Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Sarah Laskow's Posts

Comments

Critical List: Iran could block oil shipping; presidential candidates can criticize ethanol in Iowa

If America and its allies put sanctions on Iran, the Iranian navy could block the Strait of Hormuz, an important channel for international oil shipments. Have Republicans ensured the death of Keystone XL by pushing Obama to decide one way or another about the pipeline? The EPA is scaling back requirements for cellulosic ethanol in the coming years. Presidential candidates are allowed to criticize ethanol now -- even in Iowa. These NASA photos document the growth of the Athabasca tar sands pits in Alberta.

Comments

Fast food chains give up ‘pink slime’ meat product

McDonald's, Taco Bell, and Burger King just stopped using a product popularly known as "pink slime" in their burger meat. The "slime" comes from the tiny bits of beef in leftover fatty trimming. Those bits are doused with ammonia in order to kill E. coli and are then made into human food. Or “human” “food.” The resulting "meat" isn't necessarily unsafe -- in fact, industry people are bitching about how food activists are making them reduce food safety, to which we say if your meat needs to be doused with ammonia to make it safe to eat then maybe you …

Read more: Food, Food Safety

Comments

Foot-long shrimp take over Gulf of Mexico

The Asian tiger prawn, a gigantic shrimp that can grow to more than a foot long, is invading the Gulf of Mexico. This year the species was found for the first time in Texas waters. This giganto breed of crustacean threatens the survival of crabs, oysters, and regular old normal-sized shrimp. It could disrupt the thriving Gulf ecosystem and also the incredible bounty of seafood that cities like New Orleans serve up. How'd these suckers get into the Gulf? One likely culprit is aquaculture: storm surges could have swept them from fish farms into the open water. As with any …

Read more: Animals

Comments

Critical List: Deaths rise in Philippines flooding; how to recycle your Christmas tree

The death toll for flooding in the Philippines is over 2,500. For the first time in six decades, harbor porpoises are hanging out in the San Francisco Bay. First Solar, a company that makes thin-film solar panels, has spent $2.2 million on D.C. lobbying in the past four years. That’s a pittance by Washington standards. But in California the company spent triple the amount BP did on lobbying. Sick of your Christmas tree yet? Here's how to get rid of it responsibly. And here's how to prepare your house or apartment for the less-fun part of winter.

Comments

In Madrid, a highway becomes a park

Smart cities all around the world are getting rid of highways, and in Madrid, not only has the city built a tunnel to drive a urban-fabric-ripping highway underground, it has turned the reclaimed land into a park. In the New York Times, critic Michael Kimmelman tours the park and reports that, while "still a work in progress," it's connecting neighborhoods once cut off from each other. The idea to bury the highway came before the move to transform the land into a park, but the redesign is also part of a build-out of public transit that connects the outer boroughs …

Comments

Small spiders have TERRIFYING GIANT BRAINS

Tiny spiders are tiny, but relative to their body size it turns out their brains are ginormous. In some cases, 80 percent of a spider's body cavity contains central nervous tissues. Other spiders store parts of their brains in their legs. In other words, step on a tiny spider, and most of the goo that comes out will be braaaaains. Or think of it like this: If dogs breeds had a similar relationship to brain size, chihuahuas would have brains all the way to their tails.

Read more: Animals

Comments

Critical List: Oil spill off Nigerian coast contained; demand for solar could flatline

Shell managed to contain the large oil spill in the Atlantic Ocean before it reached the Nigerian coast. In America, thousands of times each year, sewer systems overflow and contaminate the country's waterways. But nope, fixing up aging infrastructure during an economic downturn is a terrible idea, according to House Republicans. Not only are solar panels getting cheaper, they're getting waaaay more efficient. Too bad demand for solar projects could "flatline" next year. Finding Nemo lied to us all: Tropical fish stuck in small tanks aren't friendly and helpful. They turn mean.

Comments

New York City to test electric taxis

Within a few months, it will be possible to step out onto a New York City street corner and hail a Nissan Leaf. The city's starting a pilot program to see how the cars fare as taxis, and exploring the possibility of an all-electric fleet. But EV enthusiasts shouldn't get too excited yet. Nor should EV haters get their hackles up. At most, three Leafs (Leaves?) will be out on the street at any given time. So the chances of stepping off the curb and into the future are slim.

Read more: Cities, Transportation

Comments

White planes are more fuel-efficient than flashy planes

The vast majority of people flying home this week in a post-holiday haze will ride in a white plane. After a long history of dolling planes up to stand out, airline executives are opting for white designs, both because it's cheaper and because it's more fuel-efficient (read: cheaper). White paint wears more slowly, so fewer paint jobs are needed. White paint also means less paint, which makes planes a tiny bit lighter. For a metal tube hurtling through the air, that weight makes a difference. But it also looks way more boring, which is probably why there aren’t a lot …

Comments

Critical List: Funding for climate research drops; USDA approves drought-resistant corn

The federal budget crisis is turning climate denialism into a vicious cycle: Skepticism contributes to lower funding, which means less research, which means less information, which means more skepticism. The USDA approved a drought-resistant corn, developed by Monsanto. Congress is cutting a federal program that helps low-income people with heating costs by about 25 percent. One more piece of evidence that Alberta is entirely in thrall to oil sands: the Canadian province's premier thinks personal vehicular emissions are a bigger problem than the oil industry. The new federal solar project in Arizona will have one-hundredth of the water usage projected …