Sarah Laskow

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

Critical List: Carbon dioxide hits 400 ppm in the Arctic; bedbugs don’t like boozy blood

Carbon dioxide levels in the Arctic have reached 400 parts per million (ppm). Once upon a time, they were 275 ppm. 350 ppm is considered a decent level to aim for these days. Peanut butter and deli meats have traces of flame retardant in them. Fishing fleets don’t care what regulators say — they’ll fish where they want. Last year’s cold summer meant that there were a fifth fewer butterflies around. California’s going to require “solar ready roofs” on new buildings.

Climate & Energy

Report: Corporations are big fat hypocrites about climate change

Corporations are officially people now, and like people, sometimes corporations will loudly say that they believe one thing while their actions reveal another preference entirely. Like a lady who says she wants to settle down but dates only dudes who are apt to move to Hawaii at a moment’s notice, American companies having been saying they’re concerned about climate change at the same time that they have been fooling around with trade organizations, think tanks, and lobbying groups that have been working to undermine climate action. In a new report, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) calls companies out on …

Critical List: Obama EPA goes easier on oil producers than Bush EPA; NYC could ban large sodas

The Bush EPA was tougher on oil and gas producers than the Obama EPA — enforcement actions are at their lowest level in years. New York City could ban the sale of large sodas. Properties close to national wildlife refuges have greater value.

IKEA subsidiary accused of cutting down centuries-old trees

Shoppers might pay next to nothing for those cheapy cheap tables and chairs and bookshelves at IKEA, but the planet pays a much higher price, Environmental Leader reports. According to a forest conservation nonprofit, an IKEA subsidiary is clear-cutting forests that are hundreds of years old. [The Global Forest Coalition] — an alliance of NGOs from more than 40 countries — alleges that Ikea’s wholly owned logging subsidiary Swedwood has been clear-cutting forests in high biodiversity value areas and logging very old trees in parts of the Russian Karelia region.

Cities

Ithaca mayor turns his personal parking space into a mini-park

The 25-year-old mayor gave up his car to join the 15 percent of his city's residents who walk to work.

Critical List: Spain’s done with clean energy; coal country locals defend Big Coal

European Union greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.4 percent in 2010. Spain’s done with clean energy — the government is shutting off aid to renewable energy companies. People living in coal country are still willing to defend Big Coal against natural gas. Stockholm syndrome? (Or maybe they just got $50 and a T-shirt.)

Oil

Russian rivers are clogged with frozen oil

Whatever terrors the U.S. oil industry might come up with, the Russian oil industry is worse. Greenpeace’s Jon Burgwald recently visited Usinsk, a frigid city that’s a major Russian oil outpost. The oil pollution is so bad in this area that thawing rivers run black with oil. There’s even oil ice, which you can see in this footage:

Pollution

World’s oldest trees face country’s worst smog

Sequoia National Park can lay claim to two superlatives — its redwoods are the oldest single organisms on the planet and its air quality is the worst of any national park in the country. The smog pollution in the park is so bad that levels reach L.A.-worthy heights. The park might seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere. But that nowhere happens to be right near the San Joaquin Valley, which is full of food-processing plants, diesel-burning freight trains, and trucks driving down one of the busiest highways in the country.

Critical List: Prius is world’s third most popular car; irradiated tuna hit the U.S.

Gas should only get cheaper as the summer begins. The Toyota Prius is now the world’s third best-selling car. Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California have Fukushima radiation in them. (Not much though.) One expert says that those massive dolphin die-offs in Peru were caused by sonar from oil exploration. Where there’s fracking, there’s companies who clean up fracking wastewater. Job creation!

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