Sarah Laskow

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

Cities

City-dwellers’ allergies are so bad because they don’t have enough bacteria

This allergy season has been terrible. It seems like everyone I know has been running around with leaky eyes, even those of us who aren’t typically pollen-sensitive. Granted, there was an unusual amount of tree sperm in the air this year, but it seemed strange that everybody — really, everybody! — was afflicted. But a new study by Finnish researchers explains everything: The reason we’re all so sick is that we live in the city. According to this study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and based on research done in Finland, people who live in cities …

Critical List: Peru’s mysterious animal deaths; wolf puppies

Pelicans and dolphins are dying in droves in Peru — 1,200 birds and 800 dolphins have washed up dead on the coast — and the government is warning people away from the beaches until it figures out why. Dinosaurs might have passed enough gas (i.e. methane) to match current levels of greenhouse-gas emissions. The Crawford family of Texas held out against TransCanada reps who want to route Keystone XL through their land, and now the company’s trying to force them to give that land up.

Oil

Upsetting photos of oil-slicked turtles from Deepwater Horizon

Back in 2010, Greenpeace filed a Freedom of Information request covering endangered species affected by the Deepwater Horizon spill. They just received a response from NOAA, and it included more than 100 photos. They're disturbing.

Critical List: TransCanada reapplies for Keystone XL permit; Japan’s last nuclear reactor

TransCanada put in a new permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline. Japan switched off its last nuclear reactor. Fights over endangered species are about to get wild, as the Fish and Wildlife Service has to rule on protections for species that live in oil country.

Climate & Energy

BLM announces draft of ‘common sense’ rules for fracking

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just released a draft [PDF] of its new rules for hydraulic fracturing on public lands. These rules were last revised in 1988, and they’re being updated to deal with the current fracking boom (the BLM says 90 percent of new wells going in on public land are using fracking). The rule update is also meant to show some smidgen of federal leadership on questions like “Should natural gas companies reveal what’s in fracking fluid?” and “How are we going to at least try and prevent this stuff from contaminating the water?” The BLM’s answers …

Animals

More pictures of dogs on bikes than you ever knew you wanted

We thought that one dog on a bike was exciting. But Keenan Roberts at Buzzfeed knows better. What’s more exciting than one dog on a bike? TWENTY DOGS ON TWENTY BIKES. These two are my favorites:

Critical List: Fracking fluids reach aquifers in only a few years; Heartland’s weird campaign

According to a new study, it only takes a few years for fracking fluids to migrate from deep in the ground into aquifers. We know we should ignore this sort of campaign from Heartland, but seriously? Climate change advocates are like the Unabomber?? Could senior BP officials get caught in the Justice Department’s criminal probe?

Climate & Energy

It’s almost impossible for Pa. landowners to find out about fracking violations

Fracking companies might be violating drilling rules all over the place, but in Pennsylvania, landowners who leased their property to gas companies likely have no idea. CNN Money reports: That’s because the state agency charged with regulating the wells — the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — does not have to notify landowners if a violation is discovered. Even if landowners inquire about safety violations, DEP records are often too technical for the average person and incomplete.

Living

The coolest church you’ve ever seen is inside an 800-year-old tree

This oak tree in Allouville-Bellefosse, France, up near the country’s north coast, has been alive for at least 800 years. In the late 1600s, a bolt of lightening hollowed out the center, but the tree survived and kept putting out leaves and acorns. And when they see something like that, 17th-century Frenchmen think about the same thing as the Insane Clown Posse: MIRACLES.

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