Page 1

last call: seven hot spots to see before they disappear

The World In Green april/may 2008

The Car of the Future (Coming Sooner Than You Think) Exclusive

Rigging the Weather for the Beijing Olympics Low-Impact Living with

Jack Johnson Do it yourself

Organic Cheese Junk Mail Warrior

Bill McKibben

PLENTY The World In Green

“Today’s world is full of stunning but transitioning places.”

photo by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Centre for Marine Studies, The University of Queensland

—page 68

contents April/May 2008

68 Disappearing Destinations

76 Go, Clean Racer, Go

your lifetime—but what hot spots should

technology will drive the car of the future?

of experiments in weather modification to

you see before they disappear? These sev-

What’s under the hood? Who will make it?

the test at this summer’s Beijing Olympics,

en locations, which are part of a world be-

And when will that clean machine (silently)

when they aim to put on festivites that

ing transformed by climate change, prove

roar? One expert surveys the scene.

shine for the all the world to see—in

that sometimes the story isn’t just in the

By Vijay V Vaitheeswaran

low-smog rain-free conditions. Our exclu-

You’ve heard about the places to see in

The auto

industry is revved for revolution—but what

84 The People’s Weather


their shaky science, China puts 50 years

journey but in the destinations themselves.

sive report takes a look at all the master-

By Heather Hansen and Kimberly Lisagor

planning and missile deployment at work to

Cover art by Joe Zeff Design, Inc.

By tom scocca

yield a clean and dry Summer Games.

2 | april-may 2008



43 People 44 Travel

The World In Green

Eco Star Jack Johnson

+ Feel-Good Guatemala Adventures + Eco Miami City Guide + Recycled Kayaks

48 Food

+ Foraging—the Other Locavore Diet + Farm to Fork with Dan Barber + California, the Hautest State

in every issue

54 Home

6 Plenty Online 10 Editor’s Letter 12 Letters 14 Contributors 16 Ask Plenty

+ Walter Thomas Brooks’ Lumiere House + Investment Pieces Designed to Last

56 Trash to Treasure 58 The Green Fiend

Annemarie Conte makes a mess—and some grass-fed cheese.

60 Style 62 Capsule Reviews

Eco Fabulous Fabrics

Books for the Envirophile

New Films, Music, and

Soothing Goats with Song


19 + + + +

Earth Day by the Numbers Presidential Candidates’ Smackdown Green Grooving Eco Netflix Making the Switch to HDTV Responsibly

28 Life in the Green Zone

Celebrated comedian Lizz Winstead on her McDonald’s french fries addiction.

Green Gear®

65 Ring in Spring

Biodegradable umbrellas, zero-emissions lawn mowers, outdoor lounging gear, and more.

plenty labs

91 Tester’s Choice current

31 Science

+ Coral Reefs at Risk + How Climate Change Alters Bird Migration

34 Business

+ Bioplastics Boom + Sun Microsystems Combines Its Dot-Com Past with a Green Future

38 Tech

+ The Latest Breakthroughs in Electric Car Batteries + Can the Solar Plane Take Off?


Activist in Residence Bill McKibben tackles stuffporn, that unwanted junk mail flooding mailboxes nationwide.

+ + + +

Breakfast Foods Reviewed Testing Out Natural Antiaging Creams Rewritable CDs Extra-Clean Air Filtration

93 Green, Greener, Greenest

Three-Tiered Solutions with Lori Bogiorno

photos by (clockwise): Sven-Olof Lindblad; anthony verde; Heather Finnecy; Tim Chapman; teresita cochran; beth perkins; rachel leibman; Ditte Isager

+ Chucking Your Old Cell Phones + Reducing Your Chlorine Footprint + The Eco Side of Fair Trade

96 Last Word

DIY Nesting Tables

what time is yoga classecure peace



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Nuclear Breakdown

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Nuclear power accounts for a whopping 15 percent of the world’s electricity. Projections that nuclear’s prominence will persist, particularly in the face of climate change, begs a slew of questions: Should environmentalists support nuclear energy? Has the technology to store and treat radioactive waste improved enough? Are advocates right when they say there won’t be another Three-Mile-Island-type accident? After Chernobyl, how are people and wildlife faring? Would a new advertising campaign to increase public support of nuclear power in the United States succeed? To find out, read Plenty’s exclusive online series, Nuclear Breakdown, in May.

PLENTY blogs Political Climate Ben Whitford writes Plenty’s Political Climate blog, covering the news you need about policy, legislation, and the people in power. Check it out for the latest on the presidential race to the White House.

In the Garden Susan M Brackney unearths the mysteries of her garden— and provides tips that will help you create an ecofriendly vegetable patch of your own.

A Farmer’s Notebook Sustainable farmer Ragan Sutterfield sends dispatches from Adama Farm in the mountains of central Arkansas, where he raises sheep, cattle, chickens, and a very rare breed of pig called the Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig.

Organic from the inside out.

JYOTI STEPHENS Sustainability & Stewardship Manager (And daughter of Founders, Arran & Ratana Stephens)

Nurturing People, Nature & Spirit. Available in food service and at grocery and natural food stores.

Jyoti loves everything organic. Especially our organic Flax Plus速 cereals and snacks, rich in omega-3 fatty-acids, fiber and nutrients essential to a healthy lifestyle. They are a great way to start down the organic path.

PLENTY The World In Green April/May 2008

Editor in Chief & Publisher Mark Spellun Creative Director Tracy Toscano Deputy Editor Anuj Desai Senior Editor Alisa Opar Associate Editor Jessica Tzerman Assistant Editors Tobin Hack, Sarah Parsons Copy Editors Iya Perry, Dave Zuckerman Proofreaders Diane bernard, adam Stiles Research Editors Bryan Abrams, Andrew Bradbury Editorial Assistant Nicole Scarmeas Editors at Large Cathy Garrard, Sarah Schmidt Contributors dan barber, Annemarie Conte, Lisa Selin Davis, Liz Galst, Bill McKibben, Kate Siber, Lizz Winstead Art Associate Art Director Lindsay Kurz Photo Assistant Rachel Leibman Contributors Josh Cochran, Camilla Slattery, Felix Sockwell, Anthony verde


Advertising & MArketing Associate Publisher Lisa Haines | 415.887.9574 | Western Manager Nina Sventitsky | 949.276.5513 | Midwest Manager Cheryl Kogut | 312.494.1919 | Detroit Manager Joe McHugh | 586.360.3980 | Marketing & Creative Services Manager Morgen Wolf 212.757.0048 |




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Published by Environ Press, Inc. Chairman: Arnold Spellun 250 West 49th Street, Suite 403 New York, New York 10019 Phone: 212.757.3447 Fax: 212.757.3799

Subcriptions: 800.316.9006 Unsolicited manuscripts, photographs, and other materials must be accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped envelope. Plenty will not be responsible for unsolicited submissions. Send letters to the editor to or to Plenty, 250 West 49th Street, Suite 403, New York, NY 10019. Copyright ©2008 by Environ Press, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited. Views expressed herein are those of the author exclusively. Plenty (ISSN 1553-2321) is published bimonthly, six times a year. The annual subscription price is $12 per year. Plenty is a publication of Environ Press, Inc., 250 West 49th Street, Suite 403, New York, New York 10019. Periodical postage paid at New York, NY, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Plenty, P.O. Box 621, Mt. Morris, IL 61054-7568 or call 800.316.9006.

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plentyeditor’s letter The Tesla Roadster should get lucky owners the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon.

Driving Into the Future In December 2007, Congress raised the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for the first time in more than 20 years. According to the new regulations, the United States’ average fuel economy is supposed to reach 35 miles per gallon by 2020. While this is a 40 percent increase from when CAFE standards were last set in 1984, just like then, the new standard won’t demand new technological breakthroughs from the auto industry. Manufacturers will only have to make minor modifications, like offering smaller and lighter vehicles, as they already are in Europe, where an average of 40 miles per gallon is the mandate. But what if the days of making incremental changes to cars were over? There are signs that we are on the verge of a technological revolution that might make the CAFE standards a thing of the past. Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and strategic planning for General Motors, thinks the automotive sector is moving into a period similar to 100 years ago, when there were several forms of auto propulsion. “In the late 1800s, there were more than 3,000 auto companies using different technologies, from steam to wood to coal to internal combustion engines to batteries,” he says. “And somehow in the next 10 to 20 years a dominant play surfaced: the internal combustion engine.” Today companies are experimenting with biofuels, batteries, and hydrogen fuel cells. GM and Toyota are aiming to bring a pluggable hybrid to the market by 2010 (see “Go, Clean Racer, Go,” page 76). Rapidly improving battery technolo-

gies (see “Electrifying Breakthroughs,” page 39) could help make the first massmarket electric car finally become a reality. And in our interview with GM’s Burns, he even dares to dream about cars that drive themselves (page 81). Cars that don’t crash because of human error, he says, can be significantly lighter and therefore more fuel-efficient. We’re entering into a period when the internal combustion engine may quickly become outdated and what we think of as driving will be altered significantly. And while the roster of companies leading the charge includes many of the automotive industry’s major players, innovations are also being provided by newer companies like Tesla,, and Fisker Automotive, who compete with auto manufacturers on the technological front. Not long ago, people talked about GM and Ford as marketing companies—behemoths whose products had essentially stagnated but which they annually repackaged to the market as something new. But today, if automotive companies don’t start becoming more like technology companies, they will end up like the US television manufacturing industry: extinct. While none of us here at Plenty want to witness another American industry’s downfall, putting together an issue about what the car of the future might look like made one thing clear: We can’t wait to see how all the innovation shakes down and rolls out onto our roads.

Keeping your household clean isn’t easy. But it can BeGreen Now.

Learn more about offsets, find out how to balance out the emissions from your car or home, and check out our Gift of Green products at






Gadgets, Gear, and Tips for Living Well

War of the Roses

Will Al Gore’s new campaign save the planet? Farm to Fork with Dan Barber Rick Moody Takes a Hike And the Eco Oscar Goes to...


Cover NO BAR CODE.indd 30

12/20/07 4:40:21 PM

“Reading this issue has been an inspiration to me because of its positive, uplifting, and yet realistic approach.” Eye Candy I would like to take this opportunity to let you know just how much I love your new design. It’s fresh and very appealing to the eye. I found a copy at Target this past weekend and enjoyed reading all the articles. Keep up the great work. Gail Toscano Southampton, NY

Getting Creative In Lizz Winstead’s column (“Life in the Green Zone,” February/March 2008), she writes that our waste yards are full because of a disposable society. She says, “I blame it on the C word: convenience. We are… willing to sacrifice everything— from quality and style to, most importantly, our environment.” While all that Lizz writes is true, there is another C word: cheap. Too many items sold today are of poor quality, but with a good price. The downside is that

a cheap dresser is not going to last, let alone be passed down from generation to generation. It’s often cheaper and more convenient to throw away an item rather than repair it. Years ago, a cheap bookcase of mine fell apart. Shortly after, I was out driving and spied a vintage steamer trunk in the trash. I took it home and cleaned it up. Since then, I have been a garbage picker. In 2007 alone, I salvaged two china cabinets, two kitchenettes, a love seat, a chair, four bookshelves, and a dresser. The joy to me is in rescuing a unique vintage or antique item from the landfill and finding it a home. “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” is the mantra for today’s environmentally conscious consumer. I achieve this by scrounging for furniture. We can all do something with our own tastes and talents to make a difference. John Blair Fairfax, VA


Flower’s Power BY

Lizz Winstead Michael Byers


The great family heirloom is quickly being replaced with craptastic cheapsakes.

Life in the Green Zone

The ongoing eco follies of Lizz Winstead. This time, she sounds off on junk in the family trunk After 40 years, my parents recently sold the home I grew up in. As we cleaned out the attic, my sister and I scored. Mary nabbed an old steamer trunk she transformed into a coffee table; I snatched up my grandmother’s vintage washtub to use as a planter for a beautiful array of impatiens flowers until the whole thing became a snack tray for my dogs, Edie and Buddie. Now it serves as a lovely newspaper recycling bin. I blather on and on about this because it reminded me yet again that the great family heirloom is quickly being replaced with craptastic cheapsakes that, instead of being passed down from generation to generation, are being passed down from generation to generation of landfills. As we sink further and further into the quicksand of our disposable society, there are fewer and fewer treasures to leave to our loved ones. That gorgeous steamer trunk my sister Mary claimed? Pieces like that have given way to the oh-so cherished nylon duffle bag. And the laws of physics tell me that delightful item cannot be transformed into a coffee table. No, once the Taiwanese-made zipper breaks, it will end up in a garbage heap along with a zillion other bags emblazoned with

the same logos of some sporting goods outfit. Hundreds of years from now, social anthropologists will look at these things and conclude that 21st century humans worshiped gods called Adidas and FUBU. And my 100-year-old, classic metal washtub? Well, we all know technology and mass production put an end to those. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m no Luddite. I’m not living in some weird, dark, nostalgic place wishing I could go back to the good ol’ days when women scrubbed clothes with lye soap in a tub down by the river. (Although I wouldn’t mind a river clean enough to wash clothes in.) I realize the washing machine is a big improvement. But when big box stores are selling washers for 300 bucks a pop, people rush out and snatch them up with glee. And when it breaks, it’s cheaper to buy a new one than to fix it. At which point no amount of artistry is gonna transform that old, broken box o’ fiberglass into a keepsake. No, it’s toss-it-to-thecurb time. So you have to ask yourself, “How many bazillion centuries will those be cluttering America’s waste yards?” The number is assholenomical. I blame it on our growing use of the C word: convenience. Yes, we have become a little too comfortable relying on it, and consequently, seem willing to sacrifice everything from quality, style, and most importantly our environment, if it means our lives will be even just a smidge more convenient. Convenience has its noose around our necks, and we won’t be satisfied as a culture until we can have all of our needs met without having to lift a finger, no matter what the cost to our world! Americans have a warped sense of convenience. And the inconvenient truth about convenience is that convenience creates a ginormous amount of waste. The George Foreman Grill, the Presto Burger, the Salad Shooter? Seriously—who were the people so profoundly put out preparing salad the old-fashioned way that they needed to invent a way of shooting it into the bowl? I don’t ever want to know—it sounds like something creepy that happens in prison. So how will all this convenience redefine the heirlooms of the future? I have the sneaking suspicion that 100 years from now, my great-greatgrandchildren won’t be clamoring through my attic saying, “Oh look! It’s one of those vintage Air Poppers. I think I’ll make a lamp out of it!” The truth is, the word convenience has become interchangeable with the word shortsighted. I hope we all remember that when we’re looking for convenient solutions to stop global warming. ✤ Lizz Winstead is cocreator of The Daily Show, and former cohost of Air America’s Unfiltered. She currently stars in Shoot the Messenger, a satirical review of the media world running in New York City (

30 | february-march 2008

I am a new subscriber to Plenty, and I have just received my first issue. I read it from cover to cover and loved it. I particularly enjoyed the Lizz Winstead page (“Life in the Green Zone,” February/March 2008). She certainly is right about the so-called convenience appliances. I have a George Foreman grill ready to go to the local thrift shop (to join the others that are already there), and does anyone want a crepe maker? Another article that fascinated me was “Budding Movement” (February/ March 2008). I had no idea about the imported flowers certification system— it’s heartening to know this industry is going green. What an eye-opener. Thanks for your excellent articles.

Spectrum.LizzWinstead.indd 30

12/20/07 3:18:07 PM

Elizabeth Bonsal Riverside, CT

First Impressions I wish I had known about your magazine sooner. Thanks to your stunning cover model, the llama sporting a gorgeous crown of eco roses (February/March 2008), your publication stood out as I approached Target’s checkout counters. Reading this issue has been an inspiration to me because of its positive, uplifting, and yet realistic approach. It has already motivated me to better use my own creative ideas and abilities to help keep the planet green. I was awed by the work of biologist Patricia Wright (“Way Beyond the Science,” page 78). No wonder she was awarded the MacArthur “genius grant.” Tamera Herrod

Great Green Tips We received our first issue of Plenty today. By the time we reached page four, we had written down three websites to investigate. This magazine is thrilling, and we’re still only at the beginning! We are produce farmers in Connecticut on a small, five-acre vegetable farm that did very well last summer. We’re 98 percent organic, using fertilizer only when settling young plants in the ground. Business was phenomenal last season—we sure had a lot of great free press with everyone promoting “buy local, buy fresh.” We’re going to finish your magazine right after we contact,, and Can’t wait to get to page five! Patti & Raymond Hard Meriden, CT

Write us at Our Bad In the February/March 2008 issue, “Farm to Fork with Dan Barber,” page 50, we mistakenly identified the greenhouse in which Dan Barber is shown as his own. It actually belongs to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, the not-for-profit farm and education facility that houses Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant, which Barber co-owns. We regret the error.


plentycontributors Julia Hoffman (“Love to Your Mother,” page 20) is known for the charts galore she designed for Jon Stewart’s America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction. Julia’s illustrations have appeared in The New York Times and Men’s Health, and she recently relocated from New York to Boulder, Colorado, to work for advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky. She’s begun to love the mountains, but she still dreams about Brooklyn every night.

Kimberly Lisagor & Heather Hansen

Vijay V Vaitheeswaran A correspondent for The Economist, Vijay (“Go, Clean Racer, Go,” page 76) recently coauthored Zoom: The Global Race to Fuel the Car of the Future, with his colleague Iain Carson. Vijay maintains to this day that his ’78 two-tone blue Chevy Malibu got him into MIT: For his application essay, he wrote an “eloquent and highly tongue-in-cheek riff about how driving my Malibu was akin to my journey through life: lessons learned in the rear view mirror, the role of fate embodied by fuzzy dice, and so on.” Can you believe it worked?

Tom Scocca learned to tell the difference between the sounds of artillery and thunder while growing up in Aberdeen, Maryland, where the town motto was “agriculture and armaments.” He now lives in Beijing, where he captured our exclusive feature on China’s efforts to control the weather (“The People’s Weather,” page 84). Tom’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, Slate, and GQ. His upcoming Riverhead Books project covers China’s efforts to transform Beijing “physically, culturally, symbolically, and meteorologically” into a showpiece city in time for the Summer Olympics. 14 | april-may 2008

Bill McKibben New Plenty columnist Bill McKibben (“Activist in Residence,” page 40) has contributed to The New York Times, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, and more. His most recent book is Fight Global Warming Now. In 2007, McKibben also founded the Step It Up campaign, which pressures the US government to reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. A leading figure in the environmental movement, Bill lives in Ripton, Vermont. He doesn’t recall how the word “stuffporn,” which he invented for his first column, came to him. “Stuff just happens when you write,” he insists.

Friends from UCBerkeley’s School of Journalism, Kimberly (top) and Heather (bottom) found themselves chatting about a book titled 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. “What about 1,000 places to see before they die?” Heather wondered, and the concept for their new book, Disappearing Destinations (adapted on page 68), was born. Kimberly’s travel and environment writing has appeared in Outside and National Geographic Adventure. Heather received a Harper’s Award for Distinguished Magazine Writing (1999) and has contributed reporting to Middletown, America and Hillary’s Choice, two books by author Gail Sheehy.

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Tobin Hack

Is there an easy way to recycle my cell phone?

—Jim, NH You’re in luck—the EPA just joined up with top cell phone service providers and retailers, and it’s now embarrassingly easy for you to give your old phone the gift of reincarnation. Thousands of convenient cell phone drop-off spots are set up all over the country; visit to find one near you or to learn how to mail in your phone. The program is part of the EPA’s Plug-In to eCycling campaign, which has recycled more than 142 million pounds of electronics since 2003. And just think: If we recycled the more than 100 million cell phones no longer being used in this country, the energy saved could power 194,000 US homes for a year. For a peek at the potentially earth-friendly future of cell phones, check out page 36 of this magazine.

Get up and GO GREEN! It’s never been easier to be eco-friendly. Green TV, vegan radio and the green gourmet are the buzz. People are lining up to buy organic clothing, hybrid cars and mineral makeup. Vegetables— especially leafy greens—are hot. And owning a Vita-Mix® whole food machine has never been so cool. For a lot of reasons. A green smoothie or whole food juice for breakfast gives you an arsenal of antioxidants to start your day. Leafy greens are a great non-dairy source of calcium, magnesium and Vitamin C. They contain carotenoids to protect against macular degeneration and folate to guard against heart disease and cancer. Juices made in the Vita-Mix® 5200 include the whole food— skins, seeds and all—so you’ll enjoy more fiber, more flavor and more nutrition—with very little waste. And that’s not all. Famous for its durability, dependability and amazing warranty, the Vita-Mix machine is built to last a lifetime—even if you enjoy using it morning, noon and night. What a great addition to your environmentally conscious kitchen!

Why wait?

Call 1-800-VITAMIX for our 30-day RISK-FREE trial. Use your savings code for up to 5 FREE GIFTS and visit our website for a special green recipe!



Is there anything eco about fair trade products? —Juliette, AZ Fair trade companies focus primarily on social sustainability, not environmental. But it’s no big surprise that the two types of labels often get mixed up by people just testing the waters of conscientious consumerhood—green labels like USDA Organic and fair trade labels like Equal Exchange are both using consumers’ purchasing power to make the world a healthier place. But for the record, the Fair Trade Federation states: “Fair trade is a system of exchange that seeks to create greater equity and partnership in international trading systems by: paying fair wages in local context; supporting participatory workplaces; ensuring environmental sustainability [emphasis added]; supplying financial and technical support; offering public accountability; respecting cultural identity; building direct and long-term relationships; and educating consumers.” So while environmental sustainability is not the movement’s chief goal, fair trade principles do include eco advocacy. Greenies should feel good about choosing fair trade products. What’s so bad about chlorine? Should I be worried about trying to keep it out of the environment? — Martha, MA Chlorine compounds in excessive amounts are bad for eco systems (and, by the way, you) because they kill living things. The best way to keep chlorine out of the environment is to make conscious consumer choices. Seek out non-bleached alternatives to goods that are usually treated with chlorine: sanitary products, tissue papers, diapers, paper towels, printing paper, and so on. Stick to nontoxic household cleaners and laundry detergents—the Chlorine Free Products Association ( is a good resource if you’d like to learn more. And of course, most swimming pools are loaded with chlorine; resources like provide useful information on how to build a pool that can be maintained without chemicals. Pressing eco inquiries, conundrums, snafus? Write to

The trips you take produce a lot more than jet lag. But they can BeGreen Now.

