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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Which eco-friendly food labels are meaningful, and which are just hot air?

Certified organic ... chemical free ... dolphin-safe ... the stamps and slogans on food labels make a lot of promises, but can they back it up? Audobon magazine breaks down which labels are meaningful and which are USDA-certified bull crap. These labels can't be used without independent verification: USDA Organic Fair Trade  Rainforest Alliance Food Alliance Demeter Biodynamic Salmon-Safe Bird Friendly Certified Humane Raised and Handled FishWise  Non-GMO Project Verified Healthy Grown Potatoes These should be taken with a grain of salt -- they may mean something, but they don't have to: Raised Without Antibiotics Natural Free Range Grass Fed  …

Read more: Food

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Infographic: How many jobs would solar create?

Stronger solar policies could create over 100,000 jobs in just a few years, according to this (excerpted) infographic from One Block Off the Grid. That's not a lot, proportional to the unemployment crisis, but given that CERTAIN PEOPLE are always talking about sustainable energy as a job-killer, it's pretty good. And jobs would only go up over a longer period. Over ten years, if state legislators instituted strong solar incentives, Texas would stand to gain 21,714 jobs and Florida 16,858, not to mention thousands of jobs in other states.

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Otters are back in England

Once nearly extinct in England, otters have now returned to every county, indicating that rivers are at their healthiest in decades. Conservationists had predicted that it would be another 10 years before the otters reached this level of repopulation, so it's a real triumph for the iittle dudes. Not to mention an overwhelming stroke of good fortune for Brits, who can now watch otters play from the comfort of their homes, the lucky bastards. Otters have reappeared in places where they have not been seen since the industrial revolution, including Bristol, Birmingham and Manchester, and even on the Thames and …

Read more: Animals

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Bachmann promises $2 gas, unicorns

When I was in the fourth grade I took a lot of crap for not voting for Ty for class president, because he said he would give us double recess and free ice cream. I found those claims doubtful, and also Ty was kind of a dick, so I didn't vote for him, but everyone else did and they made fun of me. What I'm saying is, if you believe Michele Bachmann's claim that she can get gas back under $2 a gallon, then you should break out your Bieber tee and your juice box, because you are essentially an …

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Colbert gets a checkup from a GOP spin doctor

Stephen Colbert is now getting communication coaching from lead GOP spinmeister Frank Luntz, the man who rebranded oil drilling as "energy exploration" and counseled Republican politicians to "make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the [climate change] debate." Luntz has done a lot to armor the GOP with the rhetorical weapons it needs to stab the environment in the face, and now he's telling Stephen how to be a slick customer like him. Does he know he's being mocked? Does he care, as long as he gets his fee?

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New made-from-scratch school lunches trick kids into eating healthy

Schools in Greeley, Colo. are forgoing the frozen pizzas and assorted horse parts in favor of meals made from scratch with fresh ingredients. That's obviously better for students, who get better nutrients and fewer additives, but children are not historically great at doing things that are good for them. How do you sell kids on freshly cooked food when they're clamoring for junk? Greeley's new chef has some tricks up his sleeve: Take macaroni and cheese, for example. It will still be a staple on the new menu and will still have that bright, strange yellow color that children have …

Read more: Food, School Lunches

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Rick Perry used to be Al Gore's biggest fan

Rick "climate scientists are a secular cult" Perry used to love Al Gore like he now loves prayer days. The terrifyingly anti-science Texas governor, presidential candidate, and coiffure model was the Texas campaign chairman for Al Gore's presidential run in 1988. Perry claims that was before Gore got all big into global warming, and that could definitely get him off the hook, if it were true. But it's not. Combating the greenhouse effect was one of Gore's campaign priorities in his '88 campaign. It was part of his stump speech, and he partnered with Republican Sen. John Chaffee (R.I.) to …

Read more: Election 2012, Politics

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Bike-shares save lives

A new study has found that Barcelona's bike-share program, Bicing, prevents 12 deaths per year. That may not sound like much in a city of 1.6 million, but it sure seems like a big deal if you're one of the 12. Barcelona is an eminently walkable and bikable city, and Bicing has been hugely popular -- 11 percent of the city's population is signed up for bike sharing. And that's done a lot for the city's health. Biking (and Bicing) increases the risk of accidental injury and air pollution exposure, but the health benefits of getting out of the car …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Biodegradable urn helps you push up daisies

Now you can say, "I'll go green over my dead body!" and not have to worry about people thinking you've lost it. Designer Martin Azua's Bios Urn pries eco-friendliness from your cold dead hands, by using cremains to help nourish a tree seed. The urn is made from cellulose, coconut fiber, and peat, and it already contains a seed of your choosing -- just add ashes and bury to become your own personal memorial park.

Read more: Living

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Florida is the worst state for pedestrian safety

If you live in Florida and don't have a car, you may want to invest in a heavy steel overcoat. Florida is home to four of the top four most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians -- Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, and Miami. In the wake of the Raquel Nelson case, the New York Times has turned its reporting eye on pedestrian fatalities, and the scene on Florida streets is pretty depressing: Sidewalks are viewed as perks, not necessities. Crosswalks are disliked and dishonored. And many drivers maniacally speed up when they see someone crossing the street. The danger rankings are based …

Read more: Cities