Yosemite National Park

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My family and I spent 4 wonderful days in Yosemite National Park in mid-July. Marred initially by a wildfire that filled the park with a smoky haze for the first couple of days, it cleared quickly revealing us the great natural beauty of the valley. We had a lovely time hiking several of its trails feasting our eyes on the wonderful vistas and being astounded by the sheer granite mountains and the deep valleys.

It also renewed my faith in the power of conservation of our natural resources and wilderness. National Parks are one of the best ideas that have come from America and I hope the powers to be continue to add to this promise.

I hope you enjoy these select photos from our trip. Feel free to download and use our itinerary.

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Is This America’s Smartest City?

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Dan McAtee and Laura Spoor’s utility bill last year came to $631. That’s not bad considering the average annual electric bill in Austin, the Texas capital, is more than $1,000, largely because air-conditioning may be the only thing locals love more than barbecue. But it’s even more impressive once you realize the bill actually came to negative $631. The solar panels on their roof mean McAtee and Spoor produce more electricity than they consume. “We got the biggest system we could get,” says McAtee, pointing to the array of panels laid atop their one-story home like domino tiles. “Now we’ve got what you might call overgeneration.”

via TIME.

How We’re Destroying Our Kids’ Brains

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Harlem is plagued by health conditions not uncommon among the urban poor. In addition to suffering from asthma, children here have high rates of obesity and, perhaps most alarming, significant learning disabilities. Increasingly, medical researchers are discovering that all of these syndromes are linked at least in part to environmental factors, from nutrition to tobacco smoke to industrial chemicals. Jusino, like many, was stunned to learn that pollution\’s biggest target may be not our lungs but our brains.

via Mother Jones.

Shanghai’s Unbelievable Pollution Problem

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Shanghai

For the seventh day this month, Shanghai officials have warned children and the elderly to stay inside in a city where 24 hours exposed to the off-the-charts pollution would have hazardous consequences to one’s health. Hundreds of flights and sporting events have been cancelled, while face masks and air purifiers sold out in stores. All week, the pollution level hovered at “heavily” and “severely” polluted, according to Shanghai’s Air Quality Index, at up to 31 times the recommended levels.

via ThinkProgress.

Stealth tax on homeowners who install solar panels

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Over the coming year, the American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) will promote legislation with goals ranging from penalising individual homeowners and weakening state clean energy regulations, to blocking the Environmental Protection Agency, which is Barack Obama’s main channel for climate action.

Details of Alec’s strategy to block clean energy development at every stage – from the individual rooftop to the White House – are revealed as the group gathers for its policy summit in Washington this week.

How stupid!

via The Raw Story.

Greening Houston: Changing the plans

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Other changes are harder to see. The energy codes for buildings have been overhauled and the city is, astonishingly, America’s biggest municipal buyer of renewable energy; about a third of its power comes from Texan wind farms.

Source: The Economist.

Tiny Dioramas of an Abandoned World

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Fine-art photographer Lori Nix is adding her eerie vision to the mix with an exhibition called “The City” — in which “public spaces devoted to history and science lie deteriorating and neglected while nature slowly takes them back.” The twist is that Nix’s photos aren’t Photoshop manipulations — they’re real images of tiny, painstakingly detailed dioramas that Nix has designed just for these photographs.

Now on display at New York’s ClampArt Gallery until December 18, and then at Chicago’s Catherine Edelman Gallery from January 7 to February 26, 2011