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Christopher Mims' Posts


Let’s replace Earth Day with Destroy the Earth Day

Solar flare. (Image by NASA/GSFC/SDO.)

If you're like us, you're totally burned out on all the absurd, disingenuous ways that marketers are trying to connect their wares to Earth Day. Perhaps part of the problem is that no one really knows what they're talking about when they say they want to “save the Earth.” Save the Earth from what?

We’d have a better sense of our mission if we spent some time contemplating the threats. So in order to breathe some life back into the most worn-out secular holiday since Something on a Stick Day, we’ve decided to expand on Eric Roston's list of ways the Earth could actually be destroyed. Know thine enemy!

Read more: Climate & Energy


Surreal, weirdly beautiful photo of planetary destruction seen from space

Some things that look awful up close can look kind of beautiful from space. Like this enormous open-pit copper mine in northern Chile.


Did climate change cause the Salem witch trials?

Witchcraft at Salem Village by William A. Crafts, 1876

A little ice age around the time of the 1692 Salem witch trials led to crop failures and shortages of fish, which put everyone in a mood to find a scapegoat, says a newly resurfaced 2004 Harvard thesis by economist Emily Oster. And who did they find to blame for climate weirdness? We’ll give you a hint: She weighed the same as a duck.



Chair-dance-worthy indie rock video explains why plastics don’t have to suck

It's like Threadless and the Arcade Fire teamed up with BASF to talk about green chemistry and the threat of peak oil.


Forest service to explode frozen cows

Last fall, cows that were grazing on federal land in Colorado took refuge in a cabin, then froze to death or were trapped by cows' general inability to figure out how to exit things, reports the AP. Now their carcasses are 1,000-pound blocks of frozen meat, and rangers aren't sure how to dislodge them.

So they’re going to blow them up.

Read more: Animals


America could power a city on all the small-scale hydroelectric power we’re not harvesting

Every year, America misses out on 1.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity, enough to power a small city. Where's it all going? Literally, it's being flushed down the drain.

With the right kind of technology, we could harvest the energy of water running downhill through America's infrastructure, including canals, tunnels, pipelines, and existing dams, reports Susan Kraemer at Earth Techling.

The key is "micro-hydropower" devices, which can harvest small amounts of water power. For human-made waterways, there's Hydrovolts "Big Canal Turbine."


Badass enclosed, untippable electric motorcycle is the ultimate green transport

It goes 200 miles on a third as much battery power as an electric car. It has airbags and an enclosed cockpit. It's gyroscopically stabilized, like a Segway.

It could be the future of transportation.


Traditional Chinese medicine contains endangered animals, carcinogens

Traditional Chinese medicine shop in Hong Kong. Photo by Mailer Diablo.

It’s probably best not to make all your meals out of pink slime and enriched HFCS, but a word to the wise: “Natural” doesn’t always mean safe. A new DNA analysis reveals that traditional Chinese medicine often contains carcinogens and other poisons not listed on the label.


America’s best-known nuclear family gets mural at world’s best-known nuclear disaster

Street artists have started covering walls within the no-go zone of Chernobyl with advertising from the world's nuclear power companies -- and a portrait of America’s favorite family with a nuclear safety officer dad.


Bike lanes make drivers less likely to be jerks, says study

A study of driving habits found that one in six motorists in Baltimore passed cyclists at an illegal distance, making them eligible to be shot to death under “stand your ground” laws, assuming we could somehow combine the laws of Maryland and Florida.

Read more: Biking, Cities