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This Week in TreeHugger: Bill Clinton Riffs on Emissions during a Slow Climate Week, Plus Brad On Green Building, Byrne On the Cycling-Dog Poop Connection, and Urine on Your Tomatoes




Treehuggers were all over the map this week: Brian Merchant sat down with Bill Clinton on the sidelines of the Clinton Global Initiative, while Matthew McDermott had breakfast with IPCC Chairman Rajendra Pachauri. On the other end of the spectrum, we contemplated picking up dog poop and the virtues of peeing on our plants (see below).

In the photo department, a few Treehuggers checked in on PARK(ing) Day around the country, Jacob Gordon checked out the sustainable offerings on view at the Frankfurt Auto Show.

After sitting in on a series of somewhat windy grassroots events, speeches at the U.N. Summit on Climate Change (including a promising but vague one by China), film openings and demonstrations, Matthew McDermott wonders if Climate Week was little more than a gigantic exercise in expectation management.

Expectations may be a bit lower this week as the Senate dives into the climate bill. Not lowering expectations is Nicholas Stern, who wants to get past talking about percentage reductions in carbon dioxide output and start measuring carbon cuts in the more important unit of gigatons.

To lower that number, we often think of making power generation and transport more efficient, but Michael Graham Richard points us to a new EPA study that indicates there's much CO2 to be saved by waste reduction and recycling. If we did what they recommend, we could cut U.S. CO2 emissions by about 354 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year. That's a big "if" of course.

Hoping to avoid the mistakes of compact florescent lightbulbs (the color! the delay!), the Environmental Protection Agency has launched a $10 million contest to find a 60-watt bulb equivalent that only uses 10 watts of electricity. It must also last 25 times as long as a normal lightbulb (roughly 25,000 hours) and be at least 75 percent produced in the United States. Ten million dollars sounds like a lot, but consider the greater benefits of such a lightbulb: national savings of an estimated 5.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year and enough energy to power 17.4 million homes.

As Apple threw a lifecycle analysis of its products on its website, Jacob Gordon interviews the deputy editor of Newsweek about the magazine's recent (and controversial) list of America's greenest companies.

John Laumer explains why the U.S. Green Building Council's new labeling idea may not be such a good idea: apart from the political obstacles and the implications for neighborhood development, the labels would likely either be too vague or too specific, and quickly lose their impact. Perhaps more crucial for the future of green building, writes Brian Merchant: Brad Pitt

What Pitt may be to green building, David Byrne may be to cycling. The Talking Head knows that shifting attitudes towards cyclists-and attitudes about good behavior in general-are inevitable and infectious, and he cites New Yorkers relationship with dog poop as an example.

While we're on that topic: we knew that peeing in public is generally good for the environment, and doing it in the shower can help save the rainforest. But it's also good for tomatoes (just don't pee on your neighbors' patch). In fact, urine's one of the best kept secrets of gardening.

In a speed test of 18 different types of transport, covering a distance of about 10 kilometers (more than six miles) during rush hour in Sao Paulo, the winner will be-you guessed it-cyclists. As Paula Alvarado reports, they reached their destination faster than a helicopter. The cyclists, a runner, a bus, and a skater all took less time than the car, which took a nerve-racking 82 minutes.

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via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

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Business

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

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Health

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

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