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Why White Is Wicked

[Photograph by Tim Mitchell] You probably need to be naked to read this book with a clear conscience. This reader, for one, felt like stripping off as the revelations piled up: – it took 700 gallons of fresh water to make my cotton t-shirt; – it’s partly down to me that 85% of the Aral Sea […]

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How to game the gift economy

In pre-market-based societies, goods and services were distributed on the basis of gift-giving and reciprocity. The most effective strategy for security, in an age without bank accounts and insurance policies, was to develop a reputation for generosity and sharing. This is a heart-warming story – so shall we put it to the test? Here follows a case […]

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Istanbul: City of Seeds

It was generous of the The Building Information Centre (YEM) and 34Solo to host an xskool event in their city last week. Our starting premise, after all, was that Turkey’s 30 year long construction boom is losing momentum. True, the sound of jackhammers was pervasive in Istanbul during our visit – but the cold winds of […]

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Blood Minerals and Cellphones

“Increasing pressure on electronics companies to ensure that their products do not contain illicit minerals from the killing fields in eastern Congo is beginning to have a significant impact. With bills on conflict minerals moving through Congress, the electronics industry has spent about $2 million per month lobbying Senate offices to relax the legislation” The […]

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A Reading List for Mr. Monti

When the new Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Mario Monti, gave his acceptance speech to the Italian Senate before Christmas, he used the word “growth” 28 times and the word “energy” – well, zero times. Why would this supposed technocrat neglect even to mention the biophysical basis of the world’s economy? Well, Mr Monti is better […]

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Man and Nature, Re-Connected

There are times when you have to wonder whether ad industry persons totally, er, get it, on the matter of man’s disconnect with nature… and what to do about it. This Aigle ad, which I tore out the Air France magazine, reads “For the re-introduction of man in nature”. Yeah, right. And go buy some […]

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Water: the bad news and the good news

A new book by Alex Prud’homme called The Ripple Effect addresses the “vast and desperately serious subject” of water. The author does not hold back: all the world’s water problems are here. The sewage, fertilizers, industrial chemicals, plastics, paint, drugs, and hand soap, among other contaminants, that find their way into the world’s rivers every […]

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Edible Architecture

Today seems to be the day when, once a year in this part of France, every spider in the region spins her best possible web at the same moment. Early in the morning, when covered in dew, the whole landscape seems to be dotted with uncountable millions of these amazing structures. Now spider’s web, as […]

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Sweat equity infra

It’s hard not to be impressed by the Millau Viaduct that’s down the road from where I live in France. The tallest bridge in the world boasts an eight-span steel roadway, is supported supported by seven huge concrete pylons, and weighs 36,000 tonnes. But consider this: The great pyramid in Egypt weighs 180 times more […]

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