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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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Disney’s building France an eco-retreat and we’re jealous

America and Europe may both be full of privileged white people, but nobody would mistake them for being culturally interchangeable. Case in point: In America, Disney makes amusement parks that are better than real life and that allow us to stuff ourselves silly while hanging out with plush versions of our imaginary cartoon friends. In Europe, Disney makes nature parks that are better than real life and that allow Europeans to get a ruddy glow of health in their cheeks as they bike, hike, and enjoy geothermal-heated water rides.

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These trees on wheels double as wifi hotspots

It doesn’t seem fair that car-owning people can use parking spots (or rent them at extremely low rates) to store their cars, but the car-free don’t get to use them to store our stuff. We have 50 cents, and we live here too! Fortunately, Milanese designer Matteo Cibic has found an easy way for the car-free to share this public space: We can use it to park our wifi hotspot trees on wheels.

Cibic wanted his neighborhood to have more trees. And he wanted to rent a parking space in order to install them. But since we're talking renting, not owning, the trees had to be mobile. And because this is tight urban space we're talking about here, why not use it for more than one purpose? Hence, mobile wifi hotspot tree trolleys.

This is how Cibic imagines it:

Read more: Cities

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One latte uses as much carbon as an entire year of dicking around on Facebook

Photo by mightykenny.

As guilty pleasures go, Grist List is officially endorsing Facebook, and not just because it's great for us when you share our funny-awesome-holyshit-cool stories with all your friends and they click on our site and hooray!

No, it's not our self-interest but our love for the planet that is motivating this endorsement. Because of the two guilty pleasures we're willing to bet that many of you are indulging in right now -- Facebook and a delicious latte -- Facebook is the carbon equivalent of a carrot stick and some hummus, and the latte is the equivalent of a gigantic, juicy steak. Just one latte dumps the same amount of carbon into the atmosphere as an entire year of Facebook use.

We know this because Facebook released a bunch of data about its 2011 energy use (and because Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm figured out the coffee-carbon comparison).

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The world’s about to get its first entirely solar-powered country

By next week, Tokelau will be the first solar-powered country in the world. 3News, in New Zealand, reports:

Workers from Kiwi company Powersmart Solar are just a week away from converting the atoll Fakaofo from being diesel powered to solar powered.

“It’s been quite a milestone week for us, we now have all the solar panels erected, 1584 solar modules, all the batteries are in place,” says mechanical engineer Dean Parchomchuk.

Sure, Tokelau is a tiny island nation made up of three atolls and populated by only 1,400 people. It's about the same as if Sea Bright, N.J., went solar. But Sea Bright, N.J., has not gone solar, whereas Tokelau is on the verge of flipping the switch.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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What to do when an elephant crashes your pool party

How cool would it be to catch an elephant wandering up to your pool and checking out the scene?


And how terrifying would it be if you were actually in the pool, the size of which would not accommodate both you and the elephant?

You know these guys are thinking: “HOLY SHIT. THIS IS AWESOME. IF IT DOES A CANNONBALL IN, WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE.”

Read more: Living

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Here’s a tiny greenhouse for your tiny home

There's no reason that your tiny house should mean you have to sacrifice the luxuries that make great spaces. May we recommend this tiny greenhouse to go in your tiny house?

Read more: Living

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The Pacific Ocean is becoming caffeinated

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The whole “people in the Pacific Northwest drink too much coffee” thing has gotten to be a pretty crusty, lazy old joke. But it turns out they drink so much coffee that in areas where waste systems are less regulated, the ocean is becoming a mildly caffeinated beverage, National Geographic News reports.

Caffeine levels off the potentially polluted areas were below the detectable limit, about 9 nanograms per liter. The wilder coastlines were comparatively highly caffeinated, at about 45 nanograms per liter ...

"Caffeine is pretty darn ubiquitous, and there is growing evidence that this and other understudied contaminants are out there,"  said [hydrologist Dana] Kolpin, of the USGS's Toxic Substances Hydrology Program in Iowa City, Iowa.

Read more: Pollution

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The saddest pictures of drought-stressed corn

You've likely heard by now that there will be little to no corn this year because the drought is killing all of it. And while that sounds bad enough in theory, the reality of it is even more pathetic. Just look at these sad, sad ears of corn:


Awww. It's just ready to give up.

Photo by CraneStation.

This guy's trying but instead of corn, he's turned into some sort of '80s-era hair band rock star.

Photo by Malory Ensor/KOMU.

This one would be cute, if it were supposed to that small. But trying to eat it would be like that one scene in Big.

Read more: Food

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We just can’t quit these sustainable cowboys

Photo by Carol von Canon.

The myth of the cowboy features a man who loves the land but also freedom. He respects nature, but at the same time, if some pencil-necked hippie tried to tell him how to git along his dogies, he would gently rassle that guy to the ground and hogtie him. But the Christian Science Monitor reports that ranchers are breaking those stereotypes and getting in on new, sustainable ways to manage land, so that they're producing not just delicious beef but healthy ecosystems. The new cowboy is totally green.

"As a matter of necessity, the old way of ranching is giving way to a new paradigm," says Bill Bryan, head of the Rural Landscape Institute in Bozeman, Mont. "For some, ranching was pursued in the past with an emphasis on raising beef at the expense of everything else. Raising animals for the dinner table isn't an activity that has to be at odds with the environment."

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How to eat a Chick-fil-A sandwich without supporting Chick-fil-A

Image courtesy of ladybugbkt and Shuttershock.

One secret about fast food is that it's often pretty easy to make the same greasy stuff at home, where it ends up tasting more delicious anyway. This is great news for those boycotting Chick-fil-A on account of its owner’s "traditional" views about same-sex marriage: It’s still possible to get your fried chicken sandwich fix and keep your moral principles intact. Serious Eats' J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is on the case.

I don't normally like to mix my food with my politics, but the thought of where my chicken sandwich dollars might be going is enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth, no matter how crispety-crunchety, spicy-sweet and salty that juicy chicken sandwich may be.

So in the interest of keeping my Chick-Fil-A consumption at a reasonable level, I did the only logical thing: figured out how to make them at home. Here's how it's done. And yes, you can even make 'em on a Sunday.

I'll leave it to him to give the blow-by-blow directions, but here's the general gist: Take a basic hamburger roll and toast it in a skillet with butter. Get some jarred pickle chips. Take a chicken breast and brine that sucker until it's salty as all get-out.

Read more: Food, Politics