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Jess Zimmerman's Posts


What stayed in the budget bill?

The EPA dodged Republican attempts to hobble it this week-- the continuing resolution on the budget bill is going forward without the riders that would forbid the agency to regulate greenhouse gases. But environmental protections still took some hits. What environmental insults have hung on in the continuing resolution? Interior blocked from enacting a “wildlands policy”: This policy would have allowed the Bureau of Land Management to designate areas as protected “wildlands.” “Wildlands” are more flexible for energy exploration than “wilderness,” but Republicans apparently view any attempt at preserving nature as a slap in the face to their oil exec …


Fukushima raised to Level 7 nuclear disaster — how much should you panic?

The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has leveled up to a 7, or “major accident,” topping out the International Nuclear and Radiation Event scale. That puts it in the same category as Chernobyl, the only other level 7 event in history. Does this mean it's time for us all to put on our radiation hazard suits? Not as bad as Chernobyl: Yes, it's in the same category as Chernobyl, but Hugh Laurie is in the same tax bracket as Bill Gates. There's no level above 7 on the INES scale, so all the bad accidents are gonna be …


Climate change kills our buzz, and vice versa

Grist’s offices are in Seattle, so we take this one really seriously: Climate change is threatening Costa Rica’s coffee crops. Coffee’s a fussy little plant, and it can’t handle extreme temperatures, so yields are going way down as temperature inches up. And if you think that’s a buzzkill, try this: An independent study by a Berkeley energy analyst found that growing pot indoors uses the same amount of electricity as running 30 refrigerators. Processed cannabis, the study says, gives off 3,000 times its weight in CO2 emissions. Can that possibly be right? Crap, back to mushrooms, I guess.


The rallying anthem for the new green movement: Let’s all unf*ck it up!

Okay, maybe we're a little late on this one, but seriously: If you saw it already and you don't want to see it again, GET OUT because it is amazing. Everyone else, take a listen -- NOT AT WORK, it is chock-full of swears. Clap your hands! Sing along! Help unf*ck it up! I'm going to lobby hard to make this Grist's official theme music. (More from my new girlfriend Katie Goodman here.)

Read more: Living


Paris to be powered by body odor

Okay, not quite. But the City of Lights is fast becoming the City of Innovative but Slightly Bizarre Energy Solutions, including new ways to harness the heat you might otherwise not want to touch. Sewer water: French children are probably too classy to be delighted by this the way American children would be, but last week a Paris primary school started heating itself with poo. The school recovers heat from nearby sewer pipes, which are full of euphemistic “waste water.” Steel plates in the pipes draw heat from fast-moving water and pump it to the school’s heating system. The new …


Japan cannot catch a break

Did Japan do something to anger the universe? (Don’t answer that, Jerry Falwell.) After a massive offshore quake, a devastating tsunami, and a nuclear crisis, the beleaguered country is now being treated to aftershocks that would make most quakes feel silly. As for the nuclear status … who knows? It probably isn’t good. Aftershocks ruin everything: One month after the initial quake, a 6.6 magnitude aftershock -- way smaller than the original, but bigger than the vast majority of quakes in the world -- shut down cooling systems AGAIN at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where workers are scampering to contain …


EPA is safe, for now

Well, the government isn’t being shut down, and the castrate-the-EPA riders have been stripped from the budget bill. For now, at least, the world is safe for those brutes at the EPA to keep oppressing helpless rich, powerful industry giants who only want to kill the planet a little. Don’t get too comfortable, though; this isn’t the GOP’s last shot to take down the EPA and their fiendish plot to make Earth die slower. “We will keep coming at it … There are lots of different ways to skin a cat,” said Republican senator John Thune. We’d use a different …


Jamie Oliver has really pissed off Los Angeles

The Daily Show - Jamie Oliver Tags: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook Hey look, Jamie Oliver can talk about improving school lunches for five whole minutes without saying something douchey about fat people! Keep it up, Jamie, because your campaign to increase the real-food content in school lunch -- which many low-income children depend on for nutrition, by the way -- is a noble one. And this whole thing where the Los Angeles school district has banned you from filming in their schools … we’d say that’s a little fishy, but we’ve seen …

Read more: Food, School Lunches


Car parts made out of mushrooms will — wait, what?

Man, is there anything mushrooms can’t do? They make a damn fine fake meat, they make Mario bigger, caterpillars smoke hookahs on them, the whole nine yards. And now, thanks to a company called Ecovative, they can be used to replace styrofoam in some of Earth’s most persistent enemies: packing materials and car parts. The fake foam actually grows itself -- Ecovative fills a mold with a mix of mushroom spores and a waste material like oat husks, and over a few days the mushrooms grow and the roots glue themselves together into a strong and lightweight material. Like styrofoam, …


Good morning. Do we still have a government?

Congressional Democrats and Republicans are still playing policy chicken this morning, waiting to see whether they’ll have to shut down the government over what amounts to petty cash. What are they fighting over, and are we likely to still have a working (for some value of “working”) government tomorrow? Riders that gut the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases remain a sticking point, though not the only one, says The Hill. The riders that tie the EPA’s hands are helping to make it “impossible” to avoid a shutdown, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer. But there are other objectionable riders as …