Sarah Laskow

Sarah Laskow is a reporter based in New York City who covers environment, energy, and sustainability issues, among other things.

After not seeing one for 33 years, Japanese government finally declares river otters extinct

When you truly love somebody that’s gone missing, you never admit that she’s gone, even if you’ve seen neither hide nor hair of her for 33 years. So now we know how the Japanese government feels about the Japanese river otter. Because the Ministry of the Environment just declared the river otter, last spotted in 1979, extinct. You know who still loves and believes in the Japanese river otter, though? Yoshihiko Machida, a professor emeritus at Kochi University.

Cities

Here is what London’s elevated bike network could look like

An architect wants to expand the city's bike infrastructure not on the streets but in the air -- like a cross between the High Line and the credits of Futurama.

Climate & Energy

Hurricane Isaac left the Gulf Coast ankle-deep in dead swamp rats

Nutria, a rodent brought to the U.S. over a century ago, are still all over the Gulf Coast today -- but there are now 5,000 fewer of them after Hurricane Isaac.

Cities

A farm in Brooklyn is growing cyborg tomatoes

These veggies can't be programmed to go back in time and kill rebel leaders before they are born (yet). But they can tell their human overlords just how fast and well they're growing.

Mean Tasmanian devils get cancer; nice ones don’t

In the epic songs that Tasmanian devils sing in the future (assuming that Tasmanian devils can sing, and that there are any left to sing epic songs), this period will likely be known as one of suffering and retribution by some angry god for the unrighteous behavior that has spread among the devil population. Because these guys have some serious Sodom and Gomorrah shit going down. The devils have been afflicted by a terrible plague — an infectious cancer, only one of two in the world, that guarantees that its victims will die a horrible death. The cancer causes tumors …

This dog saves whales by sniffing their poo

Back in elementary school, it kind of always felt like grown-ups were outsourcing the job of protecting the world’s cetaceans to us kids. You’ve got money AND cars; why don’t YOU save the whales, guys? But now this vital mission has been taken away from the elementary school children of America and handed to even cuter mammals: dogs. Or, really, just one very dedicated dog, as The New York Times reports. A rescued pup named Tucker helps scientists monitor whale populations by sniffing out their droppings. A dog named Tucker with a thumping tail and a mysterious past as a …

Living

One more way your plane flights are killing everybody

Remember when cars used to give off disgusting clouds of lead-laden smoke? Planes still do that. Some of them do, at least — in particular, those nasty little planes that rich people fly because car traffic is for suckers. According to Scientific American, smaller planes now produce HALF of all the lead pollution in the air. As might be expected, this pollution wreaks havoc on the health of anyone exposed to it. SciAm writes: Some of the health effects of repeated exposure to lead include damage to the central nervous system, kidneys and red blood cells, and decreased function in …

Hurricane Katrina caused a baby dolphin boom

Hurricane Katrina was irredeemably terrible for everyone involved — except, it turns out, baby dolphins. (And presumably adult dolphins, who got to enjoy making baby dolphins.) In the years after the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast, these cuties multiplied like excuses at a BP press conference, Scientific American reports: Around two years after the hurricane struck, there was a massive increase in the number of dolphin calves observed. In other words, bottlenose dolphins living in the Mississippi sound experienced a reproductive increase during the two years following the storm. Either, they made more baby dolphins, or more baby dolphins were …

One-fifth of creepy spineless animals could disappear forever

Most species are spineless piles of goo. That’s not a value judgment: About 80 percent of the world’s species are invertebrates, which actually do lack spines. Metaphorically, though, it is we who are the spineless piles of goo, for standing by while these creatures disappear. A new report from the Zoological Society of London found that one-fifth of invertebrates “could be at risk of extinction,” the BBC reports.

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