Learn more about offsets, find out how to balance out the emissions from your car or home, and check out our Gift of Green products at

one shot

plentyspectrum Earth Day 101 Presidential Candidate Smackdown Get Your Groove On TV Recycling Confessions of a Pedofrile

20 22 24 26 28

photo by

teresita cochran

A New Leaf This structure may currently reside in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), but it’s much more than a work of art: It’s an alternative energy system. Renewable energy start-up company SMIT (Sustainably Minded Interactive Technology) designed Grow as an attractive alternative to clunky solar panels and wind turbines. The system was inspired by ivy leaves, and, like the plant, could one day cover building exteriors. The individual solar “leaves” are made of flexible photovoltaic cells and small-scale piezoelectric generators that produce energy as the leaves move in the wind. SMIT expects a solar-only version to be available this year. You can see Grow at MoMA’s Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition through May 12. To learn more about Grow and other designs by SMIT, check out | 19

Earth Day was first celebrated on April 22, 1970, and it’s been growing strong ever since. Here’s a look back at our Earth Day roots. 20 | april-may 2008

illustration by

Love to Your Mother

Julia hoffman


> by the numbers

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> politics

Presidental Smackdown

Where do the leading canditates stand on environmental issues?

He Said/She Said “It’s like being with an Irish priest. You start to confess your sins. ‘Father Al, I am not just a noise polluter, I am a noise-polluting, dieselsoaking, Gulfstream-flying rock star. I’m going to kick the habit. I’m trying, Father Al, but oil has been very good for me—those convoys of articulated lorries, petrochemical products, hair gel.’” Bono on speaking to Al Gore

I don’t want to go to an electric Formula One race.

Jesse James at the North American International Auto Show (right after he referred to Al Gore as a “dork”)

“My carbon footprint’s pretty shameful, probably. How do you think I got here? It wasn’t on a camel.”

Colin Firth at the Sundance film festival

If I’m in the grocery store and I’ve forgotten my bag, I load everything up in my arms and carry it out. Okay, I do admit, I have to stop twice because I keep dropping stuff, but I don’t take a bag!

Laurie David on her BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) habit

“How about the fact that we have presidential candidates who don’t believe in evolution?!”

eco speak

Science guy Bill Nye on the biggest problem facing environmentalism and science

Barack Obama

Climate change: Supports a cap-and-trade system to reduce emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Policy wonks applauded his plan to auction off— not give away—carbon credits. Energy: Promises $150 billion to develop biofuels and hybrids and a $50 billion venture fund for clean technologies. Says a quarter of US energy will come from renewable sources by 2025. Pollution: Introduced Senate bills targeting lead pollution and forcing nuclear plants to disclose leaks. Would make polluters pay to clean up spills. Conservation: Pledges to create new national parks. Strong on water resources, especially the Great Lakes. Dirty secret: Fought for federal subsidies for filthy coalto-liquid technology; remains cozy with Illinois coal and nuclear lobbies. Getting personal: Drives a hybrid Ford Escape and is installing compact flourescent lights at home.

Hillary Clinton

Climate change: Promises 80 percent emissions reductions by mid-century via a capand-trade system. Energy: Pledges to cut energy demand by 20% by 2020. Would tax oil companies to raise $50 billion for clean energy. Pollution: Promotes a scienceled strategy, with new biomonitoring programs to track chemical levels in our bodies. Conservation: Supports increased funding for national parks. Dirty secret: Pressured New York government to let a paper mill burn shredded tires; the project produced so much toxic waste it was abandoned after three days. Getting personal: Installed motion-sensor and energy-saving lights at home. In her own words: “I do not want to be part of the first generation to leave America and the world in worse shape than when we found them. It will not happen on my watch.”

In his own words: “I don’t believe climate change is just an issue that’s convenient to bring up during a campaign. I believe it’s one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation.”

John McCain

Climate change: Cosponsored first Senate bill seeking mandatory greenhouse gas cuts. Says climate change would be a top priority and proposes a cap-and-trade system to cut emissions 65% by 2050. Energy: Opposed renewable-energy bills in 2003 and 2005, and supports coal and nuclear power. Critical of ethanol subsidies. Pollution: Opposed Bush’s plan to weaken rules requiring companies to report toxic leaks. Conservation: Would revoke rules preventing timber companies from logging in federal reserves. Says he’s against oil drilling in Alaska, but his voting record is inconsistent. Dirty secret: Claims he’s opposed to energy subsidies on principle, but his climate plan allots a $3.7 billion payoff for new nuclear. Getting personal: One of his homes has solar panels. In his own words: “The wise and sustainable stewardship of natural resources will continue to be an increasingly crucial factor in protecting the nation’s environmental, economic, and physical security ... addressing these issues will be a high priority for me.” —Ben Whitford

“Well, Sire, we’re doing our part. We’ve replaced hot boiling oil with a high-grade ethanol.”

anthropocene \an•thruh•puh•seen\ n. (adj.) A new

geologic age in Earth’s history, as suggested by a group of UK geologists. They believe humans have altered the Earth’s environment and climate so much that we’ve ended the Holocene period, which began after the last ice age some 10,000 years ago, and entered a new epoch—the Anthropocene. Sample usage: “Dr von Ludwig, what is this huge, shiny metal thing?” “Well, young lad, that’s an Anthropocene-era wind turbine, a device made to try to undo the damage humans wrought on the planet.”

22 | april-may 2008

THE BIG PICTURE by Bob Eckstein

Keep it Reel

An Inconvenient Truth and March of the Penguins aside, Hollywood usually snubs environmental movies. Deforestation Gump and Ocean’s Acidification don’t have quite the same ring, even if they are fun to say in a movie announcer voice. Earth Cinema Circle, an environmental film club launched this year, aims to bring eco flicks to the forefront. For about $18 (plus shipping), members receive one DVD every other month with four to five films covering topics from threatened coral reefs to recycled flip flops. The movies—everything from five-minute shorts to fulllength features—are introduced by Ed Begley, Jr and come packaged in recycled paper and cornstarch plastic. The club selects films Hollywood doesn’t promote, like Oliver Hodge’s Garbage Warrior, a documentary about an architect who builds off-the-grid communities out of trash. “There’s nothing in the film that blows up, there are no car chases,” says Gay Hendricks, the club’s cofounder. “It’s just a heartwarming, fabulous movie about a person who’s really making a difference.” The group has already found a following. “For people that like to watch these kinds of movies,” Hendricks says, “the club is like water in a desert because they haven’t been able to get them.” —Tobin Hack


For membership details, check out

> music

Calls of the Wild Composer and musician Bernie Krause used to work with rock stars like the Doors, Mick Jagger, and Van Morrison. But 40 years ago Krause stepped out of the studio and into the wilderness, replacing his big-name clients with some lesser-known ones: jaguars, chimps, and hippos, to name a few. Krause aims to reconnect people with nature by recording “biophonies,” a term he coined to describe the symphonies created by wildlife in natural habitats. He has gathered about 3,500 hours of sound, from the late Dian Fossey’s Rwandan gorilla camp and rainforests in Borneo to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. His philosophy may seem hippie-dippy (he began his career as a folk singer with Pete

Bernie Krause has recorded nature sounds on all seven continents.

Seeger’s Weavers, after all), but Krause uses his recordings for worthwhile projects. Biophonies are available as a downloadable sound layer for Google Earth, so users can hear a locale as they zoom in to it. This fall, the California Academy of Sciences plans to put up a tropical habitat installation featuring Krause’s work. Krause’s project is also becoming an important historical archive: Already, 40


percent of the North American habitats he’s recorded are so altered that their biophonies are essentially gone. Kause’s worst fear is that we will overpower nature with industrial noise and lose ourselves in the process. But there’s a remedy: “Sit quietly, and listen to the wonders of this world,” he says. “Get out from behind the computers. Get out there and let the world unfold.” —TH

Download Google Earth’s sound layer at To hear samples of Krause’s work, visit

24 | april-may 2008

> nightlife

Good, Clean Fun San Francisco’s Temple nightclub is giving new meaning to doing the Electric Slide. This year the club plans to equip its dancefloor with crystal piezoelectric sensors that are charged by shimmying, shaking, and boogeying. “When a stress is placed on the crystals, an electrical pulse is created that we can feed into the club’s grid system,” says Mike Zuckerman, Temple’s director of sustainability. Zuckerman says the club will also put in an LED screen to display how much power dancers are generating; the club may even give bonuses to DJs who rack up the most energy. Temple’s not alone in its endeavors: The nightclub joins a growing group of eco hotspots in New York, Chicago, Rotterdam, and Tokyo. With traditional nightclubs consuming about 150 times more energy a year than a four-person household, hopefully other venues will follow Temple’s lead. The piezoelectric system is not the first of Temple’s pioneering eco features, which also include an outdoor vertical garden, kitchen grease donation for biofuel production, and workshops to empower budding conservationists. Cocktails are mixed with organic juices, and everything is recycled or composted—even the drinking straws. It’s enough to make any greenie want to get her groove on. —Eric Demby

Photo by Tim chapman (left)

spectrum Earth Cinema Circle picks include Papua New Guinea: Land of the Unexpected (top); Dream People of the Amazon (middle); and Garbage Warrior (bottom).

> film

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Photo: Cesar Rubio


Burning Question

How Will You Celebrate Earth Day 2008? Majora Carter

Founder and Executive Director, Sustainable South Bronx

TV Turnover Whether you’re watching Elaine dance awkwardly on Seinfeld reruns or Manny Ramirez hit a homer on ESPN, the picture is always clearer on a digital television. A new federal regulation requires all TVs to be digital-ready by February 17, 2009, when stations will stop broadcasting in analog. An estimated 22 to 25 million households still use conventional TVs. The switch, combined with falling DTV prices, means that millions of households may soon dump their old sets. “There will be a glut of ewaste” once the regulation goes into effect, says Kate Sinding, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council. Luckily, you can make the swap in an environmentally friendly way. Before blowing dough on a plasma, consider buying an analog-to-digital converter box if you don’t have cable (cable and satellite providers automatically switch the signal). The boxes cost between $40 and $70, and the FCC will issue up to two $40 coupons per household for the devices. If you spring for a new TV, be sure to properly dispose of the old one. Most e-waste is shipped overseas to countries with lax disposal laws, where contaminants like lead, mercury, and flame retardants leech into soil and waterways. Currently there are no federal laws governing e-waste disposal, so companies don’t have to provide take-back programs or disclose where they ship their hazardous trash. However, eco options exist. The FCC recommends checking to find recycling centers near you. Also, a growing number of states are developing their own disposal legislation. Ten states now have e-waste laws, though only California’s and Maine’s are active. So before you kick your bunnyeared box to the curb, check local regulations, and watch Elaine and Manny with a clear conscience. —Susan Cosier


For more on e-waste laws, go to computertakeback .org; for TV recycling options, visit mygreenelectronics .org; and for FCC-issued coupons, check out

26 | april-may 2008

Anna Lappé

sam waterston

Actor, Law and Order; Board of Directors, Oceana

“I’m asking my friends and family to remember our oceans. Oceans cover 71% of the globe and are in serious trouble from pollution and climate change— scientists recently projected that if ocean catches continue at current rates, our seafood supply could collapse before the middle of the century.”

Coauthor, Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen “I’ll celebrate with low–carbon footprint food from my local farmers market. Sure, the industrial food system may have brought us such culinary miracles as Cheez Whiz and Froot Loops, but in doing so it’s become one of the top contributors to climate change. The livestock industry alone accounts for 18 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. So I’ll chow down on climate-friendly fare. No Hummer-ona-plate burgers for me.”

photo by David rose/nbc

> tech

“I hate Earth Day for the same reason that I hate most holidays: It makes people believe they can cover a year of ills by being ‘good’ on that one day. I celebrate Earth Day every day by doing everything in my power to make this world green for all people, regardless of their race or class.”











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Josh Dorfman Lazy Environmentalist and many more...



Lizz Winstead

Life in the Green Zone

28 | april-may 2008

“Really?” he says with his trademark smugness. “Well, we have you on tape. Let me read your conversation with the clerk”—he quotes me verbatim—“‘I want your large and really hot fries.’” I am busted. But would that even make me stop? I fear not. No, just like on the real Dateline, pedofriles don’t stop after just one humiliating encounter. One hundred percent of us are repeat offenders. McDonald’s loves to pat itself on the back for its green building practices, trans-fat-free fries, and experimentation with biofuels for its UK delivery fleets, while simultaneously introducing drive-thrus in China, a country that already exports major climate calamity. There’s also all the packaging and a french fry sodium content that rivals the Dead Sea to fuel the guilt of a pedofrile like me, the type who obsesses over my health and personal impact on the environment. I am admitting my addiction to you so you can ask yourself if you, too, are a pedofrile. I know many of you reading this also need help. We can’t kick it alone. Some of us may even need an intervention, but where are our Betty Ford or Promises centers? Maybe it’s up to me to start a recovery program for pedofriles everywhere. A treatment in which we are forced to hear horror stories about a certain Ronald M, and what happens when you give into carnal cravings and support an environmentally questionable, nutritionally negligent global giant. That way, after going through the program, I could walk the streets, head held high, knowing I am no longer a pedofrile but a recovering pedofrile. And the best part? Recovering pedofriles around the globe could find each other by asking that simple question: “Are you a friend of Lizz W?”✤ Lizz Winstead is cocreator of The Daily Show, and former cohost of Air America’s Unfiltered. She currently stars in Shoot the Messenger, a satirical review of the media world running in New York City (

photographs by

They say admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. That’s why I am announcing today, in this column, that I am a pedofrile. I stalk crispy, golden fries with the dangerous lack of self-control that society sees in those other irredeemable social pariahs. I need help. I know it is wrong. Wow, it felt good to say that. Let me explain: I live above a 24-hour McDonald’s. Their fries are one of my biggest weaknesses. Hot, fresh, firm fries—the thought of them can be so all consuming that when I catch the slightest glimpse of their golden goodness, it takes a fast-food force field to keep me away. I want to stop, really I do. But if there were a show called Dateline Predator: McDonald’s, I would be one of those sad, sick people caught at 4 am, wearing sweatpants covered in dog hair and a navy stocking cap, embarrassingly trying to talk my way out of the situation. Picture it: I walk out my front door and do a quick check to make sure none of my neighbors see me. Then I slip into the flophouse of fries. My adrenaline is fueled by shame as I approach the counter. The teenage clerk yells from the back, “I’ll be with you in a minute!” Waiting, I pace nervously. I dig through my pockets for some loose change and toss it in a Ronald McDonald House donation box to ease my conscience. That eleven-cent contribution doesn’t do the trick. A high school kid approaches the register to take my order. I say it quickly so she can shove my crispy contraband in the bag in a flash, but it always feels like an eternity. Finally, she hands me the sack; I snatch it and turn around to escape, but who is staring me right in the face? That smooth-talking Dateline host. “What’s in the bag?” “A bottle of water and a salad,” I say, thinking it’s an answer that will make him disappear. He doesn’t move. I toss in, “With Paul Newman dressing?” as if that’s gonna make a difference.

beth perkins

Lizz Winstead comes clean as a McDonald’s french fry predator. Yup, she’s lovin’ it.

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plentycurrent Drinking Sewer Water Sun Microsystems Goes Green Solar-Powered Airplanes Bill McKibben’s Junk Mail

Acid Influx

33 34 39 40


Side effects may include coral demise, beach erosion, and biodiversity loss

courtesy of science magazine/ove huegh-guldberg, university of queensland

Between pollution, disease, and habitat destruction, coral reefs have it rough. But greenhouse gas emissions may be the ecosystems’ deadliest stressor yet. While scientists have worried about sea temperature rise for some time, only recently have they focused on another consequence of excess carbon dioxide: ocean acidification. The process may lead to the death of most coral reefs by the end of this century, according to a study published in the January issue of Science. Often called the rainforests of the sea, coral reefs are the ocean’s most biologically diverse ecosystems, supporting roughly 25 percent of marine life and more than 4,000 species of fish. The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that one square kilometer of coral reef holds a value of up to 2 $600,000 per year by drawing tourists, supporting fisheries, and helping mitigate beach erosion by breaking waves. Coral reef destruction represents a huge economic and biodiversity loss. “Coral reefs are always in a balance,” says Mark Eakin, a coauthor of the study and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reef expert. “Acidification makes it harder for the building forces to build and easier for the eroding forces to erode.” The ocean naturally absorbs about onethird the total amount of CO2 pumped into the atmosphere; as concentrations of the gas increase in the air, so does the amount taken up by the sea. When CO2 dissolves in water, carbonic acid forms—the same mild

acid found in your Blue Sky soda. The compound naturally releases hydrogen protons, making the ocean more acidic, or lowering its pH (see illustration on next page). The sea’s pH has dropped by 0.1 units over the past century. Carbonic acid dissolves the shells of mollusks and other animals, and also inhibits shells from forming. Additionally, the excess hydrogen protons draw calcium carbonate, or chalk, from the ocean, harming organisms as small as plankton and as vast as coral reefs, which absorb the compound and turn it into shell. “There’s actually less of the material needed to build, so it slows or leads to malformed shells,” says Scott Doney, a geochemist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Climate change is also turning up the temperature of our oceans. It has risen 0.74°C in the last 100 years. For reefs, warmer water stresses coral polyps, causing them to kick out the algae that live in their tissue and give them color—


“Even if we stop all the CO emissons tomorrow, it will still impact the coral reefs .”


The Great Barrier Reef today (A). Rising global temperatures and increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration—measured in parts per million (ppm)—will degrade the ecosystem (B, C). | 31


H+ + CO32- => HCO3CaCO3 => Ca2+ + CO32-

When carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, carbonic acid is produced. The acid then releases a hydrogen proton that binds with a carbonate ion, meaning fewer carbonate ions are available to combine with calcium. As a result, less calcium carbonate (coral and shell) forms.

32 | april-may 2008

Birds that navigate vast distances are especially vulnerable to climate change Late last January, scientists in New Hampshire found something unusual on ice-covered Lake Winnipesaukee: seventeen frozen loons. Usually, changes in day length and temperature cue the threatened birds to leave in early January for their wintering grounds off the Atlantic coast; they return to the lake about four months later to breed. Biologists think unseasonably warm weather may have disrupted their migratory instincts, prompting them to linger on the lake. When conditions turned harsh mid-month, the birds were already molting new flying feathers, which usually happens after they migrate. Unable to fly away, they succumbed to the frigid conditions. “It was very unexpected,” says Nick Rodenhouse, an ecologist at Wellesley College. “If warmer winters become more frequent, [loons] could die more often.” Scientists are unsure how much global warming had to do with the loons’ odd behavior, but they know that climate change will significantly affect birds. Some, like the migrating loons, will lose out; others could benefit. Among the winners may be residents—birds that stay put year round. At least one study suggests northeastern

residents such as the tufted titmouse and northern cardinal might find more food as winter temperatures rise. But scientists predict rising temperatures may alter ecosystems, making habitat inhospitable and food scarce during breeding season. If they’re right, the more than 800 migratory bird species that fly over North America will suffer, and some may ultimately go extinct. Unlike those of resident birds, “the abundance and distributions of migratory birds is expected to contract,” says Rodenhouse. Blows to migratory bird populations will have broader impacts. For one, the 81 million birders in America would suffer. But there’s more at stake than the loss of a beloved pastime. Entire ecosystems could be affected. Birds returning earlier from winter retreats, coming back in reduced numbers, or not returning at all may throw species interactions out of whack. “Insects are probably being affected [by climate change] more so than birds, so insects may hatch and be gone before the birds get there,” says Stanford University ecologist Terry Root. “The predator-prey interactions among species can be severe-

simpson; josh cochran

CO2 + H2O => HCO3- + H+

Lost in Migration

illustrations by jameson


a process called “coral bleaching.” Scientists began reporting bleaching events around the world in the early 1980s. The most severe took place a decade ago in the western Indian Ocean when 46 percent of the region’s coral was impacted, igniting a decline of the whole ecosystem. To draw the world’s attention to these threats, the International Coral Reef Initiative—a partnership among governments, nonprofits, and NGOs—declared 2008 the International Year of the Reef. The group aims to promote the importance of reefs, emphasizing that these diverse ecosystems are already on the brink of extinction. Ocean acidification is literally like pouring acid on the wound. “Even if we stop all CO2 emissions tomorrow, it will still impact coral reefs,” Eakin says. “The best we can do both for bleaching and ocean acidification is improve the resilience of coral reef communities by getting rid of other local stresses—make the reefs healthier so they can best survive while the warming takes place.” —Victoria Schlesinger

The dramatic fluctuation in weather is going to cause larger fluctuations in the reproductive success of our birds. ly changed.” That, Root says, could leave birds without enough food to survive. In a worst-case scenario, an absence of birds could leave hoards of insects to munch on trees and crops, endangering the resources we depend on and causing enormous economic loss. Unusual weather can also spell reproductive disaster for migrants. And as the world heats up, extreme weather events will likely occur more often and with greater intensity. “Warmer temperatures may actually be associated with more frequent cold snaps,” says David Winkler, an ornithologist at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. That could be deadly for tree swallows, the migratory birds Winkler studies, because the birds eat flying insects that only take wing when it’s warm. “We’re going to have more wet springs, more really cold springs,” says Scott Sillett, a wildlife biologist at the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center. “It’s the dramatic fluctuation in weather that’s going to cause larger fluctuations in the reproductive success of our birds.” Additionally, bird nests might disappear. Many migrant songbirds are picky about their breeding grounds. They need


temperatures that fall in narrow ranges and just the right mix of vegetation for nesting and cover. For example, New Hampshire’s black-throated blue warbler thrives in cool areas, where there are few predators and lots of caterpillars to feast on. “As warming progresses, the highest quality habitat could potentially disappear off the mountainside,” says Sillett, who studies warblers in the White Mountains. Habitat loss isn’t just a concern at summer breeding grounds. Altering the environments where birds winter or stop to refuel can cause their populations to shrink. It’s challenging enough to protect forests where resident birds live; the task is far harder when it comes to migrants because they cover so much ground throughout the year. In addition to warming in the United States, global climate models predict drying in the Caribbean basin, where many migrants winter. “It’s hard to maintain one [habitat] given how many people we have in the world,” says Root. “Now you put warming on top of that. That’s a double whammy.” It’s too early to tell how severe the consequences of warming will be for birds. But scientists say conserving habitat, preventing further fragmenting of existing territories, and decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions can only help. “You can’t say that [climate change] is going to be overall bad, and it’s not going to be overall good. But overall, there will be more bad than good,” Root says. “We’re going to have overall surprises. And we need to be ready for them.” —Sarah Parsons


Are those sweet peppers you just bought really organic? Scientists have discovered a way to find out, using nitrogen isotopes to detect synthetic fertilizers. The method could help identify fraud in the burgeoning organic produce industry.



Twenty-one percent of global carbon emissions come from manufacturing activities in developing nations aimed at meeting the needs of developed countries. This could partly explain why CO2 emissions have risen 35 percent since 1990, despite reduction efforts by some developed nations.


The peanuts and other treats birds get in the winter from backyard feeders helps them breed more successfully in the spring.


