February 2012

Climate Change

Myhrvold: 50 simple things won’t fix the climate — but a few complex things might

Nathan Myhrvold responds to follow-up questions about his paper that found that the transition to carbon-free energy must begin immediately.

Climate Policy

Mean right hook: Conservative judge deals blow to polluters in climate trial

In a challenge to EPA findings that greenhouse gases threaten public health, even a Reagan-appointed judge isn't buying industry arguments that climate science is a hoax.

Cities

Tightening the Rust Belt: How a Clevelander fell in love with Pittsburgh

During a week spent fixing up an old house, including a glamorous MLK Day hanging out in a dumpster, one young urbanite fell prey to the charms of the Steel City -- and its ability to turn abandonment into opportunity.

Food

Beetlemania: Invasive insect could become our billion-dollar problem

If the Khapra beetle spreads from our ports to our crops, it will eat all our food. Visit the front lines in Oakland, Calif., where customs agents struggle to keep the buggers at bay.

Coal

Chicago goes coal-free

Activists have succeeded in getting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to shut down the city’s two coal plants — one of them by the end of the year. That doesn’t mean the city is off coal power entirely, of course, but banishing coal plants from within the city limits will have a massive effect on urban health. As Philip Radford wrote here on Grist last year, pollution from the Windy City’s coal plants costs tens of thousands of lives: Every year, the toxic pollution that spews from the smokestacks of America’s coal-fired power plants kills between 13,000 and 34,000 people, according …

Animals

New Center for PostNatural History is a museum of human influence on nature

It makes sense that there would be a museum to chronicle just how much we’ve messed with plants, animals, the climate, and in general the world around us. The Center for PostNatural History, opening this week in Pittsburgh, is that museum.

Urban Agriculture

Mexico City’s urbanization threatens ancient ‘floating gardens’

Chinampas, or floating gardens -- small artificial islands full of crops, built up on shallow lake beds -- once sustained the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan, producing multiple harvests every year. They still exist in Mexico City, for now.

Climate Skeptics

Economist smacks down skeptics for misreading his research

William D. Nordhaus — economist, Yale professor, serious person — has taken to a serious publication, The New York Review of Books, to put the smackdown on climate skeptics. The back story: Nordhaus has done working analysis of the economic impacts of implementing climate policies. In that awful Wall Street Journal op-ed we wrote about in January, a group of skeptics cited that work as proof that the country should do exactly nothing in the next 50 years to fight climate change. In his new article, Nordhaus approaches this and other claims with, as he says, “a cool head and …

Living

Mailbox-sized libraries bring book-lending right to your yard

Running a library is easier than you think. Forget the degree in library and information science and the carefully chosen prudish getups with easy-pull ripcords that turn them into sexy outfits. All you need is a box on a stick and a bunch of books to set up a Little Free Library, a front-yard stash that lets you share your love of reading with the community.

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