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Sarah Laskow's Posts


Critical List: Emperor penguin population double previous estimates; a new fracking working group

A team using very high resolution satellite pictures counted twice as many emperor penguins in Antarctica than any previous study had.

President Obama formed a new working group in Washington to coordinate federal oversight of fracking.

Those earthquakes in Oklahoma and Arkansas could be caused not just by fracking wastewater disposal but by fracking itself.

Read more: Uncategorized


Government spends $40 million mowing lawns of empty homes

The U.S. government owns 200,000 foreclosed homes. And to keep those empty homes looking spiffy for would-be buyers, the government has to keep up appearances -- including the appearance of the lawn. As a result, we taxpayers are forking over $40 million for lawn-mowing at these uninhabited houses.

Read more: Green Living Tips


Critical List: Meat consumption must drop 50 percent; Los Angeles the Energy Star of cities

We going to have to eat half as much meat as we do now in order to curb climate change.

After Deepwater Horizon, throughout the Gulf "things are just a little bit out of kilter," says the head of NOAA's restoration team.

With 659 certified Energy Star buildings, Los Angeles has the most of any city in the country.

The House just won't give up on trying to force Keystone XL approval through.

Read more: Uncategorized


Watch plants swallow up tiny houses in this weird living artwork

Artist Rob Carter is interested in the relationship between the built environment and nature, and his newest exhibition, which opens tomorrow in New York City, features mini replicas of three homesteads -- Charles Darwin's, Henry David Thoreau's, and Sir John Bennet Lawes'. The miniatures live in a garden of dandelions, bush beans, and corn, which over the course of the exhibit will take over the houses:

Viewers are invited to witness as the garden overcomes the estates in Carter’s controlled but fragile ecosystem in three distinct ways: time-based video projections, peepholes cut into the sides of the garden, and from an elevated viewing platform.

Read more: Green Home


Critical List: Nebraska legislature kickstarts Keystone XL planning; NASA’s climate skeptics

The Nebraska legislature passed a bill that'll kickstart planning for the rerouted Keystone XL pipeline.

Turns out a bunch of former NASA employees are also climate skeptics.

Canada's unlikely to meet its 2020 goal for carbon emissions cuts.

Read more: Uncategorized


Karl Rove’s super PAC attacks Obama for preventing oil spills

Crossroads GPS, Karl Rove's super PAC, is spending $1.7 million in six swing states to attack Obama's energy policy. Here's what Rove wants swing voters to think about Obama:

We're not really sure that it's the best political strategy to remind voters that the Bush administration existed at all, let alone that it passed policies that are still having an impact. But we’ll assume Rove knows what he’s doing. It’s not like Crossroads GPS has ever gotten two Pants On Fire ratings from Politifact or anything.

The ad also says that drilling's gone "down where Obama's in charge." Now, why did that happen? Not because Obama hates oil and gas interests: From an environmentalist's point of view, he's been rather friendly to those industries. Since Crossroads relied on Greenwire for its citation of the 14 percent drop in oil production on federal lands in 2011, we'll go to Greenwire to explain why:

Read more: Politics


Your new offshore energy source: Floating algae farms

Forget offshore oil drilling. NASA's working on a project that would generate clean, renewable offshore energy, by growing algae in floating plastic bags.

These floating algae farms would take in wastewater from treatment plants. For algae, wastewater is like the nectar of the gods: The ammonia and phosphates act as a fertilizer. So the algae would float happily contained in the baggies, getting fat with lipid oil, and cleaning up the wastewater in the process. Eventually, the algae farmers would harvest the oil, recycle the plastic and start all over again.

Read more: Biofuel


Critical List: Earthquake off the coast of Indonesia; Tennessee anti-climate teaching bill now a law

An 8.6 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia has triggered a tsunami warning across the Indian Ocean region. (UPDATE: The warning has been lifted.)

Remember that bill in Tennessee that would allow public schools to teach climate denialism? Welp, now it's a law.

An energy company called Oneok Partners wants to run an oil pipeline from the North Dakota shale to Oklahoma.

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is attacking Obama on oil policy and gas prices, which most people think Obama is not addressing promptly enough, according to a new poll.

Read more: Uncategorized


Chris Christie’s strategy for killing public transit: Lies, lies, and lies

You may remember that Chris Christie -- our most favoritest governor of New Jersey -- ripped the beating heart out of a N.Y.C.-Jersey transit project that public officials had only been planning for since, oh, 1995. At the time, he said the project would cost New Jersey too much. But guess what? He lied about the costs, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO called Christie out on making up his "facts." Christie said state transportation officials had revised project costs upwards to more than $14 billion. But nope, their estimates were under $10 billion, just like they always had been. He also said New Jersey would shoulder 70 percent of costs. The actual number? 14.4 percent. And Christie also claimed his state would have to pay for 100 percent of cost overruns. The actual deal hadn't been closed yet, and the federal government had made offers to take on some of the costs.

Read more: Transportation


Americans walk less than any other industrialized nation

Tom Vanderbilt owns the "how we get around" beat, and we're excited for his new series on walking, the first installment of which was published Tuesday. The juicy bits:

  • Americans walk less than citizens of "any other industrialized nation." (OK, technically just Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and Britain, according to the reports cited in the story. But most likely everywhere else, too.)
  • Walking will save your life: "Walking six miles a week was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s … walking can help improve your child’s academic performance; make you smarter; reduce depression; lower blood pressure; even raise one’s self-esteem," Vanderbilt writes.
  • Pedestrians don't count to traffic engineers: In modeling software, people are "a mere 'statistical distribution'" or "implicit 'vehicular delay.'"
  • The very word pedestrian is an insult to people who aren't driving -- the Greek word it derives from means "prosaic, plain, commonplace, uninspired."
Read more: Transportation