Oil and natural gas typically come from decomposed organic material like plants and trees. But researchers found evidence that the fuels can come from inorganic sources: deep-sea vents that produce natural gas and hydrocarbons, the building blocks of oil.


The recent discovery of a previously unknown species of uakari monkey in the remote Amazon has a sad twist: The animal is already endangered because of hunting and limited habitat.


A new water purification facility in California’s Orange County will treat sewage from industrial and household wastewater and churn out 70 million gallons of drinkable water per day (enough for about 10 percent of the district’s 2.3 million residents).


NOAA scientists are using unmanned aircraft to track environmental degradation and forecast weather. This year, planes with automated sensors will fly into hurricanes, measure Arctic ice conditions, and monitor Pacific Ocean storms that dump rain and snow on the West Coast.


The tropical disease dengue fever may spread across the US if global warming continues unabated and measures to control the mosquitos that spread the illness aren’t adequate.

Ask A Scientist

Why is smog worse in the summer? Michelle Bell, Environmental Health Professor at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies The chemical reactions that form ozone, a principal component of smog, happen more quickly at higher temperatures. So ozone levels are typically higher in the summer and higher during the day compared to nighttime. Ozone is formed by precursor gases (volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides) in the presence of heat and sunlight. Ozone levels are also tied to wind patterns and emissions: Traffic and industry are primary manmade sources of ozone precursors. Ozone has been linked to increased risk of respiratory symptoms like wheezing and respiratory infections that

can result in hospitalizations and mortality. More than 100 million Americans live in areas that exceed current healthbased standards for ozone. It’s especially problematic in the eastern US, California, and Texas urban centers. And it’s a growing problem for countries with expanding transportation networks. Climate change might cause worse smog. In one study, we found climate change could raise ozone levels even higher, further harming human health and increasing mortality.

—as told to Susan Cosier |




Sun’s new scaled-down data center can support up to 10,000 desktop users at a time.

Solar Synergy The computing industry likes to brag about how much power it puts at our fingertips, but what it doesn’t mention are the megawatts all those computers draw off electrical grids. Jonathan Koomey, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, announced in a February 2007 report (funded by Advanced Micro Devices) that the servers and associated infrastructures that run US data centers consumed about $2.7 billion in energy bills in 2005. That’s as much as all the country’s color television sets and more than double the amount servers consumed five years before. Because of concerns about that consumption, demand from the public, new legislation, and scarcity issues tied to maxed-out grids like the one that serves Wall Street, green technology is sweeping Silicon Valley. Visions of promising new markets have Valley investors thinking in both shades of green—ecological and economic. Tech giant Sun Microsystems is one of those firms retooling its business around the environmental movement. “We are reshaping our product portfolio to be more energy efficient and eco-friendly,” says Subodh Bapat, Sun’s chief technology officer and a distinguished engineer in the company’s Office of Eco Responsibility. Still in the midst of a comeback, Sun has a little more motivation than others. The corporation once touted itself as “the dot in dot-com,” but when it dot-bombed, 26year-old Sun entered a wilderness of red ink and low stock prices. 34 | april-may 2008

Now several green initiatives are helping put Sun back in the black again. Project Blackbox, for instance, takes the data center—that room full of massive computers that runs websites and corporate intranets—and puts it on an energy diet. Blackbox is a 20-by-8-foot shipping container capable of supporting as many as 10,000 desktop users at a time. (Technically referred to as the Sun Modular Datacenter S20 or Sun MD, the Blackbox is still widely known by its original name.) The system takes up one-eighth of the space of a tradi-

Visions of promising new markets have Valley investors thinking in both shades of green— ecological and economic. tional data center, and it runs on 40 percent less power because of a breakthrough cooling system that chills and then recirculates air in a closed loop, according to Sun. The Blackbox costs less as well: Prices start at $559,000, with servers, storage, software, and services priced separately. A traditional data center typically costs millions. Early Blackbox clients already include Mobile TeleSystems OJSC, the largest mobile phone operator in Russia, and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a research laboratory. But whether the Blackbox catches on is anyone’s guess. Even though companies like Intel, Microsoft, Sun, and others have developed a global consortium called the Green Grid to examine data center performance issues, corporate computing managers are

only just starting to wake up to the need for energy efficiency. Only 23 percent of the professionals at 140 large companies surveyed by Forrester Research indicated they were interested. The Blackbox also faces competition from companies like American Power Conversion, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. Still, Sun sees the Blackbox as part of an overall strategy designed to green its business, both internally and externally. The company claims its Sun Fire servers are three to five times more energy efficient than its nearest competitor’s and are the first ever to be eligible for a major utility company rebate. Sun is also using its history of promoting the power of the network and the virtues of sharing ideas through opensource software development, as a launch pad for new eco initiatives. These include posting energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions on the company’s website; reducing its greenhouse-gas emissions 20 percent by 2012; and launching the new website,, to provide free tools to help companies assess, share, and compare energy performance and tips for reducing carbon dioxide emissions. As it forges ahead, Sun wants to share its achievements because it recognizes that greening its own business, if done in isolation, would just amount to a drop in the bucket. “We’re small potatoes compared to our customers,” says Lori Duvall, Sun’s program manager for eco responsibility. “We want to take care of our own business and let everybody stand on our shoulders.” —Dan Fost

Photo by sun microsystems

Dot-com meets green in Sun Microsystems’ Blackbox



Bakelite 2.0

Bioplastics thermal testing at Nokia, whose 3110 Evolve Candybar phone hits European markets this year.

tackling the problem in stages. In 2005, Toray Industries, who recently built a $9 million bioplastic plant in South Korea, announced the creation of Ecodear, a much tougher material that combines longevity with added flexibility and transparency—two other components needed in the auto and personal electronics industries. Then in 2006, Mazda developed an 88-percent-corn-based bioplastic with three times the shock impact and 25 percent higher heat resistance than older versions. Last year, electronics firm NEC showcased a bioplastic with better heat conductivity than stainless steel. Now all this innovation is starting to reach consumers downstream: Fujitsu’s Ecodear-based FMV-BIBLO note-

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36 | april-may 2008

book PC is already on shelves. Mazda’s bioplastic-based Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid begins leasing later this year (the Premacy is the first offering from Mazda’s Sustainable Zoom-Zoom initiative). Toys are another industry that prizes durability—San Francisco’s Green Toys debuts a bioplastic-based line of products this year. “We’re starting with that one device,” Nokia’s Nowak says about the bioplastic Candybar, “but the goal is to integrate this technology into many of our products.” Most of the more than one billion cell phones in the world are thrown out after eighteen months, so that’s no small thing. —Steven Kotler

For many Americans, April 15 now marks the end of a mad scramble to file tax papers and max out a Roth IRA account. One upside to that frenzy is that you can invest in your values while making money for retirement. Green funds have started to take off, sometimes even outstripping the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index in 2007. Falling under the broad category of socially responsible investments, such funds include stocks of companies involved in environmentally sustainable products, services, and practices. One caveat: Green funds can be volatile, dropping or gaining as much as 40 percent a month. If you want to mitigate that risk, you might choose broaderbased funds, such as Sierra Club Stock Fund (SCFSX) and Claymore LGA Green (GRN), which include environmentally questionable but blue-chip companies such as Las Vegas Sands Casinos and Exxon Mobil. If you’re interested in purer plays, here are ten top-performing green and alternative energy funds, measured against the S&P 500. —Helen Kaiao Chang

Photo Copyright © Nokia 2008

Forget Bakelite. The future is bioplastic. A recent survey conducted by the European Bioplastics Association found that the bioplastics market is growing by 20 percent a year—and that’s good news on the environmental front. Bioplastics swap crude for plant-based oils like soy bean and hemp, or corn and pea starch; they also replace traditional strength-enhancers like glass and carbon fiber with natural materials like wool and jute. So bioplastics cost less and are more ecologically sound to produce than their traditional, petroleum-based counterparts. The plastic family’s cleanest cousin also decreases carbon dioxide production by 0.8 to 3.2 metric tons and is biodegradable to boot. But there is one major bioplastics flaw: durability. Clearing this hurdle of staying power has been especially important to mobile technology industries like cell phone makers. “What other electronic device do you treat so shabbily?” says Keith Nowak, a spokesperson for Nokia, who is introducing the 3110 Evolve Candybar mobile this year in select European markets with a so-called bioshell made from more than 50 percent bioplastic and a breakthrough technology in its charging system for added efficiency. Japanese manufacturers have led the effort to improve durability,

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The mirrors on these solar thermal dishes concentrate the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity.

Sunny Forecast Solar energy on the rise

uses the sun to heat water; solar photovoltaic (PV) uses the sun to generate electricity. They’re both eco-friendly and increasingly popular. PV shipments in the US tripled in 2006, from 206,511 in 2005 to 618,302; and the number of ST systems shipped climbed from 14,680to 19,532 during the same period. Here’s a look at how PV and ST compare:


Photovoltaics (PV)

Solar thermal (ST)

How it works

Solar cells convert sunlight directly into electricity.

biggest users

Commercial businesses; homeowners

Homeowners; utility companies


So-so. About 19% of the sunlight that hits the system can be turned into electricity.

Pretty good. Up to 40% of sunlight that hits the reflectors used for power generation (as opposed to heating water) can be turned into electricity.


Whether you live in Maine or New Mexico, you can use PV. Once installed, the panels require little maintenance and can last up to 30 years.

Compared to PV, ST systems are more energy efficient and cheaper (5–17 cents per kWh). They also require little upkeep.


It’s more expensive than ST (22–40 cents per kWh); and recent shortages in high-grade silicon used to make the cells have upped the price. Improperly disposed of PV components can release toxins.

It’s limited to sunny, arid locations like the Southwest because it requires constant sunlight. Some ST plants are hybrids: They run on fossil fuels when the sun isn’t out. And compared to PV, ST plants take up a lot of space.


A PV technology called thin film modules is poised to take off. It’s cheaper and more flexible than conventional crystalline silicon technology but not as efficient.

Expect to see this technology expand as ST factories hit US soil. In 2007, Ausra, Inc, broke ground in Las Vegas on the country’s first ST manufacturing plant. Once completed in April, it will make reflectors and other components.

Collects sunlight to:

1 heat water for homes and businesses; OR 2 generate electricity by boiling water into steam that turns


38 | april-may 2008

photo courtsey stirling energy systems SOURCE: Energy Information Administration and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Chances are you live in an area that gives incentives for going solar. Most states offer investment credits, rebates, and sales tax or property tax waivers to consumers and businesses alike. And it’s working. In 2006 America’s solar energy industry continued its double-digit annual growth rate, and if manufacturers can keep up with demand, it will only expand. Solar energy comes in two forms: solar thermal (ST)

Electrifying Breakthroughs

photo courtsey solar impulse/ EPFL Claudio Leonardi; tony caldwell, sun media Corp. (bottom right)

Better battery technology will make eco cars road-ready A slogan to sum up this year’s bill of auto shows might read “Hybrids! Electric cars! Fuel cells! You name it, we’ve got it! Or, will soon … really.” It’s hard to count how many times we’ve heard about breakthroughs in electric cars. Yet, so far, little has come of the hype. Ask around and you may hear that electric cars are too expensive, they’re a threat to the combustionengine industry, or the technology just isn’t there yet. But dig deeper and one reason holds fast for their delay: batteries. Ron Freund, chairman of the nonprofit Electric Auto Association, says that despite all the advances in electric cars, “We still need better batteries.” The most recent advance came in December 2007, when Stanford University engineering and materials scientist Yi Cui increased tenfold the amount of energy a lithium-ion (also known as Liion) battery can store. By making the anode from silicon nanowires, Cui upped the capacity and durability of the electrode. “It’s a revolutionary development,” he says. In fact, it would be a major breakthrough if the discovery could be applied to electric car batteries. We carry gasoline in a fuel tank; similarly, we need a portable container for hauling electrical energy. When it comes to electric cars, we have just a handful of options for rechargeable batteries. Some of the most popular are lead-acid and nickel batteries. But the latest newsmaker is Li-ion. Enthusiasm about the battery took off in 2002, when material scientist Yet-Ming Chiang and his MIT colleagues increased the conductivity of lithium iron phosphate, making it a better choice for use

in battery electrodes. The technology is currently popular in cell phones and laptops because it packs a lot of energy into a small, lightweight cell. It can be recharged hundreds of times and holds its charge when idle. Thanks to these qualities, companies from General Motors to Tesla are talking about eco concept cars powered by Li-ion batteries. Despite breakthroughs like Chiang’s and Cui’s, it may be years before they’re available for purchase. GM’s much touted hybrid plug-in Chevy Volt, for example, will run on this promising technology, but the Volt isn’t expected for sale until at least 2010. An electric car battery has to be light, small, energy dense, and quick to recharge. But it also has to be relatively cheap, long lasting, and safe. Li-ion batteries received some bad press in 2006, when a few blew up after overheating in laptops. The explosions proved that what works in a lab may be far from ready to be mass-produced for cars. “From the time a fundamental discovery is made and someone builds a test shell, it’s typically seven to ten years before it’s available as a product. That’s been repeated over and over,” says David Sivertsen, head of research and development for AC Propulsion, an electric car technology company. “I remain skeptical of new battery breakthroughs,” says Martin Eberhard, the departed founder of Tesla Motors, but he concedes that he’s “intrigued” by Cui’s discovery. If it “increases energy density with the same lifespan, that alone would change the world.” —Victoria Schlesinger

on the drawing board

solar plane

& beyond leds

>Keep an eye out for the first manned test flights of a solar airplane (above) later this year. Cells covering 240 square yards of wing and tail surface will power the 3,300-pound plane, called the Solar Impulse. Designing the control systems has been challenging: The ultra-lightweight Impulse will face more turbulence than ordinary airplanes, so simulation software is less reliable. “We are in an unexplored flying domain,” says André Borschberg, Solar Impulse’s CEO. The goal is to fly the plane around the world in 2011.

An electric car battery has to be light, small, energy dense, and quick to recharge.

>A Canadian company is designing a screw-in light bulb it claims will be cheaper and longer lasting than CFLs and LEDs. Like LEDs, Group IV Semiconductor’s technology uses a solid substance to generate light, requiring less energy than traditional bulbs, which use filaments or gases. “It’s siliconbased, and silicon costs at least 20 times less than LED materials,” says business development director Howard Tweddle. “This should lead to much more affordable products and much faster adoption.” The company expects the technology to hit the market in a couple of years. |





Bill McKibben

activist in residence

Bill McKibben takes stuffporn (that stack

of unwanted catalogs in your mailbox) to task Some environmental problems—that global warming thing, say—are understandably hard to solve. It stands to reason that rewiring the entire planet will probably cost some money and probably take some time. What’s annoying, however, is how hard you have to work to solve even simple problems. Take catalogs—say you’d like fewer delivered to your house. Like the one from Levenger, billed as “Tools for Serious Readers,” that seems to appear every day or two in my mailbox. (No, thank you, I do not want the $54 leather pen cup or the $35 wallet for my Post-it flags.) You’d think there would be one button you could click to end the stream of catalogs flowing into households, like the one that shut off those dinnertime phone calls a few years ago. But you’d be wrong. Last year a group of committed individuals backed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council set up a website called catalogchoice .org. It allows you to go through an alphabetical list of catalogs. You can choose the ones you no longer want to receive, and they will notify the merchant on your behalf. “It’s far less time-consuming than calling customer service and being put on hold,” says April Smith, the Catalog Choice project manager. She couldn’t be more reasonable, and neither could the website’s executive director, Chuck Teller, when he adds, “We’re just trying to do what’s right for the world here, to help us all tread a little more lightly.” Teller’s outlook is not hyperbole—the energy required just to make the paper for last year’s 19 billion catalogs produced

as much carbon dioxide as 2 million cars while discharging 53 billion gallons of wastewater. But no good deed goes unopposed: The Catalog Choice website was barely launched before the head of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) sent

an e-mail to their thousands of members, urging them not to cooperate. It instructed retailers to “just say no” to Catalog Choice, arguing that the project wanted “to eliminate catalogs as a marketing medium.” As a result of the DMA’s campaign, some merchants won’t stop their mailings to those who opted out on Catalog Choice. Still, the effort hasn’t been in vain. The bad publicity that ensued when the DMA e-mail leaked convinced the association to update its own mail preference service (DMAchoice

.org). For years they charged money for the privilege of opting out of catalogs; as of January, the service is free. Safety valves like the DMA’s mail preference service help keep consumer discontent to a minimum and ward off stronger action. As DMA official Steve Berry puts it, a Congressional law like the one that shut down telemarketers poses “a great threat.” We should be so lucky. You still need to give the DMA your credit information if you want them to shut off the stuffporn flow. They promise not to charge you or to give out your number. Still, it’s a little like asking the hens to send their Visa numbers to the Fox Security Association. And the DMA salts the wound by insisting they do this to, in the words of Berry, “protect list hygiene,” an Orwellian coinage that means they fear some knave might impersonate you to unjustly deprive you of a catalog you were pining for. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I swallowed hard and turned over my credit card to the DMA’s webmaster. I’d already signed up on the infinitely more user-friendly That’s how much I hate catalogs. To me, catalogs are one more cog in an endless earth-wrecking, soul-draining machine designed to get us to want. I don’t want anybody telling me about the $8 Book Bungee bookmark, which “marks your page and keeps your book safely closed,” or the Thai book pillow, “a miniature version of the ones villagers make in northeast Thailand.” If rejecting both items marks me as a decidedly unserious reader, so be it. Because I don’t want to want. All I want is to be left alone to read. ✤

The energy required just to make the paper for last year’s 19 billion catalogs produced as much CO2 as 2 million cars while discharging 53 billion gallons of wastewater. 40 28 || april-may february-march 2008 2008

Laurie Bailey Photography – 2007

It’s not my world anymore. It’s his, and I owe it to him to help stop global warming.


cientists say that we can curb the most dangerous effects of our changing climate if we cut our carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050. That’s an achievable 2% reduction a year — the 2% Solution! Everyone has a role to play — you, me, businesses and government. How about starting at home, washing the mountains of baby clothes in cold water in an energyefficient washing machine? Then make sure to only run the machine with a full load. Hey, it all helps, it all adds up.



TO FIND OUT WHAT YOU CAN DO, VISIT: Television star Diane Farr and her son Beckett

Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

©2008 Rainforest Alliance

..tree houses...ho . m u t ch eg l b oco b u B lat

utterflies...rockin g lls...b c ha r ba i r s . pe

es...parrots...ban n a l p r ana ai r e spl p a its .p . e..

There are lots of good reasons to keep forests standing. At the Rainforest Alliance, we believe one of the best reasons is they absorb Co2 emissions, the gases that lead to global warming. Support our work to keep forests intact. Look for the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal when you shop for coffee, chocolate, tea, fruit, flowers, ferns, wood, paper, guitars, windows, doors, floors, furniture and lots more. JOIN US ON MAY 15, 2008 IN NEW YORK CITY FOR THE RAINFOREST ALLIANCE’S ANNUAL GALA. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE VISIT WWW.RAINFOREST-ALLIANCE.ORG The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices and consumer behavior.


Josh Baron


plentyliving plenty Guatemalan Wanderlust Foraging Foodies Little House of Light DIY Nesting Tables Homemade Cheese Eco Fabulous Fabrics Capsule Reviews Green Gear

By the time you read this, the Hawaii-born

troubadour Jack Johnson will be touring in support of his new album Sleep Through the Static, spanning tens of thousands of miles and at least four continents. So what is pop music’s greenest artist to do about all that environmental damage? Change the nature of large-scale touring by introducing EnviroRiders, a set of stipulations requiring venues to: purchase renewable energy for 100 percent of the amount used at his show; recycle at least 50 percent of the total waste the show generates; and change all lights to those ever-efficient-but-not-always-flattering compact fluorescents. Johnson, who checked in with Plenty before starting his tour, is also pretty green when he’s not on the road. He recorded Sleep Through the Static at his new Solar Powered Plastic Plant studios in Los Angeles; and his EPA award-winning Kokua Hawaii Foundation and its star-studded Kokua Festival have helped lead local recycling initiatives, environmental field trips, and farm-to-school food programs since 2004. Johnson also updated the environmental anthem “3 Rs” (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle)—a message he’d been spreading well before the song’s release in 2006.


Title of his memoir-to-date: What On Earth Are You Trying to Prove? Whenever I end up stepping into a limousine or some crazy hotel room, I always think of that Elvis Presley lyric, “If my friends could see me now/In this fancy hotel room/They’d ask me, ‘What on earth are you trying to prove?’”


Environmental pet peeve: The [idea] that for something to be green or eco, it has to be a sacrifice. Finding ways to live lower impact—to me, that’s just fun. It’s not a sacrifice; it’s an upgrade.


44 48 54 56 58 60 62 65


Ideal carpool partners: Dead: Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Alive: Bob Dylan.

Favorite animal : I had a pet mongoose for a while when I was a kid. The coolest pet ever because it was really sly. It was like having a cat, but it was twice as fast.


DIY pastime: I make water catchment tanks out of oil drums.

3 4

Favorite place on earth: I’d say about 50 yards off the coast of [Oahu’s] North Shore.

5 6 7

Green car of choice: Volkswagen Passat powered by biodiesel.

Unheralded skill: I’m really good at paper airplane making. My dad showed me a couple of good ones when I was kid. Superhero skill most desired: I’d go with the Wonder Twins’ ability to change into any animal. My son and I do that around the house a lot right now. “Wonder Twins activate! In the form of … !”

eco star

Jack Johnson

Photo by Thomas Campbell

Topic that occupies way too much of his brain: If you asked my wife [Kim, who cofounded Kokua Hawaii Foundation], she would say surfing.

