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Sarah Laskow's Posts


Eating rice raises risk of arsenic exposure

Sometimes it just feels like we should give up eating, particularly if "we" are "pregnant women." A new study links rice consumption with higher levels of arsenic in the bloodstream, which can increase the risks of infant mortality and low birth weight. Most arsenic exposure comes from water, and the study found that 10 percent of its subjects' tap water had levels of arsenic higher than the EPA allows. But rice is also better at absorbing arsenic from water than most other crops are. And while China is on top of this (not surprisingly), the U.S. and the E.U. have …

Read more: Food, Food Safety


Clean energy investment tops $1 trillion

Somewhere, sometime in the past few weeks, the trilionth dollar to be invested in clean energy made its way into the budget of some co-generation plant, wind farm, solar company, or electric vehicle innovator. To be more specific, this is the trillionth dollar to be invested since Bloomberg New Energy Finance started counting in 2004. Here's what the group's analysts know about this mysterious investment: Like the recent birth of the world's seven billionth baby, it is impossible to pinpoint with certainty the one trillionth dollar of investment. However it is almost certain it took place during the last two …


Critical List: Huntsman goes right on climate change; the Mob goes green

Among Republican presidential candidates, denouncing climate science is like a bug. They all have it now. Even Jon Huntsman. Ban Ki-Moon is not particularly hopeful about the prospects of success at Durban. Justifiably. Britain is losing three-quarters of its butterfly species. Katharine Hayhoe is a climatologist and evangelical Christian, which means she spends a lot of her time speaking with Christian colleges and church groups about why climate change is a matter of fact, not faith. The Mob is going green.


White House goals for cleaning the Gulf: Fix stuff

After the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, the Obama administration decided to dig deep into the environmental problems that faced the Gulf Coast and, in the way of governments everywhere, set up a task force to study the issues. This week, that task force released its report. According to the report’s introduction, the president's directive to study these issues was "an important commitment to the Gulf Coast community that went beyond the crisis of the moment and recognized the decades of significant and persistent decline the region has endured." In other words, a bunch of people just spent a year figuring …

Read more: Politics, Pollution


Amazon deforestation decreasing … but not for long

Despite reports of localized deforestation and violence against rainforest activists, a study on deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon found that the number of square kilometers disappearing each year has hit a record low. But politics has a way of screwing up progress like this, and Brazilian politicians are voting today to weaken the forest code that contributed to the deforestation decline. Man! These guys might as well be American politicians. Nature reports that agricultural interests have backed the legislation, since trees do tend to get in the way of farming. But so does civilizational collapse, and as researchers have discovered, …


Critical List: Scientists find Earth 2.0; rootworms defeat Monsanto corn

Scientists found a planet that looks an awful lot like Earth. One U.N. leader says that even an international treaty won't ensure the world avoids dangerous climate change. And we don't even have that! Rootworms are developing a resistance to Monsanto's Bt corn, and scientists get to say "I told you so." The Carbon War Room has all your jet fuel sustainability rankings right here. Paris is planning to increase its rooftop green space by nearly 300 percent.


Cloning a mammoth: Totally gonna happen

Back in August, a team of scientists uncovered a woolly mammoth's thigh bone, which had been so well preserved in Siberian permafrost that it offered the possibility of creating a mammoth clone. And this weekend, a team of Japanese and Russian scientist announced that, yes, they are going to do this thing. Mammoth clones. They're coming. Scientists believe they can take DNA from the bone's marrow cells and use elephant egg cells and surrogates to birth a mammoth baby. Will those elephant surrogates be the world’s coolest elephants? YES. Also, they will sort of be their own great-great-great-great-great-grandmas. Obviously this …

Read more: Animals


New study shows three-quarters of global temperature rise is humans’ fault

A study published this weekend in Nature Geoscience has double-checked, and confirmed, the idea that climate change is mostly human-made. It uses "an alternative line of evidence" to prove that most observed climate change -- 74 percent of it -- comes from greenhouse-gas emissions, not natural variability. We basically knew that already, but it's always good to have independent confirmation. That’s kind of the difference between science and just saying shit on Fox News. What's more, the study states unequivocally that a pet climate skeptic theory (not our fault! more solar energy has reached the earth!) is just wrong. The …


Critical List: 74 percent of warming is human-made; Schwarzenegger takes on clean energy

A study quantified the share of climate change that can attributed to humans and found that at least 74 percent of warming is human-made. 2010 saw the biggest jump in carbon dioxide output, ever. The mission of Occupy Green/Red Chile is to keep the GM industry's hands off of New Mexico's peppers. Ah-nold doesn't think the government is doing enough to help out renewable energy and wants to hear what the Republican presidential candidates are going to do about it. OR ELSE. India's getting cheap solar power by making companies compete against each other at auctions for large projects. Greenpeace …


IKEA will ship disposable furniture on disposable pallets

IKEA knows from disposable. So when the company realized it could save money and shipping space by using cardboard shipping pallets, it tossed out its traditional wooden pallets like last year's BILLY bookshelf. The new pallets can support loads as heavy as the wooden pallets could, but they’re only a third as high and weigh 90 percent less. As a rule, more efficient shipping saves energy, because those monster boats that make globalization possible pig out on fossil fuels. On the other hand, the cardboard pallets will each only get one use. But they'll be recycled. But they come with …