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Ashley Braun's Posts


pissful thinking

Rabbit chow filters sex hormones out of wastewater

Let's take a moment to observe: Bunnies!Photo: Jannes Pockele Humans and our waste create a crapload of problems for the environment. Both a growing population and the attempt to curb it (with birth control pills) are increasing the amount of the sex hormone estrogen in wastewaters -- which doesn't get filtered out -- creating shemale fishes and frogs, along with a host of other reproductive issues for wildlife. Thankfully, researchers at the University of Cincinnati have hopped onto a possible solution for our oversexed waste solutions: rabbit chow. Yup, bunny food. No, I'm not talking Cadbury creme eggs, bunny grahams, …

Read more: Living


graze the roof

Even city chickens want rooftop gardens on their coops

This coop will throw you for a loop.Photo: Traci Fontyn What's more hip than raising chickens and having a vegetable garden in the city? Growing your veggies in a rooftop garden on top of your slick city chicks' stylish coop. Fresh eggs, herbs, and veggies all in one? It's like a grocery store in your backyard.Photo: Traci FontynThat's right, you can keep those mother cluckers cooped up while you raise the roof with your raised garden beds from Kippen House. There's also the vertical garden coop model, with three rows of planters on one end of the coop and a …

Read more: Food, Living


the sky's the limit

Anti-advertising billboard showcases the clean air around it

Annie Han + Daniel Mihalyo: Lead Pencil Studio, Non-Sign II, 2010Photo: Lead Pencil Studio On the road to Canada through Blaine, Washington, a jumble of stainless steel rods takes the form of a billboard, sharply framing the good job done by the Clean Air Act while also giving instant weather updates. If this ad is a sign of things to come, then sign me up! The art piece offers a breath of fresh air from what would usually ad up to something like, "Fast Food-o-mania off Exit 3!" Seattle art and architecture agency Lead Pencil Studio and this installment, Non-Sign …


scaling the forest

Eating more fish will save the rainforests, suggests scientist Ray Hilborn

Have you ever considered the energy efficiency of a fish? Or how much pristine rainforest would be slashed and burned if you (and everyone else) never ate another fish again? Ray Hilborn, scientist, former farmer, and aspiring foodie?Photo: Ray HilbornThese juxtapositions might seem random and hypothetical, but questions like these led to a distinct paradigm shift for me and, I imagine, many others listening to fisheries researcher Ray Hilborn recently at the University of Washington's fourth lecture on food and the environment. "I never thought I'd be working on food," he said. Now, like a lot of people, Hilborn has …

Read more: Food


Bill and TEDxcellent adventurerers

Watch Sylvia Earle, Fabien Cousteau, Van Jones, others explore plastic pollution and the ocean

Plastic pollution, while sometimes funny in theory, pretty much always sucks the life out of, well, life. No more so than in the ocean, which is starting to look a lot like a garbage disposal. Fortunately, some people refuse to accept this load of garbage. Activists, innovators, explorers, and artists are gathering in Los Angeles on November 6 for TEDx:GreatPacificGarbagePatch, an independently organized TED event. It's featuring a day jam-packed with videos and live speeches from such famous ocean-lovers and plastic-pollution-haters as Her Deepness Sylvia Earle, plastic-boat sailor and heir David de Rothschild, former "green jobs czar" Van Jones, discoverer …

Read more: Living


If it's all the game to you

Fixing climate change with a video game

Pick a card, any card! Click on the image to enlarge.Image: In an elaborate, digital game of risk, you have the opportunity to save (or set aflame) the planet from the threat of climate change in the new computer-based video game, Fate of the World. As the president of the Global Environmental Organization (GEO), a "U.N. with teeth," you have 200 years of power (and amazing long-life?) to strategize your way out of the world's problems -- stemming from worsening climate change and rising world population. First, you choose your mission, such as Oil Crisis, Water Crisis, or the …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


law and border: eco victim's unit

EPA captures latest environmental fugitive on 'Most Wanted' list

This time, there's no one-armed man.Photo: Shawn Carpenter These days the letter of the law reads E-P-A. Photo: epa.govThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just nabbed the latest fugitive on its Most Wanted list (are you more surprised that the EPA has a "Most Wanted" list or that they're actually catching people on it?). Arrested October 30 in her native Dominican Republic, Albania Deleon was on the run for giving green jobs a bad name. Deleon was convicted in 2008 for bestowing fake asbestos-removal certifications to hundreds of workers, many of whom were illegal immigrants, through her Massachusetts-based company, Environmental …


helmet, smellmet!

A bike helmet that stinks will keep you from cracking up

Guard your head, but not your nose, with the helmet that pulls rank when it's time to replace it. Inset: A little stink bubble, waiting to be cracked open in your next fall.Photo: Fraunhofer IWM Safety-minded cyclists often struggle to figure out whether their bike helmets actually need retiring. Thankfully, crackerjack scientists in Germany caught whiff of this dilemma and realized that the nose knows the answer: a bike helmet that makes a stink when it requires replacing. Researchers at Fraunhofer Institute for Mechanics of Materials cracked the code which allows them to inject microcapsules of smelly oils into the …

Read more: Cities, Living


taters gonna hate

Man out to prove potatoes aren't junk food eats nothing but potatoes for two months

Man cannot live on bread alone, but can he live on nothing but potatoes? Chris Voigt, chief of the Washington State Potato Commission, is finding out firsthand by eating nothing but 20 potatoes a day for two months. (Why 20? To eat enough calories to maintain his current weight.) Voigt was feeling steamed (or perhaps boiled) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent spurning of the spud when it blocked the vegetable from a list of subsidized foods in low-income programs. "The potato is not the scourge of the Earth," he said. And with plenty of nutrients like potassium, Vitamin …

Read more: Food


Why weight?

Nutritionist Marion Nestle fingers the missing calories in America's big binge

Marion NestlePhoto: New York University "At first I didn't think agriculture had anything to do with food," admitted renowned nutritionist Marion Nestle. "Now I don't think you can learn anything about how our food system works without understanding agriculture." Her confession speaks volumes about America's evolving (and obsessive) ideas surrounding food, nutrition, and public health. Nestle, author of the seminal book Food Politics, is a food systems researcher at New York University who has been writing and teaching about these issues for the past 35 years, long before they entered the mainstream vogue. With that, she launched into the energetic …