The New York Times on "Mexsicko" City's about-face on pollution The capital of Mexico, once so infamous for its pollution that it was nicknamed "Mexsicko" City, has made great strides in cleaning up its air quality, so much so that cities in other developing countries, notably China, are looking to it as a model for pollution reduction. "Ozone levels and other pollution measures now place it on roughly the same level as the (also cleaner) air above Los Angeles," writes The New York Times' Damien Cave. The government has helped make the air above Mexico City cleaner over the decades by closing polluting factories, banning drivers from using their car once a week, insitituting a bike-loan program, and improving public transit. But it's one of the many citizen-driver initiatives -- three towering vertical gardens meant to eat up carbon dioxide (one above) -- that's become the symbol of the city's green awakening, argues Cave.
The Los Angeles Times on green big-rigs The Times' Ronald D. White offers an encouraging example today of the interests of environmentalists and corporations aligning. Prompted by fuel-efficiency mandates in states like California and fears of another spike in diesel prices like the one that occurred in 2008, trucking companies are taking it upon themselves to update their fleets to make them more energy efficient -- creating the nice byproduct of reduced greenhouse gas emissions. Companies are making their big-rigs greener in myriad ways: upgrading engines to fuel-efficient diesel, natural gas, electric or hybrid; buying aerodynamic cabs; installing software that optimizes trucking routes and cuts down on idle time. And given the results for one company, the energy savings can be significant for firms. "Atlanta-based Coca-Cola saved about 1 million gallons in 2011, or about 4.8% of annual fuel consumption."
Scientific American on weaning Hawaii off of oil Isolated in the Pacific, Hawaii faces both the highest electricity costs and highest gas prices of any state. The islands rely almost entirely on imported (and thus expensive) oil for energy, prompting Hawaiians to fast-track the development of renewable sources of energy to gain independence. Writing for Scientific American, David Biello profiled Hawaii's first biorefinery, which processes organic matter in fuel, and runs down the other renewable-energy programs being developed in Hawaii. And surprisingly it's the U.S. Navy, with hydrogen-powered cars, nuclear submarines and carriers, and other ships capable of running on biofuel, that's at the forefront of Hawaii's efforts at going green.
Bloomberg View on food-born illnesses Lost in the controversy over "pink slime" is that while it was unappetizing, it is safe to eat. But in an editorial, Bloomberg View reminds us that the same cannot always be said for some of our other foodstuffs when they carry food-born illnesses. "Reports last week of a salmonella outbreak, possibly related to sushi, serve as a timely reminder of why the Obama administration must expedite a plan to modernize the country’s food-safety regulations, which haven’t been updated since the Great Depression," the editors write. Though legislation, in the form of the Food Safety and Modernization Act, has been passed to stop food contamination at its source through increased testing, carrying out the law would require more funding than currently available. The editors suggest charging user fees to food producers to offset the cost of more testing, which would save money for firms in the long run with fewer recalls -- and would ultimately save lives.
Capital New York on animals that glow Bioluminescence, the phenomenon of plants and animals giving off an eerie glow as the result of a chemical reaction, has fascinated ancients like Aristotle -- and can continue to fascinate us today, if only we check out an exhibit on it at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Capital New York's Rose Lichter-Marck visited the museum for "Creatures of Light: Nature’s Bioluminescence" to report on the glowing mushrooms, beetles, fireflies, and deep-sea monsters, praising the show. "It is a noble and necessary task, especially because only a small percentage of humans will ever get to experience the glorious rainbow of deep-sea bioluminescence first hand; the rest of us must console ourselves with the lesser glow of simile and simulation."