Sarah Laskow

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

Living

Best light bulb ever will cost you $50

Remember the awesome LED that the government declared the greenest lightbulb ever? Well, you can buy it now. But you probably won’t. Because you like to do things like eat and pay rent. We knew this sucker was going to be expensive. The number that was floating around was $40, and green commentators near and far thought most consumers would have sticker shock at that price. Turn out, Phillips is selling the bulbs for $50. Fifty bucks! That is HALF OF A HUNDRED DOLLARS. I know — rationally — that the bulbs will last for 10,000 hours and will save …

Critical List: Senate voted against Keystone XL; CSA delivery by sailboat

The Senate voted against approving Keystone XL. Japan has almost shut down its nuclear industry; next month only one out of 54 reactors will be working. Those affected by the BP oil spill could get 60 percent of the settlement money they’re owed as soon as a new program to pay out claims is set up.

Solar Power

Watch today’s solar flare erupt from the sun

Two solar flares burst out of the sun on March 6. NASA notes: “One of the most dramatic features is the way the entire surface of the sun seems to ripple with the force of the eruption.” Badass! The first flare was the second largest of this solar cycle (which started in 2009), and it’s traveling at 1,300 miles per second, which means it could sweep the continental United States in less than three seconds. It was scheduled to reach Earth at 1 a.m. EST this morning — give or take 7 hours. Which means it’s already hit. And all’s …

Biofuel

In 2014, corn biofuel is out, wood biofuel is in

Biofuel sounds like a pretty good idea — down with power plants, up with regular plants! — but if the country switches over to corn ethanol we will basically be unable to grow any other crops. A new study has calculated that corn destined for ethanol production would have to take over 80 percent of current farmland in order for the country to meet current biofuel goals. But next generation biofuels can come from many other plants besides corn. And for the first time, they might be commercially viable.

Critical List: Solar storm to hit today; the U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum products

Solar storm a-comin’! Batten down the planet! Seriously, it’s today and it’s supposed to be the strongest in six years, which is confusing because the one two months ago was supposed to be the strongest in seven years and how does THAT work? Anyway, it could “disrupt power grids, satellites, oil pipelines, and high-accuracy GPS systems.” Barack Obama announced $1 billion in government support for alternative vehicles yesterday. Here’s the official James Hansen “I’m just a reticent midwestern scientist” TED talk (sponsored by Goldman Sachs?). He explains why he decided to get arrested in front of the White House. The …

Animals

Japanese zoo tries to make endangered alligators have sex

There are only 150 or so Chinese alligators left in the wild, which means that if they had any sense of mortality, these critters would be breeding like crazy. But apparently they don’t have the “survival of the fittest” will to reproduce, or maybe they just have a headache. So one Japanese zoo tried to set the mood by beating taiko drums, “because of its similarity to the animals’ natural pre-coital cry,” reports Agence-France Presse.

Clean Air

Clean air ad featuring asthmatic kids is dangerously adorable

The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) did a really good job at tugging every heartstring available in this new ad: Seriously, how much do you want to cry now? Maybe they really should send asthmatic kids into Congress as lobbyists. NRDC and Sierra Club are doing the closest thing possible without running afoul of child labor laws — they’re running the ad in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and D.C. So when a legislator comes home from a hard day on the Hill and settles in to watch Two and Half Men — bam! — now he’s crying …

Critical List: Too many tornadoes; scientists help plant seeds reach Antarctica

Super Tuesday results: The rich guy who would be terrible for the environment won primaries in six states, the scary evangelist who would be terrible for the environment won three, and the sad nerd who should know better but would probably be terrible for the environment just to fit in won one. March has already blown through its typical allotment of tornadoes. Certain industrial chemicals give rise to ADHD. Flame retardants, which are in tons of kids’ products, are also linked with learning disorders. Basically, the only way to keep a kid safe from chemicals is to wrap her up …

Living

California’s closed state parks to be overrun by pot growers, people willing to pee in the woods

In just a few months, California will close dozens of state parks. But what does that actually mean? KQED, a rad West Coast public radio station, has a series looking deeper into the issue, and from what we can tell, closing state parks means nature’s on the loose with NO ADULT SUPERVISION. Now, that can be a good thing or a bad thing. The parks will still be open to the public. But the services will be gone. So if you want to pee at a closed state park, you will have to pee in the woods. The trails won’t …

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