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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Once and for all, do cell phones cause cancer?

Maybe. The World Health Organization has released a report [PDF] on the connections between cell phone use and cancer. It concluded that cell phones are a "possible" carcinogen, and there was much out-freaking. But what does this really mean? It does not, it turns out, mean that cell phones definitely or even likely cause cancer. It would be more accurate to say that the report says cell phones do not definitely NOT cause cancer. The majority of studies still show no causal link between cell phone use and cancer, writes science blogger extraordinaire Ed Yong. All studies have limitations, which is …

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Live for free (almost) in a tiny home

How big is 320 square feet? It's roughly the size of a school bus. And Debra and Gary live in that amount of space with their teenage son. Why? Well, for starters, because it cost them $15,000 to build and now they're mortgage-free. They pay less than $150 a month to rent the land, which supports both their tiny house and their tiny workspace. And that's not even getting into how little they must pay for utilities. A tiny house means fewer emissions and less waste, but for this family it also makes damn good financial sense. They don't feel …

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Rejecting high-speed rail is not a good political move

Hey, it turns out people don't want to get divorced and die because of long car commutes! Actually, we're just guessing about that (makes sense, though, right?), but what's clear is that constituents won't thank you for nixing rail projects. Gas 2.0 checked in with the biggest rail refusenik governors, and they're all faltering in the polls. Florida's Rick Scott, whose rejected rail funds were parceled out to more forward-looking states, is "among the least-liked governors" in the country, with a dismal 29 percent approval rating. John Kasich of Ohio, who also turned down federal money for rail, has the …

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Manhattanhenge makes life in the city a little more magical

Today is Manhattanhenge, one of the two days a year when the setting sun lines up perfectly with the New York City street grid. Next to Central Park and possibly the High Line, it might be the best demonstration that living in the city doesn't rule out natural beauty ... it just maybe makes it a little weirder. Yesterday offered a good opportunity for photographs, because half the sun was above and half below the horizon when it lined up with the grid. But tonight may be the greater visual spectacle: the whole sun framed between the buildings. Hayden Planetarium …

Read more: Cities

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Sarah Palin loves the smell of emissions in the morning

Sarah Palin is still being coy about whether she's going to run for president, but as usual, she's enjoying whatever attention she can get. Her latest stunt: Hopping on the back of a Harley to ride with 400,000 bikers through D.C., like she was Hell's own angel. Palin's take on the ride? Pollutalicious! "I love that smell of the emissions," she told Fox News. The bike event, Rolling Thunder, is an annual Memorial Day ride to the Vietnam Memorial, organized by Vietnam vets to draw attention to missing and captured service members. But hey, why make a respectful statement about …

Read more: Politics, Pollution

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Record carbon emissions show world has not been listening to a thing we’ve said

Despite a global recession, high oil prices, a growing awareness of the seriousness of carbon emissions, those reusable grocery bags you bought, and constant scolding from Grist et al., the world managed to put out a record amount of greenhouse gases last year. The International Energy Agency estimates that burning fossil fuels added 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in 2010. That makes it tough stay below a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees F), which scientists say is the threshold for making everything go seriously cockeyed. It might even mean we see …

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GOP congressman: Stop climate change by destroying the rainforest

Republican representative Dana Rohrabacher has a novel solution for reducing greenhouse gases: Destroy the rainforest! While we’re at it, we should probably get rid of the ozone layer and those pesky whales, as well. Rohrabacher argues that since 80 percent of carbon emissions come from decaying plant matter, we should clear-cut rainforests in order to reduce carbon. This is basically like saying that because your body turns food into blood sugar, the best cure for diabetes is to keep on drinking soda but drain all your blood. The staggering stupidity of this statement is causing respectable academics to make Sesame …

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Mark Zuckerberg kills his meat with his bare hands

You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but Mark Zuckerberg is gunning to be the new Ted Nugent. The Facebook founder/Übernerd/kabillionaire is now only eating meat he slaughters himself. At least, that’s what he claims his status update reading “I just killed a pig and a goat” means, and issues or no, he doesn't really seem like the kind of guy who just goes around brutalizing livestock. Zuckerberg has given himself a “personal challenge” this year to eat no meat he didn’t kill. Last year’s personal challenge was to learn Chinese, and the previous year’s was to wear a …

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Even the Swiss hate nuclear now

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, it seems nobody can stay neutral on nuclear power, not even Switzerland. The country has abandoned plans for new nuclear reactors, and while the five existing reactors will be allowed to keep operating, they won't be replaced. Nuclear in Switzerland will be entirely phased out by 2034, and officials say the 20-plus year interim will allow them time to develop energy alternatives to take over the significant power Switzerland now gets from nuclear -- 40 percent of the country's total power capacity. Switzerland joins Germany in turning its back on nuclear, though neighbor France is …

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How commuting can ruin your marriage

At least in Sweden, people who have a long-distance commute are 40 percent more likely to separate or divorce. That’s the finding of Erika Sandow, a Swedish social geographer who studied more than two million partnered commuters for her dissertation work. Sandow acknowledges that there are career benefits to long commutes -- people who are willing to spend 45 minutes or more getting to their jobs get access to a wider range of employment opportunities, and often make more money. But those benefits don’t necessarily hold true for their partners, who may take worse jobs closer to home in order …

Read more: Cities, Living, Sprawl