Jess Zimmerman

Jess Zimmerman was the editor of Grist List.

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.

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 eight-year-old with a peer pressure problem. And you're going to be waiting a long time for that ice cream.

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?

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 become accustomed to, but it will not be artificial. “No natural cheese is that color,” he said. Greeley’s version will be colored by turmeric, a spice associated with Indian cooking. “Adds a really interesting, subtle flavor, too,” Mr. Coates said.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Watch a city grow from a tiny sprout in this beautiful video

"Lilium Urbanus" envisions the city as a botanical, flowering from seed to sprout to village to metropolis. Its creators, Anca Risca and Joji Tsuruga, told Scientific American that their daily observation of urban growth in their home city of New York inspired the comparison: We embraced the idea of urban growth and saw it as something uncontrollable, having a mind of its own. Like a growing flower, a small town constructs larger buildings and becomes a flourishing city with skyscrapers for leaves, airport runways for petals, and airplanes for seeds. Our goal was to show that a city is like a …

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