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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Shocker: BP oil spill was BP's fault

A federal report, based on an investigation by the Coast Guard and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement, has officially placed the blame for the BP oil spill at the feet of -- who knew? -- BP. The report, released Wednesday, said in the days leading up to the disaster, BP made a series of decisions that complicated cementing operations, added risk, and may have contributed to the ultimate failure of the cement job. BP isn't alone in the stocks here -- cement contractor Halliburton (THOSE guys!) and Transocean, which owned the rig, also made mistakes. But …

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NYC's bikeshare will have 10,000 bikes

New York is a big city, and most of its residents really hate driving (for good reason). So it seems appropriate that the city's planned bikeshare program, launching next summer, will be by far the largest in the U.S. Its 10,000 bikes will dwarf the 1,100 available from D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare, currently the country's largest. And the range will go from the Upper West Side all the way down into Brooklyn. None of the roughly 600 planned bike stations have fixed locations yet, but wherever they are, they're going to end up increasing the utility of New York's already highly …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Roundup weed killer is showing up in air and water

Hey, what's even better than weed killer being sprayed on crops you eventually eat? How about if it then ends up in air, water, and even rain? AWESOME. I SEE NO POSSIBLE DOWN SIDE TO THIS PLAN. Seriously, this is pretty alarming news: Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey have detected the active ingredient of Roundup, a chemical called glyphosate, in waterways, air, and rain. On the one hand: Those raindrops have no weeds in them, by God. On the other hand: Everything else about this. Now, we're talking about some pretty tiny concentrations here, much less than what farmers …

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Got trash? Put a kitten in it.

The Etsy shop Atomic Attic makes upcycled pet beds and feeding trays out of old suitcases and vintage electronics, thus making use of a cat's natural tendency to sit on any damn thing you happen to have lying around. My dog wouldn't fit in a suitcase -- maybe a steamer trunk -- but I love this idea, especially TV kitty here. 

Read more: Living

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Looks like we might get a do-over Earth after all

A research team at Chile's La Silla Observatory has found a new crop of 50 exoplanets, at least one of which is in the "habitable zone" (i.e. an Earthlike distance from the sun). HD 85512 b is rocky instead of gaseous, big but not too big, and preliminary observations suggest an average surface temperature of a balmy 77 degrees F -- all of which make it a good candidate to be Earth Mark II. Phew, just in time! This one's almost worn out! Of course, there are a LOT of unanswered questions -- "does this planet even have water" being …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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New record low for arctic sea ice

Last week, sea ice coverage in the Arctic dropped to a new record low, according to data from the University of Bremen. It's the lowest since 1972, when we started observing sea ice via satellite, but it could well be the lowest in 8,000 years. And it's more than 10,000 square feet below the previous record, set in 2007. Yes, this is because of climate change, and yes, it's going to get worse, say researchers: Increased sea ice melt is an unerring indicator of climate change. With ice cover now also thinner than in previous decades, there is “a greater …

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Could 3D-printed foods make you healthier?

Researchers at Cornell University have developed a 3D printer that can fashion food out of raw ingredients. Potentially, they say, this could mean a new kind of fast food -- one that's just as fast, but made out of actual food. "We can make health food more fun, interesting, and appealing with this technology," said one of the scientists at the Cornell lab. "What kid wouldn't eat a space shuttle, even one made of peas?" Food pros are also enthusiastic about the potential of a technology that can shape and layer ingredients into new kinds of food items. "The fact …

Read more: Food

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Ad claims tar-sands oil will save women

A group called Ethical Oil, the brainchild of neocon Alykhan Velshi, is running an ad touting Keystone XL as the savior of women in Saudi Arabia. Because suddenly conservatives care about women's rights. The argument runs something like this: Saudi Arabia is not the best place to be a woman. (This is very true, though maybe SLIGHTLY less pegged to America's oil importation habits than Ethical Oil would have you believe.) Canada, however, is a bastion of progressive ideals. So we should get more oil from Canada so we can stop getting it from Saudi Arabia. Of course, we already …

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The largest outdoor green wall in North America

Why just have a green roof when you can have a green wall? This 3,000-square-foot wall, which fronts a public library in a suburb of Vancouver, Canada, was installed by green wall company Green Over Grey. It consists of over 10,000 plants in over 120 species.

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Looking at nature makes you smarter

Check it out: You're brilliant now. Apparently looking at nature -- whether it's taking a walk in the park or just browsing through pictures -- improves your performance on tasks requiring memory and attention. This is great news, since it means we can leverage the dysfunctional American work ethic in the service of increased green space. Possible slogans: "Make like a tree and increase productivity for your employees." Or how about: "If you need to focus, try a ficus." No good? Fine, let me stare at this leaf for a while and get back to you.

Read more: Cities, Living