Sarah Laskow

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

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.

Living

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 …

Climate & Energy

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.

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.

Climate Skeptics

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.

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!

Animals

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:

Critical List: Last 60 years were Australia’s hottest in a millennium; anti-whaling captain detained

Australia just experienced the 60 hottest years in the past millennium, according to a new report. And natural causes don’t explain the shift. China’s grid is not set up to deal with renewables. Anti-whaling captain Paul Watson, president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, was detained in Germany for a decades-old violation of navigational regulations.

Food

Sugar might make you stupid

We all know eating too much processed sugar screws up your body in serious ways. But a new study suggests it could mess up your brain, too.

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