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Sarah Laskow's Posts

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Critical List: Oil slick moves towards Nigerian coast; adorable polar bear cub

The oil slick off the Nigeria coast is moving towards shore. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the design for a new generation of nuclear reactors. Climate change will help parasites thrive. Simple design is green design. Here is an adorable polar bear cub. That is all.

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Border fence is bad for bears

Ever since America decided the best way to keep the teh-rur-ists and immigrants out was to build a fence along the southern border, environmentalists have worried about the impact of a gigantic, impenetrable fence on the local wildlife. And while we know that it's hard for most people to get their hackles up about the fate of the dune sagebrush lizard, we've got your charismatic fauna right here: adorable black bears. According to a new study, the bears near the Arizona border are actually Illegal Immigrants -- they’re more closely related to black bears in Mexico than to those living …

Read more: Animals, Politics

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Critical List: The shortest day of the year; some grey wolves to come off endangered species list

Today marks the solstice: the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter. Things will only get better from here on out, as long as by “things” you mean “the amount of daylight available in the Northern hemisphere.” Grey wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will be taken off the endangered species list. A 40,000-barrel oil spill in Nigeria could be the area's worst in a decade. In a climate-changed world, fewer malaria parasites are infectious, which means fewer people could get malaria. (Stand by for Rush Limbaugh complaining that liberals and Al Gore just want us all …

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Maine bans LEED in state buildings at timber industry’s behest

The pristine wilderness of Maine would make anyone feel more in touch with the environment … unless you're a politician and vested interests with tons of money put pressure on you to undermine green programs like LEED and you cave. That's the short version of what happened earlier this month. For a while, Maine was building new state-owned buildings to LEED standards. But Maine has lots and lots of trees, and the timber industry there wasn't producing wood that met the LEED-approved Forest Stewardship Council standards. So Gov. Paul LePage signed an executive order in early December that bans the …

Read more: Politics

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Cops mock Seattle jogger nearly killed by a truck

In Seattle, a semi truck hit a jogger, nearly killing him. While the jogger lay almost dying, the police officers who responded to the accident were busy sneering at his decision not to drive a car. This being 2011, their comments were caught on video. Here's the most relevant excerpt, from the local TV station that obtained the video: "That's why you drive a car!" the first one remarks. "Yeah, don't try to jog to work, you dumb (expletive)," said the other. Now, bikers are often subjected to such 'tude, but joggers? Isn't it a god-given right in this country …

Read more: Cities, Transportation

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Critical List: E.U. court OKs airline carbon emission scheme; climate change kills frankincense

The E.U.'s version of the Supreme Court decided that it's totally cool for the E.U. to require flights originating elsewhere to participate in its carbon-emissions trading plans. Later today, the EPA will announce new regulations for power plants that limit mercury and other emissions. Climate change: also killing Christmas. Okay, just the production of frankincense, and to be fair, we’re not sure what that’s for. But if you need a gift for a magic baby in the future, you might be one-third out of luck. The Interior Department just approved a solar project in Arizona and a wind farm in …

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Don’t call the Antarctic ice shelf; it’ll call you

Back when I was in middle school, the internet was still something of a novelty, but we did have email. So when I was assigned a report on Antarctica, my mom dug up the email address of a real, live scientist living at the research station there. We emailed him a few report-related questions, and he actually emailed us back, which was basically the coolest thing that ever happened, since it meant that modern technology made it possible to communicate with someone living in at the very bottom of the globe. But 15 years later, I wouldn’t even have to …

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Here’s your holiday reading!

It is getting so close to that magical week between Christmas and New Year's where offices are either closed or abandoned by the vast majority of employees, and no work gets done. Whether you plan to be snuggled on a couch by an open fire or logging truncated days of semi-productivity in a half-empty office, might we suggest these “greenreads,” collected by the staff of OnEarth, as a way to pass the time? Here you will find a dozen examples of some of the best environmental journalism from the past year. Some of these pieces aren't exactly full of holiday …

Read more: Living

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This Chicago park will be almost 10 times as big as Manhattan

On Chicago's South Side, 140,000 acres of brownfields and other underused land are just sitting there. But Illinois is putting $17 million into turning that fallow ground into what will be the largest city park in the lower 48. (Alaska has one that's bigger.) The park will be called the Millennium Reserve and will promote wildlife conservation as well as giving Chicagoans a place to bike, walk, and whatnot. And as the Atlantic shows so simply in the graphic above, it’s way, way bigger than Central Park. In fact, this sucker's so big that it's 9.5 times the size of …

Read more: Cities

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Critical List: Seattle bans plastic bags; at least 100 million trees died in Texas this year

Seattle is banning retail stores from giving out single-use plastic bags. Paper bags will cost a nickel. Google is investing $94 million in solar projects. As many as 500 million trees died in the Texas drought this year. India could join the U.S. in officially complaining that China's been selling solar panels at too low a price. In the Chinese province of Guangdong, protestors are pinning air pollution on a coal-fired power plant and want it moved.