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Jess Zimmerman's Posts

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Are the Kochs to blame for gas prices?

Remember when we said that, despite an upcoming Republican onslaught of not-intended-to-be-factual statements, Obama is not to blame for high gas prices? Well, guess who is? Maybe Koch Industries, according to ThinkProgress. Koch Industries has openly speculated in "contango" oil market manipulation, buying up crude oil and storing it offshore to artificially drive down supply. In 2008, Fortune magazine wrote that this sneaky business could be raising gas prices by "by anywhere from 20 to 40 cents a gallon." Classic Koch. ThinkProgress doesn't offer any evidence that a Koch binge is the reason behind our current oil prices. There's so …

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Modernist urban farm makes veggies sexy

Not what you think of when you hear "cube farm," is it? This awesome urban farm is the vegetable equivalent of lobster tanks in a seafood place. It's set up outside a restaurant in Tokyo's Roppongi district, and the veggies grown here are served inside. Another view below the fold: This one solves the mystery of how you get up to the second level -- it looks like there are pull-down ladders on top of the cubes.

Read more: Food, Urban Agriculture

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Even Osama bin Laden thinks we need to do something about climate change

You’d think people who are willing to blow themselves up any day now wouldn’t worry too hard about the future of the planet. But as it turns out, it really isn’t possible to get MORE cynical about the future than a congressional Republican -- even if you’re an Islamic militant. Last October, Hezbollah guerilla chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told reporters that "the climate threat today is among the biggest threats faced by mankind in (terms of) its peace, security, stability and existence," Reuters reported after Nasrallah attended a tree-planting event in Lebanon. When massive floods inundated Pakistan last year, Osama …

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Quote of the day: Obama on America’s future

"A 70% cut to clean energy. A 25% cut in education. A 30% cut in transportation. Cuts in college Pell Grants that will grow to more than $1,000 per year. That's what they're proposing. These aren't the kind of cuts you make when you're trying to get rid of some waste or find extra savings in the budget. These aren't the kind of cuts that Republicans and Democrats on the Fiscal Commission proposed. These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can't afford the America we believe in. And they paint a vision of our future that's deeply …

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Military miracle turns fuel exhaust into water

Man, if there's two things you don't have enough of when you're deployed in the desert and insurgents keep blowing up your fuel runs, it's beer and Wii. Wait no, it's diesel and water. Luckily researchers have devised a way for soldiers to turn one into the other. Membranes full of tiny tubes condense vehicle and generator exhaust, turning the vapor into liquid water and stripping contaminants along the way. The average soldier needs about seven gallons of water a day -- for drinking, but also for cooking and bathing and so forth. This new tech could make that amount …

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This is what mountaintop-removal mining looks like

This series of photographs from NASA's Landsat 5 satellite, taken over 26 years from 1984 to 2010, shows the toll mountaintop-removal mining takes on a landscape. You can watch the bombed-out area expand, and see that the "restored" scars never look quite the same. For a close-up look at the effects of mountaintop removal mining, there's The New York Times article on Lindytown, bought out and turned into a ghost town by Massey Energy, which didn't want people living too near its MR operations. (People didn't much want to live there, either, once the mining started -- former residents describe …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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Recycling robot is Terminator for trash

Finnish company ZenRobotics has developed a robot that can sort out recyclables from construction trash ... about half the time. Doesn't sound exciting? That's because you haven't seen the company's awesomely over the top trailer. IN A WORLD ... WHERE CONSTRUCTION TRASH MAKES UP 50 PERCENT OF THE WASTE IN U.S. LANDFILLS ... ONLY ONE ROBOT ... CAN SAVE US ALL ... FROM HALF OF THAT.

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Get ready for GOP baloney on gas prices

Politico is reporting this morning that House Republicans are gearing up to blame high gas prices on Obama. His offshore drilling moratorium, they say, is to blame for pump costs rocketing towards $5 a gallon. The GOP hasn't specified yet whether this is not intended to be a factual statement, but: This is not a factual statement. FactCheck.org got out ahead of the noise machine three weeks ago. Tank up on these fast facts so you can spank the congressional Republicans in your circle: Obama's deepwater drilling moratorium had zero effect on gas prices. Domestic oil production was up last …

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Can genetic engineering save the redwoods?

A group of tree-lovers wants to save giant redwoods by cloning existing trees, reports The New York Times. There are a couple of problems with this plan: Giant redwoods are three things: red, wood, and GIANT. Where are you going to put them? (The group says they have plans for slightly more travel-sized trees as well.) Cloning (from cuttings) is actually a pretty common way to propagate trees, but we’re talking about growing new baby trees in an environment 2,000 years removed from the one they’re adapted to. They might not have the defenses they need to survive in a …

Read more: Living

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Bolivia reads Mother Nature her rights

Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, has already made great strides in medicine: He’s the one who discovered that chickens turn you gay. Now he’s applying that innovation to legislation, saving the environment by declaring nature to have rights equal to people. The law would act as a bill of rights for nature, including the right to exist free of human alteration, the right not to be polluted, and the right "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities." Yeah, it sounds good in theory, and it’s based on …

Read more: Politics