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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Give 7-Up to your baby!

Hey, whatever else is wrong with our current cultural relationship with sugar water, at least nobody's pushing it as a baby formula alternative anymore, right? This 1956 ad says that 7-Up is "so wholesome" that "lots of mothers" give it to their babies. The company's evidence for this wholesomeness? They list the ingredients, even though they don't have to! (By the way, we checked and the 1956 formula for 7-Up was much the same, but a little more natural -- lime and lemon oils instead of "flavors," and sugar instead of corn syrup. But, you know, probably a LOT of …

Read more: Food

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Top 10 greenest cities in North America

It seems like we get a new list of greenest, most climate-change-prepared, most bike-friendly etc. cities every week or so. But we never really get tired of looking at these rankings, and checking them against each other to decide where we should fantasize about moving. Today, it's a list of the top greenest cities in North America from Siemens and the Economist Intelligence Unit. This ranking takes into account carbon emissions, land use, transportation, energy usage, buildings, water and air quality, waste, and environmental governance. Drumroll please for the top 10: San Francisco Vancouver New York Seattle Denver Boston Los Angeles …

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy

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Severe weather costs us $485 billion per year

According to estimates from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the baseline cost of extreme weather (which has always been with us, but which is steadily getting worse due to climate change) in the United States is $485 billion a year -- 3.4 percent of the country's GDP.  This is a complicated number -- it includes not only immediate costs from weather destruction, but also lost crops, power outages, resource usage, retail demand changes, and other indirect effects. Plus, it takes into account the fact that severe weather can be a boon for some industries (snow for ski resorts, for instance, or droughts for …

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Horde of jellyfish shuts down nuclear plant

In keeping with the recent trend of wildlife disrupting human activity through sheer numbers, a bunch of jellyfish just shut down a nuclear power station in Scotland. The plant manually shut down operations yesterday because of a "high volume" of jellyfish on its seawater filter screens. (As far as we know, the jellyfish were not having sex at the time, though it's a little hard to tell with jellyfish.) Officials stressed that "at no time was there a danger to the public." Apparently the public of jellyfish just DOESN'T COUNT, DOES IT, FELLAS. No wonder they were going kamikaze on …

Read more: Animals

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How wallaby farts could save the atmosphere

Scientists have long known that cows are big contributors to global warming. Livestock produce more than a quarter of the world's global methane emissions every year, and 20 percent of methane emissions in the U.S. It's a side effect of ruminant digestion, and aside from strapping your entire herd into carbon-filter diapers, there's no quick fix -- to cut emissions, you have to carefully manage cattle nutrition so they don't offgas as much. Or so we thought. That was before we discovered wallaby farts.  See, the Tammar wallaby has a digestive system similar to ruminants (i.e. animals that chew their cud). …

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In the worst drought in Texas history, 13.5 billion gallons of water used for fracking

Texas is experiencing the driest eight-month period in its recorded history. But in 2010, natural gas companies used 13.5 billion gallons of fresh water for hydraulic fracturing, and that could more than double by 2020. Where's all this water coming from? Oh, it was just lying around, in these aquifers! You guys weren't using it to drink or irrigate or anything, right? Guys? Crockett County, Tx., near San Angelo (which you probably also haven't heard of, but it's not near much else), has gotten less than two inches of rain since October. But water for fracking could soon make up …

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Feds say Massey cooked the safety books

According to federal investigators, Massey Energy -- the folks who brought you the Upper Big Branch coal mine explosion that killed 29 -- has been deliberately misleading inspectors about safety conditions at its mines. That's the Mine Safety and Health Administration's conclusion, based on 84,000 pages of documents and 266 interviews.  Massey literally kept two sets of books, like a Twin Peaks villain or something. The official, legally-mandated books didn't record safety problems or accidents; those all went in the secret books, which officials never saw. Having duplicate books in itself is pretty normal, but having a "clean" book for …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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How much hotter has your state gotten?

Here's what the new normal looks like. Once a decade, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updates its definition of "normal" temperatures, based on the average temperatures of the previous 30 years. Here's how the 1981-2010 "normal" compares to the 1971-2000 "normal." Basically, it's a lot hotter. WHY COULD THAT BE?? Since NOAA's last normal-temperature assessment, minimum temps in Minnesota and Wisconsin increased by nearly a full degree, with Maine, Vermont, Michigan, and Arizona not far behind. On average, normal temperatures increased by half a degree.

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Your bike seat could ruin your sex life

Bike seats may contribute to erectile dysfunction -- and it's no surprise, when you consider where you shove 'em. “When you sit on a regular bike saddle, you’re sitting on your penis,” says reproductive physiologist Steven Schrader. If that didn't just make you cross your legs, don't get comfortable, ladies: More than 60 percent of you will experience genital pain, numbness, or tingling from sitting on a bike seat. According to this New York Times article, at least, bike seats are the worst threat to your junk since America's Funniest Home Videos. Regular bike saddles put pressure on your perineum …

Read more: Uncategorized