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Sarah Laskow's Posts


Critical List: Mexico City’s pollution-busting vertical gardens; tiny kitchens

Mexico City is building huge vertical gardens to help scrub the city's air of pollution.

In New York City, compost at the giganto Fresh Kills landfill went up in flames, leading to a five-alarm fire.

Oil prices are high enough that energy companies are drilling in the Gulf of Mexico's shallow waters, an area once considered tapped out.

A new study says that, on carbon emissions, natural gas does beat coal as a source of electricity -- even when methane leaks are accounted for. But as a fuel for vehicles, natural gas produces only questionable carbon benefits.

Read more: Uncategorized


Chart: The mind-boggling rise in Asian coal consumption

You may have heard that all that coal we're not using in the U.S. is going to China. (Thanks, Warren Buffett!) At Wonkblog, Brad Plumer has posted a chart about this that will boggle your mind:

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Young people drive 23 percent less, bike 40 percent more than they used to

"Young people" today -- that's 16- to 34-year-olds, so Grist List qualifies -- drive less than they did 10 years ago. Between 2001 and 2009, the average number of miles that us young'uns spent tooling around in a car dropped by almost 25 percent, from 10,300 miles per capita to 7,900.

That's according to a new study from the Frontier Group, a California-based research group, and U.S. PIRG Education Fund. The report also found that we take 40 percent more transit trips and 24 percent more bike trips. In other words, we rock at shifting transportation preferences.

The reports cites a few reasons for this change, but to me it boils down to two explanations, one of which I buy and one of which I believe not at all. The first one -- the one I buy -- is that young people are choosing to live in cities or dense communities with access to public transportation. Yes, we are! Because those places are awesome to live in.

Read more: Transportation


Critical List: It’s been really, really warm; polar bears have a weird disease

In the first three months of the year, temperatures were 6 degrees F above average.

In Massachusetts, that’s meant more bears hanging out in people’s backyards.

China's consolidating its rare earth industry.

Polar bears have a weird disease that involves hair loss, oozing sores, and possibly death.

The American Petroleum Institute has spent more on advertising in swing states than most super PACs.

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Presenting the largest rooftop farm … in the world!!!

In Brooklyn yesterday, BrightFarms announced that it would be building the largest rooftop farm … in the world!!!

The New York-based company builds hydroponic greenhouse farms that are connected to supermarkets. The idea is to minimize transportation costs and time in the food system, delivering very local and very fresh food.

The new farm is going on 100,000 square feet of rooftop in Sunset Park. It will grow up to 1 million pounds of veggies like tomatoes, lettuces, and herbs each year, with the first harvest planned for next spring. The system also will capture storm water, diverting it from New York's overtaxed sewer system.


Critical List: The return of the loan-guarantee program; Texas least prepared for climate change

The Energy Department is reviving its loan program. (AAAH! SOLYNDRA! AAAAAAAH!…say Republicans. We're pretty sure this will all work out fine.)

Environmental groups want final rules governing coal ash and are suing the EPA to get them.

Texas: not very prepared for climate change. California: doing better than everyone else, at least.

In China, drought means that 7.8 million people and almost 10 million acres of farmland lack adequate drinking water.

Read more: Uncategorized


Forest Service employee traps and tortures wolf, doesn’t get fired

When wolves came off the endangered species list in western states like Idaho, wildlife advocates worried how the species would fare without protection. Ranchers aren't known to be particularly fond of wolves, for starters. In March, a disturbing story confirmed some of advocates’ worst fears: A Forest Service employee had trapped and tortured a wolf in northern Idaho.

The Center for Biological Diversity is asking for an investigation into the incident, Environmental News Service reports. The employee, Josh Bransford, "posted online photos of a wolf he had trapped that was then non-fatally shot by people who saw the animal from a nearby road," according to ENS. That's a nice way of saying that a bunch of humans with guns stood around and shot at the wolf, injuring it but not putting it out of its misery. (One of those pictures is after the jump. It's kind of brutal, so don't click through if you're not up for it.)

Read more: Animals


Critical List: A feathered cousin of T. rex; a solar panel thinner than spider silk

The Yutyrannus, a newly discovered dinosaur, was huge, related to Tyrannosaurus rex, and covered in feathers.

Thousands of dead dolphins have been washing up on Peruvian beaches.

Austrian and Japanese scientists teamed up to make a solar panel that's thinner than a thread of spider silk.

Drought in England means that anyone caught using a hose faces a fine equivalent to more than $1,500.

Read more: Uncategorized


A cookbook you can eat

A design firm in Germany has created a cookbook that you can eat! It’s made of fresh pasta printed with a lasagna recipe, so that the pages of the cookbook actually become the layers of the dish.

How many recipe books have only one good recipe in them, yet require reams of paper to make? There's an elegance to food that carries its own instructions for its cooking. Why print a recipe on the back of a can or a box of processed food when you can print it on the food itself?

Read more: Food


Fungi can eat pollution right out of the soil

Fungi are freaking amazing: Give them enough time and they will eat anything, even the toxins spread over polluted sites around the world. Mohamed Hijri, a professor at the University of Montreal, figured -- why wait for nature to take its time neutralizing the damage we've done to the planet? Why not urge it along? And so he started identifying the fungi and microorganisms that do the best job at cleaning up toxins.

Read more: Pollution