10 questions for the man who would make for a killer opening act if Mother Nature were playing live at your local arena |





Jennifer Block

An eco lodge with a colorful history on the Comunidad Nueva Alianza coffee farm.

serves tasty vegetarian meals, and a two-day eco tour ($33) includes a guided hike through the rainforest to learn about medicinal plants, along with visits to scenic waterfalls. Tours leave Xela every Saturday morning from Parque Central. Reservations are made at Café Conciencia in the picturesque city of Quetzaltenango (comunidad

Clear the Air

Trip Fix

A volunteer vacation in Guatemala lets you have fun while helping the country rebuild After decades of civil war, the now stable democracy of Guatemala offers a multi-layered, mix-and-match vacation experience with more than a dozen ecosystems to explore in a country the size of Virginia. In mere hours, you can venture from steamy coastal wetlands to chilly cloud forests, or trek to an indigenous Mayan village and be back in town for late-night salsa dancing. The best part? You can do it all while pitching in to improve the country and the lives of its people. Guatemala is host to hundreds of environmentally and socially conscious projects in need of volunteers, each offering a unique way to experience this culturally and ecologically rich land. So whether you want to spend a day or two saving turtles or weeks building houses, there are voluntourism treks for you. Here are some of the country’s best. Help a Fair Trade Farm Comunidad Nueva Alianza is a fair trade organic coffee and macadamia nut plantation with an inspiring history. In the late ’90s, the owner failed to pay the 40 families working here, leaving them without enough money even

“to buy a ball of soap,” as one resident tells it. So the families organized, booted the boss, and were awarded collective ownership of the land by the government. The environmentally conscious farm is now nearly selfsustaining with biodiesel,

44 | april-may 2008

hydropower, and bio-gas from pig and cow waste, but the workers are still paying off the mortgage. Help out by dropping in for a visit or staying on as a farm volunteer. The former owner’s home has been converted to a rustic eco lodge that

In many rural village homes, women spend hours indoors cooking over an open fire for their families. That means they’re breathing in black smoke every day, and their children live dangerously close to open flames. One simple solution is to build an enclosed plancha stove with a chimney to carry the smoke up and out. These stoves also help curb deforestation because they heat more efficiently. Materials cost about $125, though, which is a prohibitive amount for a village family. Enter the Pacaxjoj Community Stove Project, one of several in Guatemala to provide families with cement or adobe planchas built using volunteer help. Pitch in and be a brick-layer for a day and you’ll get a taste of rural village life. Plan to stay in nearby Quetzaltenango, which also makes a great base for gorgeous volcano hikes with Quetzaltrekkers, a guide team that donates all its profits to a school for local homeless children ( The best days for stove building

June to January (arcas

Bring in a Healthy Harvest

Relaxing at Las Fuentes Georginas thermal pools.

are Thursday and Saturday. Trips to the village leave from Quetzaltenango (e-mail: estufasmejoradas@

Photos by christopher perras; heather finnecy; steffan hacker

Green the Highlands Tierra Verde means “green land,” and that’s the goal of this new reforestation project in the Guatemalan Highlands. When Hurricane Stan hit in 2005, the devastating mudslides were caused not so much by rain and wind as by the dearth of trees—their roots would have helped keep soil in place on steep inclines. Now, this group of ecominded expats and locals is rebuilding the villages as well as the forests. They’re currently tending more than 10,000 pine, white Cyprus, and eucalyptus seedlings that you can help plant from June to September, all while enjoying the region’s breathtaking views and misty mountain air (e-mail: tierrav@gmail .com). After a hard day’s work, treat yourself to a hot soak at Las Fuentes Georginas, where natural thermal pools nestled in verdant cloud forests (

Protect Endangered Turtles Some experts predict that the leatherback—the largest known turtle—will go extinct within 30 years. You can help the conservation group Arcas reverse this trend for both leatherbacks and the similarly threatened Olive Ridley sea turtles. While staying near the beach town of Hawaii, you’ll assist with nightly beach patrols, search out nesting turtles, and collect their eggs for safekeeping in the hatchery. More intrepid volunteers can also help breed crocodiles and iguanas. Turtle season is

You won’t want to miss the jungles and ruins of El Peten, in the north, where you’ll be in close proximity to endangered jaguars, tapirs, Morelet’s crocodiles, and scarlet macaws. But you can also get a different perspective on the region by visiting the Equilibrium Fund, an organization that trains rural women to organically farm the nutritious Maya nut. The species once grew in abundance throughout Central America but is now threatened with extinction due to deforestation. Since 2001 the group has planted more than 400,000 trees. You can help them plant June through September (

The Equilibrium Fund lets you help local families during planting season.

and hotels arranged; and an English-speaking local to guide your group and customize extracurriculars. But get ready to work. Half of all the Habitat homes in Latin America are built in Guatemala: 3,000 went up in 2006 alone (

Build a Home A stint with Habitat for Humanity is more expensive than most volunteer trips in Guatemala ($1,200 to $1,700), but this reputable nonprofit takes the guesswork out of planning. You get: door-to-door service from the airport to everywhere you go; meals

Building safer stoves to clean the air (below); half of Habitat for Humanity’s homes in Latin America are built in Guatemala (bottom).


Voluntourism offers some of Guatemala’s most tranquil views.

For information on hundreds of other projects, check out the database from EntreMundos ( The group keeps tabs on volunteer opportunities across Guatemala, and unlike other voluntourist agencies, will help you find a perfect fit for practically nothing (suggested donation $5). | 45



SEE South Beach definitely lives up to its billing as one of the best beaches in the country. Many of the waterfront hotels have private swaths of sand, but there is plenty of public access, complete with changing rooms. Most of the Miami Beach area is easily accessible by bike or foot. Parking is a nightmare anyway, though the city recently approved hybrid-only spaces and lot discounts in public garages. Lincoln Road, a seven block pedestrian mall is filled with cafes, high-end and vintage shops, and a farmer’s market every Sunday. Buses run regularly and the city just announced the purchase of 39 hybrid buses this year. While in Miami proper, the Metrorail can get you to most major attractions, including Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (co., the landmark estate of agricultural industrialist James Deering.

STAY The Standard, Miami ( is still reasonably new but feels like an old friend. Located on the bay—and removed from the spectacle of South Beach— André Balasz’s update of the old Lido Spa Hotel features lush greenery, chic rooms, and the best pool area in Miami. The Standard also hosts the Center for Integral Living, a series of classes, workshops, and retreats focusing on health, spirituality, and ecology; and Integral Thursdays are weekly events for green activists with screenings, lectures, and downtempo beats. The Standard can suck you in for days, so if you need a break, rent a bike from the front desk and you’re at Lincoln Road in five minutes.

46 | april-may 2008

TASTE The famous Joe’s Stone Crab ( is the destination if you love crustaceans. The harvesting of stone crab claws is fairly sustainable because only one limb can be removed before the crab is sent back into the sea, where it regenerates another. Joe’s also serves the best key lime pie in the city. A less-touristy option is Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (, a mostly-organic gem in the burgeoning Design District with an eclectic menu that draws heavily from local farmers. The chef, Michael Schwartz, also organizes Dinner in Paradise (, a monthly supper that benefits community tree-planting organization Treemendous Miami. Dinner is $150 per head but includes six farmfresh courses, paired wine, and a farm tour.

BUY Rag Trade Happy Clothing Co. ( is a great place to recycle your wardrobe. They’ll trade you “new” vintage and brand-new apparel for your old clothes. Price tags are made from recycled party flyers, and the store stocks work from local designers like So-Me, Eco-Chic, and Green Tees. Designed by Olin McKenzie, the artist behind the cult T-shirt line Momimomi, Green Tees are made from organic cotton and bamboo and feature sly environmental graphics with slogans like “Where Have All the Bees Gone?” For a different kind of retail therapy, cool your heels at Uhma Spa & Shop (, the first green spa in Miami. Built with natural, sustainable materials, this relaxing sanctuary uses only organic and cruelty-free products (also for sale), and the treatments meld contemporary techniques with ancient practices from around the globe. Wherever you end up in Miami, be sure to leave small footprints.

photos by Simon Hare (left); courtesy of the standard miami (upper left); opposite: David Phelps (upper right); Sven-Olof Lindblad (right)


>going places

With a seacoast, a bay, a river, and several connected islands, greater Miami is the closest thing America has to Venice. Water views are everywhere, but also like Venice, the city is entirely vulnerable to the elements. Threatened by Category 5 hurricanes and a global warming–induced rise in sea levels, the city also rests on a fragile wetlands ecosystem that is constantly endangered by development. If you’re one of the seven million tourists visiting South Beach this year, it’s best to tread lightly. Here’s how. —Andrew Paine Bradbury

Capitol Improvements All that talk of change in Washington seems to apply to chain hotels, too. The formerly run-of-the-mill Radisson in DC’s Dupont Circle neighborhood was recently bought and converted into a Hotel Palomar (above) by San Francisco-based Kimpton’s, a swank boutique-hotel chain with an aggressive environmental policy. Minibars are stocked with organic drinks and treats; the coffee and tea in the lobby are Fair Trade and organic; lighting is energy-efficient; the housekeeping staff uses only nonchemical products; and the rooms feature designer recycling bins, low-flow showers and toilets, and eco-friendly shampoos and soaps. The hotel also hopes to lure guests with

its Art in Motion program. Modern paintings adorn the walls, guests are invited to mingle with well-known artists at evening wine tastings, and the bellhops have even been coached by dancers at the Washington Ballet to add grace to all their moves. Artistry aside, the 40-hotel chain is also making like an ambitious politician and thinking beyond the Beltway. They’ve opened two new properties across the Potomac in Arlington and Alexandria; and new or remodeled locations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are coming this spring. With all their hotels employing earth-friendly practices tailored to location, the Kimpton’s campaign is one worth backing. —Sarah Schmidt

Glass Action Protecting the Galapagos Islands has always posed two challenging questions: How can local people make a living when fishing is protected, water is scarce, and 96 percent of the land is national park? And what to do with all the trash tourists generate? Lindblad Expeditions, one of the few cruise lines permitted in the area, has found a clever way to tackle both issues. The company just launched a partnership with Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon, New York, to turn Galapagos trash into tourist treasure. Local artisans trained by the glass shop are busy reworking the never-ending supply of discarded bottles into jewelry and figurines. Our favorite? Earrings shaped like the flippers of the archipelago’s famous blue-footed booby (left), courtesy of old Skyy vodka bottles. These, along with angelfish charms and bottleneck hoops, among other designs, will be available as souvenirs at Lindblad’s nonprofit gallery on Santa Cruz Island this spring. Talk about a perfect solution—tourists will now actually pay to take home their own garbage. —Maria Ricapito

Rocking the Boat>>> Kayakers, rejoice: Johnson Outdoors is producing models out of 100 percent post-industrial, recycled plastic. Six options in the company’s Necky, Ocean Kayaks, and Old Town lines are now made from the waste and cutouts left over from their traditional counterparts. The eco-friendly versions will range from $650 to $1,130, about $50 to $100 more than basic models, but they’ll also be more durable because of a higher-end blend of materials. Putting even more money where its (river) mouth is, the company is donating one percent of each boat’s sales to the Waterkeeper Alliance. ( —Eugene Buchanan | 47




Jen Murphy

Into the Wild More locally minded than locavore and more fundamental than organic, foraging is the next—and perhaps most natural—food frontier The most basic form of survival, foraging has become a new super-hobby, bringing together food-lovers, naturalists, and ecocrusaders. Besides creating points of difference in restaurants, sourcing wild foods and local edibles helps small producers stay afloat and fosters a community among outdoor enthusiasts who crave a deeper connection to nature’s bounty. And with everyone from backyard hobbyists and educators to big city chefs and extreme gatherers getting in on the action, foraging is the logical next step in the sustainable-food revolution. The concept of eating what’s available has been ingrained in Alabama chef Chris Hastings since his childhood days spent pulling oysters and clams from South Carolina’s salt marshes. Now the force behind Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club embraces a similar contemporary version of foraging, relying heavily on the tight-knit network of purveyors he’s spent 20 years cultivating. The relationships are symbiotic: He gets a sustainable, quality product, and his business supports small family farmers and fishermen meeting competition from today’s giant manufacturers. “Just as fashion starts on the runways in Paris and ends up in little village boutiques, food from organic farmers shows up in restaurants, and then people start demanding

This traditional Scandinavian winter dish from Copenhagen’s Noma restaurant uses eight kinds of locally sourced root vegetables, along with smoked beef marrow.

it at their green grocer,” Hastings says. “The chef community has been the missing link between the consumer and the farmer.” An avid outdoorsman, Hastings started leading four-day foraging excursions in 2007 to highlight the food resources along Florida’s Gulf Coast. Groups go from purveyor to passionate purveyor, tonging for oysters and casting nets for shrimp along the way. “Our country is flooded with subpar, cheap, imported seafood,” Hastings says. “I want people to taste and appreciate what these people do and go home saying, ‘I don’t ever want to buy imported shrimp as long as I live.’” René Redzepi, the visionary chef behind

the Copenhagen restaurant Noma, understands Hastings’ emotional investment. To spotlight the often-overlooked bounty of his native Scandinavia, Redzepi sources three to four days a week from April to November and at least once a week in winter; employs three foragers to supply esoteric ingredients like chickweed and lingonberries; and experiments endlessly with new ingredients. “When we first opened, people asked, ‘Why throw your money away on Scandinavian products?’” he recalls. Today Noma has two Michelin stars and is helping to globally define Scandinavian cuisine by catapulting once unknown ingredients like Danish sea >

Looking for a Foraging 101 Class? Fergus Drennan

Chris Hastings’

$175 includes at least one foraged three-course meal,

$1,750 per person (single occupancy) and $1,500 (double occupancy), visit for reservations

conducts one-day foraging courses for groups of seven or less near Canterbury, England, and the surrounding coast.

four-day Foraging the Forgotten Coast program highlights the amazing purveyors and local ingredients along Florida’s Gulf Coast.

48 | april-may 2008

Steve Brill

leads educational tours in New York City and around the tri-state area from March through December, focusing on seasonal, edible, and medicinal wild plants and mushrooms.

$15 suggested donation,

Canoe Bay

T’Gallant Winery

in northern Wisconsin offers free foraging excursions on the property’s 280 acres. The hotel chef leads guests in search of ingredients like mushrooms, ramps, and elderberries, which are used in that night’s dinner.

Each Sunday in May and early June, fungus expert Cameron Russell teaches guests how to identify edible mushrooms on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula; then, glasses of pinot noir and mushroomy snacks, like pizzas and tartlets, are served.

We only have ONE. Treat it well.







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Fergus Drennan makes wild garlic olive oil using both the plant leaf and immature seed heads.


Justin Nobel

urchin into ubiquity. “When you serve a meal, there’s tradition, history, and a sense of place in it,” Redzepi says. For New York City chef Peter Hoffman, it’s the meticulous gathering of ingredients, like the absolute ripest tomato, that matters most; as a result, he embraces a broader approach to foraging in which quality trumps sentiment. The menus at his restaurants, Savoy and Back Forty, skew local—Hoffman was one of the earliest supporters of Union Square’s Green Market—but at times, he finds it necessary to look beyond New York. The beef for the lauded Back Forty burger, for instance, comes from a Montana ranch that the discerning chef believes is producing some of the best grass-fed meat in the country by intensely managing its cows. “Food has been marketed as a very passive experience in the US,” says Hoffman, who will taste, smell, and scrutinize products from five different farmers before deciding which crop is worthy of the night’s menus. For him, ascertaining the story of food—where it comes from, how it’s grown, who makes it—is essential to the selection process. While Hastings’ foraging tours may be the next wave of culinary tourism with mass appeal, extreme gatherers like “Wildman” Steve Brill are taking enthusiasts into nature to source with Survivor-style gusto. He has led foraging tours around the New York tristate area for more than 20 years, and last year he hosted his largest group to date—75 people—in Central Park. To Brill, sourcing from the farmer’s market or other purveyors isn’t foraging. “That’s shopping,” he scoffs. Brill is less concerned with taste than with connecting people to the environment by teaching them how to identify edible trees and weeds, like sassafras and dandelions. In England, Fergus Drennan preaches a similar get-back-to-nature gospel. “Forag50 | april-may 2008

ing is an appreciation for the everyday magical dramas of the natural world,” he says. Drennan, nicknamed “Fergus the Forager,” sees potential even in roadkill and has been known to turn badger intestines into tasty sausages. For a short time he was supplying London’s top restaurants with foraged ingredients but says the experience was a dead end for him environmentally, emotionally, and spiritually. “To transform a wild plant into a commercial product debases both oneself and the magical essence of wild food,” he says. Today Drennan runs courses that take people into different habitats to learn how to identify and sustainably harvest wild plants for food. Forty percent of his class involves cooking—usually lunch and dinner, which might consist of salmon stuffed with fennel and elderflower fritters drizzled with birchsap syrup. After a trip with Drennan, Barbara Skew of Bristol, England, says she was inspired to enhance her diet with more food from the countryside. Skew and her family had previously foraged to a small degree (mostly nuts, berries, and fungi for meals), but after meeting Drennan while producing a BBC radio program, Skew’s daughter signed them up for a thirteen-hour foraging tour. Skew says he showed them new foraging techniques and introduced them to a number of plants that she now incorporates in her diet. She recently made a meal from a dead pheasant her daughter found in a hedge. “It was completely fresh, and post mortem suggested it may have been attacked by a hawk, escaped, and died,” she says. Skew braised it with vegetables, wine, and wild juniper berries collected from a limestone ridge above her house. “Personally, I would prefer if no one took up foraging,” says Skew. “It would leave more for us.” ✤

Forget pepperoni and extra cheese—a new generation of pizzerias tops their pies with social and environmental consciousness. Michael Gordon and Vaughn Lazar founded Pizza Fusion ( in Deerfield Beach, Florida, in 2006, envisioning a fast food–type restaurant that would change the industry. “The decisions we’ve made involve common restaurant choices—water usage, building standards, delivery vehicles,” explains Lazar. “We’ve just chosen the most eco-friendly options and hope others follow our lead.” Pizza Fusion—which has four locations in Florida and sixty-three franchises in the works in nine other states—boasts an impressive list of eco initiatives. The company requires franchisees to build according to LEED certification standards, aims to eliminate water heaters by recycling the heat from its ovens, and makes deliveries in company-owned hybrids, part of a growing nationwide trend. Overall, the pizza sector has been at the forefront of the green restaurant movement. In Minneapolis, Galactic Pizza ( runs on wind power and employs a fleet of electric delivery cars; Hot Lips (hotlipspizza .com) in Portland, Oregon, relies on bikes, two electric cars, and a hybrid to transport their pizzas; and last year, Dominos tested ZAP Xebra electric cars for deliveries in Las Vegas. Will a handful of green-minded restaurateurs and industry execs actually transform the delivery scene? Who knows, but watch for outfits like Pizza Fusion to make it all look as easy as, well, pie. —Jessica Tzerman

salt of the earth

Hand-mined each spring from the foothills of the Himalayas, this pink crystal salt from Himalania is 100 percent pure and unpolluted, thanks to prehistoric fossilization. It’s rich in 84 minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron, which accounts for its rosy hue. And with a handy, portioncontrolling grater included in the (recyclable) glass jar, even sodium watchers can enjoy the salt’s distinctive crunch and delicate flavor.

photos by ditte isager (previous page); Maria Hale (top); anthony verde (bottom)

Special Delivery

$12.50 for a 4 ounce jar, —JT

TM,Š 2006 Kashi Company



farm to fork

Dan Barber elevates seasonal ingredients like asparagus, peas, and farm-fresh eggs into a spectacular spring dish

A rose is a rose is … okay, but I can tell you an egg is certainly not an egg. We learned the hard way four years ago when Blue Hill at Stone Barns opened and we switched from conventional eggs to Stone Barns’ pastured eggs. Our pastry chef, Joel, who has worked with us since the beginning, came into my office, white faced and panicked. “I can’t get anything to work,” he said, clearly not celebrating our embrace of the farm. “The ice cream tastes like ... I don’t know, like a soufflé. It looks like a soufflé too, and the soufflé tastes like an omelet.” He showed me samples of

both, and sure enough, an egg explosion had taken over Joel’s usually stunning work. Our recipes hadn’t changed, but what our chickens were eating certainly had. For any chicken lucky enough to enjoy a natural, pasture-based diet (and 95 percent aren’t), the beta-carotene in the grass enhances the color, and the flavor, of their eggs’ yolks. The eggs from caged chickens pale by comparison­—literally. With a pastured bird, you get an egg squared— more egg for your egg. Pasturing also means fewer fossil fuels are used because the chickens double as sani-

tation ladies; as soon as the lambs (or other ruminants) leave one plot of grass, a crew of chickens moves in to feast on lingering grasses and bugs. Their plundering breaks up the manure left behind by previous tenants. If the manure stays in piles, the glut of nitrogen will burn the grass. But spread over the field by the chickens, manure acts as the perfect natural fertilizer, without tractors or spreaders. The next time the animals enter the paddock, the grass will be thicker, tastier, and more nutritious. Which means your egg gets squared and then some. Now get ready to change your recipes. ✤

Recipe >>

Pistou of Spring Vegetables and Almond Soft-Fried Egg

Dan Barber is the executive chef and co-owner of Blue Hill restaurant in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, located within Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, a pioneering farm and education facility in Pocantico Hills, New York (

52 | april-may 2008

Soft-fried eggs: 6 large eggs ¾ cup Panko-style breadcrumbs ½ cup finely ground almonds ½ cup freshly grated parmesan 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided 2 large eggs, beaten ¼ cup all-purpose flour vegetable/peanut oil for frying ❶ Bring a medium pot of water to a boil, gently add the 6 eggs and cook for 6 minutes. Immediately remove the eggs and immerse in ice water until cold, then carefully peel and set aside. ❷ In the first of 3 medium bowls, combine Panko, almonds, parmesan, half the salt, and half the pepper. In the second bowl, whip eggs until smooth. In the third bowl, combine flour and remaining salt and pepper. ❸ To coat the soft-cooked eggs, first roll in flour, shaking gently to remove excess. Dip the eggs in the beaten-egg mixture, then in the crumb mixture, rolling until completely coated. Repeat with a second coating of beaten-egg and crumb mixtures, pressing crumb mixture to secure coating. You can refrigerate the eggs at this stage for up to 4 hours. ❹ To cook the coated eggs, heat about 3 inches of oil to 350°F in a medium saucepan. Carefully add the eggs and cook, turning until golden brown and heated through, about 2 minutes.

Photos by Nicholas Basilion; Jen Munkvold

¾ cup sugar snap peas, blanched 7 asparagus spears, cut into ½-inch pieces and blanched 1 lb fava beans, cleaned and blanched* ½ bunch fresh basil leaves, cleaned and blanched ½ cup olive oil, plus more for sweating shallots 1 cup vegetable stock ½ shallot, finely diced salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 6 almond soft-fried eggs (recipe opposite) 2 Tbsp mixed herbs (tarragon, chervil, chives, and parsley), chopped *If fava beans are unavailable, substitute soy or lima beans. Serves six. ❶ Combine blanched vegetables. Place half in a blender with the blanched basil. Blend until chopped. Then add ½ cup olive oil in a slow, steady stream, and blend until smooth. ❷ In a large, heavy saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add shallot and sauté until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in vegetable stock, vegetable purée, remaining blanched vegetables, salt, and pepper, and bring to simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. ❸ Ladle pistou into bowls, top with soft-fried egg and sprinkle each with herb mixture. Serve immediately.

