San Francisco's Green Identity Crisis; the Dirty Details of Clean Coal

Los Angeles Times on San Francisco's green identity, Grist on the dirty details of clean coal, Slate on Denmark's bikers, Time on caring for trees, and Reuters on a huge elephant tusk seizure.

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Los Angeles Times on San Francisco's green identity crisis San Francisco is one of the greenest cities in the country, but a new decision on its water supply tests its dedication. The city's water has come from a dam in Yosemite National Park, based on a 1913 act letting the city turn Hetch Hetchy Valley (pictured above in its original form) into a dam, "one of the biggest defeats in America's youthful conservation movement." In November, a ballot asks voters whether the city should stop draining the valley fand find new methods of hydropower. But officials say draining is expensive and will raise utility prices; conservationists face an uphill battle.

Grist on the dirty details of clean coal A clean coal power plant planned for a west Texas town has officials excited for clean energy. The largely federally-funded new plant  promises to capture 90 percent of its greenhouse gases. But being green is not that simple. The coal for the plant is being imported in a way that will boost oil production. And studies show that the benefits may be slim based on the carbon emitted from oil production.

Slate on why Denmark has so many bikers Copenhagan's combination of solid bike infrastructure and disincentives for driving allows bike culture to flourish. From bike lanes with fewer traffic stops to high gas prices, biking is a part of normal life in Denmark. The result: "Bicycles have displaced more than one-third of all transportation fossil fuel use in Copenhagen and, in the process, eliminated 90,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year."

Dominique Browning in Time on caring for trees Many damages and deaths in storms like Hurricane Sandy is due to trees falling over. This could be prevented if we were took care of trees and were more careful about where we plant them, Browning argues. Once rot spreads, trouble can hit without notice. And trees should be planted in areas with better drainage to prevent falling. "Yes, trees are pretty and useful but they’re also a responsibility that too often people shirk."

Reuters on the biggest elephant tusk seizure in recent history The biggest elephant tusk seizure involved than 200 elephant tusks, worth $1.32 million and hidden in a coffin and fertilizer bags. Officials told Reuters that's indicative of rising poaching in Tanzania and other sub-Saharan African countries. The tusks are used for ornamentation and some folk medicines, and most of the time the smuggled tusks end up in Asia. This month alone, Hong Kong seized $3.5 million worth of tusks.

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