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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Six of seven fracking committee members have ties to natural gas industry

The government is convening a panel of experts to weigh in on how (and whether) fracking can be made safer. Yay! Six of the seven committee members have financial ties to the natural gas industry -- including the chairman, who's a board member of two energy companies and has received $1.4 million from them over three years. Boo! A group of concerned scientists has written a letter to the Secretary of Energy in which they object to the panel's skewed composition:  The committee appears to be performing advocacy-based science and seems to have already concluded that hydraulic fracturing is safe. We …

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Must-see photo essay about the drought

George Steinmetz' photo essay in Time about the drought in Texas, New Mexico, and Georgia is absolutely gasp-inducing. That's thanks to the beauty of the images, sure. But it's also the magnitude of the disaster (crops fail, waterways recede or disappear) and the shocking evidence of wastefulness (homeowners irrigate their lawns despite the record-setting drought; a golf course stays green in the middle of destruction).

Read more: Climate & Energy

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How we know we're causing global warming, in one handy graphic

There is a set of phenomena we would see happening if human-emitted greenhouse gases were causing climate change. There is a set of phenomena that are happening. THEY ARE THE SAME PHENOMENA. That is all. (But if that's not enough for you, Skeptical Science has more.)

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Meet the new water toxins, same as the old water toxins

Assuming it doesn't get cockblocked by industry or shut down by Michele Bachmann, the EPA is going to start regulating some gross stuff that hangs out in your water -- not because these are new toxins, but because they're finally being allowed to do something about the old ones. Forbes has a rundown on what you've been drinking, and how to stop drinking it anymore. Perchlorate: It's an ingredient in rocket fuel! Yum. Under the Bush administration, the EPA decided not to regulate it, but the Government Accountability Office cast doubt [PDF] on the validity of that decision (because the scientific …

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Sing along to this awesomely cheesy theme song for energy wasters

The musical "Seein' the Light" was written in 1978, but nothing has really changed: People still deny there's a fuel or climate crisis, and they still put on their Serious Thespian black turtlenecks and sing about it. The guy singing is kind of super-intense -- he regularly goes 20 seconds or more between blinks -- and the song is wicked cheesy, but it's amazing that they were already doing satirical piss-takes on energy wastefulness 30 years before Colbert.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Colbert: 'I say the science isn't in on thermodynamics'

The Colbert Report Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive Stephen Colbert, bless him, never met an idiotic pronouncement he didn't climb inside and wear like a bear costume. So he had a field day with "the heat index is a liberal conspiracy" and "SpongeBob is indoctrinating children."

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Right-wing pundits: 'People believe our falsehoods, so we win!'

I guess it's no surprise that conservative pundits think climate science is about deliberately misleading people for political point-scoring. That's what their agenda is, so why should anyone else's be different? After a recent poll showed that 69 percent of Americans believe it's at least "somewhat likely" that "some scientists" may have falsified climate data, the right-wing media response amounted to "Hey, that's our lie! Look how well it's doing! We rule!" Here's Limbaugh's response, which (as usual) provides the most egregious example. What a proud papa! Limbaugh, Aug. 4: "While a majority of Americans nationwide continue to acknowledge significant …

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Organic chicken farms have fewer drug-resistant bacteria

When poultry farms switch from conventional to organic farming practices, they almost immediately start seeing way fewer drug-resistant bacteria. A new study looked at two types of enterococcus, a bacterium commonly found in poultry excrement that can also lead to drug-resistant infections in humans. All the farms tested positive for Enterococcus faecalis and Enterococcus faecium, which the researchers expected. But on farms that had switched to organic practices, 10 percent of E. faecalis was resistant to multiple antibiotics, versus 42 percent of the bacteria from conventional farms. And on conventional farms, a stomach-troubling 84 percent of E. faecium was multi-drug-resistant, …

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Trucks and buses get efficiency standards for the first time ever

President Obama has announced the first ever emissions standards for trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles. They'll be shooting for a 9 to 23 percent reduction in fuel consumption by 2018, depending on the type of vehicle. Big rigs will need to achieve approximately a 20 percent reduction, for example; garbage trucks will need more like 10 percent. It might not feel this way when you go on a long road trip, but trucks are only a small percentage of the vehicles on the road. They drive way more than family cars, though, and spend more time idling. Plus, they're super …

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Trade your house for a pet dinosaur

T-rex courtesy of Ryan North Here's what the new post-crash barter economy looks like: People are trading housing for dinosaur services. From Vancouver Craigslist: Do you own more than one property? Do you have so many rental homes with no mortgage payments, yet you still feel unfulfilled? Tired of your illegal tenants whining that there are rats in the walls? Have you always wanted your own dinosaur? Now is your chance my friend. In exchange for one of your properties, I will be your personal dinosaur for one year. I will be at your beck and call, 24 hours a …

Read more: Cities, Living