The Hautest State It may seem blasphemous to discuss California cuisine without mentioning a certain Berkeley restaurant, but this issue, Plenty focuses on a new generation of eco-minded culinary trendsetters. Here are eight can’t-miss spots for seasonal, sustainable, and locally grown food, up and down the Golden State. —Heather Wagner


Hawks Restaurant

Chefs Mike Fagnoni and Molly Hawks have brought Sacramento out of the Bay Area’s gastronomic shadow. They travel from farm to farm to source their locavore menu—but don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s down-toearth sensibility: Everything about Hawks is polished and cosmopolitan, from the elegant dining room to skillfully executed standouts like green bean beignets and white root vegetable risotto. 5530 Douglas Boulevard,


Ritual Tavern

While its candle-lit decor seems out of place in sun-drenched North Park, Ritual Tavern has been a neighborhood staple since it opened last May. Chef Mike Flores relies on organic and local ingredients to elevate traditional gastro-pub dishes (think shepherds pie with Niman Ranch lamb and garlic-soaked mussels from nearby Carlsbad Aquafarms). But the real draw is the locally brewed beer.



In 2005, Jil Hales transformed her family’s barn in Sonoma County into Barndiva, a friendly culinary mecca with a strictly seasonal approach. Much of the restaurant’s rustic-chic decor is selected from Hale’s Artists & Farmers shop, located in the renovated opera house next door, where she sells unique items from craftspeople around the world.

4095 30th Street

231 Center Street SAN FRANCISCO


Meg Ryan unveiled Miette at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market in 2001. Now her ethereal blend of European patisserie techniques and organic NorCal ingredients are available at SF’s bustling Ferry Building—come early for the fresh lemon tarts and Scharffen Berger gingerbread cupcakes. The new Miette Confiserie in Hayes Valley sells nostalgic sweets like saltwater taffy, Dutch licorice, and even organic cotton candy. Pâtisserie: Ferry Building Marketplace Confiserie: 449 Octavia Boulevard

Mixt Greens

Chef Andrew Swallow and partners Leslie and David Silverglide reinvent fast food at Mixt Greens, where organic salads replace nugget-based staples and diners rest on recycled-fiber benches. Carnivore-friendly offerings (try the Kobe-style meatloaf on a roll) round out the veggie-heavy menu, and to-go items are packed in compostable, corn-based containers. A new lunch location will open this summer at 560 Mission Street. 475 Sansome Street; 120 Sansome Street


People’s Grocery

Cofounded in 2002 by Brahm Ahmadi, the People’s Grocery runs a two-acre farm, urban gardens, and youth education programs in nutrient-deprived West Oakland. At monthly Grub Parties, guest chefs serve nutritious versions of community favorites (like sweet potato pie) to the beat of local DJs, with swag bags of fresh produce at the door. A retail location is in the works for 2009. 3236 Market Street


Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza

The culinary triple threat of Mario Batali, Nancy Silverton, and Joseph Bastianich opened Pizzeria Mozza in early 2007. Food lovers and fashion types flocked to Silverton’s Cal-Ital “haute pizza,” with its locally grown and hand-cured toppings like speck, rucola, and squash blossoms. Now there’s Osteria, the pizzeria’s younger, hipper sister—complete with a free-standing mozzarella bar—located right next door. Pizzeria Mozza: 641 N. Highland Avenue Osteria Mozza: 6602 Melrose Avenue; |





Amber Bravo

To the Light House Architect Walter Brooks’ self-described “little house of light” delivers big ideas for living simply and sustainably The warm, honey-hued gate to retired architect Walter Brooks’ Point Richmond, California, home glows in the early afternoon light. Citrus fruits hang heavy on the trees, and shimmering ponds punctuate the grounds. On this Edenic 50-by-150-foot landscape rests a house built of plastic and steel called Lumiere: an acrylic hunk of faceted amber built to resemble a Mayan temple and function with the efficiency of a ship. This somewhat anachronistic structure might seem the least likely place to look for modern, sustainable Lumiere’s upper-most lounge area.

54 | april-may 2008

Walter Brooks reclines under a self-designed, Mayan-inspired chandelier (above). Lumiere’s exterior as seen from San Francisco Bay (above left).

building cues; but there is much to be learned from Brooks’ approach. Lumiere shows how a family can actively participate in building a home that is genuinely sensitive to its surroundings. The diminutive 700-square-foot residence overlooks the San Francisco Bay and has plum views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the city skyline. Brooks acquired the lot in 1972 for about $18,000; he, his wife, Jean, and their four children built the house over the course of ten years, completing the entire project for close to $40,000. They assembled the exterior skin with hand-cut acrylic shingles and worked from top to bottom, using the structure’s steel frame as a ladder as they built their way down. “The secret is to take the same quality of the acrylic, which is

this shiny, reflective surface, and surround it with another shiny surface that reflects light,” explains Brooks. “It’s the water that adjusts the house to the landscape.” Indeed, the skin of the home mimics the play of light off of the surrounding water—and it is also one of the house’s most eco-friendly features. The resilient acrylic is long lasting and its translucence helps feed a passive solar heating system. Lumiere’s landscape also encourages a more conscientious lifestyle: Year-round the Brookses eat food from their garden, which essentially encompasses the entire yard. And because the family opts for a small living space, they require less energy and the land feels less impact. “This [house] proposes new ways of looking at the planning of residential

Photos by Rachel Leibman (lower right); Brooke Duthie (right); opposite: Erik Olson; chris stewart/courtesy: corbis

spaces,” Brooks says. “Its essential premise is the use of minimums.” Lumiere’s floor plan is based on a ship’s, with all the plumbing concentrated in a central core. The galley kitchen has only two burners, an oven, a microwave, and an under-the-counter refrigerator. Lumiere’s few furnishings include four chairs and a built-in conversation pit (which acts as both the dining and living area). There are

no beds in the house; instead, sunken floor spaces for daytime lounging are turned into beds at night with a blanket and pillow. The one doorknob in the entire house is for the bathroom. “If our houses were truly reflective of their occupants’ lifestyles, there would be far more variety in the composition of our present architecture,” Brooks says. Lumiere captures the experimental spirit that he feels is essential to worthwhile work. He completed nearly 40 projects in his 50-year career, focusing primarily on energyefficient, biomorphic homes. Most of these are also aggressively small, with a minimum of furniture and passive heating and cooling systems. “Once a year, I go out with long brushes and scrub the house down with soap and water,” Brooks says. “And it just glistens like a jewel.” Decades after those first Reflecting pools tie in the structure’s unusual exterior with the surrounding landscape and bay.

ins and outs

Lumiere’s galley-style kitchen.

acrylic panels went up, “the house looks brand new.” So, too, do the ideas that went into it: Architecture that considers landscape, orientation, and efficiency may seem simplistic, but its impact is manifold—particularly, Brooks would add, for the people that live in it. ✤

Investment pieces to enliven a room or patio

Recycled Chairs Chairtastic Jen Garrido and Josh Duthie of Chairtastic, a Bay Area design team, reclaim abandoned chairs and transform them into DIY pieces that stand on their own. They source from flea markets, thrift stores, and Craigslist but rescue most of their inventory from sidewalks on big-trash day. Midcentury finds are stripped and treated to a slick paint job at an auto body shop. And the chairs’ unexpected union of traditional forms and glossy racing paint—in bold kelly green and eye-popping Porsche yellow—creates futuristic contours that defy design clichés. starting at $250, Graphic Armoire Iannone Design Break free of Ikea’s steely grip with Iannone Design’s visually stunning, handcrafted collection. Pieces are constructed from kirei board (made with recycled sorghum stalks and a non-formaldehyde binder), cork, and Forest Stewardship Council–certified birch plywood. The Graphic Armoire flaunts a bold pattern made of glossy white laminate, attached with a double-sided tape commonly used on snowboards that is less toxic than contact glue. The result is a provocative mix of sharp, modern graphics and fluid forms. $3,995, Flame Coffee Table King’s Road Home King’s Road Home is a rustic respite in New York’s design-addled Soho district, specializing in found and custom furniture, art, and accessories. This summer they will unveil an interactive in-store space where crafty clients can participate in the design process. We dig the Flame Coffee Table, made from reclaimed suar wood. Suitable for indoor or outdoor use, its warmth and somber beauty will elevate any organic cocktail hour. starting at $3,000, —Heather Wagner | 55




Ki Nassauer & Sue Whitney

> trash to treasure

Artful Nesting Tables

It’s surprisingly easy—and so eco— to breathe new life into discarded, broken, or just plain tired objects. For our new DIY column, we asked the authors of Junk Beautiful to show us how. Here’s your first project. MATERIALS

Adapted from Junk Beautiful: Room by Room Makeovers with Junkmarket Style (Taunton Press), due out in April.

Tape measure Wood handsaw Drill


Saw 4 of the table legs to your desired height, then cut the remaining 4 approximately 3 inches shorter.

Measure frames to determine the dowel dimensions, leaving 1 inch on both ends of the shortest sides to allow for overhang.

56 | april-may 2008

To attach legs, cut 8 pieces of the dowel to size based on measurements made in the previous step.

Measure 1 inch from the top of the table legs and drill holes to accomodate longer dowels. Rotate legs 90 degrees and drill a second hole 1 inch below.

Insert dowels into holes and secure with Tite Chairs, making sure longer dowels are in the top holes.

Finish raw ends of legs with matching stain. Insert artwork into frames and set atop dowels.

Illustrations by


Jameson Simpson; photo by Douglas E. Smith

8 old table legs 2 worn art frames (same shape; different sizes) Artwork (we used botanical prints) Wooden dowel rods Stain Tite Chairs liquid wood expander

EARTHWORKS EXPO 2008 FEATURING: ~ Over 150 exhibitors in renewable energy, green building, green transportation, and Earth-friendly products & services ~ Dozens of informative, hands-on workshops ~ Special activities for children ~ Live music and entertainment ~ Valuable prizes and giveaways ~ Low ticket prices

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Peter Barnes, co-founder

of Working Assets & author of Climate Solutions: A Citizenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Guide

Michele Weingarden,

Director of Greenprint Denver, former environmental advisor to Senator Barbara Boxer


Public Relations Inc.

Boulder Green Building Guild, Boulder Weekly, Denver Newspaper Agency, Greenprint Denver, High Country News, McStain Neighborhoods, Rocky Mountain Chronicle, Sanyork Fair Trade, Waste-Not Recycling, Westword

the green fiend

About 55 miles outside New York City, is the Bobolink Dairy (, where two of my favorite farmers in the world, Jonathan and Nina White, make cheese from pasture-raised cows. Get this revolutionary idea: Rather than being forced to eat grain and get pumped full of antibiotics like most commercial cattle, cows at Bobolink actually spend time frolicking in the fields and grazing on about 150 pounds of grass per day. While the average age for dairy cows is three, at Bobolink it’s seven. “It’s a win-win-win because it’s a low-stress existence for the animals. It’s better for people because low-stress cows taste better—and it’s better for the environment,” Jonathan says, referring to the fact that Bobolink’s farming methods also create topsoil through grazing. To top it off, the Whites’ cheese is freaking amazing. So I spent a day on the farm working side by side with Jonathan and his cows to learn how to make grass-fed cheese, from the pasture to my plate. 58 | april-may 2008

Annemarie Conte makes grass-fed cheese—and a royal mess—in her kitchen

Though Bobolink’s production is on a slightly larger scale than my exploits (sometimes 80 gallons per day larger), the basic cheesemaking procedure is the same whether you’re making a stretchy mozzarella in your kitchen or a bright, crumbly Jean-Louis in your 208-gallon vat. After getting supplies from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (cheesemaking .com), I decide to start things out with the more manageable fresh mozzerella. 1 On the farm, you’d bring the cows in from the field and make sure Seamus the bull is comfortable and happy. Then set up milking machines and coax Brunhilde, Rainbow, and Petunia to give it their all. At home, though, I just open a fresh carton of local milk that’s not ultrapasteurized—I’ve heard the high heat of the ultrapasteurization destroys some of milk’s good properties and turns cheeses into gloppy messes. 2 In a stainless steel container, I heat milk and add citric acid or whey to initialize fermentation. 3 Next I add liquid rennet, which triggers curdling and starts the separation of curds

from whey. Actually, whey is normally considered a waste product, but Jonathan (like Miss Muffet) drinks a cup a day and feeds the rest to his pigs. 4 When the curd has separated, I cut it into chunks and drain out the whey. I salt and knead the ball of curd like bread dough. But I’m not quite Food Network–ready yet; this is about the time I realize that there are wayward curds everywhere—on my hands, in my hair, on the ceiling. 5 Jonathan’s cheeses take 60 days to age, but I can’t wait that long. I dive into the ball of warm, supple goodness, unable to restrain myself for the fifteen minutes it takes to make homemade pizza. Mmm … creamy smooth, silky—just what the string cheese of my youth was supposed to taste like. ✤

Annemarie Conte will try anything to green the scene, so send her your wackiest DIY ideas to Her writing has appeared in Jane, Men’s Journal, and O, The Oprah Magazine.

rachel leibman

The Green Fiend

Annemarie Conte

photographs by



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Italy, the Romagnoli Way A Culinary Journey

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G. Franco Romagnoli, the godfather of Italian cooking in America, and his wife Gwen chronicle their years of travel from north to south, taking you on a chapter-by-chapter journey through particular regions—their history, culture, people, and, above all, their distinctive cuisine, from the cannelloni and venison of Tuscany to the couscous and capers of Pantelleria. Throughout, the Romagnolis include recipes of their tastiest discoveries, allowing you to conjure up the true flavors of Italy without leaving home. Delectably illustrated with full-color photographs, this book will give you both inside knowledge of, and a craving for, Italy’s most savory secrets. As bedside reading, a travel companion, or a kitchen essential, Italy, The Romagnoli Way brings the heart of the Old World to life—and to the table—for lovers of fine cuisine, cooking, and all things Italian. AVAILABLE WHEREVER BOOKS ARE SOLD


current living

Design of the Times Top eco clothiers share what they like about the latest crop of earth-friendly fabrics

The mention of eco fabrics once called to mind shapeless, unflattering garments. But growing numbers of contemporary designers are working with greener textiles, changing the very look and feel of fashion. From organic versions of old favorites to new, high-tech materials, here are eight fabrics that can change the impact our wardâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Zoe Cormier robes have on the planet.

Ingeo Tiziana Boat Neck jacket, $198, and skirt, $118, NaturevsFuture

60 | april-may 2008

Recycled polyester Trajectory 3/4 pant, $74, and Chrysalis dress, $198, Nau

hemp The granddaddy of green fabrics, hemp is durable, grows quickly with little or no chemicals, and is more bountiful per acre than cotton. It was cultivated for millennia before becoming synonymous with hippie style, and fortunately today it’s being used to create more stylish threads. designer’s take

“It’s great to sew with and is the most sustainable crop in the world, and yet growing it has been outlawed in the US for years. How can people be so stupid?” —Jennifer Ambrose

founder of Enamore,

to prevent fiber breakage. Newer varieties (called peace silk) collect silk from the wild or allow the moths to escape. Plus, plant-based dyes and handlooms keep the footprint small. designer’s take

“Eco-friendly silks are better for Indian weaver communities, where harsh chemical dyes are flushed into rivers. And handloomed silk employs people without requiring any electricity.” —Smita Paul, founder of Indigo Handloom,


Soft, versatile cotton is the world’s most popular fiber, but conventional varieties account for 10 percent of the world’s pesticide use and 25 percent of insecticides. Organic cotton helps meet global demand while preserving earthly resources.

To create this high-tech fabric, wood chips—certified by the Forest Stewardship Council—are broken down, spun into fiber, and woven into yarn. About 99 percent of the nontoxic solvents used to manufacture Tencel are continually recycled, factory emissions are comparatively low, and the fabric is even compostable.

designer’s take

designer’s take

“In some countries, farmers walk around with chemical sprayers on their backs. So one of my favorite things about working with organic cotton is the difference we make in their lives.” —Marci Zaroff, founder of Under the Canopy,

“Tencel has the luster of silk with the comfort and softness of cotton. Plus, it evaporates water away from your body, so it’s great for activewear.” —Scott Leonard, CEO of Indigenous Designs,

organic cotton

wild and peace silk Conventional silk worms are bred so they cannot survive in the wild. What’s more, they’re boiled alive in their cocoons

recycled polyester

mechanically to extract the fibers and spin them into yarn, the same way linen is manufactured. designer’s take

“It feels silky and has a natural sheen. And it has thermal-regulating properties, so it can work as a performance fabric or just one that’s comfortable to wear.” —Morris Saintsing

cofounder of Bamboosa

soy Though not as inexpensive or readily available as other textiles, soy is soft, durable, and stretchy—it’s frequently described as “vegetable cashmere.” Soy thread is typically made with by-products of tofu and soymilk manufacturing, so it cuts down on waste. Proteins from the liquid leftovers are chemically processed into the fibers used for this plush fabric. designer’s take

Yes, it’s made from fossil fuels, but transforming trash and industrial waste into fiber is a savvy way to combat both overcrowded landfills and pollution. And because synthetic fabrics are light and waterproof, they’re unrivaled for athletic gear and raincoats. Plus, these next-generation polyesters can be recycled into new clothes again and again.

“Soy has a density to it that I like to use for casual-but-elegant pants. And certain weaves create a very wooly feeling.”

designer’s take

This relative newcomer is made from corn. Cellulose fibers are extracted from the plant and spun into fabric. Some are concerned about using corn for fashion rather than food, but the manufacturing process has a low environmental impact, and Ingeo garments are compostable and recyclable. Ingeo mimics the feel of nylon and polyester, but without the fossil fuels.

“Recycled polyesters used to be rough and primitive, but now we can make lightweight, drapable, beautiful textiles.” —Jamie Bainbridge,

materials research director of Nau,


organic cotton Carrie blouse, $110, Under the Canopy

hemp French Peek a Boo undies, $70, Enamore

This miracle plant grows quickly without chemicals or irrigation, and it stabilizes soil erosion. Its rapid growth sops up carbon dioxide faster than most other textile plants, and it doesn’t need to be replanted. In its greenest form, bamboo is crushed

—Linda Loudermilk,

designer of Linda Loudermilk,


designer’s take

“It holds lines well, and you can make the textures krinkly and crunchy, almost like silk taffeta.”

—Nina Valenti, founder of NaturevsFuture, | 61

capsule reviews


Green Media

New music, film, and reading for the envirophile

The Green Owl Comp: A Benefit for Energy Action Green Owl Records, CD/DVD, $10.98

This two-disc CD/DVD set from new eco indie label Green Owl Records includes previously unheard tracks from Feist, Bloc Party, and Pete Yorn. With 24 songs, six music videos, and an interview with Rolling Stone 2005 “Climate Hero” Billy Parish, the collection will have skinny jeans–clad treehuggers rocking out nationwide. Plus, 100 percent of the profits go to support the Energy Action Coalition.

American Earth: Environmental Writing Since Thoreau Edited by Bill McKibben The Library of America, $40

If you think literary environmental writing died with Thoreau at Walden Pond, Bill McKibben is ready, willing, and able to prove you wrong. In this inspiring (and seriously hefty) anthology, he pulls together seminal writings from dozens of greats like Walt Whitman, Terry Tempest Williams, and John McPhee, with a foreword from Al Gore. Also expect a bit of formal policy (an excerpt from the Wilderness Act, for example), as well as historical pop culture surprises like lyrics to Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology).” A Norton Anthology for any serious student of the subject.

28 | april-may 62 february-march 2008 2008

More: Population, Nature, and What Women Want By Robert Engelman Island Press, $24.95

Drawing on his vast experience in population study, policy research, and science and environment reporting, Worldwatch Institute’s Robert Engelman connects the dots between women’s rights, family planning, AIDS, infertility, overpopulation, and sustainability. The question of population and sustainability is controversial (and hardly new), but More offers an astute and compassionate look at the complex topic through the fresh lens of women’s rights and their role in population control.

The Stone Gods By Jeanette Winterson Harcourt, $24

Earth: The Sequel—The Race to Reinvent Energy and Stop Global Warming By Fred Krupp and Miriam Horn WW Norton, $24.95

Photo courtesy of feist website (opposite)

As president of the Environmental Defense Fund, Fred Krupp is uniquely positioned to deliver a manifesto on the state of our little blue world. Earth is his call for action, focused primarily on the inventors who will “stabilize our climate, generate enormous economic growth, and save the planet.” A tall order, but Krupp insists said innovators are up to the job—so long as both politicians and entrepreneurs work to help them compete in the global marketplace. In the sea of global warming books, this one stands out for its hopeful and authoritative focus on new technologies.

Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea Directed by Chris Metzler and Jeff Springer Docurama, DVD, $26.95

This cinematic curiosity covers a series of environmental failures set on the Salton Sea—once a lively and hugely popular tourist destination outside San Diego, now an eerily empty disaster zone. Exploring the history of the sea’s degradation, filmmakers Metzler and Springer run into Hungarian revolutionaries, Christian nudists, pop stars, land sharks, hard drinkers, failed resort towns, dead fish (lots), and a man who built a mountain. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, you’ll scratch your head. And who better to narrate than John Waters?

What happens when your planet becomes unlivable? In this witty novel by Winterson—who in 2006 was awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) medal for her contributions to literature—protagonist Billie Crusoe and a few other brave souls decide not to wait to find out. They begin an epic mission to lead the human race toward a more sustainable future, exploring an unspoiled but dangerously unknown blue planet. Call it science fiction if you like, but as one character in the book says, “This is the future, honey.”

The Hot Topic: What We Can Do About Global Warming By Gabrielle Walker and Sir David King Harvest, $13

The Hot Topic breaks down global warming in straightforward language and readable charts, with colloquial chapter titles like “Whodunnit?” and “What Should We Aim For?” UK chief science advisor Sir David King and science writer Gabrielle Walker don’t pull any punches— we almost certainly won’t achieve the EU’s goal of restricting warming to a rise of 3.5°F above preindustrial temperatures, they say—but they’re happy to report that acting now can still prevent the worstcase scenario.

Healthy Child Healthy World: Creating a Cleaner, Greener, Safer Home By Christopher Gavigan Foreword by Meryl Streep Penguin, $25.95

One surefire way to motivate adults to make green living choices is to explain that their children’s health depends on it. Healthy Child shows parents the most natural, sustainable, and creative ways to raise a child—explaining how to make super-safe finger paint at home, choose the safest types of fish for dinner, garden with the kids, and more. Teaming top scientists and medical experts with contributing celebs (Gwyneth Paltrow, Tobey Maguire, and Tom Hanks, to name a few), Healthy Child is an easy, requisite read for parents and parents-to-be. | 63

Stay Green on Your Next Hotel Stay Check out via the electronic program available on the TV in many hotels and reduce the reams of paperwork that the check-out process typically produces.

Ask for only what you need when using room service. The jams, jellies, and condiments that automatically come with your order will be tossed out even if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t open them.

write a note to management upon check-out, either complimenting them on their green program or asking them why they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have one in place. Your feedback is important.

For more travel tips and behind-the-scene secrets of fivestar luxury hotel life, check out

Great Reservations.

