Jess Zimmerman

Jess Zimmerman was the editor of Grist List.

Koch-funded scientists confirm global warming

Remember when physicist Richard Muller was called to testify in the House by denialist Republicans who thought he'd debunk global warming, and he ended up supporting it instead? That was fun! And it just happened again on a grander scale. Muller's group at Berkeley, which was funded in part by the Charles G. Koch foundation, has reexamined (with a skeptical eye, of course) a metric crapload of climate information -- including data from the University of East Anglia, i.e. Climategate Central. Their conclusion? "Global warming is real." Direct quote.

Sorry, kids: Halloween candy is a human rights nightmare

Here's a really scary story for your Halloween: The candy you're handing out might have been made by foreign students who were tricked into factory labor. Hershey's, which also distributes Cadbury candy in the U.S. and Nabisco candy in Canada, charged students up to $6,000 for a "summer work and travel" program, which actually consisted of drudgery at the packing plant.

Quantum levitation: Probably not the secret to hover-trains, but still amazing

A few places around the internet are calling this phenomenon — quantum levitation — the first step to magical hover-trains. This is probably not true, according to my physics source (it's my husband). Maglev trains use superconducting magnets, but that's just a type of electromagnet — it has nothing to do with the Meissner effect, which is what's being demonstrated here. Also, the disk they're levitating includes a sapphire wafer, which is maybe not a sustainable train-building material. Plus, that smoke's not for show; the effect only works when the disk is very very cold. But who cares, really? This …

Is this outrageous climate denier secretly Borat?

Well, no. He's not. But that's the beauty of this clip, where Australian comedian Craig Reucassel interviews completely over-the-top climate denier Lord Monckton as though he were a Sascha Baron Cohen creation. It's a masterpiece of layered irony — Reucassel gives a deadpan interview worthy of Ali G while pretending that Monckton is doing the same. We all wish people like Monckton were satirical characters, so this is a refreshing peek into an alternate universe where he's actually a comedy genius who's been punking us all this time. Do Rick Perry next!

Scientists are underplaying climate effects

So, talking about global warming is "alarmism"? Hardly. In many cases, it now turns out, climate reality has been much worse than climate scientists predicted. The Arctic now has ice-free summers, 90 years in advance of predictions. Animals are fleeing to higher elevations twice as fast as models said. Extinction rates are double what was expected, too.  Science historian Naomi Oreskes puts these discrepancies down to scientists being overly conservative in their predictions. Conservative estimates are thought to protect credibility, Oreskes says, so scientists tend to understate climate impacts. The peer review process also rewards sober assessments, and the media could …

This exotic animals story just keeps getting more depressing

We noted yesterday that 48 exotic animals had escaped from an Ohio farm, and that authorities were handling the problem by shooting them. That's enough of a downer, but the more details we hear the worse it gets. There ended up being more than 50 animals running amok, and 49 of them were killed, including 18 endangered Bengal tigers and 17 lions. Local police say they did try to sedate the animals instead of killing them, but they didn't really have tranquilizers suited to 300-pound wildcats. And, as if that's not enough, the reason they were loose in the first place is that owner Terry Thompson released them before committing suicide. Maybe because he heard a story about 18 Bengal tigers getting shot to death.

Don't worry, Stephen Colbert, your school lunch potatoes are safe

The risk that potatoes might be restricted in school lunches sent Stephen Colbert into a twitching, shouting anxiety spiral. But all is well, Stephen -- your tater tots will remain unmolested! The Senate voted down a measure that would have limited starchy vegetables to one cup per student per week. ("Starchy vegetables" includes corn. Just saying.)

Occupy Catan

Let's not forget the importance of land use and resource allocation.

E-waste idea: Turn an iMac into an aquarium

The iMac was built to be pretty. So why not sidestep the difficulty of recycling e-waste by making discarded iMac carapaces into something attractive for the home? Jake Harms had the clever idea to make them into aquariums, for "Mac and fish enthusiasts worldwide." The cases for his pre-made iMacquariums are sourced from recyclers, so you're not exactly saving a computer from the dump, but he also offers a kit for building your own. 

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