Sarah Laskow

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

Solar Power

A solar-powered cell phone charging station inspired by Occupy Wall Street

Tommy Mitchell wasn’t an Occupier, but when he visited Occupy Wall Street, he found out that OWSers were charging their cell phones at a hot dog vendor’s gas-guzzling generator, The New York Times reports. “I was like, ‘Well that’s awful,’” he said. That’s when he began thinking about inventing a device that could harness renewable electricity in a public space without outlets. “It’s so practical that you can see it,” he said. So Mitchell whipped up a solar cellphone charger, then brought it back to Occupy, where everyone loved it and declared him a hero of the people.

Food

Disney bans junk food ads from kids’ programming

Disney will no longer broadcast or post advertisements that promote unhealthy food. The company is also branching out into food policing, with the "Mickey Check" -- a Disney seal of approval on a packaged food's nutritional value.

Critical List: Northeast cap-and-trade program dropped emissions; World Environment Day

It’s World Environment Day — bring out your green-minded celebrities! In the Northeast, power plants’ carbon emissions fell an average 23 percent during the three years of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s cap-and-trade program (compared to the previous three years). By 2050, Latin American and Caribbean countries could be racking up $100 billion in damages from climate change each year.

Business & Technology

Four innovations that will make the future less wasteful

The New York Times Magazine has a lovely list of “innovations that will change your tomorrow.” Many of these innovations will give people fabulous new ways to consume more: New coffee! More screens! Underwear that monitors how lazy you are! But a few will also change our tomorrows to help people use less. Naturally, those are our favorites, and here they are:

Animals

Spacecraft could be killing endangered antelope

Add these two factoids to your store of knowledge about Kazakhstan, which, admit it, consists mostly of “It’s on the Risk board?” (it’s not! You’re thinking of Kamchatka) and “Borat is from there.” The central Asian country provides habitat for the endangered saiga antelope, which has a face like a fuzzy alien from Sesame Street. It also sometimes launches rockets into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the best-named launchpad in existence. These items are not as unrelated as you might think. This past year, more than 1,000 saiga antelope have turned up mysteriously dead. And ecologists say that the Cosmodrome …

Critical List: Climate change could reduce plants’ power output; Texas power prices could triple

Power plants depend on river and lake water to keep their operations cool. Climate change is going to make that water warmer and keep plants from making as much power. Power prices in Texas may triple. Utility commissioners worry that without higher prices, the state will consume too much energy and face summer blackouts. Activists want Sophia Loren to stop the MSC Divina, a ship named in her honor, from entering the Venice lagoon, which the ship will likely royally screw up.

Food

Beverage industry to NYC: Ignore the mayor. Soda’s totally cool

Well, that didn’t take long. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that NYC would be banning sugary drinks if they came in containers bigger than 16 ounces. And today, the American Beverage Association is pushing back with an ad that says, basically, “Do not believe that science over there! Believe this science that says soda is tooootally fine for you.”

Food

Queen of England to eat invasive species pie

Enemies of invasive species have been advocating for a diabolical solution to doing away with unwanted species: Eat them! And while most people are not down with eating sautéed iguana or lionfish ceviche, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II will be honored with a gift of lamprey pie — a dish made from a parasitic eel that’s invaded the Great Lakes. Lampreys — which look like eels, suck the blood of other fish, and have a single nostril on top of their heads — used to thrive in the River Severn, near Gloucester. So naturally, it’s …

Living

Galaxy, right ahead! The Milky Way’s on course for a head-on collision

One day, this is what the night sky will look like. Yup, that’s a galaxy (Andromeda, to be specific) headed straight for … our galaxy! Andromeda’s rushing towards us at the crazy fast speed of 250,000 miles per hour. Luckily, it is a galaxy far, far away, and so it will take 3.75 billion years to get close enough to present as it does in the above illustration, which NASA rigged up based on data from the Hubble telescope. 

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