Like carnival goldfish, electronics seem to have a life span of about a week before they're flushed into the junk drawer. But there's a better way: We visit an e-waste collection center and recycling facility to follow deceased gadgets as they go through the stages of reincarnation. (Try that with a goldfish.)
If e-waste disposal had a late-night infomercial, it might go something like this:
Congratulations! You bought an iPhone 6S! Now you can spend hours Instagraming and making Siri talk dirty to you. BUT WAIT … what should you do with that ugly, decrepit, heavy, chipped, old flip phone of yours?
Throwing it in the trash can cause toxic chemicals to leach out into landfills and groundwater. And putting it in a drawer with all your other outdated gadgets takes up so. much. space! Worst of all, your phone and all the private data in it could fall into the wrong hands. There’s GOT to be a better way!
Now, there is: e-Stewards-approved E-WASTE RECYCLING! No child or prison labor, no toxic fumes released into the air of third-world countries, and no incomplete data wipes -- guaran-TEED! Operators are standing by!
There has been a lot of back and forth about real and perceived differences between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) over the years -- including here at Grist, where Tom Laskawy has explored the contentious topic at length. And while the science is definitely still unfolding, the fact that the Corn Refiners Association has shown a strong interest in blurring the line between the two is certainly compelling reason to suspect there are, in fact, some noteworthy differences.
As of Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agrees. The agency released an official response to the Corn Refiners Association’s 2010 request to refer to the substance as “corn sugar” with a resounding no. The reasons they gave read as benignly technical, but also hint at the differences in the kinds of processes needed to make sugar and HFCS (one being a highly industrial, synthetic process resulting in a food that could not exist in nature if we wanted it to). The statement reads:
… the use of the term “corn sugar” for HFCS would suggest that HFCS is a solid, dried, and crystallized sweetener obtained from corn. Instead, HFCS is an aqueous solution sweetener derived from corn after enzymatic hydrolysis of cornstarch, followed by enzymatic conversion of glucose (dextrose) to fructose.
The report also points out that the name “corn sugar” is already spoken for, and is used on food labels to describe dextrose.
The International Energy Agency (IEA) has a new report out, "Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas" [PDF]. Unfortunately, the IEA buried the lede -- the Golden Age of Gas scenario destroys a livable climate -- so the coverage of the report was off target.
That’s true only if a ruined climate, widespread Dust Bowlification, an acidified ocean, and rapidly rising sea levels constitute your idea of “safe.”
Still, the IEA deserves much of the blame for this miscoverage. It’s not until page 91 (!) of the full report [PDF] that the agency explains that adopting its “Golden Rules” for developing shale gas doesn’t stop catastrophe:
The Golden Rules Case puts CO2 emissions on a long-term trajectory consistent with stabilizing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse-gas emissions at around 650 parts per million, a trajectory consistent with a probable temperature rise of more than 3.5 degrees C [6.3 degrees F] in the long term, well above the widely accepted 2 degrees C [3.6 degrees F] target. This finding reinforces a central conclusion from the WEO special report on a Golden Age of Gas (IEA, 2011b), that, while a greater role for natural gas in the global energy mix does bring environmental benefits where it substitutes for other fossil fuels, natural gas cannot on its own provide the answer to the challenge of climate change.
North Carolina is no stranger to the "if you dislike it then you should have made a law against it" model of legislation, but this is extreme: The state General Assembly's Replacement House Bill 819 would rule that scientists are not allowed to accurately predict sea-level rise. By all legal calculations, the sea level will now rise eight inches by the end of the century. Sure, so far models have predicted an increase of more than three feet, but if they keep that shit up, they're going to JAIL.
Mount Everest has become a microcosm for the rest of the planet. Once an isolated place for adventurers, the mountain is now extremely crowded, polluted, and facing dramatic changes as global temperatures rise.
As commercial climbing outfits have blossomed over the last two decades, more and more climbers are flocking to Everest. The overcrowding problem became clear earlier this month when the mountain was clogged by a traffic jam of roughly 150 people trying to reach the summit -- contributing to the death of four climbers.
The traffic jam made big news. But a couple weeks before the incident, another major event took place on the mountain that only got attention from within the climbing community.
Russell Brice, head of the leading Everest climbing operation Himalayan Experience, announced that he would pull his team off Everest, citing unprecedented temperatures that made climbing too dangerous. Heeding advice from experienced Sherpas worried about the warmth, Brice decided to cancel his 2012 expedition because of unstable ice.
Ever since McDonald’s introduced a pair of Slow Food-inspired McItaly burgers last fall, the company has caused quite a stir on the boot-shaped peninsula. The international chain collaborated with Gualtiero Marchesi, one of Italy's most renowned chefs -- and the only Italian chef to date to receive three Michelin stars -- to create the sandwiches. In the process it has also raised big questions about whether a fast food chain can ever truly adopt a Slow Food approach.
Although McDonald’s maintains a fairly consistent core menu around the world, it’s not uncommon for the fast food chain to tailor its restaurants regionally. In Japan, the chain serves ramen noodles, for instance, while the Indonesian menu offers the “McSatay,” and the Indian menu includes something called a "Veggie McMuffin." Even proud McDonald's France, otherwise known as "MacDo," dishes out a popular petit dejeuner-cum-McBreakfast, composed of buttery croissants and cafe au laits, known as “McCafes.”
In Italy, home of the Slow Food movement, the new sandwiches were named Adagio and Vivace(names that Marchesi says represent an integration of two competing philosophies: slow and fast). They wereboth made with some local and traditional products, such as eggplant, spinach, and the Italian cheese ricotta salata. Several of the products were DOP certified, an acronym that stands for Denominazione di Origine Protetta, a widely recognized certification of regional authenticity.
The two sandwiches were a hit. Due to customer demand, they appeared in the stores for nearly two months longer than the initial three-week “limited time offer.” But their popularity among Italians has also reinvigorated the debate among the Slow Foodadvocates whocriticize the fast food industry's wanton neglect for local food communities and traditions.
A version of this article originally appeared in The Observer.
Investigative journalist and author Fred Pearce has a new book out this week: The Land Grabbers: The New Fight Over Who Owns the Earth, which explores "how Wall Street, Chinese billionaires, oil sheiks, and agribusiness are buying up huge tracts of land in a hungry, crowded world." Here he answers questions about the book and his long career reporting on environmental challenges.
Q.What inspired you to write The Land Grabbers?
A. Over the last few years, I became aware of this hidden revolution taking place around the world: the buying up of vast swaths of land by foreign entities from beneath its occupiers. Soaring grain prices in 2007/2008 led to countries such as Saudi Arabia and South Korea worrying about their national food security and buying up overseas land. Then speculators and investors started piling in on the back of that. The net result is that poor farmers and cattle herders across the world are being thrown off their land. Land grabbing is having more of an impact on the lives of poor people than climate change. No one has put together the global picture of land grabbing so I wanted to take a closer look.
Here's 56 years' worth of tornado tracking data, which makes the eastern half of the U.S. look like it's exploding in a shower of welding sparks or fireworks. Brighter lines represent more violent storms.
You may remember the internet going mildly crazy for this video of a tortoise with sexual identity issues. (Not his identity, just the identity of his chosen mate, which is a Croc.) It had all the hallmarks of a blockbuster -- sexy sexy romance, dubious fashion choices, animals making adorable "enh!" noises. But what it didn't have was David Attenborough.