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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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Critical List: Keystone XL could raise gas prices; Italy earthquake threatens cheese

Counter to everything Republicans say, building the Keystone XL could raise gas prices.

Please, parents, don't buy your children trendy pets in imitation of popular book characters. In England, hundreds of Harry Potter-inspired pet owls are being dropped off at animal shelters after their owners realized that they're expensive to care for and don't actually carry mail.

A magnitude-6 earthquake in Italy may have damaged 300,000 ripening wheels of Parmesan cheese -- 5 percent of Italy's supply.

Read more: Food

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G8 summit might have actually done something about climate change

There's a bit of news from the G8 summit that might have escaped notice: International leaders agreed to take collective action to decrease greenhouse-gas emissions. And pigs do fly.

The agreement (which, unlike flying pigs, is real -- we promise) could be "the biggest step in years in tackling climate change," as The Telegraph's Geoffrey Lean says. The catch is that it has nothing to do with carbon dioxide. Instead, it focuses on "short-lived climate pollutants" -- all those other pesky carbon-based greenhouse gases, like methane, soot, and ozone.

Read more: Climate Change, Politics

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Inflatable bike helmet is like an airbag for your head

hovding_inflatable_helmet

Like other stuff that is good for your health (not smoking, sobriety, living slow, and dying old), bike helmets are uncool. But you can’t really enjoy your coolness with a giant crack in your skull. How do you protect your noggin without sacrificing your mojo? Swedish company Hovding has the answer: airbag bike helmets.

Unless it’s called upon to perform, this helmet stays safely stowed in a futuristic-looking black collar that you can pretend is a scarf. (Hovding also offers printed shells that go around the collar, to make it even more chic.) But if you get hit, presto, it bursts open like a popcorn kernel:

(Fast-forward to 00:36 for the slow-motion version.)

Read more: Biking, Cities, Living

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Critical List: NRC head Jaczko resigns; Iranian oil exports slow

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Gregory Jaczko put in his resignation. Not because word got out that he's a bully! Just because, you know, he had "a feeling now was the right time."

Iran's oil exports are already slowing as the European Union's embargo deadline nears.

The Humane Society went inside a pig farm and found all sorts of abuse.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Tree poachers steal 800-year-old red cedar

A decade ago, British Columbia had 40 full-time park rangers who monitored 1,000 parks. Today, it only has 10. And they don't often make it out to faraway parks like the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park, which is on the southern end of Vancouver Island.

With no one around regularly, it must have been easy for poachers to come into the park and hack away at an 800-year-old red cedar tree. Well, “easy” is relative, because we’re talking about a lot of sawing -- this granddaddy cedar was so old, its stump measures almost 10 feet in diameter. But there was so little supervision of the park that the tree thieves could return multiple times to hack at the tree and then haul sections of it away.

Read more: Living

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Wisconsin hospital is powered by beer and cheese

Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, in La Crosse, Wis., aims to be energy independent by 2014. Hospitals use a ton of energy, so that's a tough goal to meet. But Gundersen is getting there by piggybacking on Wisconsin’s best-known industries: beer and cheese.

Beer and cheese, while delicious, both slough off a lot of gas while they're being made. (Not to mention after they’re consumed.) The hospital system has been sourcing biogas from a local brewery and from a dairy farm that makes mascarpone and fresh mozzarella cheese. And recently the system started getting gas from a La Crosse landfill, as well.

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Critical List: Eating organic makes people judgey; U.S. selling drones to Iraq to protect oil

Eating organic food makes people more judgmental about others' actions and less altruistic, according to a totally bogus study.

The U.S. is selling drones to Iraq to protect oil exports.

White-tailed deer are eating so many leaves, they're keeping migratory birds from being able to build their nests.

Read more: Uncategorized

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The Great Billboard War of 2012

Heartland's crazy billboard featuring crazies was quickly pulled down, but climate groups are fighting fire with fire -- or, in this case, billboard with billboard. Forecast the Facts came up with this lovely specimen:

But Clear Channel, which apparently controls the billboard system in Chicago, was having none of it, and would not approve it. The company did, however, give its blessing to a sign from Al Gore's Climate Reality Project, which asks, more tamely, “Who to believe on climate? Heartland … or EVERY National Scientific Academy in the world?” Zing.

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Critical List: Massive tariffs for Chinese solar panels; Bike to Work Day

The Commerce Department announced that the U.S. could put tariffs of up to 250 percent on Chinese solar panels imported into the country.

It's Bike to Work Day!

First the Arizona Congress wanted crazy legislation to ban all government work on sustainability, now it's the New Hampshire Congress. So trendy!

Read more: Uncategorized

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We’ve lost 30 to 70 percent of our wildlife since 1970

We love wildlife! We love watching it in high definition on our TV screens while David Attenborough says something droll to ease the trauma of looking at a whale penis. (SO FLEXIBLE.) But apparently we don’t love it so much that we're dedicated to keeping it around.

A new report [PDF] from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that in the past few decades, wildlife populations have declined by about 30 percent:

Read more: Animals