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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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In France, cyclists can run red lights legally

Sometimes France is so fricking enlightened it hurts. Lawmakers recently decided to allow "cyclists in some cities to disregard red lights at certain intersections," Treehugger writes. Paris will be testing the idea at 15 intersections, and Bordeaux, Strasbourg, and Nantes have been running the same experiment for a while. If the pilot goes well, 1,700 Parisian intersections could operate according to these new rules.

Read more: Biking, Cities

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World’s most environmentally outspoken president forced to resign at gunpoint

Tuesday, we told you that Mohamed Nasheed, president of the climate change-threatened Maldives, stepped down from his office. Wednesday, it became clearer that he was forced to step down -- at gunpoint. Tuesday, his aides said that Nasheed was being held against his will and his party, the Maldivian Democratic Party, called the move to oust him a "coup d'etat."

On Wednesday, Nasheed was able to meet with supporters and, according to the BBC, told reporters: "I was forced to resign at gunpoint. There were guns all around me and they told me they wouldn't hesitate to use them if I didn't resign."

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: GM seed plantings expand; restaurants for vultures

Last night’s caucus put GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum back in the game, so we could be hearing a lot more about how global warming is a “hoax.”

The total area planted with GM seed around the world rose 8 percent last year, according to the biotech industry; a food and water NGO is disputing the figure.

The House Energy and Commerce committee moved forward a bill that would approve the Keystone XL pipeline.

Vendors at Grand Canyon National Park won't be selling disposable water bottles.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Why do we suck at building subways?

At Salon, Will Doig asks why American public transit projects have decades-long time lines, while in China, new transit projects open in a heartbeat. And as Matt Yglesias points out, American transit projects are also more expensive than comparable build-outs in other big, rich cities, like London.

So what's our problem?

Read more: Transportation

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The world’s most environmentally outspoken president steps down

Mohamed Nasheed, the Maldives leader whom Foreign Policy called "the world's most environmentally outspoken president," stepped down from his office on Tuesday.

In international circles, Nasheed attracted attention for his climate campaigning. The Maldives are a low-lying chain of islands in the Indian Ocean, and climate-driven sea level rise could consume them. In 2009, Nasheed promised his country would be carbon-neutral within a decade. He held a cabinet meeting underwater as a publicity stunt calling attention to the danger of climate change. He also looked into a plan to relocate Maldives citizens to less threatened islands, although he faced some public opposition, as he told Foreign Policy in 2010. After a woman bit and kicked him at the suggestion of moving to a neighboring island, he was forced to conclude that "Maldivians do not want to leave their homeland."

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: Australia floods break records; industrial agriculture is booming

Floods in Australia are rising to record levels. We told you Australia is screwed.

Guys. GUYS! Mitt Romney also gave out renewable energy loans as governor of Massachusetts OMG WTF SOLYNDRA BRAIN EXPLODES.

San Francisco is working to integrate electric bicycles into its car share service.

Russian scientists have drilled a hole through two miles of ice to reach Antarctica's largest subglacial lake.

Why are so many dolphins being found stranded on Cape Cod?

Read more: Uncategorized

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Solar panels made out of grass clippings

An MIT scientist has developed a quick and dirty way to harness solar power using "anything green, even grass clippings." So basically, solar panels made out of yard waste.

This technology is way, way, way, way below the efficiency of commercial solar panels: It converts 0.1 percent of solar energy into power. Commercial solar panels clock in around 10 to 15 percent; the most advanced lab models are pushing even higher.

But the simplicity of the design makes up for that shortcoming.

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Tar-sands development pushes Canada to poison wolves

In Canada, caribou herds are declining, in part, environmental groups say, because of tar-sands development. The Canadian government's response? Kill the wolves.

The country's plan, which involves poison bait and Sarah Palin's favorite sport -- shooting wolves from planes -- is meant "to balance what civilization has developed," in the words of Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of Environment. If human development is killing off caribou by destroying their habitat, the thinking goes, there need to be fewer wolves to eat the remaining ones.

The poison bait is a particularly gruesome and archaic weapon.

Read more: Animals, Oil

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Critical List: China’s emissions outstrip America’s; Bill Gates hearts geoengineering

By 2015, China will emit 50 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the United States does.

The Texas drought has forced some towns to ship in their water by truck.

Bill Gates is underwriting geoengineering lobbying efforts.

Read more: Uncategorized

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How the Sierra Club and the natural gas industry broke up

Yesterday, TIME published the news that the Sierra Club had taken more than $25 million dollars from the natural gas industry -- specifically, from employees and subsidiaries of Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest natural gas companies around. The donations came at a time when the environmental movement was rallying behind natural gas as a "bridge fuel" -- an energy source cleaner than coal that could lead to a renewable energy future.

But in 2010, the Sierra Club's new executive director, Michael Brune, decided to end the financial relationship, forgoing an additional $30 million in funding — an amount equal to a quarter year's budget for the club.

Read more: Natural Gas