Sarah Laskow

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

Living

Nature trail rigged with terrifying booby trap

On a nature hike, as a rule, the dangers you want to guard against are dehydration, getting lost, and bears. But of all of nature’s creatures, the most terrifying might be a duo of teenage boys without much to do. In Utah, two such young men were arrested on suspicion of setting up trap that consisted of “a 20-pound spiked boulder … rigged to swing at head-level with just a trip of a thin wire — a military-like booby trap set on a popular canyon trail,” according to the Associated Press.

Living

TP execs: Americans don’t create enough waste in the bathroom

It takes tens of thousands of trees to create the amount of toilet paper that’s used every single day. But in the minds of corporate executives, Americans, at least, aren’t using enough paper during their bathroom routine. In particular, we’re not using enough Cottonelle Fresh Care — “the leading flushable wipe.” These executives, being corporate executives, know that if they could just convince us that we need dry and wet paper to clean our bums, they could sell sooooo much more product. Right now, ashamed of the wipes, people are hiding them under the sink. But people who keep the …

Critical List: Mad cow disease in California; first arrest in BP oil spill investigation

The USDA found a case of mad cow disease in California. Federal prosecutors charged a former BP engineer with deleting text messages in order to keep information about the true size of the Deepwater Horizon spill from investigators. The three cities with the most air pollution in the country are all in California, but L.A. only comes in third. A couple of inland metro areas come in first and second.

Oil

Oil shale: An environmental disaster waiting to happen?

It used to be that oil came from a hole drilled in the ground. But as oil has become more scarce, the ways of getting at it have become more numerous — so much so that it’s getting hard to keep track. Oil sands, shale oil, oil shale: These are all different sources of oil. And if you can’t keep them straight, well, rest assured the oil industry will. The Council on Foreign Relations’ Michael Levi argues that it’s oil shale that might be the extraction point to watch in the coming years: “Oil shale” is basically rock that contains …

Animals

Watch two guys remove a honeybee swarm with their bare hands

Town and Country Pest Control is a father-son business in upstate New York that takes a holy-shit approach to its work. For instance, in the video below, they remove a bee colony with their bare hands and a box: But as any bee-savvy keeper will tell you, this isn’t as crazy as it looks. Swarms of honey bees like this one are likely searching for a new place to establish a hive. Since they’ve broken off from an established colony and aren’t sure when they’ll have a new home, they’ll have fattened up on a bunch of honey, which makes …

Green Home

These toxic household cleaners can cause asthma or burn your lungs

Ah, America. The country where you’re allowed to buy products containing hazardous chemicals that other countries have banned. The Environmental Working Group, the people who brought you the Dirty Dozen list of foods to buy organic, are taking an extensive look at the chemicals in more than 2,000 cleaning products. The group’s researchers are months away from being done, but they have already found a slew of products that contain chemicals that are banned abroad, emit toxic fumes that can burns your lungs or eyes, or can cause asthma.

Critical List: Nigeria oil spill 60 times bigger than reported; Arctic Ocean methane

Amnesty International found documents showing that a 2008 Shell oil spill in Nigeria was 60 times bigger than the company claimed. And in Russia, 2,000 tons of oil spilled from a well over two days. But, really, who knows how much oil it was? The thawing Arctic Ocean is releasing gobs of methane into the atmosphere. Figuring out how climate change is going to affect Himalayan glaciers: actually really tricky!

Cities

Houstonians want walkable neighborhoods

Car-centric Houston tends to be one of our go-to examples for everything that can go wrong with a city, ever. But we may not be able to use the city as a whipping boy much longer. According to a new survey, Houstonians are seeing the light on walkable and transit-accessible neighborhoods. More than half of the people surveyed said they would settle for a smaller home if it meant living near offices, restaurants, and stores. Yes, this is in Texas! To be fair, Stephen Klineberg, who created this survey in 1982, sounded as surprised as we are. He told the …

Climate Skeptics

Climate denier campaigns have zero impact on belief in global warming

It’s hard sometimes to ignore climate deniers: They’re so wrong! About everything! But the biggest impact they seem to be having is just that: annoying environmentalists. Denialist campaigns have had little influence on the 30 percent of people who are skeptical about climate science, ABC News reports. The one thing that does change those people’s opinions? The weather.