Biological control helps curb populations of knapweed, humans

A popular weapon in the anti-pest arsenal is biological control -- i.e., the introduction of a natural enemy. It's considered a nice environmental alternative to pesticides. But it can still disrupt the local ecosystem and have serious consequences, like this example from a NY Times article: The knapweed is widespread in the West. The gall fly was introduced to control it. The deer mouse likes gall fly larvae, and now the mouse population is exploding. The droppings of deer mice can cause hantavirus, an infection that can be fatal to humans. Whoops!

New Giller update

She is Baby X no longer. Say hello to Ellis Adaline, coming in at 7 pounds, 11 ounces of pure, gorgeous Gillerness. If your heart stirs at the sight of cute babies -- if you care about creating a world she can be proud of -- then how can you not contribute to Grist? I'm just saying. (PS: These attempts to use Chip's new baby to fundraise for Grist are entirely unauthorized. I accept all responsibility and embrace my shamelessness.)

Gristmill on NPR

I was on NPR's "All Things Considered" yesterday talking briefly about the Chevy Tahoe ad campaign. You can hear the segment here.

With Rules Like These, Who Needs Rules?

Draft EPA regulation could up air pollution The U.S. EPA is considering a regulatory change that could massively increase air pollution — which is really its job, when you think about it. Currently, oil refineries, …

The Great Peru Giveaway

Grist offers wicked awesome prize to lure new subscribers Maybe it’s been a while since you thought about Peru. Say, since you took junior-high social studies. Or read Paddington Bear. Or ate a plate of …

Japanese, Norwegians, and Icelanders spout off in favor of whaling

If you’re into eating whales, Kouji Shingru’s shop is the place for you. Located on a pedestrian-only street in Tokyo’s bustling Asakusa neighborhood, Shingru’s compact establishment has it all: deep red whale steaks and fillets …

If the only tool you have is a Hammer …

... you see every problem as nailed. Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is leaving government.

Bush vs. rural America

Water safety rules will be more lax in rural areas

Has the White House declared war on farmers and ranchers? The brunt of the Bush administration's rush to expand energy development in western states has been most directly borne by rural voters. Water-intensive gas-extraction procedures run ranchers' wells dry and expel water so salty it's toxic to crops. Gas compressor stations and their generators pump sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide into the air. Livestock drink from uncovered drip pans containing antifreeze and perish. "People can't believe this can happen to them until their own ox is gored," says Jill Morrison of Wyoming's Powder River Basin Resource Council, which works with rural communities facing environmental concerns. If that wasn't stunning enough, now there's this, courtesy of The Washington Post ... in March the EPA proposed regulating drinking water quality differently in rural America than in the rest of the nation. Bottom line: If you live in a community of less than 10,000 people, your water would be permitted to contain three times the level of arsenic as your counterparts in urban and suburban areas. (The proposal is open for public comment until May 1.) The logic is that smaller communities have more trouble than other areas paying to update and repair water treatment systems. But isn't this a clear case where the federal government should step in to bridge the gap -- not shrink away? Update: More on the EPA proposal here from Carl Pope, who notes that one community that would be at risk is Crawford, Texas.

Obama on energy independence and Bush

Today, Sen. Barack Obama gave a speech before the Associated Press, ripping Bush administration energy policy a new you-know-what. Think Progress has the full transcript. There's press coverage here. (Our Obama mini-interview on the same subject is here.) Update [2006-4-3 14:38:9 by David Roberts]: Hm ... reading through it, I see the speech is at least as much about global warming as it is about energy independence. Which is actually more interesting -- it's one of the most forthright and comprehensive descriptions of the danger of climate change that I've seen from a prominent politician.

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