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Sarah Laskow's Posts


The European Union bans battery cages for hens

In the European Union, hens can no longer be kept in tiny battery cages that pack them so tightly they could not walk or flap their wings.

The EU voted to ban the cages in 1999 but gave the poultry industry 12 years to implement the switch-over. As of 2012, the use of battery cages is illegal. The new cages give hens more space and must have nest boxes, which animal welfare experts say are key to keeping chickens from stressing out. (They need a little bit of privacy to feel comfortable laying an egg, which is understandable! Would you want to lay an egg in the middle of a crowd?) Some farmers have also switched over to barns or free-range systems.


Critical List: Republicans still want Keystone XL; Obama ad focuses on energy

The State Department denied TransCanada's permit application for the Keystone XL pipeline. President Obama agreed, saying that he was rejecting the permit because Republicans wouldn’t stop trying to force the pipeline forward.

Republicans are responding to this by looking into legislation that would force the pipeline forward. They’re also asking Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come testify on yesterday’s decision next week.

House Republicans ALSO want to promote ethanol derived from … natural gas and coal. And they want to classify it as renewable fuel. What? It’s ethanol!


Clean energy policies create more jobs than Keystone

Obama is poised to reject Keystone XL this afternoon, so brace for a lot of Republican bellyaching about how he obviously doesn’t care about jobs. There is a problem with this line of argument, and it’s that it is nonsense. Don't believe us? Check out this graph, from ThinkProgress, which shows how Obama administration policies like the much-maligned loan guarantee program and the EPA toxic pollution rule will create many, many more jobs than Keystone construction:


Almost all U.S. car use is within an electric car’s range

Because it takes longer to fill up an electric vehicle than to fill a gas tank, and because EV infrastructure is still limited, the most common criticism of EVs goes something like "OMG RANGE ANXIETY." And, sure, no one wants to get stuck in their big metal bucket on the side of a highway until a tow truck can haul your ride to the nearest charger. But two Columbia Ph.D. students have parsed real actual data (from the National Household Travel Survey) to show that, in the daily lives of most people, range anxiety just shouldn't be a thing.


Critical List: Military could produce 7 GW of solar; British survey hedgehogs

Solar projects at desert military bases could produce 7,000 megawatts of solar energy -- a huge amount.

EVs have more than enough range to make 95 percent of the trips we take by car.

Scotland aims to source 100 percent of its power from renewables by 2020, but to reach that goal, it needs the price of offshore wind power to drop.

A hedgehog survey is the most British endeavor ever, right?


The hagfish defeats its predators with slime

This video from National Geographic will make any self-respecting maritime predator think twice before attacking a hagfish, an eel-like creature that secretes slime from its pores. Also, fair warning, you may not want to watch this with food in your mouth. (Click the image below to watch the video on the NatGeo site.)

Read more: Animals


Swedish cities could connect via bike superhighway

In Sweden, city planners and the country's traffic authority are looking into building a four-lane bike superhighway between the university town of Lund and Malmö, Sweden's third-largest cities and one of its most diverse.

Cities like London have invested in protected lanes that they call “bike superhighways,” but this one would be one of the first to connect two cites (you know, like an actual highway). The designs for the trail have it following the path of railway tracks, protected from wind by fences and hedgerows.


Critical List: Cruise ship could leak oil; Chevron rig catches fire

That capsized cruise ship in Italy could leak thousands of tons of fuel into a national maritime park.

A four-lane bicycle superhighway could go up between the Swedish cities of Malmo and Lund.

Rusty on your climate science? This open University of Chicago course covers climate research without getting too technical.

Commercial agricultural projects in East Africa are forcing Ethiopians from their homes, according to Human Rights Watch.


Watch an orca chase a shark out of the water

Orcas might be charismatic movie stars, but they are also killer whales. A family of beachgoers in New Zealand caught on film an orca fighting with a few sharks. One shark was so eager to get away from the whale that it beached itself in the shallow water.

Read more: Animals


The age-old battle of goats versus tortoises

Before reading further in this post, ask yourself a question (and answer honestly): Which do you care about more, guiltless (if hungry) goats or the Galápagos Islands' giant tortoises?

If you answered goats, this post will make you sad.

Read more: Animals