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Alex Park and Jaeah Lee's Posts

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The Gates Foundation’s hypocritical investments

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With an endowment larger than all but four of the world's largest hedge funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is easily one of the most powerful charities in the world. According to its website, the organization “works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives." So how do the investments of the foundation's $36 billion investing arm, the Gates Foundation Trust, match up to its mission? We dug into the group's recently released 2012 tax returns to find out.

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How energy efficient is your city?

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Jaeah Lee
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Does your city have a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions dramatically? Is it seeking to reduce car use through bikeshare programs and public transit subsidies? Does it partner with utility companies to help small businesses and homeowners save energy? And does it lobby for statewide energy-efficiency legislation?

Those are just a few of the policies that have made Boston the top-ranked city for energy efficiency, according to a new report from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Portland, Ore., placed second, followed by New York, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Confirmed: Fracking triggers quakes and seismic chaos

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Major earthquakes thousands of miles away can trigger reflex quakes in areas where fluids have been injected into the ground from fracking and other industrial operations, according to a study published in the journal Science on Thursday.

Previous studies, covered in a recent Mother Jones feature from Michael Behar, have shown that injecting fluids into the ground can increase the seismicity of a region. This latest study shows that earthquakes can tip off smaller quakes in far-away areas where fluid has been pumped underground.

The scientists looked at three big quakes: the Tohuku-oki earthquake in Japan in 2011 (magnitude 9), the Maule in Chile in 2010 (an 8.8 magnitude), and the Sumatra in Indonesia in 2012 (an 8.6). They found that, as much as 20 months later, those major quakes triggered smaller ones in places in the Midwestern U.S. where fluids have been pumped underground for energy extraction.

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How bad is climate change for your lungs?

Higher ozone concentrations could lead to more school absences.Photo: Ole OlsonA new study puts a hefty price tag on climate change by linking it to the air you breathe. The report, published last Thursday by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), concludes that CO2-induced temperature increases will worsen ground-level ozone concentrations (the kind coming from power plants and exhaust pipes, not the kind that shields the Earth from UV rays). Higher concentrations of ground-level ozone threaten the health of millions of Americans, an impact that could cost the U.S. $5.4 billion in 2020. If that's not compelling enough, here's what …