Category Archives: Environment

How walkable is your neighborhood?

Just found out about a site called Walk Score today. It uses Google Maps data to calculate a walkability score for any address based on how close it is to services like grocery stores, restaurants, schools, etc. For instance, my house got a “walker’s paradise” 91 (out of 100), while my work got only a 63. Still, not bad for San Diego.

It’s a simple but powerful idea; now I have a benchmark to use when deciding between hotels on vacation or (eventually) deciding which house to buy. Perhaps it’ll encourage more neighborhoods to become walkable…

A Greener Apple

Steve Jobs released a statement today (A Greener Apple) that thoughtfully and simply summarizes progress Apple has made in improving the environmental footprint of its products.  The letter covers everything from plans to phase out toxic chemicals to electronic waste recycling, and each step sounds more reasonable than the last.

I would post excerpts here, but I don’t think they would do the piece justice.  The entire statement is worth a read.  It made me happy to be an Apple customer.

news roundup

I read news from a bunch of different sources each day, including Google News, Reddit, and a whole host of blog feeds. Some items are worth commenting on here, but often I just want to say “hey, read this one” instead of finding something specific to comment on.

So, I’m going to try a new feature here on Global Spin: the News Roundup. Each post is a list of timely articles with excerpts but little or no commentary, perhaps updated over the course of the day. If you find them useful, let me know. If you find them annoying, mention that too.

Doctors refuse to take bitter no-gift medicine (Chicago Tribune)

Whether it be Subway sandwiches for the office staff or reimbursement for continuing education, gifts showered upon doctors by drug- and medical device-makers have become so pervasive that they are a standard part of virtually every U.S. physician’s practice.

Despite self-policing initiatives launched by organized medical groups and the drug and device makers to curb the cozy relationship between physicians and industry, 94 percent “or virtually all” physicians have at least one type of relationship with the drug industry, according to a study scheduled to be published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Stephen Hawking set to fly weightless (Houston Chronicle)

For a few seconds on Thursday, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking expects to feel the exhilaration of escaping his paralysis and floating free in zero gravity. The 65-year-old was set Thursday to become the first person with a disability to experience the Zero Gravity Corp. flight.

Canada Announces Greenhouse Gas Targets (Washington Post)

Canada’s Conservative government said Wednesday it will cut greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020 and ban inefficient incandescent lightbulbs by 2012 as part of a national environmental initiative.

The plan, dubbed “Turning the Corner,” includes various measures to stop the rise of greenhouse gases in three to five years. Once the gases stop rising, the government plans to reduce them by 150 million tons by 2020, or about 20 percent the level of current emissions.

TGV gets even faster (and maybe comes to California)

Oh, can we please order about a dozen of these?

A French high-speed train, with a souped-up engine and wheels, breaks the world speed record near Grigny, eastern France, Tuesday, April 3, 2007, reaching 574.8 kph (357.2 mph). The black and chrome train with three double-decker cars, named the V150, bettered the previous record of 515.3 (320.2 mph), set in 1990 by the French fast train. However, it fell short of the ultimate record set by Japan’s non-conventional magnetically levitated train, which sped to 581 kph (361 mph) in 2003.

More at the Houston Chronicle.  To save you the math, 350 mph gets one from San Diego to San Francisco in an hour and a half, an order of magnitude faster than Amtrak currently manages.   And that’s not just wishful thinking, either:

Hours before the run, Transport Minister Dominique Perben received a delegation from California, which is studying prospects for a high-speed line from Sacramento to San Diego, via San Francisco and Los Angeles.

There’s still a long way to go, but perhaps by the time Ben wants to explore California on his own, he’ll be able to go by (really fast) train.