Sunday, September 30, 2007



Brad Pitt. Photo: Amy Graves / WireImage Home Sexy Home
Brad Pitt pledges $5 million for green homes in New Orleans

At the third annual Clinton Global Initiative philanthropic soiree yesterday, actor Brad Pitt pledged $5 million in matching funds to build about 150 green homes in New Orleans' Lower Ninth Ward neighborhood, one of the most troubled areas in the city. "We're going to help make it right with 150 sustainable, affordable houses -- houses that stand out for their design both aesthetically and structurally, so that these people can live in beautiful safe structures that respect their spirit and provide a good quality of life," said Pitt. Real-estate bigwig Steve Bing also pledged $5 million in matching funds for the effort. Other green announcements at the CGI included power company Florida Power & Light unveiling its plans for a 300-megawatt solar thermal plant, as one part of a $2.4 billion initiative. That broad initiative would also see an additional solar thermal plant in California, and would provide millions in funding to help power users reduce their consumption. Still other funding pledged at the high-profile conference included money for education and health initiatives for especially needy areas around the world.


You Really Can't Have Too Many Meetings
Bush hosts climate meeting of world's largest emitters

Representatives from the world's 17 largest greenhouse-gas emitters are gathering today in the good ol' U.S. of A. for a climate-change discussion. (And yes, the United Nations did just have one of those -- President Bush played hooky.) The group, which includes China, India, and Brazil, was convened today by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Bush will address them tomorrow. Some E.U. nations are represented by junior ministers, as their senior officials have just, ahem, attended the U.N. meeting. Some see the summit as evidence that Bush is finally, finally, taking leadership on the climate issue; others fear that the group will latch onto fast-track voluntary measures, undermining the long-term, stricter standards likely to come out of U.N. negotiations. Either way, don't expect immediate significant action: White House officials say the main goal is to set a plan for deciding how, and how much, to cut emissions, and expect that four or five more meetings will follow over the next year.

Permanent Pressure
Banks and international leaders turn up pressure on Bush to act against climate change

President Bush may be playing host to his very own climate summit, but that hasn't mollified folks around the world who want to see real action to stave off climate change. In fact, the pressure to act is stronger than ever. This week, some of the world's leading banks are gathering as lobbying group International Carbon Investors and Services to urge the U.S. and other developed nations to introduce a lightly regulated carbon-trading program. And government officials from around the globe went to the White House earlier this week to urge mandatory cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions. Not to mention the near-constant ragging the administration gets from a certain scrappy, incisive web magazine. Personally, we don't know how they stand it.

Total Recall
Over 500,000 more toys recalled due to lead

Another round of recalls was issued yesterday for over 500,000 children's toys or accessories that were found to exceed allowable lead levels, including more Thomas the Tank Engine paraphernalia and the now conspicuously gloomy Happy Giddy Gardening Tools from Target. Federal regulators were quick to point out that this recall won't be the last. "After the first set of recalls, retailers and manufacturers reported they would take a very systematic inventory to determine whether any of their products were in violation of the lead paint standard," said Julie Vallese, a spokesperson for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "These recalls are a result of that inventory ... there is the anticipation that there will be more lead recalls in the future." The CPSC is making a recall list and checking it ... well, at least once. Our suggestion for recall-jaded parents: start a neighborhood pool about what'll be in the next round of recalls. Keeps it interesting and it might just pay off! We're giving 2 to 1 odds on toy cars -- any takers?

Charmer in the Dell
Dell Inc. pledges to go carbon neutral

PC manufacturer Dell Inc. has announced plans to go entirely carbon neutral by next year. (Take that, Nokia!) The company will focus on energy efficiency and renewable power, and offset additional emissions. In addition, Dell's "Plant a Tree for Me" program, wherein customers can direct funds to global tree planting, will expand to "Plant a Forest for Me," a partnership with other organizations to facilitate sustainable reforestation. No doubt Dell, which recently lost its No. 1 spot in the PC market, hopes new green measures will help it turn over a new leaf.

Work It, Working Assets Customers
Grist made the list -- now we need your votes

Direct donations to Grist the cheap 'n' lazy way: Customers of socially conscious phone-service and credit-card provider Working Assets can go to the company's voting page and assign maximum points to Grist (we're in the Education & Freedom of Expression section) -- with that one button click from you, a little bit o' dough comes our way at the end of the year. The number of votes we get determines the chunk of change we get, so we do need your support. To help us track our progress, please send a note to after you've voted. And thank you!


Cookin' It Old School
Time to reinvest in the school-lunch program

You might not have enjoyed school lunches when you were growing up -- but at least you got fed. In a growing number of schools around the country, budget crises are leading to higher prices, shorter lunchtimes, and even kids denied meals if they fall behind on their lunch money. Is that any way to treat the shining promise of society? Tom Philpott explains how we got to this point and what you can do about it -- as soon as mid-October.

One Way. Photo: iStockphoto Pressure Points
Parenting series looks at the ease of succumbing

As our parenting series nears its Friday close, we bring you two reflections on being green and healthy in the face of pressure. Amy Linn admits that her daughter's eyes light up at the sight of a bowl of nuclear-orange SpongeBob mac 'n' cheese, and she offers tips from a nutritionist on how to gently encourage older kids to eat better -- as well as a downloadable cheat sheet on what's really wrong with today's junk food. Meanwhile, Grist blogger Christine Gardner chronicles her family's train trip to Chicago, their sweaty stumble through a downtown park, and the best way she knows to answer questions about her green choices: lie.

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