight of those 11 involve killing wolves." Norton, of course, put a positive spin on the shift, saying, "These populations have grown beyond anyone's expectations." So then why not start killing them off?

straight to the source: Rocky Mountain News, Associated Press, John Miller, 06 Jan 2006

straight to the source:, Michelle DeGrand, 05 Jan 2006

Spencer for Tire
Kipchoge Spencer, cycling enthusiast and Xtracycle prez, InterActivates

Bike signal As president of sport-utility-bike company Xtracycle and cofounder of a nonprofit that provides load-carrying bicycles to workers in the developing world, Kipchoge Spencer is a big fan of the two-wheeled transit alternative. This week's InterActivist, Spencer chats about owning three bikes and no car, working on an MTV reality show, scheming to wheel Cameron Diaz to the Oscars, and more. Send him a question by noon PST on Wednesday; we'll publish his answers to selected questions on Friday.

new in InterActivist: Spencer for Tire

Let Them Eat Hake
International caviar trade halted to save sturgeon

Oh, man, this is going to cramp our style at Grist staff parties: A global ban on international export of wild caviar -- salty black sturgeon eggs prized by gourmets -- took effect last Tuesday. The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species nixed the lucrative trade, worth about $100 million a year, to try and save overfished sturgeon stocks from extinction. Parties to CITES, includ  [ send green star]
 January 10, 2006 11:35 AM

Parties to CITES, including the U.S., must eschew caviar imports, while 10 caviar-exporting countries including China, Iran, and Russia will have to demonstrate effective fish-management plans before the U.N. reopens international trade. Such plans must account for the rampant poaching that feeds the black market for beluga-sturgeon caviar, which has roughly doubled in price in the past year to about $200 an ounce (tell us about it!). This is the third time since 2001 that international caviar trade has been halted in hopes of preserving sturgeon. Obviously it's working like a charm.

straight to the source: The New York Times, C.J. Chivers, 04 Jan 2006

straight to the source: New Scientist, Paul Marks, 03 Jan 2006

All the Right Movies
A preview of this year's green-tinted movies

The Ant Bully: Be kind to your six-legged friends ... or else. Photo: Inset courtesy Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. 2005 was a banner year for eco-themed movies, what with all those penguins waddling about -- and George Clooney waddling through Syriana. Will the trend continue this year? Katharine Wroth takes a look at Hollywood's upcoming releases to find out what's on the way from the major studios and which screens will be tinted green.

new in Arts and Minds: All the Right Movies

You Light Up My Strife
Solar LED lamps provide clean, cheap lighting to rural poor

A handful of villagers in rural India are receiving a life-transforming technology: low-cost, solar-powered light-emitting diode (LED) lamps. Bombay-based Grameen Surya Bijli Foundation has installed the $55 lamps free of charge in about 300 homes. "Children can now study at night, elders can manage their chores better," says one father whose family received a lamp. "Life doesn't halt anymore when darkness falls." As many as 1.5 billion people worldwide light their homes after dark with dim, smoky kerosene-burning lamps, which emit air pollutants thought to cause over a million deaths every year. LEDs are far more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and the solar-powered lamps eliminate indoor pollution from burning candles, paraffin, or kerosene. Says electrical engineering professor Dave Irvine-Halliday, "This technology can light an entire rural village with less energy than that used by a single conventional 100-watt light bulb."

straight to the source: The Christian Science Monitor, Anuj Chopra, 03 Jan 2006

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