Jess Zimmerman

Jess Zimmerman was the editor of Grist List.

Could you squeeze into the world's skinniest house?

Why this drought will be way, way worse than the last one

A New York Times article about the current drought in the South compares it to a record-setting dry spell 60 years ago: Climatologists say the great drought of 2011 is starting to look a lot like the one that hit the nation in the early to mid-1950s. That, too, dried a broad part of the southern tier of states into leather and remains a record breaker. But this time, things are different in the drought belt. With states and towns short on cash and unemployment still high, the stress on the land and the people who rely on it for a living is being amplified by political and economic forces, state and local officials say. As a result, this drought is likely to have the cultural impact of the great 1930s drought, which hammered an already weakened nation. But it's not just the economy that's worse now than it was in the 1950s. Water usage is also way, way up. This drought rivals the record-setting 1950s drought -- it's already breaking records in some states -- but it comes at a time when the population is double what it was in 1950, and total water use is more than twice as high.

Do you live near America's Fukushima?

This infographic from — click for the much bigger original, which has details about all the plants — shows at-risk nuclear facilities in the …

Think you're so smart, humans? Even fish can use tools

Tool use: It's not just for humans anymore. Actually, it hasn't been just for humans for a long while -- yet another form of homo sapiens exceptionalism we're having to learn to do without. But now it's not just for humans, apes, monkeys, certain birds, and possibly octopuses: There's documented evidence that fish can use tools too. Take that, practically everything except fish! You're not so smart after all.

Thomas Edison would have loved energy-efficient bulbs

Thomas Edison's great-grandson, David Edison Sloane, is not mincing words when it comes to the GOP wanting to repeal energy-efficiency standards for light bulbs: As an inventor, Edison would have no interest in turning back the legislative clock. The wizard of Menlo Park dedicated himself to advancing human comfort, not freeze life as we knew it in 1879. Oh snap! Edison's great-grandson just called you retrogressive.

But what if NYC bikers were terrorists??

This is not even the first time that someone in New York City has compared cyclists to terrorists, but it might be the dumbest: New York's CBS 2 is concerned that bike lanes will facilitate acts of terror. A Second Avenue bike lane is next to the Israeli consulate, leaving many wondering what would happen if a man on a bike were a terrorist.

Michigan woman could face jail time for growing a garden

The green movement doesn't have much use for lawns. Yeah, they make suburban enclaves look tidy and uniform, but really, would it be so effing bad if your house had something useful -- say, a vegetable garden -- instead of a high-maintenance water-hog outdoor carpet? What's the worst that could happen? Well, as Michigan woman Julie Bass discovered, if your city planner is certifiably power-crazy, you could be looking at 93 days in jail.

How many lives did the EPA just save with coal pollution regulation?

Could your dildo kill you?

Germany's Green Party has a penetrating concern: Toxic substances in sex toys.