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?

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 …