The federal government is proposing a new fuel efficiency standard of 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025. This is fairly modest, on a global scale -- it would require a 5 percent increase every year from 2017 onwards, but Europe is on track to hit 60 MPG by 2020, so it can certainly be done. Car manufacturers aren't happy about the prospect, though, and are pushing for a lower standard. Their objections: It could add thousands to the cost of a new vehicle (whereas using less $4-a-gallon gas would probably only save hundreds per vehicle every year). And more to the point, it would require them to make smaller cars. This is America -- who's going to buy a smaller car? Where would you keep your ATV? Where would you mount your buck? For god's sake, man, where would you hang your truck balls? THIS IS NOT WHAT WE FOUGHT THE NAZIS FOR BY JIMINY.
Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal has a modest proposal.
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!
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:
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.
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 …
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.
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?
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.