Wednesday, April 28, 2010

UPDATED: Breaking News: Cape Wind Project Approved

In what is being hailed as a landmark victory for the prospects for future wind power development in the United States, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today approved the Cape Wind project, a 130 turbine farm off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Read the full report from the New York Times here.

UPDATED 4/30/10 7:49 PM

Here's a video that describes just some of the controversy surrounding this decision, and why it's taken almost a decade to approve Cape Wind:

UPDATED 4/9/10 11:19 AM

As this NYTimes Green Blog article details, the second in a series of major steps necessary to make the Cape Wind project a reality was completed on Friday, when Cape Wind reached a power purchasing agreement with National Grid, a local New England utility company. National Grid agreed to buy the electricity produced by the wind farm for 20.7 cents a kilowatt-hour, an arrangement Tom King, President of National Grid, estimated would raise the average monthly utility bill by $1.59. The next challenge for the future of Cape Wind will surely be to get Massachusetts regulators to approve the contract.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day From The Green Lantern!

"We are as gods, and might as well get good at it."

- Stewart Brand, 1968

Humanity has the power to change the world, for better or for worse. It's our job now to work together and make sure there's some Earth to speak of long after we're gone.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

He's Baaaaaaaack...

I am, of course, talking about AccuWeather meteorologist Joe Bastardi, previously featured in this debate against Bill Nye the Science Guy on the O'Reilly Factor. This time Bastardi appears on the Colbert Report opposite Brenda Ekwurzel, a climatologist from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

For his part, Colbert prefaces the weather versus climate debate with some classic satire and hilarious (though equally disconcerting) soundbites. He also does a solid job of mediating the exchange while poking fun at both sides. My favorite moment is when Bastardi makes a claim and Colbert says, "Now I don't know if that's true, and I don't care."

Watch the full segment, entitled "Science Catfight," below:

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Science Catfight - Joe Bastardi vs. Brenda Ekwurzel
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorFox News

The only further comment I want to make is that I find it interesting that Bastardi makes the case that we'll all know the truth about the "climate hoax" in 15-20 years, suggesting that the natural oscillations of the earth's climate will return to roughly 1970 levels. This notion is of particular significance to me because I brought up this very logic in a conversation with my close friend and super-star environmentalist Ben Howard last night, but for the complete opposite argument. Ben was expressing his frustration that our society hasn't done more to mitigate the causes of climate change, and I explained that we will all likely be forced to change our behaviors in the coming decades as the predictions about global warming become realities. We won't be able to ignore the signals when they're staring us in the face. So yes, Mr. Bastardi, in 15-20 years, we will find our answer, but I'm afraid it won't be the one you're looking for...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

How Can We Improve the Connectivity (and Vibrancy) of Our Neighborhoods?

In a recent article on, one of my favorite staff writers, David Roberts, conducts a step-by-step critique of his home turf, the Bitter Lake neighborhood in Seattle (Walk Score 71). By exposing the limitations of the current orientation of city streets and lack of adequate access to public spaces, Roberts identifies the reasons why he and his wife don't feel comfortable letting their children walk to the local park and why they have never met their neighbors who live less than a stone's throw away.

Roberts then embarks on a multi-stage redesign of his neighborhood (complete with maps and colored lines denoting areas of interest, see his initial one on the left) and offers some well-though-out and reasonable changes to the current urban fabric.

By engaging in this exercise, Roberts offers an answer to a question that has largely dominated my pursuit of sustainable urbanism in the last year: What can we possibly do to the miles and miles of unproductive infrastructure already in place?

Roberts concludes his post by addressing this very issue. He writes: "One of the biggest challenges in years ahead, as we attempt to densify and green our communities, will be retrofitting existing neighborhoods to increase walkability, sociability, sustainability, and safety. It's worth a minute of anyone's time to ponder how they could make their own surroundings more amenable to spontaneous, non-commercial, human-scale social interaction."

To see the rest of his neighborhood diagrams and a more detailed analysis of the proposed design elements, read his full post here.