Green religion, powerline portraits and other Green Reads

Greetings, earthlings. On this rainy day (good for the garlic you just planted, eh?) here are some Green Reads to curl up with.

Start off easy with some pictures: The Times gives us a slideshow of photographer Mitch Epstein’s project, a series of images that relate, more or less directly, to the nation’s energy needs. My favorite might be the transquil West Virginia backyards, overshadowed by the towers of a coal-burning power plant. It’s all rather disquieting.

On a related note, a coal plant in Pennsylvania (very close to my hometown, as it happens) has traded air pollution for water pollution. Scrubbers installed on its smokestacks, meant to reduce emissions, are now creating toxic wastewater that gets dumped into the nearby Monongahela River. Similar situations occur nationwide: more evidence that "clean coal" is still nowhere near a reality.

The Times also brings us a cheering story about the new "zero waste movement"—some Honda factories are now Dumpster-free—and another of its patented "envy-inspiring homebuilder" stories, this time about a clever Wisconsonite who builds passive solar structures using whole trees. Don’t miss the slideshow.

The Obamas continue to send mixed signals about the future of food and agriculture: Michelle might be itching for a fight with the various big industries that keep us hooked on sugar, fat and salt. Meanwhile, her husband keeps appointing people to key positions who are deeply connected to agribusiness. It’s weird.

Fields full of many different grasses and wildflowers are beautiful. That means biodiversity has an aesthetic, not just ecological, significance. I like it when studies confirm instinct.

Treehugger explores one of my favorite green subtopics: whether environmentalists are basically religious in our convictions. This writer says no, but the question (actually, a spate of questions) remain(s).

And finally, back to energy. This time it hits close to home. Dominion’s desire for a big new powerline in Northern Virginia has passed another hurdle: The Virginia Supreme Court OK’d the 500-kilovolt project. Maybe Mitch Epstein will take a portrait of the construction.

More links, readers? Post them below.


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