G reat R


Jessica Tzerman

plentygreen gear



Eternal Spring These days, it’s not uncommon to experience spring-like weather all year long. A couple of December-blooming cherry blossoms here, a few balmy February mornings there, and soon the seasons start to run together. But take solace in knowing that right now, it really is spring. That means more hours of daylight, more time for gardening, and more opportunities to hit the park for a picnic with friends. Here are our picks for making the most out of the season—rain or shine.

Rain Check

Made of bamboo and bioplastic (the technology is top secret, but see page 36 for more), the Brelli is the first-ever 100%-biodegradable umbrella. It’s lightweight yet surprisingly durable and will decompose in any landfill in 18 to 24 months—but only after providing years of protection from April showers. 37 inch, $28; 52 inch, $38;

Sow Easy

Empty Nest

Residents of Brown’s Foster Home, a facility in Maine for young men with behavioral disabilities, use everything from barn siding to door knobs to make their Recycled Reflections birdhouses. $65 for model shown,

Blade Runner


We love these adorable treegrowing kits in tulip (shown), apple, and ginkgo varieties. Inside the little burlap pouch are seeds, organic potting soil, a seedling pot and saucer, and a handy reference guide to successful sprouting. $22.50,

Even if you’re not wild about cutting the grass, consider the benefits of Black & Decker’s new mulching mower, the first to carry the Energy Star mark. Yes, you have to push it, but the 24-volt rechargeable battery means no cords, no electricity, no gas or oil, no maintenance, and most important, no emissions. $400,

photograph by anthony


Get your hands dirty with the Flower Gardener’s Gift Tote from California Organic Flowers. This fair trade, jute carry-all contains a bunch of fragrant organic lavender (just for fun), three packets of organic seeds, and some of the farm’s favorite gardening tools. $60, californiaorganicflowers. com |



livingGEAR green

Swing Dance

There’s no better way to pass an afternoon than relaxing in a hammock. The fair trade store Ten Thousand Villages offers comfy one-seaters in striped cotton (pictured) and as of March, traditional white rope. Note to loungers: In the event of rain, their easy-to-hang hammock chairs work just as well indoors. Striped hammock, $120, Rope hammock, $78,

Dream Weaver

Fairly traded and made in Mexico, these festive coasters are woven out of repurposed candy wrappers and soda labels that would otherwise end up in landfills. No need to worry about stains either—the coasters wipe clean with a damp cloth. $18 for a set of four,


Bambu’s vast collection of organic bamboo utensils, including handy sporks and brightly colored salad servers (pictured), makes dining alfresco even more fun. The utensils are produced under strict environmental, safety, and fair-labor guidelines. Curvy servers, $12 per pair,

Pedal Power

Sure, there are plenty of human-electric bikes on the market, but this quirky-looking number is worth a second glance, especially if you live in a hilly area. The Pi charges in three hours from any household outlet, and each charge provides 30 miles at 20 mph. It’s not cheap, but it’s a happy medium for the eco-minded commuter who needs more than a standard two-wheeler. $7,500, for retailers

Boxed Lunch

We’re crazy for these Indian-inspired tiered food carriers made from stainless steel. Not only are they 100% recyclable, they’re also super easy to clean, virtually unbreakable, and make a great alternative to disposable plastic or paper containers. Perfect for a picnic or lunch on the go. $80 for a set of three,

66 | april-may 2008


What do you get when you mix old-timey wooden finishes with superior technology and minimalist construction? Subversively retro music makers that hit all the right notes. These three standouts look as natural on the porch as they do on the shelf.

Kids’ Corner

The idea behind Foldschool projects is plain and simple creativity. Just download one of three patterns to transform ordinary sheets of used cardboard into furniture. Fun, entertaining, and best of all, completely free.

Made from sustainable, plantation-grown wood (without toxic chemicals or heavy metals), the Vers Audio System amplifies digital music (energy-efficiently, of course) and works with all iPlayers, including the Nano and Phone. $179,

What’s in a Game

In a world of earbuds, these arty, little bamboo hangers by Amadana stand out. The angle is adjustable, the fit is comfortable, and the superior engineering and eco-minded construction are, not surprisingly, Japanese. $160,

Designer Singgih Kartono relies on sustainable-wood casing and skilled Indonesian carpenters to create this MP3compatible personal AM/FM radio cube, called the Magno. $275,

Two players compete in the roles of Giver and Taker in the earth-like world of Paradice. While the Taker attempts to remove trees from the board, the Giver tries to gain power to restore the forests and win the game. In other words, conserving resources is crucial to saving the planet—Paradice, that is. $69,

Editor's Pick

This versatile cuff fits around a disposable coffee cup (yes, we, too, forget to bring our own mugs sometimes) and doubles as a bracelet in between fill-ups. Even if it weren’t made from reclaimed veneer, it would still be the definition of recycling. $68, |


disappearing By Heather Hansen and Kimberly Lisagor


Oftentimes, the journey is the ultimate goal. But with these seven regions in transition, the story is in the hot spots themselves


ravel is about more than just a remarkable destination. It requires understanding that you’re seeing a place at a particular moment in time and that it won’t always look the same. And now more than ever, travel is about feeding your wanderlust with heightened awareness and a real sense of urgency. Today’s world is full of stunning but transitioning places. We chose to highlight these threatened locations because they are unique or emblematic of others facing similar ecological struggles. Climate change is dissolving what’s left of Glacier National Park’s icy masses, altering the flow of rivers on remote Banks Island and disrupting a teeming Canadian wildlife corridor. Logging is not only clearing wild swaths of Scandinavia but is also an intensifying issue in the Amazon rainforest and in Africa’s Congo region. Dams are spoiling the pristine Chilean countryside and drowning villages and natural wonders in China. Whether you see these disappearing destinations firsthand or admire them from home, their future depends on our willingness to protect them. Visiting might compel you to act, but traveling mindfully is crucial, too. However you go about it, act now. The world isn’t waiting.

Nearly 20 miles of the Dead Sea have been lost in recent years.

Dead Sea, Israel, Jordan, and Palestine Why now The water level in the world’s saltiest sea is dropping a few feet each year, mostly because of water diversions from its main source, the Jordan River, and mineral extractions from its southern basin. Throughout most of modern history, the sea held steady at about 50 miles long. Now it barely covers april-may 2008 2008 68 || april-may

30 miles, and experts say it could lose another third—or more—before the water hits its maximum salt saturation, and evaporation stops. How to go The Dor Kayak Club ( guides paddlers on very buoyant Dead Sea

excursions. Bring goggles to protect your eyes from the salty spray. When to go It’s hot enough to enjoy a saltwater swim year-round, but try to avoid Jewish holidays, when many businesses are closed and hotels are overbooked.

ARMCHAIR ADVOCACY Friends of the Earth Middle East ( has launched an awareness campaign and is circulating a petition to register the Dead Sea as an UNESCO World Heritage site. This crucial designation would bring international funding and support to a body of water that millions rely upon.

History tour The Dead Sea appears in Muslim, Christian, and Jewish texts and has turned up more than a few relics from the past—this is where Bedouin goat herders stumbled upon the Dead Sea Scrolls in a seaside cave in 1947. It’s also a stone’s throw from Jericho, which is possibly the world’s oldest continuously inhabited

settlement. Also in the Dead Sea region lies Masada, the ancient fortress where Jewish refugees chose mass suicide over Roman capture nearly 2,000 years ago. It sits on a plateau at the edge of the Judean Desert overlooking the evaporating sea. And some believe the sea’s confluence with the Jordan River is the site of Jesus’ baptism. | 69

Why now Large swaths of the spectacular but sensitive reef are “bleaching” white in response to an increase in water temperature; coral often rebounds from this condition, but sustained high temperatures are now making recovery impossible. Ocean acidification is a lesser-known but equally threatening phenomenon. Caused by an excess of carbon dioxide absorbed from the atmosphere, acidification stunts the growth of coral and weakens its skeleton. (For more on acidification, see page 31). How to go Heron and Wilson islands, two coral cays that lie at the heart of the reef, are a great way to bypass the day-tripping masses. The islands, which straddle the Tropic of Capricorn, have only one resort each, both of which are certified by Ecotourism Australia (; Heron Island is also home to the University of Queensland’s Centre for Marine Studies (, which researches both coral bleaching and acidification. When to go The reef always has something spectacular to offer. Humpback whales migrate past Heron Island from June through September, followed by nesting flocks of migratory birds and turtles laying their eggs. ARMCHAIR ADVOCACY The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority ( .au) has many creative suggestions for how to “do your bit to look after it,” no matter where in the world you live. Must see The celebrated coral spawning, generally in November, has been likened

to an underwater blizzard. 70 | april-may 2008

The Great Barrier Reef, a year-round destination now threatened by rising water temperatures.

Photos by ove hoegh - guldberg centre for marine studies, the university of queensland (Top); tyrone ridgway (left); ben price (opposite)

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Aysén, Patagonia, Chile Why now Spanish power company Endesa plans to build two dams along the Río Baker and two on the Río Pascua in southern Aysén, one of the last truly pristine places on the planet. The 2,430megawatt project will provide some short-term construction jobs and a temporary boost to the local economy. It will also flood up to 36 square miles of land, permanently alter the ecology, and turn the upper Baker stagnant. How to go Raft the Baker from source to sea with Patagonia Adventure Expeditions ( It’s an eight-day, 125-mile journey from the Northern Ice Field to the Pacific in water that’s clean enough to drink. wHEN to go December is the peak of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, when you’re least likely to encounter icy gusts and storms.

Local eco group CODEFF aims to preserve Aysén, one of the last truly pristine places on the planet.

Armchair advocacy Local eco group CODEFF (National Committee for the Defense of Flora and Fauna []) is behind a campaign to designate Aysén a reserva de vida (life reserve). While the title carries no legal protections, it could have an economic impact. By creating a regional identity centered around preserving resources instead of exploiting them, environmentalists hope to give businesses and community leaders a financial incentive to choose sustainable development. Expat activists Doug Tompkins, the American founder of the North Face and Esprit brands, refuses to allow Endesa surveyors on the reserve he owns near the town of Cochrane. He and his wife, former Patagonia CEO Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, have purchased more than 1,100 square miles of Chilean land for conservation, part of which makes up Parque Pumalín ( | 71

Sagarmatha (Everest) National Park, Nepal Why now The park, which encompasses 443 square miles from the top of Mount Everest to the valleys to its south, has become increasingly pocked with glacial lakes that pose a flooding threat to the villages below. As glaciers melt, they shed the layers of rocks and sediment that were trapped inside the ice, and the debris forms natural dams. Meltwater collects behind the unstable moraines until the pressure collapses the walls, unleashing powerful floods of water, boulders, and mud. Scientists have predicted that 20 of Nepal’s glacial lakes are filling so quickly they could breach their walls by 2009. If an earthquake strikes the Himalayas, dozens could burst at once.

How to go KarmaQuest (karmaquests .com) treks include a visit to the national park visitor center for a primer on responsible trekking from the Sagarmatha Pollution Control Committee, the region’s conservation group. when to go Spring and fall are good times to visit. Travel with KarmaQuest in October and you’ll get to see the colorful Mani-Rimdu festival at Tyangboche.

which was founded in 2003 to address the economic, social, political, and environmental impacts of global warming in the eastern Himalayan region. LANDMARK IN RETREAT Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay launched their Everest summit from the edge of the Khumbu glacier. To reach the glacier today, you’ll have to walk two hours from their 1953 base camp.

ARMCHAIR ADVOCACY Donating to the World Wildlife Fund ( supports the Climate Change Program,

As glaciers in the Himalayas melt, they shed layers of rocks and sediment previously trapped inside the ice.

72 | april-may 2008

Photo courtesy Chateau montelena Winery; Photo by Wenzel prokosch (opposite)

Napa’s famed wine and natural beauty could be altered by even a couple of degrees of change to average temperatures.

Napa Valley, California Why now Climatologists predict that rising temperatures could alter the growing conditions that have long been key to Napa’s famed wine. Grapes are fickle fruits: They require hot days and cool nights throughout the growing season. Napa’s 63°F average is already on the warm end, where varietals like Syrah and Merlot thrive. Any hotter and you’re in raisin country. If the current climate trajectory continues, Northern California will warm 2–3°F in the next 50 years. That’s more than enough to affect grape quality. How to go Stay at the eco-friendly Solage Calistoga ( resort and spa, where room service is

delivered by bike, the produce is local and organic, and natural hot springs provide radiant heating for the spa treatment rooms. Explore the vineyards on two wheels instead of four with Napa Valley Bike Tours ( napavalleybiketours.htm).

“If we can make people in the wine industry understand that you can make a better wine being environmentally sound,” says vintner Robert Sinskey, “then perhaps we can get some of these educated people to respect the planet a little more in their daily practices.”

When to go Visit in the spring or fall, when the vineyards are bursting with color, the weather is mild, and tasting rooms are the least crowded.

NAPA LORE The 1973 Chardonnay

ARMCHAIR ADVOCACY Support venues like Robert Sinskey Vineyards (, an organic winery that gets most of its electricity from solar panels and runs its vehicles on biodiesel.

by Napa’s Chateau Montelena Winery ( won a 1976 blind tasting competition in Paris that ended the era of France’s uncontested winemaking dominance. The winery is housed in a hillside stone castle at the foot of Mount St Helena. Someday the building might be a relic of the “old” wine country. | 73

Inside Passage, British Columbia

Why now With more than a million waste-producing tourists riding cruise ships to Alaska each year, British Columbia’s stunning coast is poised to become “the toilet of the Pacific Northwest,” says Dr Ross Klein, a sociologist at Newfoundland’s Memorial University. How serious is the problem? “There is no monitoring of ships in BC’s Inside Passage,” Klein says, “so we really don’t know the depth of the environmental threat.” How to go Explore the hidden coves and inland fjords that bigger ships can’t access with small-ship, low-impact outfitters like AdventureSmith Explorations ( and the M/V Catalyst ( WHEN TO GO The small-ship cruising season runs May through September, but be prepared for the possibility of cool, wet weather year-round. Armchair advocacy

Bluewater Network ( is working to get the international cruise, shipping, and ferry industries to clean up their practices. (Canada’s lax disposal laws are also partly to blame for dumping.) Bluewater scored a recent victory when Intertanko, a major oil tanking association, supported their call for all oceangoing vessels to switch to lower-sulfur fuels. Wildlife watch Disembarking for spontaneous kayak trips and land adventures is a another major perk of small-ship travel. Passengers on the M/V Catalyst have spotted wolves and even the rare spirit bear during hikes through the cedar and spruce forest that lines the BC coast.

Cruise ship traffic threatens British Columbia’s lush coastline.

The loss of trees in the Laplands harms both aesthetics and local reindeer.

Boreal Forests, Finland Why now Despite the protests of local reindeer herders, the Finnish government continues to mine the old-growth woods of Lapland, one of Europe’s last remaining wilderness areas. The loss of trees here harms not only aesthetics but also local reindeer. The animals normally subsist on tree lichen when the ground is frozen, but with fewer forests to graze in, they’re going hungry. How to go On a Lapland Adventures ( safari you’ll hike, camp, kayak, and even snorkel through

some of northern Finland’s stunning waters and wildlands with guides well versed in the region’s natural and cultural histories. When to go Summers above the Arctic Circle are drenched in endless sunlight. Conversely, winters are sunless but lit by starjammed skies and bright curtains of Northern Lights. In spring, a myriad of flowers surface on the Arctic fells and reindeer calves emerge. Armchair advocacy Sami reindeer

herders give some background on their

culture and work, talk about logging on grazing lands, and provide updates on their plight on the Reindeer Herders Association website ( DETOUR Lake Inari’s pine-lined shores vary from rocky cliffs to beaches and quiet coves. The island-studded lake has many lanky, protected straits, called nuari, perfect for exploring by kayak. Adapted from the authors’ forthcoming book, Disappearing Destinations: 37 Places in Peril and What Can Be Done to Help Save Them (Vintage Books), due out in April. | 75

>>Go, Clean Racer, Go<<

Yes, the auto industry is ripe for revolutionâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;but what will the car of the future look like? Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s under the hood? Who will make it? And when will that clean machine (silently) roar? One expert surveys the scene. 76 | april-may 2008

Tesla’s electric Roadster can zoom from zero to 60 mph in less than four seconds.


by Vijay V Vaitheeswaran

50 years, we’ll look back on the internal combustion engine and see it as a giant anachronism, like the steam locomotive.”>>> | 77

So declares Elon Musk, a software entrepreneur turned energy pioneer who sold PayPal to eBay for $1.5 billion. He has since put a big chunk of the proceeds into Tesla Motors, the first new American car company in years. The iron nexus of the internal combustion engine and gasoline has ruled in Detroit for a century, and upstarts like Tesla haven’t fared well. “The last successful car start-up in America was 100 years ago,” Musk observes. Even so, he thinks the time has come for change. Detroit is about to be upended by a technological discontinuity even more disruptive than the arrival three decades ago of the personal computer: the rise of electric drive. Today, electronics make up nearly a quarter of a car’s cost, and by 2010, experts think it could reach 50 percent. Electrification started with simple things like CD players and seat warmers, progressing to individual systems like electronic disc brakes and onboard diagnostics. Today, however, a cutting-edge car like the BMW 7 series contains more than two dozen interlinked computer systems and dozens of intelligent chips and circuits. Thanks to dramatic advances in batteries and power electronics, mass-market cars may get the jump to go fully electric. The arrival of the Tesla vividly captures the twin pathways of alternative fuels and alternative technologies that together are shaking up the world of cars. Simply put, both the juice and the jalopy are being radically transformed. This marks a significant departure from the past, when engineers sought a silver bullet in one alternative fuel or another. But the truth is that gasoline-burning car engines are much too good at what they do to be replaced by any one fuel or engine technology yet. That’s why both must change—and why the future belongs to an exciting portfolio of alternatives. On the one hand, alternative fuels are challenging gasoline’s grip. Electricity, ethanol, hydrogen, and even efficiency can all be seen as rival “fuels” displacing gasoline. But alternative fuels by themselves will not be enough to break the world’s addiction to oil, given its power of incumbency. Consider the Toyota Prius. The car’s innovative hybrid-electric drive greatly increases fuel economy, thus tapping the alternative fuel of efficiency. However, even if Priuses replaced every one of America’s cars overnight— a seemingly green utopia—we would still suffer from local and global pollution and remain hooked on oil. After all, gas keeps the Prius going when its battery runs low. Kicking the petroleum habit requires electrifying the jalopy, too. The basics of auto manufacturing are changing from a greaseand-grime approach to one that treats the whole car as the ultimate electronic device. Electrification matters because it has the potential to suddenly level the towering barriers to entering the auto industry that have helped prop up Detroit’s dinosaurs. Yet electric cars aren’t guaranteed to replace their gas counterparts. Electric cars undeniably reduce oil consumption; and studies show they are greener than gas-powered cars, even though they run on coal-derived grid power. But all that said, cars that require an overnight charge aren’t as convenient as those that only need a splash of gas. The road ahead, in other words, is full of forks—but as the great Yogi Berra put it: “When you see a fork in the road, take it.” 78 | april-may 2008

2007 BMW Hydrogen 7 HYBRID Body type 4-door, full-size luxury sedan Date on Sale Unavailable to the general public Price Subsidized lease from BMW Engine 6.0-liter, 12-cylinder (can run on premium gas

or hydrogen)

Power 260 horsepower Zero to 62 MPH 9.5 seconds fuel economy 4.7 mpg hydrogen; 17 mpg gas emissions Zero in hydrogen mode Cruising Range 125 miles in hydrogen mode; 300 miles

in gasoline mode

Fast Fact The car has a super-insulated hydrogen tank

that stores liquid hydrogen at extremely low temperatures (-423°F) for long periods of time—which provides the same insulation as a 56-foot-thick layer of Styrofoam. The Verdict You can’t have one. Of the 100 Hydrogen 7s produced for BMW’s Pioneer Program, 25 went Stateside to celebs like Will Ferrell, Jay Leno, and Davis Guggenheim.


t must rank as one of history’s least likely conversions: President Bush is an oil man, a longtime Texan, and a reformed alcoholic. But in his 2006 State of the Union speech, the president said America is “addicted to oil” and trumpeted the virtues of an alternative in the form of ethanol. Bush called for a vast expansion of the country’s crop-based fuel industry. He focused on cellulosic ethanol, a less energy– intensive, less-polluting biofuel made from tough plant material. Cellulosic ethanol, he said, could be commercial within six years. The auto industry’s juice of the future had seemingly been declared. Cellulosic ethanol, when and if it arrives, could potentially curb our addiction to oil. Dozens of firms, including agri-business giants, chemical companies, and biotech start-ups, are now working furiously to move this technology from the lab to the market. General Motors (GM) announced this year that it’s investing in the promising cellulosic-ethanol maker Coskata. (The firm is already backed by legendary Silicon Valley venture capitalist turned green

investor, Vinod Khosla.) Still, Bush’s optimism notwithstanding, commercialization could be many years off. There are already 5 million flexible fuel, or “flex-fuel,” cars in the US, with engines tuned to run on either gasoline or ethanol. For years, these have been a running joke in Detroit: Carmakers only made them to collect credits that would let them off easy on fueleconomy standards. Many of the millions who own flex-fuel cars don’t even know they bought one. But the political push by Bush, and the broader biofuels boom, has changed that. GM trumpeted this newfound seriousness about ethanol with an ad campaign launched during the 2006 Super Bowl that encouraged drivers to go green by “going yellow” (as in the color of corn). Detroit’s leaders now promise to double the output of flex-fuel cars quickly. Ethanol is currently blended into gasoline in small quantities. The greener version is called E85 because its blend is 85 percent ethanol and only 15 percent gasoline. But America’s corn ethanol requires a lot of energy and petroleum-based fertilizer to get to the market. It’s far less efficient than its Brazilian counterpart, made from sugarcane. Even greenies worry about a big scale-up of ethanol because of the pesticides and soil erosion likely to accompany it. Other people have pinned their hopes on biodiesel, a biofuel made from a variety of crops that can be blended into conventional diesel fuel. Country singer Willie Nelson drives around in a Mercedes powered by his own brand of the biofuel, BioWillie, which is made from vegetable oil. Rival blends use soy beans, grapeseed, switch grass, and even garbage and turkey fat. Biofuel has two main advantages. First, politicians love to shovel subsidies toward the Midwest’s politically powerful farmers, and crop-based fuels provide another opportunity for such handouts. Second, biofuel doesn’t immediately need new infrastructure to support its rollout. However a concern for some is the increasing use of monoculture crops to make biofuel—people worry when they see Malaysian and Indonesian rainforests cleared to make way for palm oil plantations. Ethanol, on the other hand, can be blended into gasoline in lesser concentrations, and existing oil refineries can support production. But for these very reasons, these fuels could perpetuate the world’s addiction to unsustainable crop-based fuels and oil, respectively, instead of ending the dependence on both. Stateside, if crop-based alternatives are to ease our reliance on oil, we will need a nationwide network of filling stations offering blends with high concentrations of ethanol. Creating such a vast

>> The truth is that gasoline-burning car engines are much too good at what they do to be replaced by any one fuel or engine technology. That’s why both the juice and the jalopy must change. << infrastructure won’t be easy, given that only a few thousand of America’s estimated 170,000 gas stations now offer E85. Cleaner diesels and better internal combustion engines will contend as alternatives, but these are essentially incremental technologies that defend the vested interests of oil. So while there’s plenty of juice to the juice argument, there’s more for the case of the jalopy.


he radical leap forward in the automotive industry will start with its convergence with smart electronics. The car of the future is going to be wired—or, if you have a satellite hookup, your ultimate wireless accessory. Thirty years ago, electronics accounted for only about $110 of the cost of the materials in a car—around five percent. Today, at $1,400 to $1,800, various electronics devices add up to 20 percent of the materials cost. But industry experts reckon that electronics now account for as much as 90 percent of innovations. The traditional carburetor was little more than a bucket for pouring gas into each cylinder. Today’s finely calibrated injection systems operate like space rockets in comparison. The first of the innovations are those smart electronics that allow a normal internal combustion engine to run on alternative fuels carried onboard in separate tanks. Brazil has perfected this flex-fuel technology originally invented in Detroit. Some 80 percent

A Brief History of Propulsion by Stuart Schwartzapfel AD 100 Hero of Alexandria describes a steam-powered machine that is used to open temple doors.

