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Christopher Mims' Posts

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No business like snow business

Bike plows are the new fixies, but we’ll never be as cool as the Danes

Get ready to have your preconceived notions of bike plows exploded by the unreal power of this prize-winning four-wheeler built around the gearbox of an old riding mower. (You DID have preconceived notions of bike plows, right?) This recumbent, direct-drive beauty is like the triumphal neigh of a pure white Colt on a moonlit night, only it plows snow: OK, so maybe you've seen that one before. But were you aware that there is a whole universe of bike plows as multifaceted as the Hindu pantheon? And that people in other countries laugh at us for having to plow our …

Read more: Cities, Living

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Kochtopussy

Why arch-polluter Koch Industries owes the planet its entire net worth

The only thing equal to the obscene wealth of Charles and David Koch, who jointly own the privately-held Koch Industries, is the obscene damage they cause to the environment. Every gold coin in their Scrooge McDuck money pool means a monetarily equivalent amount of damage to the planet, says a new analysis of the social impact of the company's cumulative impact on the earth. If that pisses you off, you're not alone. This past weekend, a bunch of rageaholic malcontents protested the secretive annual meeting of Koch Industries bigwigs and various right-wing luminaries. (From where we're standing they actually looked …

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global weirding

Thanks, climate change: Here comes Snowzilla

Click for larger: Map of recent unusual and extreme weather events in the U.S.Image: National Wildlife Fund Starting tonight, Monday, Jan. 31, a winter storm of "historic" proportions will affect up to 100 million Americans, "from the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies to the Ohio Valley to the coast of New England," says the Weather Channel. Blame Canada climate change: Cold air blowing down from Canada is the proximate cause of Tuesday's and Wednesday's remarkably cold temperatures. But the epic levels of snow and ice coming our way are just the sort of thing we can expect more of …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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A WALK THROUGH THE WEEK'S CLIMATE NEWS

The Climate Post: So really, how will we get to a post-carbon future?

Obama's politically difficult energy goals may not be ambitious enough.Photo: The White HouseA pair of features tackled the most fundamental barrier to the complete transformation of the planet's energy system: scale. The first, by David Biello, writing for Yale e360, is one of the most comprehensive assessments of the scale problem to appear in recent memory, and contemplates what it would take to "replace all of the power-producing infrastructure that we have today within 40 years." The second, by Mason Inman, writing for National Geographic, warns that limited availability of certain scarce resources, such as the rare earth elements used …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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No salmon should have all that power

Obama finally pitched an energy tent big enough to attract Republicans

Obama's new tent is made of "post-partisan" magicPhoto: QUOI Media George Will, the conservative columnist who predicted Obama would try to "stroke every erogenous zone in the electorate" with his State of the Union speech, must be smoking a cigarette in bed by now. Not only did Obama body-check the right with his proposal to eliminate subsidies for oil companies, he also declared that the U.S. could reach 80 percent "clean" energy by 2035, as long as it includes all the energy sources Will and and his colleagues love to love: nuclear, natural gas, and "clean coal." Everybody in the …

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Army of Me

Rock stars, lesbians, and probably some Icelandic elves team up for geothermal power

Bjork holds the key to Iceland's geothermal power, along with this random ball of tassles.Photo: verapalsdottiTwo rules for industry in Iceland: Don't piss off the elves, and do NOT mess with Bjork. She is the Hugo Chavez of Iceland, and if you take her country's geothermal natural resources, she will threaten you with expropriation of nearly half a billion dollars of your company's assets. Also, she is friends with the first openly gay head of state in modern times, Johanna Sigurdardottir, who recently stood shoulder to shoulder with the pop queen to sing protest songs outside of Iceland's parliament building. …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Where's the beef?

Is Taco Bell's beef 'filler' the healthiest thing it sells?

Something in there started as beef, says Taco Bell.Photo: Like the Grand CanyonAs Grist's Tom Laskawy reported earlier today, an Alabama law firm is suing Taco Bell in order to force the company to stop labeling the contents of its Crunchy Tacos as "beef." The firm says their own tests revealed the tacos are only 35 percent beef -- the rest is filler! Not the lips and assholes kind, it turns out; the sort made from delicious, nutritious vegetable matter. Not surprisingly, Taco Bell has called the firm a pack of lying liars, sort of. Here's the official response, via …

Read more: Food

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Hu's Your Daddy

Is China's quasi-dictatorship better prepared for the 21st century than our mess of a democracy?

Image: Tomás Moreno Oliger There's a scene in Gary Shteyngart's brilliant, pathos-drenched satire of the near future, Super Sad True Love Story, in which New York City waits, breathlessly, for the arrival of China's premier, who now literally owns the U.S. In the book, as in the past week, when the premier arrives, the dollar takes a hit. Only, in Shteyngart's world, it becomes completely worthless and is instantly converted into the yuan -- something that might yet be in our future. Shteyngart captured Americans' unease with our ebbing global economic and military hegemony, which happens to coincide with China's …

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A walk through the week's climate news

The Climate Post: Hu Jintao's visit prompts soul searching in U.S. energy and climate circles

Proof that he is, in fact, that into Hu.Photo: The White HouseThe truly astonishing amount of material that came out after a recent visit by China's President Hu Jintao is a measure of how pivotal energy and climate change are between the U.S. and China. This includes a piece on the importance of energy cooperation between the two nations by U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu himself. Scientific American's Dave Biello describes the relationship between the U.S. and China as the kind of detente that exists between "frenemies," but one of the most comprehensive assessments of the current state of …

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socialism = onanism

Climate denier GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain encourages you not to 'snuff your seed'

Herman Cain at a Boortz and Hannity event in 2008Photo: John Trainor Herman Cain has been described as an "a true longshot underdog" in the 2012 race for president of the United States, but he's also a popular talk-show host and telegenic former CEO with no political baggage who is weirdly popular with the political press, and he might even be the first Republican to announce his candidacy. He's also a dyed-in-the-wool climate change denier. His current website, hermancain.com doesn't reflect it, but a cached copy of one of his opinion pieces from 2009, at his old site, hermancain.org, which …

Read more: Politics