Eco International
Dispatches on global ecological issues, activism and consciousness from our international correspondents and guest writers.
'Everyday Smog': A Typical Day in Xi’an, China
Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:00  |  Written by John Marten | Blog Entry

Xi'an, China, Smog photo by Jakob MontrasioIt was sometime in January this year, in Xi’an, a Chinese provincial capital. Smog hung so thick in the air that you couldn't see the smoke from the burning garbage piles that lined the streets.

In the office where I worked on the east side of the city, we used to measure the air quality by what was the farthest building we could see. Usually that was the construction site three or four blocks away. Sometimes it was the white tower on the other side of the hospital, about six blocks. And on one strange day, we could see all the way to the mountains that ring the city. Even some of the natives gave a puzzled look and commented, “I didn't know there were mountains over there.” Read on…

In Much of the World, Pedestrians Rule the Naked Streets
Thursday, 11 April 2013 00:00  |  Written by Dawn Marshallsay | Blog Entry

Pedestrian Warning Sign photo by txdWhen the streets get naked, the pedestrians come out to play. It sounds strange that road accidents are reduced when you remove the curbs, signs and traffic lights that were designed to maintain safety, but this removal forces drivers to make eye contact with pedestrians and travel slower in case they need to break sharply—you never know where or when a pedestrian will want to cross the road. It’s therefore no surprise that naked streets, or so-called “shared space” schemes, are spreading across the globe. Read on…

La Défense: Europe’s Largest Business District Sets a New Standard for Sustainable Development
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 00:00  |  Written by Matthew Monfuletho | Blog Entry

La Defense Arch and Business District, Paris, photo by bewilder2009From every corner of the globe, an estimated eight million visitors flock to Paris every year to marvel at world-famous architectural wonders such as Notre Dame, the Louvre museum or the Tour Eiffel [tour means tower in French. – Ed.]. Yet, few tourists extend their cultural visit to take in what is often referred to as "the world's museum of modern architecture"—La Défense, Europe's largest business district. Read on…

Choking on Costs: The Price of Air Pollution in China
Thursday, 17 January 2013 00:00  |  Written by John Marten | Blog Entry

Beijing Smog photo by Kevin DooleyFrom time to time we see images of smog-smothered streets in Shanghai, Beijing and other major Chinese cities. Surely it's uncomfortable to breathe this fetid air—perhaps we even feel a sympathetic scratchiness in our throats or sting in our eyes—but how about its deleterious effects on the health of that nation and its people? And why is China having such difficulty keeping its air clean and breathable? Read on…

Israel's Disappointing Brand of Environmentalism
Saturday, 17 November 2012 00:00  |  Written by Shira Siegel | Blog Entry

Israeli Desert photo by Fred NienaberFor a young country that has transformed itself, despite scant resources, from proverbial no-man’s-land to thriving slice of the Middle East in 60-odd years, Israel and its people place environmental concerns and recycling surprisingly close to the bottom of their priority lists. Israel is a politically fragile state; people are more concerned about security, religious politics and whether or not they’ll be blown to pieces in a suicide bombing or rocket attack than about lobbying their municipalities for recycling collection or composting. Read on…

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Eco Tip

Lower your thermostat temperature in winter and raise it in summer. In winter, set your thermostat to 68 degrees or less during the day (and wear a sweater) and 55 degrees or less at night (and add an extra blanket). Wear less or use a fan instead of air-conditioning on all but the hottest summer days. When you must use air-conditioning, set your thermostat to 78 degrees or more.  More tips...

Eco Quote

We have forgotten how to be good guests, how to walk lightly on the earth as its other creatures do. - Barbara Ward, Only One Earth, 1972   More quotes...