1689 Thomas Savery, a British engineer, builds the first steam engine, used to pump water out of coal mines.

1837 Scotsman Robert Davidson invents the first electric carriage, powered by a non-rechargeable, crude precursor to today’s alkaline battery.

1860 Belgian inventor Jean Joseph Étienne Lenoir patents the first successful internal combustion engine.

1886 German engineer Karl Benz receives a patent for the first automobile with a gasoline-powered internal combustion engine.

1889 The Locomobile Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut, launches the Runabout, the first successful steam-powered passenger vehicle in the US. | 79

of Brazil’s new cars can run on either ethanol or gasoline. In fact, Brazilian drivers typically flip-flop between the fuels based on which one is cheaper on a given day. BMW has also developed an internal combustion engine that runs on either gasoline or hydrogen fuel. Hybrids are another revolutionary innovation. They offer a huge boost to the efficiency of the internal combustion engine by making the petroleum last longer. The upside—indeed, the real sig-

Chevrolet Volt Concept Car PLUG-IN HYBRID Body type 4-door, compact sports sedan Date on Sale Still in concept phase Price Not available Engine 3-cylinder, turbocharged 1.0-liter (can be

configured to run on gas, ethanol, or biodiesel)

power 160 horsepower (120kW) Zero to 60 mph 8.5 seconds fuel economy 50 mpg during charge-sustaining


Emissions Zero in electric mode cruising Range Up to 40 miles on one charge. If the

electricity runs out while driving, the engine automatically starts powering a generator that recharges the main battery. Fast Fact GM’s E-Flex Propulsion System can be configured to run on electricity, gasoline, E85, or biodiesel. And the Volt will be designed to use a common 110-volt household plug for charging. The Verdict Put your name on the already long waiting list, because GM plans to make this concept a reality in 2010.

1906 The Stanley Rocket sets the world land speed record at 127.7 mph at the Daytona Beach Road Course—still the record for a steam car.

80 | april-may 2008

1908 Ford’s Model T, the first mass-produced car, hits roads. Some 15 million more cars with the Model T internal combustion engine are made over the next 19 years.

1975 US Patent 3884317 is issued to Augustus Kinzel for the first known prototype of a hybrid bicycle.

nificance—of the hybrid is that it incorporates all the incremental improvements to internal combustion engines while contributing to further advances. The lighter batteries and more compact, lightweight control electronics systems developed for hybrids are preparing the way for fuel-cell electric cars in the future. Curiously, while the mainstream auto industry is moving ahead with hybrids like the Prius—electrified cars that you don’t plug into the wall—a group of nerdy but influential enthusiasts in California is tapping into a different automotive future that utilizes hybrid technology only as a starting point. Greg Hanssen’s license plate on his Toyota Prius reads “100 MPG.” And it turns heads. Open up the back and you see his secret: an ordinary electric plug. Hanssen hacked into the Prius’ software and fitted the car with a bigger, more robust battery. The result is a vehicle that can be used for almost-pure battery driving. It still has a gas engine in case the battery runs down, but otherwise, the battery can be recharged overnight. Plugging in during the evening means cheap, off-peak state electricity rates, reducing fuel costs by 75 percent. Instead of the nickel-metal-hydride battery Toyota uses, Hanssen opted for the superior lithium-ion technology found in laptop batteries. He also tinkered with Toyota’s software to prevent the gasoline engine from kicking in until the car reaches high speeds. In Hanssen’s car, the battery provides up to three-quarters of total power at 55 mph. And his modified Prius can do some 30 miles in all-electric mode, compared with less than 2 miles for a normal Prius. By whipping up so much media attention and grassroots clamor for plug-ins, Hanssen and like-minded activists have shamed Toyota into action. The company now promises plug-in hybrids within a couple of years—a claim that GM echoes in its big marketing push for the plug-in Chevy Volt, which the carmaker says will hit American roads by 2010. The story behind the story is that what the car of the future looks like will be decided by batteries (for more on lithium-ion batteries, see page 39). At the North American International Auto Show in early 2008, plug-in hybrids owned the spotlight. Both GM and Toyota announced aggressive plans to bring their pet versions of this technology out within five years. One vital difference between the two firms was revealing: GM plans to use sexy lithium-ion technology—the same as Hanssen and Tesla motors—while Toyota is sticking with nickel metal hydride. That’s despite the fact that lithium batteries promise greater range. Toyota’s reasoning is that lithium technology is still not

1997 The Toyota Prius goes on sale in Japan. Last year, the model accounted for 40% of hybrid sales in the US.

1997 GM releases their EV1 electric car to the general public for a special lease program that has a no-buyout clause attached.

1998 GM introduces their first light truck (an S10, with 2.2L engine) in a flex-fuel configuration. More than 5 million flexfuel-capable vehicles are on American roads today.

>>>>> Forward Drive What will the auto industry look like 20 years

from now? General Motors’ Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and strategic planning, dared to dream with Plenty by Mark Spellun What types of cars will people be driving decades from now? What I really see is the potential for a whole new DNA for the automobile. And that could play out in a 20 year time frame. What we see technologically is a convergence of opportunities where auto DNA is going to change dramatically to vehicles that are electrically driven rather than mechanically, vehicles that are energized by electricity and hydrogen rather than petroleum … and vehicles that are connected [via] telematics—things like OnStar and what we call vehicle-tovehicle communication. This sets up an exciting future for our industry.

Is there a fuel source that can get us off the oil standard? It’s pretty clear the auto industry’s 96 percent dependence on petroleum is going to have to shift—whether that is motivated by global climate change, by nations wanting energy independence, or by the shear economic burden of having so much of our nation’s dollar flow out of the economy as we import petroleum. I just can’t imagine the world sustaining its dependence on a single energy commodity for personal transportation. And GM sees a couple of very exciting opportunities: In the near term, we think biofuels have tremendous potential. In fact, in the United States, specifically, we think about 40 percent of the energy required in the year 2030 for automobiles could be supplied by biofuels. That’s a big deal when you want to get off that 96 percent oil dependence. What is the car company of the future going to look like? I think what the auto industry of the future will be about— at least in terms of what we call the original equipment

manufacturers—is [a] focus on those core capabilities that differentiate us and give us a sustainable advantage. So do we have to be a manufacturer of batteries to be successful? Or do we have to have a deep know-how about how to specify and integrate battery designs into vehicles and to create the control systems onboard the vehicle? I would say it is the latter, rather than necessarily being a battery manufacturer. What car producers really want to be are technology companies, to have the fundamental competency to create intellectual property (IP). It’s not the IP alone that’s the competitive advantage, it’s the ability to create it and develop it in the right places. I think one of the advantages GM has here is that we are a large global company and we have deep enough pockets to play across all of these energy diversity fronts.

Beyond fuel cells and lithium-ion batteries, are there other technologies that we should be watching? There is another area of technology that I want you to pay careful attention to: They are what we might call cars that don’t crash, or driverless vehicles. GM competed along with our partner Carnegie Mellon in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge, which tested us to drive 60 miles in a mock urban environment, mixing with regular cars and other robotic cars. Fortunately, our team came out on top—but the real winner was society, because we proved this can be done. And it really sets up the potential someday for cars that drive themselves. It sounds odd, but it may be the most important fuel and economy advance we are working on: If cars don’t crash, think how much lighter they can be and how

‘‘What car producers really want to be are technology companies.’’ much less mass they have to carry around. That sets up the opportunity for better efficiency in the vehicle, which then makes the solutions for batteries and fuel cells that much easier to realize. What are the key elements of this technology? Are cars going to be communicating like airplanes? Absolutely. We have [test fleet] cars running right now that can do that. We call that vehicle-to-vehicle communication. What makes it possible is the fact that we are putting OnStar on all of our vehicles, which then allows us to know where a car is and also communicate with it via satellite. Once each

vehicle has OnStar and built-in stability control— GM is putting this advanced feature in all of its cars— then two autos can talk to each other ... [and] calculate where they are relative to each other within a meter and predict where they will be in 20 milliseconds. Based on what they are predicting, the cars can take corrective action to avoid each other. So we integrate this capability with vehicles that proved themselves in the Grand Challenge, add digital maps—which are becoming enormously rich with information—and you are looking at a future where autonomous driving really is within our grasp within the next ten years, in our opinion.

battle-tested, as Tesla has discovered: Tesla originally planned for a late 2007 launch, but problems related to its batteries and to the manufacturing process have resulted in delays. GM is forging ahead anyway, investing in lithium battery firms like MIT spinoff A123. Unlike GM, however, Toyota has a long history of underpromising and overdelivering. When the plug-in bandwagon really gets rolling, it will do more than reduce oil consumption. It may also bust the centuryold oil and car oligopoly and tear down the great wall separating the electric power and automotive industries. Once cars can connect to the grid to take power, they should be able to give power back to the grids, too., the charitable arm of the search engine giant, unveiled a “vehicle-to-grid” project in mid 2007. The plan is to put precisely such seditious plug-in cars on the road in hopes of expediting change. This great convergence has been forecast by energy guru Amory Lovins, who thinks that super-green HyperCars will eventually be powered by fuel cells. Increasingly, fuel cells are viewed as part of a solution by more than just progressive thinkers or companies outside the Big Three. Ford Motor Company Executive Chairman Bill Ford has predicted that “fuel cells will end the century-long reign of the internal combustion engine.” And Larry Burns, the vice president of research and development and strategic planning at GM, was one of the first in the industry to step firmly toward the view that one day the fuel-cell electric car will replace the gas guzzler. His reasoning is simple: The automobile industry depends on petroleum; that dependence leads to global volatility, political risk, and greenhouse gas emissions. As a portion of the 2.5 billion new people expected in the world by 2050 adopt the automobile, Burns believes that only hydrogen-fuelcell electric vehicles will do the job without ruining the planet. (These cells would combine hydrogen fuel with oxygen from the air to create electricity that can run a laptop, a house, or an SUV. The hydrogen can be made from either a hydrocarbon

>> Industry experts reckon that electronics now account for as much as 90 percent of innovations. <<

2004 BMW’s H2R racecar, adapted to run on liquid hydrogen fuel, is conceived and developed in just ten months. The H2R has set nine international speed records.

82 | april-may 2008

2007 Toyota announces the sale of the one-millionth hybrid—more than half of which have been sold in the US.

2007 The Kiha E200, the first operational prototype hybrid train engine with major energy storage and energy regeneration capabilities, is introduced in Japan.

fuel like natural gas or by splitting water with electricity.) If the hydrogen is made from renewable or nuclear power, then these cars produce no global warming gases—the only thing they emit is drinkable water. Whenever a suitable network of hydrogen filling stations comes into place, GM intends to be ready to gear up to make a million of their revolutionary Volts at prices ordinary Americans can afford. Mindful that the oil giants have been slow to build out a hydrogen network, California’s green governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has

2008 Toyota Prius HYBRID Body type 4-door, mid-size sedan/hatchback Date on Sale Available now Price $21,200 (MSRP) Engine 1.5-liter inline 4-cylinder engine combined with

permanent magnet AC synchronous motor

Power 110 horsepower (82 kW) Zero to 60 MPH About 10 seconds Fuel Economy 48/45 mpg (city/highway) Emissions Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT-PZEV) cruising range 571 miles city; 535 highway Fast Fact Last year, Prius accounted for more than 40% of total hybrid sales in the US. The Verdict The Hybrid that started it all continues to shine, producing more than 70% fewer smog-forming emissions than the average new gas vehicle. Toyota will extend the Prius’ appeal with a plug-in hybrid that relies less on the gasoline motor by amping up the extended battery range in electric-only mode.

2007 Honda unveils the FCX Clarity, a hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle for lease beginning summer 2008. Initial availability will be limited to the Southern California market.

2007 BMW distributes its Hydrogen 7 vehicle to 25 high-profile Americans in what the company calls the Pioneer Program. (Will Ferrell scores.)

2008 India’s Tata Motors begins production of its CityCAT (list price of $13,000), a car powered by an air engine whose cost for filling up is said to be $2 for every 120 miles.

been forging ahead with a plan to roll out hydrogen infrastructure from Tijuana to Vancouver. If Toyota is the hare, sprinting ahead with the Prius, GM could one day be the tortoise, winning in the long run with the fuel-cell car.


ater this year, the first fleet of those allelectric Tesla Roadsters hits the open highway. A two-year waiting list and $100,000 starting price make it prohibitive as a massmarket option. But the smoking-hot, twoseat sports car accelerates from zero to 60 miles per hour in just four seconds—faster than a Ferrari. Equally impressive is the fact that it can travel 250 miles on an overnight charge from a household 240-volt socket (not the public charging stations required by the previous generation of electric cars). Thanks to its use of advanced lithiumion batteries and its lightweight carbon-fiber bodywork, the Roadster gets the equivalent of 135 miles per gallon of gasoline. Don’t blink or you’ll miss it. What you can’t miss, though, is this: The great global race to fuel the car of the future is on. There are sure to be plenty of losers among the rival fuel and engine firms, but there may be surprising winners, too. Perhaps even a resurgent Detroit. More important, the innovation and creative destruction to come promises to liberate the automobile from the tyranny of petroleum and produce a cool, clean car of the future. Even though there are plenty of obstacles ahead, the surge of investment in cleaner fuels and engines is more exciting than anything the auto industry has seen since the turn of the 20th century. There is no single answer for drastically improving today’s fuel consumption and cutting emissions of global warming gases. Lightweight vehicles, advanced diesel and gasoline engines, hybrid gasoline-electric technology, powerful new lithium-ion batteries, and biofuels will all play some part. For example, you can go to a car dealer today and buy more than a dozen hybrid-electric cars, ranging from the original superstar Prius to luxury Lexus hybrids to several big-name SUVs. You can get several models of American midsized sedans and

>> “Fuel cells will end the century-long reign of the internal combustion engine,” says Bill Ford, the automotive giant’s executive chairman. <<

Tesla Roadster ELECTRIC SPORTS CAR Body type 2-door roadster Date on Sale March 2008 (at press time) Price $98,000 (base)* engine 3-phase, 4-pole electric motor Power 248 horsepower peak (185kW) Zero to 60 MPH Less than 4 seconds** Fuel Economy 135 mpg Emissions None crusing Range 220 miles after 3.5 hours of charging Planned Production Volume About 650 units in 2008 Fast Fact According to the California Air Resources Board Alternative Fuel Incentive Program, “Electric fuel vehicles have the largest potential to reduce climate change emissions and petroleum dependency relative to any other alternative fuel vehicle under consideration.” The Verdict Finally, what’s good for Mother Earth is fun for you. —SS

*Price is for the 2008 model and is subject to change. **Early production units will be equipped with an interim transmission that meets durability requirements but limits acceleration to 5.7 seconds from 0 to 60 mph.

pickup trucks in flex-fuel versions that run on ethanol; and if you’re not feeling flush enough for Tesla’s Roadster, wait a few years until their second model, dubbed White Star, rolls off the New Mexico assembly line—the company claims that the allelectric family sedan will come at half the price of the sports model. In the more distant future, the cost of hydrogen could decrease enough to end the dominance of the internal combustion engine altogether. The forward-thinking transformation of the juice and the jalopy will help us maintain the mobility and freedom that are the oldest aspirations in this country of endless frontiers—even as it helps us meet the modern aspirations of preserving our environment for future generations. The road ahead will undoubtedly have some bumps and forks, but there is every reason to think that the world will keep on motoring. ✤ Visit for more on the future of the automobile. | 83

The People’s Weather

by tom scocca

At this summer’s Beijing Olympics, China puts a 50-year experiment to the test: Officials are betting weather modification can keep the sun shining on the Games. Despite shaky science, the government is confident (not for the first time) that man can best nature. Whatever their chances, there’s plenty at stake—because all that development and urban renewal won’t look so good beneath a curtain of smog. Beijing under the haze of industry and construction, October 2007.


ne thing worth considering when you tamper with nature is what sort of nature you’re tampering with. Nature is not kind to the city of Beijing. China’s capital is arid, nearly a desert, and its natural weather patterns are fickle and harsh. Winter is marked by howling Siberian winds; summer, by sweltering monsoon heat. In lieu of showers, springtime is best known for seasonal dust storms that sweep down from Central Asia. Fall is parched and gusty too, but the dust settles down. This basic brutality is overlaid with levels of pollution like those of England’s Industrial Revolution. Many things blot out the sunshine, and most have nothing to do with rain: factory and power plant emissions, construction dust, smoke from stoves burning scrap wood or pressed coal. There are more than 3 million cars on the streets—and the count is said to be growing by 400,000 vehicles annually. It is not unusual to check the AccuWeather international forecast on the New York Times website and find that while other cities’ weather is “mostly sunny” or “overcast,” Beijing’s is “smoky.” In February 2007, authorities finally abandoned a longstanding policy in which haze was referred to as wu, Mandarin for fog, and just called it what it is—mai, or haze. So the government aims to manipulate the city’s weather. This is a matter of plain bureaucracy, not science fiction. Ren ding sheng tian, went an old aphorism embraced by Mao Zedong: Man must defeat the heavens. The People’s Republic has a colorful history of battling nature with colossal, often ill-starred public-works projects. Imperial flood-control schemes, for instance, begat today’s Three Gorges Dam, designed to be the world’s largest hydroelectric station—and denounced by critics as an environmental disaster. The Weather Modification Office (WMO) is an arm of the Beijing Meteorological Bureau, which is the local branch of the Chinese Meteorological Administration. There are 31 provincial or municipal weather-modification offices in China. The administration employs 52,998 people by its own count. Beijing’s WMO has sixteen full-time employees who direct the activities of several dozen part-time weather modifiers, mostly local farmers. The farmers maintain 21 emplacements of antiaircraft guns and 26 rocket launchers, which fire munitions loaded with silver iodide into the clouds. In the winter, when clouds are lower, the modifiers burn chemical charges in special stoves. A small squadron of planes, flown from a military airfield, delivers silver iodide or dry ice into the clouds from above. In the clouds, the silver iodide mingles with tiny droplets of water—leading, in theory, to the formation of ice particles, which melt into heavier drops and then fall as rain. The operations of the weather modifiers lend themselves to a kind of science folklore. Beijingers and foreigners in the city harbor pet theories about signs that the government may be tampering with a particular day’s weather—they include unusually fat raindrops, rain from clear skies, or remarkably well-timed breaks of sunshine. Such divination both over- and | 85


he Beijing rainmaking command center occupies a large seventh-floor room in the bureau’s compound, near the Jingmi Canal on the west side of the city. I visited it on a late-spring day last year. One wall was taken up by windows that could have been called panoramic, had they faced out on something other than a Beijing afternoon. If weather is what you see and feel when you go outside, then the majority of Beijing’s weather is manmade, with or without the help of the WMO. On this particular day, the city looked as if someone had shaken out a giant sack of instant concrete over it.

Cloud-seeding artillery (above) the Chinese government will use to control weather during the Summer Olympics; Beijing National Stadium (right), future site of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies; the city of Beijing seen from space (opposite)—the gray areas indicate air pollution and the dark green areas show water pollution.

The Fragrant Hills, less than five miles to the west, were invisible from outside the bureau. The murky light could have passed, to the untrained eye, for a sign that a shower was imminent, but the weather modifiers weren’t stirring. In a bank of ten computer screens across the room from the windows, only two were on—one showing a radar display, another showing graphs of cloud temperature and water content. A voice broadcast over speakers delivered a forecast: overcast again tomorrow, lasting possibly until the next day. Near the doorway of the weather-modification room was a relief model of the municipality in tans and greens with white tags marking the bureau facilities. The city proper is dead flat, resting on an inland offshoot of the Huabei coastal plain. Around it is a deep bowl formed by overlapping mountain ranges—the Taihang to the west and the Yan to the north and northwest. Many of the tags, marking firing stations, were scattered on the high ground in Beijing’s rural districts. A row of past and present cloud-seeding rockets stood on the floor beside the relief map, including an olive, waist-high RYI6300, the model currently in use. A 37-millimeter silver-iodide antiaircraft shell completed the set. The Beijing bureau buys its equipment from State-Owned Factory No. 556 in Wuhai City, In-

photo by ng han guan/ap (top); FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images (opposite page)

mates the Beijing Meteorological Bureau’s activity. “Normally, if conditions permit, yes, we would modify,” says Zhang Qiang, the deputy director of the WMO. But miraculous transformations have not been the goal—at least until now. This year, much of Zhang’s time is taken up with a new obligation. Beijing is preparing for the coming Summer Olympics with an all-encompassing effort involving new subway lines, trophy architectural projects, and an urban renewal campaign that has cut huge swaths through what’s considered the old city. Over it all hovers the problem of the weather—which Chinese officials have been manipulating for 50 years now—and what to do about it. The Beijing Games are meant to mark China’s emergence on the world stage as a 21st-century global superpower. China would like that stage to be clean and dry. The Olympics will take place during the brief but emphatic wet season; on average, more than half the city’s annual precipitation falls in July and August. The National Stadium, a tangled-looking lattice of monumental steelwork known as the “Bird’s Nest,” is open to the skies. The original design, by groundbreaking Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, included a retractable roof that was eventually scrapped in a cost-cutting maneuver. So the weather administration is responsible for standing between the Olympics and the real possibility of an untimely downpour. History suggests the natural chance of rain during the opening and closing ceremonies is 50 percent, Beijing bureau deputy chief engineer Wang Yubin announced at a press conference about weather and the Olympics last year. Officials are hoping the same technology that’s meant to bring more rain can also make it rain less or make the rain fall somewhere else. Wang was accompanied by Zhang and by representatives of the Academy of Meteorological Sciences, the Research Institute of Urban Meteorology, and the Central Meteorological Observatory. They discussed the interagency work of the Beijing Olympic Meteorological Services Center, a temporary weather authority that will blanket the city with real-time mini-forecasts. “We find that our measure is quite effective if it deals with rainfall in a limited area,” Wang explained. If there is widespread or heavy rain, he warned, “at present we cannot reduce this rainfall to the minimum, to be frank.”

