Animals

Critical List: Fracking ‘almost certainly’ caused earthquakes; wolves save trees

The disposal of fracking wastewater "almost certainly" was the cause of all those earthquakes near Youngstown, Ohio. Oil is washing up on the shores of Nigeria; Shell denies it's from the massive oil spill that occurred last month. BP wants Halliburton to cover the $20 billion it paid to clean up and otherwise deal with the Deepwater Horizon spill. Wolves save trees. (Related: Deer are sort of like giant squirrels.)

Nature is trying to reabsorb the exurbs

Great news for folks who have watched the value of their exurban McMansions circling the drain over the past few years: These fringe habitations can be returned to nature to find new life as wildlife habitats. It’s basically the real estate version of composting. Okay, so there's not really an official effort to make subdivisions into sanctuaries, but apparently nobody told bears that. In Hopatcong, N.J., a cable TV repairman recently descended into 85-year-old Frank Annacone's basement and found a 500-pound black bear slumbering there. The folks at Gothamist dubbed it the "Reverse Goldilocks Bear," and in a true case …

Foot-long shrimp take over Gulf of Mexico

The Asian tiger prawn, a gigantic shrimp that can grow to more than a foot long, is invading the Gulf of Mexico. This year the species was found for the first time in Texas waters. This giganto breed of crustacean threatens the survival of crabs, oysters, and regular old normal-sized shrimp. It could disrupt the thriving Gulf ecosystem and also the incredible bounty of seafood that cities like New Orleans serve up. How'd these suckers get into the Gulf? One likely culprit is aquaculture: storm surges could have swept them from fish farms into the open water. As with any …

Critical List: Deaths rise in Philippines flooding; how to recycle your Christmas tree

The death toll for flooding in the Philippines is over 2,500. For the first time in six decades, harbor porpoises are hanging out in the San Francisco Bay. First Solar, a company that makes thin-film solar panels, has spent $2.2 million on D.C. lobbying in the past four years. That’s a pittance by Washington standards. But in California the company spent triple the amount BP did on lobbying. Sick of your Christmas tree yet? Here's how to get rid of it responsibly. And here's how to prepare your house or apartment for the less-fun part of winter.

Small spiders have TERRIFYING GIANT BRAINS

Tiny spiders are tiny, but relative to their body size it turns out their brains are ginormous. In some cases, 80 percent of a spider's body cavity contains central nervous tissues. Other spiders store parts of their brains in their legs. In other words, step on a tiny spider, and most of the goo that comes out will be braaaaains. Or think of it like this: If dogs breeds had a similar relationship to brain size, chihuahuas would have brains all the way to their tails.

Critical List: Oil spill off Nigerian coast contained; demand for solar could flatline

Shell managed to contain the large oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean before it reached the Nigerian coast. In America, thousands of times each year, sewer systems overflow and contaminate the country's waterways. But nope, fixing up aging infrastructure during an economic downturn is a terrible idea, according to House Republicans. Not only are solar panels getting cheaper, they're getting waaaay more efficient. Too bad demand for solar projects could "flatline" next year. Finding Nemo lied to us all: Tropical fish stuck in small tanks aren't friendly and helpful. They turn mean.

11 from ’11: The most-clicked Grist stories of the year

Can’t … resist … clicking …Photo: Lindsey TurnerWe’ve had a few year-end lists here at Grist. Here are our choices for top stories of the year, top cities stories of the year, and top food stories of the year. But what about you, the great unwashed masses, surfing the great unwashed interwebs? What are your favorite Grist posts this year? To find out, I interfaced with our Stats-o-Matic 3000 machine and dug up The 11 From 11, that is to say, the 11 most clicked-upon Grist posts of 2011. Frankly, I’m disappointed in you people. Here I am explaining how …

Oh HELL yeah baby polar bear

That is all.

Climate Dogs wish everyone happy holidays

They're trying to recycle all that wrapping paper, really. They just don't have thumbs. David Roberts made me post this. But honestly, how could I say no?

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