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Nice Work: Your Lightbulbs Have Changed an Economic Metric

Electricity use is no longer a great metric for economic activity.

Here's a small victory: Partly because of your new lightbulbs and because you're wearing a sweater instead of cranking up your heat, American electricity use isn't a great metric for economic growth anymore (subscription required). So says the Wall Street Journal:

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In Barcelona, a Living Wall Is More Than Architecture: It's 'Vegitecture'

For architects in Barcelona, "vegitecture" is the new "green living." They've built a vertical garden straight in the city's residential quarters.

The environmentally-minded designers at Barcelona firm Capella Garcia Arquitectura take the idea of “green living” to heart. Their latest project, helmed by partners Juli Capella and Miguel Garcia, reimagines and reinvents a unsightly wall left behind from a former building demolition. Their solution: a completely natural makeover.

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Debunking 'Green Living': Combatting Climate Change Requires Lifestyle Changes, Not Organic Products

It's clear what people should be doing to live greener lives. What's important now is figuring out how to convince people to actually do it.


When I first heard that the Union of Concerned Scientists was creating a research-based guide to green living, I was ecstatic. How brilliant, I thought, to finally have the answer to the question of which of the seemingly infinite "green" actions make the most difference. Should I obsess about turning the lights off before I left the house? Was composting worth the effort after all? UCS, which has a well-deserved reputation for accuracy and fact-based advocacy, seemed equipped to answer these conundrums once and for all.

Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living came out this week. And true to its promise, it uses research to determine which green actions make the most difference. I’m disappointed in the answers they came up with, though—not because they’re wrong or overly complicated, but because they’re not.

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The Downside to the 'Buy Less Stuff' Philosophy

Greener purchasing choices could cause the average gross domestic product of low-income countries to drop by more than 4 percent.


Often, the best green lifestyle advice boils down to a simple principle: “Buy less stuff.”

But according to a new analysis [PDF] from the Stockholm Environment Institute, scaling back consumption has negative consequences, too. Greener purchasing choices could cause the average gross domestic product of low-income countries to drop by more than 4 percent—the average amount a country’s GDP might be expected to grow in a given year. The GDP of the world's least-developed countries could take an even bigger hit, of more than 5 percent.

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A Modest Proposal for a More Sustainable Super Bowl (Beer Still Included)

We are not going to give up the Super Bowl. But we can try to minimize its impact.


I don’t know about you, but I plan to spend Sunday eating and drinking beer and watching lots of commercials and eating some more. Oh, and watching some football, I suppose. I’m not really a sports fan, though my dad roots for the Giants. (Go Giants!) But Super Bowl Sunday isn’t about football. Or, at least, it’s not exclusively about football. It’s a national holiday dedicated to eating as much as you want, drinking as much as you can, and wishing for that car/snack food/sneaker/E*Trade account you just saw on TV. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Americans consume more on Super Bowl Sunday than any day except Thanksgiving.

That makes this weekend a less-than-obvious time to think about sustainability. Discussions about living sustainably often come around to sacrifice—giving up meat, incandescent light bulbs, gas-guzzling SUVs, cheap coal—and we are not going to give up the Super Bowl. The only path forward is to try to minimize its impact, to design the most sustainable Super Bowl possible. Here is what that might look like.

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