Climate change could help bring a viral disease called chikungunya to New York City. And if you live there, you miiiight want to get a little freaked out about this, because as LiveScience reports, chikungunya makes swine flu look like piglet sniffles.
Chikungunya causes severe joint pain, fever, rash and other symptoms that can last for months, even years, and in unusual cases, death. There is no vaccine and no treatment.
L.A. gets a bad rap for its car culture. But it turns out that Americans' addiction to milk, cheese, and other delicious dairy products plays just as big a role in the city's smog problem these days. Scientific American reports that there are 300,000 cattle in the L.A. area, and the bacteria feasting on their waste create the same tiny particles of pollution that make smog particularly nasty.
In two hours of wandering slowly down Broadway last Sunday, I heard about a solar installation over on FDR drive, the number of bird species that can be seen in New York City (roughly half of all that appear in North America), and an Astor Place riot sparked by two rival productions of Macbeth, one marketed to New York’s upper echelons, the other to its less savory elements. Along with a group of other sightseers, I gazed up at former tenements and butter and egg factories now converted into condos and office buildings. We talked about other neighborhoods we’d visited.
But one thing we did not do was talk very much about Jane Jacobs, her work, or her ideas. Funny, Jacobs was the reason we were all there.
This past weekend, in 85 cities around the world, there were at least 580 different ways to honor the legacy of Jacobs -- writer, grassroots organizer, patron saint of city lovers everywhere. All of them involved walking -- many of them took place under the umbrella of the Toronto-based organization Jane’s Walk -- but the similarities pretty much ended there.
The Kickstarter video for The WATT? An Energy 101 Primer does a good job of explaining why, exactly, people should care about energy:
Energy is everything. It's a part of pretty much every aspect of modern life. wherever you live, whatever you do, however you do it.
Unfortunately, most people know next to nothing about how this stuff actually works. The makers of the The WATT? -- Focus the Nation, a clean energy youth organization, and Friend of Grist List Ben Jervey -- aim to change that by publishing an "users' manual for energy in the 21st century." They're going to publish it as a PDF whether you fund their Kickstarter project or not, but if they raise enough money, they are going to make it a much, much more awesome interactive e-book with charts, graphics and videos.
In the Netherlands, there are more than 30 "Repair Cafes" -- groups that meet once or twice a month to repair (for free!) clothes and gizmos and tools that might otherwise be discarded. The New York Times visited the original Repair Cafe, which began two and a half years ago, and found that people want to keep their stuff -- even cheap stuff, like H&M skirts. They just don't know how to mend it themselves:
“This cost 5 or 10 euros,” about $6.50 to $13, [Sigrid Deters] said, adding that she had not mended it herself because she was too clumsy. “It’s a piece of nothing, you could throw it out and buy a new one. But if it were repaired, I would wear it.”
The group repairs electronics, too -- everything from big-ticket items like vacuums and washing machines to the little gadgets that go haywire, like irons, toaster ovens, and coffee pots.
This allergy season has been terrible. It seems like everyone I know has been running around with leaky eyes, even those of us who aren't typically pollen-sensitive. Granted, there was an unusual amount of tree sperm in the air this year, but it seemed strange that everybody -- really, everybody! -- was afflicted. But a new study by Finnish researchers explains everything: The reason we’re all so sick is that we live in the city.
According to this study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and based on research done in Finland, people who live in cities are more prone to developing allergies and asthma because their environments lack biodiversity. That’s not biodiversity as in “not enough kinds of cuddly wildlife” (although that too!) -- it's about the diversity of bacteria that live on your skin. If you live in the city, these freeloaders are less varied, and that spells trouble.
Pelicans and dolphins are dying in droves in Peru -- 1,200 birds and 800 dolphins have washed up dead on the coast -- and the government is warning people away from the beaches until it figures out why.
Dinosaurs might have passed enough gas (i.e. methane) to match current levels of greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Crawford family of Texas held out against TransCanada reps who want to route Keystone XL through their land, and now the company's trying to force them to give that land up.
Back in 2010, Greenpeace filed a Freedom of Information request covering endangered species affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. They just received a response from NOAA, and it included more than 100 photos. They're disturbing: The ones Greenpeace has released so far show endangered Kemp Ridley's sea turtles, dead and covered in oil.