“If conditions permit, yes, we would modify deputy director. But miraculous transforma 86 | april-may 2008

stretch of filthy ones. International media outlets also noted that the government had scored an improbably large number of days that just cleared the cutoff for “blue-sky” status. Technically, summer is less polluted than other seasons, in part because the lower portion of the atmosphere known as the planetary boundary layer is higher, fewer people are burning coal, and the government doesn’t include ozone—the primary component of smog— in its pollution index. Regardless, Olympic officials are making contingency plans for rescheduling events if certain days are too dirty. Athletes worried about particulates in their lungs may descend on the city wearing filter masks, taking them off for public appearances and competition only. Last year, the International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge, expressed his concern to CNN about scheduling “endurance sports like the cycling race, where you have to compete for six hours. These are examples of competitions that might be postponed or delayed to another day.”

photo by jacques descloitres/NASA/gsfc/tom stack & associates


ner Mongolia, a former military plant that now makes weathercontrol gear and industrial blasting fuses. Over the past decade, Beijing has sought to improve its air quality by moving heavy industry out of town to neighboring Hebei Province and the port city of Tianjin. Even the venerable Shougang Iron Works, a mascot of China’s industrial might, is being uprooted for the Olympics. But when the wind blows off the ocean, from the south and the east, it carries the factory-choked air of Hebei and Tianjin up the coastal plain, until the mountains funnel it to a halt over the capital. The city’s Environmental Protection Bureau keeps an annual tally of “blue-sky days” on which air quality falls into the two lowest classes of its five-level pollution scale (at level five, residents are warned to stay indoors and avoid exercise). Each year brings a new, higher quota of blue-sky days for the city to meet; in 2007, the target was 245 days. The city logged 246, thanks to December 30 and 31—a pair of sunny days that followed a two-week

eather modification has a vexed and winding history, but China’s position is straightforward: It is the world’s number one nation in the field, however debated the field itself may be. The country spends up to $90 million annually on weather-manipulation projects, and the Meteorological Law of the People’s Republic of China directs “governments at or above the county level” to “enhance their leadership over weather modification” and “carry out work in this field.” According to Yao Zhanyu, a weather-modification expert and professor at the Academy of Meteorological Sciences, climate control was first proposed by weather bureau chief Tu Changwang in 1956. Mao gave it his blessing: “Manmade rain is very important,” he commented. “I hope that meteorological professionals put more effort into it.” By the summer of 1958, the first rain-seeding flights took place in Jilin and Gansu provinces. This August—when the Olympics’ opening ceremonies take place—a more modest public celebration in Jilin province will honor 50 years of weather modification by the People’s Republic. China’s meteorologists, though, weren’t the first to try cloud seeding. The General Electric Laboratory launched the first field experiments in 1946. The original principle established by the GE experiments was sound, and momentum for research grew so much that at one point in the ’70s, the United States spent $20 million annually on projects. Forty years ago, it was at least as plausible to trigger a downpour as to send a man to the moon, according to Hugh Willoughby, a meteorology professor at Florida International University who took part in major rain-making and hurricane-taming studies during the ’70s and early ’80s. But if American scientists want to pursue weather modification today, he says, “The burden of proof is really on them.” Presently the country spends only $500,000 on the science.

y,” says the Weather Modification Office’s ations haven’t been the goal—until now. | 87

GE’s original starting point was that seeding can cause ice to form in cold clouds, or droplets to condense in warm ones. Yet cloud physics, it turns out, is considerably more complex than rocket science: The moon is an object of known size, moving predictably through space at a distance of about 240,000 miles. To put a man on the moon, he is put in a spaceship on a rocket and shot closer and closer to the target. A cloud seeder, by contrast, is never shooting at the same target twice. Not only is today’s cloud unlike yesterday’s, it is unlike the cloud it was five minutes ago. Its top is unlike its bottom, and the two may be changing places. Liquid water in it may be colder than neighboring ice. Rain falling inside it may never reach the ground. Six decades after its enthusiastic beginnings, weather modification has been granted few successes by American scientists. In mountainous areas, seeding seems to be able to moderately increase snowfall in the winter. Insurance companies paid fewer hail-damage claims over the years in counties where private antihail contractors were at work. Recent studies also suggest that seeding clouds in the tropics with salt seems to produce more rain, though later and farther away than current theories can explain. According to a 2003 National Academy of Sciences Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate report, progress in weather modification “is not possible without a concerted and sustained effort at understanding basic processes in the atmosphere.” In their own studies, Chinese scientists have concluded that their cloud seeding increases rainfall by 10 to 25 percent. They have seeded clouds not only to offset drought and fill reservoirs but even to fight forest fires. Talks have been underway with officials in Spain and Egypt, who are said to be interested in the purchase of modification instruments, and in 2005 China signed a bilateral agreement with Cuba to begin operations there. “We’re not that far ahead of other countries,” the WMO’s Zhang explains. “It’s just because we’re still working at it continuously, trying to tackle these problems, that we have results.”


he greatest recent triumph of weather modification in Beijing wasn’t planned as a weather-control operation at all. In fall 2006, Beijing hosted a panAfrican summit. It was preceded by a rushed beautification job in which workers hung floating red lanterns and photomural billboards along major roadways and filled in medians with new sod and saplings. To prevent congestion, the city’s traffic authorities banned most government vehicles from the roads, cutting traffic by a quarter. An obliging west wind swept away traces of the old gridlock just before the summit. The sky turned a gorgeous autumnal blue—a Hudson Valley sky, not a Huabei Plain one. The azure stayed all week. It was beyond anything the Meteorological Bureau had ever accomplished. In August 2007, the city tried a repeat performance. While the

Meteorological Services Center utilized its rain-fighting artillery, Beijing tried an even more drastic traffic cutback—alternately allowing only odd- or even-numbered license plates on the road. But what was announced as a two-week trial only ran for four days because of a bureaucratic miscommunication. The haze remained. The rain-prevention trial ending that same month was also inconclusive. The technique employed in that effort was a variant on the usual plan to make more rain, which is related to the technique for stopping hail. Both depend on the supply of particles in the air to serve as nuclei for rain formation. In a brewing hailstorm, Zhang says, think of the available droplets of supercooled water as mantou—steamed bread rolls—and the supply of ice-precipitating nuclei as monks. “If you give 1,000 mantou to 100 monks, each of them is going to burst to death,” Zhang said. (Mantou are notoriously filling.) In hail-formation terms, the overloaded monks would come crashing out of the clouds as dangerously large hailstones. But by firing silver-iodide shells into clouds, you’re adding more monks to the scene. “So in the end,” Zhang said, “each monk gets two or three mantou.” The resulting ice pellets should be small enough to melt on their way down, arriving as raindrops. The metaphor leaves out a few things—hail also requires powerful thermal updrafts to serve as a buffet line that allows for feeding the monks—but it captures the basic strategy. Thus, if you continue to reduce each monk’s portion of mantou, eventually no one gets enough to eat, and the droplets stay in the cloud. The concentration of nuclei in the air, with and without seeding, is one of the great outstanding questions of weather-modification science. The silver iodide monks are beside the point if the mantou have already been nibbled to bits, and the skies over China are rich with aerosol particles from dust and pollution. In a paper published in Science last year, Yao Zhanyu and a team of researchers concluded that in the mountains near Xi’an, heavy pollution can suppress rainfall by 30 to 50 percent. In his office at the Academy of Meteorological Sciences, Yao explained the strategy for protecting the National Stadium. China had tried rain-prevention ventures before, Yao said—at the Tiananmen Square celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the People’s Republic in 1999, for instance, and at the 10th National Games in Nanjing in 2005—but the leading practitioner of anti-rain seeding was the former Soviet Union. Yao, a compact and muscular man with thin-rimmed glasses, pointed to a floor tile to represent the Olympic grounds. He traced three semicircles, one inside the next, where the mountains would be. The majority of summer storms, Yao said, come from the northwest, the west, or the southwest. Starting at the outermost line, the modifiers plan to seed approaching storms to encourage rainfall, in the hopes that they rain themselves out. By the nearest line, the goal will be instead to overseed the surviving clouds to suppress rain entirely. So rain seeding and anti-rain seeding “are not two strategies that are contradictory to each other,” Yao said. “We have to use them both.”

“We’re not that far ahead of other countrie continuously, trying to tackle these problem 88 | april-may 2008

A construction site in Chongqing Municipality, China. Overall, pollution woes are said to be costing China about 5.8 percent of GDP annually.

But the theory and technology were no match for last year’s monsoon. August was marked by powerful downpours and flooding in the city. One evening that month, I went to a neighborhood restaurant under clear skies. By the time I finished dinner, it was as if the streets were being sprayed with a celestial firehose: A row of mature trees had been downed, cabs crept through water up to their hubcaps, and pedestrians waded with their pants rolled past their knees.

photo by china photos/getty images


hunder was rumbling at the Xinzhuang Village firing station when I arrived one afternoon last June, riding up a dirt lane in a city taxicab. Beijing’s whole network of modifiers had been at work earlier in the week, the WMO said, and the humidity hadn’t budged. The launch site was on a ridgetop 1,400 feet above sea level in the middle of a 50-acre orchard run by a farmer named Jing Baoguo. An island platform stood in the middle of an irrigation reservoir, under a striped canopy, with catwalks leading to and from it. Along the far side of the enclosure was a grape arbor; on the near side, tomato plants flanked weather instruments. The artillery stood off to the right: two antiaircraft guns, their barrels poking out over the fence top, and a pair of blocky rocket launchers mounted on single-axle trailers. In front of a large shed sat a silver-iodide RGY-1 burner, a gleaming barrel-shaped contraption with three wheels, a conical nose, and a long chimney that looked like a barbecue smoker. By the side wall of the shed

was a white doghouse with a mediumsized black dog inside. Jing, a wavy-haired man in earth tone slacks and a pullover, leased the orchard six years ago, after working as a purchaser in a local trading organization. After his trees suffered hail damage that year, the Beijing Meteorological Bureau approached him about becoming a weather modifier and setting up a station on his land. The Xinzhuang site is one of four the bureau has added since 2001, with farmers supplying the property, local government funding construction, and the bureau supplying the guns and other equipment. The modifiers are paid 50 yuan, or about $7, for every shell fired, which would typically top out at six on a day like today. Heavy clouds were blowing overhead and a sprinkle of rain began to fall. This was a rain-enhancement opportunity. An assistant, wearing a round straw hat, ducked into the shed and began bringing out rockets, one by one, and loading them into the nearest launcher. He slid each one home, lining up the tailfins with slits in the firing tubes. The launcher held a half-dozen rockets at once. Jing and his assistant swung the launcher around and cranked it skyward. Orders for modification begin with an advisory from the Beijing bureau to its district sub-bureaus, alerting them to a suitable weather system. The district offices mobilize the local stations and direct them to fire. Via cell phone, the station got the final orders: No firing today. Air traffic controllers, the ultimate authority, had vetoed the operation. “Lots of airplanes circle this area,” said Jing. We retreated to the platform in the middle of the irrigation tank, where Jing had put out apricots and cherries. Rain fell on the canopy, and Jing poured hot mineral water from a thermos. He had originally been skeptical of modification, he said, but at least in the case of hail prevention, “it definitely works.” Pointing to an apricot, Jing added, “Before the guns were installed, the hail was as big as this.” The thundershower passed. The rocket launcher was still pointing upward as I left in my taxi. Between air traffic and the southerly origins of the storm, the bureau later stated, none of the other weather-modification stations had been able to fire either. As we returned to the expressway, though, drops began sprinkling the windshield and then pelting it. Lightning flashed. Before long, we were in a downpour again. We rode home through the unassisted rain. ✤

es. It’s just because we’re still working at it ms, that we have results.” | 89

Nearly half of Americans eat cereal for breakfast, and there are a multitude of options to feed your ecofriendly body and mind. For those overwhelmed by the choices, Plenty sampled nearly four dozen different kinds—from flakes to flourless and all organic. Each of our top picks comes in recycled cardboard boxes, has 250 calories or fewer per serving, contains no more than 4 grams of fat, and packs in at least 5 grams of fiber. Here are our super bowls. —Mia Owen



photograph by anthony

verde; styling by Camilla slattery

Organic Cereals We sampled a cartful of boxes to find the tastiest and most nutritious

BEST FLOURLESS Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Flourless Almond

Has a nutty vanilla flavor, and the crunchy nuggets make a good swap for higher-fat granola cereals.


Arrowhead Mills Shredded Wheat Cereal

Made solely from organic whole wheat and natural vitamin E, it has a pleasing, familiar taste.

Most Flavorful

Peace Cereal Essential 10

It boasts 10 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, and the cardamom, nutmeg, cinnamon, and rosemary give it a tasty kick.


Barbara’s Bakery Puffins Original

Made from allnatural corn, this crunchy cereal is puffy and sweet. What’s not to love?


Nature’s Path FlaxPlus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch

Pumpkin seeds, raisins, and cinnamon perk up plainer raisin bran varieties, and flaxseeds deliver heart-healthy omega-3s.


Health Valley Organic Multigrain Apple Cinnamon Square-ems

Infused with soy protein, this classic flavor combo takes you back to when mom poured your cereal for you.


Cascadian Farm Hearty Morning

The mix of granola nuggets, sweetened wholewheat flakes, and bran threads will satisfy your morning hunger.


Kashi Autumn Wheat

These lightly sweetend, woven whole-wheat biscuits won’t drown in milk while you read the morning paper. |


labs LABS plenty

Antiaging Moisturizers



92 | april-may 2008

Sesame protein and yellow-green algae improve skin elasticity in this protective serum. Tester’s take “The first time I used it, my skin stung. But it stopped stinging, and my face became more clear and vibrant.” $59,

Weleda Wild Rose Night Cream A hydrating cream loaded with fatty acids to nourish skin and minimize fine lines. Tester’s take

“I worried I’d get pimples, but my skin stayed clear and looked less dry and dull in a week.” $30,

Yes To Carrots C Today or C You in the Morning

Carrot seed oil, Dead Sea minerals, and beta-carotene in this water-based cream reduce sun and environmental damage. Tester’s take “After all the pricey antiaging treatments I’ve tried before, this one actually made my skin look refreshed.” $15,

Intellesthetics Enlighten Moisturizer

Liz Earle Skin Repair Moisturizer


Burt’s lotion has pomegranates to fight collagen breakdown, paracress plant to fill lines, and wild yam to tighten skin. Tester’s take “The film it left on my face felt like protection from further environmental damage.”

This Works: Active Oil

Loaded with echinacea, this cream promises to boost cell renewal and prevent sagging.

styling by Camilla

Jurlique’s fast absorbing gel contains daisy, calendula, and chamomile to help repair damage to sensitive skin. Tester’s take “My skin looked more even-toned overnight and got better each day. The light formula is perfect for oily skin.”

Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless Line Diminishing Day Lotion

Tester’s take

One of the few antiaging products available that uses organic lightening agents to help fade discoloration from sun damage. Tester’s take “I’m picky about what I use, and this gave my skin a lovely, dewy finish.”

“My skin felt nourished and had a healthy glow after using it for only a few days.”

$40, intelligent


photograph by anthony

Jurlique Soothing Herbal Recovery Gel


So many beauty companies are jumping on the antiaging bandwagon, promising to shave off years with one miraculous potion. But can they deliver without any harsh, artificial ingredients? Plenty sampled a bevy of natural moisturizers that hope to push back the hands of time. While we didn’t find a bottled fountain of youth, several did make our skin look fresher. Here are seven for the ages. —Stacey Stapleton

Green, Greener, Greenest with Lori Bongiomo

Question: Is it true that dry-cleaning my clothing is a health hazard and can harm the environment? If so, are there any eco-friendly alternatives?

The solvent used by most dry-cleaners, perchloroethylene (aka, perc), does pollute the environment. There’s also a long list of potential health effects ranging from headaches and dizziness to liver and kidney damage. The EPA calls it a “probable” human carcinogen. Given that, it’s not a bad idea to limit your exposure. Luckily, there is a range of options for you, from easy and inexpensive to those requiring more effort and commitment. Below is a three-tiered system of solutions I call Green, Greener, Greenest.

Green If you do go to a traditional drycleaner, minimize your exposure to perc: Remove your cleaned clothes from their bags and air them outside or in a wellventilated area before storing them in your closet. Open car windows when driving home with your dry-cleaning. Lori Bongiorno’s book Green, Greener, Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making EcoSmart Choices a Part of Your Life is out now (Perigee Trade Paperback Original).

Greener Try a cleaner that uses an alternative method. Wet cleaning uses water and nontoxic soap. It’s best for items made of fabrics that you would consider hand washing at home, such as silk or linen. Another option is carbon dioxide dry-cleaning, which uses liquid CO2 to clean clothes in high-pressure machines: Hangers ( is a national chain of CO2 cleaners, or you can visit to find a local option. These are the only two processes considered environmentally preferable by the EPA.

BEST OF THE REST >>> SPRING CLEANING It’s the time of year for clearing unwanted clutter from your home, so why not spruce up your air while you’re at it? The Blueair EC010 is the most energyefficient air purifier on the market, running on only 10 watts of power at high speed and consuming 95 percent less energy overall than other units of its class. The ultra-quiet EC010 is

bulky—attention, small apartment dwellers—but the unit can handle a 20-by-15-foot room, and its patented HEPASilent filter needs changing only once a year. While cigarette odor wasn’t completely eradicated after a houseguest’s visit, the EC010 did pull billowing smoke into its filtration system—and out of nonsmokers’ lungs. $899,

Greenest Cut down on professional cleaning. Here are some suggestions: Buy fewer clothes that require dry cleaning; spot clean when possible; invest in a steamer; hand wash all appropriate clothes or use the delicate cycle on your washing machine; and air out garments after wearing, only sending out stained and soiled items. You’ll save time, money, and the environment with fewer trips to the dry cleaners. Ask Lori your questions at

Trade This for That >>> Despite years of predictions to the contrary, the digital age we live in still smiles on the recordable compact disc (CD-R). Unfortunately, CD-Rs can’t be rewritten—once you’re done with the data, the disc is trash. Recycling efforts are scattered, and each year millions of discs and their plastic cases end up in landfills or incinerators, leaching chemicals into the soil, water, and air. Rewritable CDs (CD-RWs) have been around for a while, but the product hasn’t caught on. Eco-friendly office supplier Green Earth packs CDRWs in recycled plastic cases (the first we’ve ever seen), and they sell the discs in bulk, making it easy to stock up. After all, CD-Rs aren’t going anywhere— at least for a little while. $2.75 each, $24 for ten, | 93




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last WORD last word


Doug Fine

The Goat Whisperer Karaoke can be fun—but try being the resident crooner to a pair of farm animals

The goats stared at me like junkies after a fix. Though goats are earth’s most disobedient species, music has never failed to snap Natalie and Melissa into total obeisance since the day of the flood. When I was still bottle-feeding them, I’d use Keller Williams or the Be Good Tanyas to get them to chill. When they were ready to wean, they seemed to like the Beatles. And if I want them out of my rose bushes (evidently filet mignon to goats), I have to pull out my saxophone and lay on the Charlie Parker live. Nothing else, nothing recorded, will extract them. They won’t even look up to, say, the standard James Brown or David Grisman, or even Beth Orton’s “Stolen Car.” To my extremely ama-

96 28 || april-may february-march 2008 2008

teur efforts at Bird, Natalie and Melissa march back to the corral like I was the pied piper. Goats are discerning music critics. My biggest musical challenge came last fall, when Natalie seemed less than interested in the billy goat, Walt, I had brought in for her to date. Walt stank and had vicious horns, so I couldn’t blame her. And as an overprotective father, Natalie’s reticence about becoming a teen mother actually made me kind of proud. But in order to have local milk here at the Funky Butte Ranch, I needed a lactating nanny goat. To speed up the romance, I belted out the obvious Marvin Gaye and Al Green. But what really seemed to work was when I burst forth with some early Allman Brothers, with lyrics slightly modified: Goats, can you feel it? Love is everywhere. We’ll see if my aria really was effective in the late spring, when Natalie is supposed to give birth. Which reminds me— as head midwife, I’ve got to come up with a labor song for the big day. I’m leaning toward “The Kids Are Alright.” ✤

Doug Fine is the author of Farewell My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living (Villard), out this March. His work has also appeared in The Washington Post, Salon, Outside, and on NPR. For more about Fine, see

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silent, enraptured. I could swear they were smiling. After about 30 seconds in the soaked creek bed, Natalie, ears half the size of her tiny body, leaned forward and cheered (I think it was a cheer) toward my ear: “Mmmbah.” And then it occurred to me: Not by accident was the drunken Greek music god Pan represented as a goat. Goats love music. I guess I had unconsciously realized this when I named the little beasts after two musicians whose voices sound to me a little like bleating goats (in a good way): Natalie Merchant and Melissa Etheridge.

illustration by


ome people talk to plants. Some try to shout a golf putt into the hole. Me? I sing to goats. This is the story of how it all started, very suddenly, a year and a half ago, in a flood in a remote corner of New Mexico. I’d just completed a 480-mile Craigslist pickup, and was en route home with a precious cargo—two of the most heartmeltingly cute, four-week-old, unweaned goat kids I’d ever seen. Natalie was a pure white gum drop who had immediately taken to nursing from my finger. Melissa was a speckled brown and white, just as pretty, though with a head-butting personality closer to Martina Navratilova. These Chihuahua-sized ruminants were to be the centerpiece of my local living plans. I’ve always been a whistler, the guy who hums in an elevator or discovers from the look of nearby drivers that he’s singing out loud at a light. So when, on our first drive, we came across an overflowing creek and the little mammals started maniacally bleating, I naturally tried belting out “Homeward Bound,” arching my neck around like an owl so the goats could listen as we braved the raging waters. It was the moment I became, for the first time in my life, a professional musician. That is, someone who sings in order to survive. Amazingly, my off-key Simon and Garfunkel rendition worked. The goats stared at me like junkies after a fix. They became

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New York Magazine January 2006





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Plenty Magazine Issue 21 April/May 2008  
Plenty Magazine Issue 21 April/May 2008  

Organic Cheese Rigging the Weather for the Beijing Olympics Bill McKibben The World in Green (Coming Sooner Than You Think) Junk mail warrio...