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Sarah Parsons' Posts

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Mosquitoes fingered for killer whale deaths at SeaWorld

Photo by Milan Boers.

It's hard to imagine a teensy mosquito taking down an animal as mighty as the killer whale. Yet that's exactly what some folks suspect happened at two SeaWorld locations.

Representatives from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) say that orcas that died at SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio succumbed to encephalitis, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes.  WDCS argues that these deaths could have been avoided if whales weren't kept in captivity.

Read more: Animals

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Modern-day DeLorean? Airplane runs on trash

Photo by Paul O'Donnell.

One man's trash is another man's airplane fuel.

Adventure-seeker Andy Pag aims to obtain funding and become the first person to fly a trash-fueled plane from one end of the U.K. to the other. His aircraft, a microlight plane, will be powered by gasoline made from un-recyclable plastics like bags and packaging.

The fuel is made by a British company using Fischer–Tropsch synthesis--a process of making synthetic fuel that dates back to before WWII. Pag says the fuel is worth highlighting because it produces limited CO2, and reduces the volume of plastics that otherwise would go to landfills.

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Ad men illegally hack down trees for billboards

Photo by Ryan Tir.

Watch one episode of Mad Men and you'll see just how shady the advertising biz can be. But apparently the red-headed stepchildren of the advertising industry -- outdoor billboard companies -- are taking douchebaggery to new lows. An investigative report from Fair Warning details how billboard agencies illegally chop down trees to ensure that potential viewers get unobstructed looks at their signage. Don Draper's womanizing and debauchery isn't looking so bad now, eh?

Take Robert J. Barnhart, a former employee of Lamar Advertising Company, the largest outdoor billboard company in America. When trees got in the way of the company's Tallahassee, Fla., signs, Barnhart says his boss instructed him to kill them off using a mega-lethal herbicide. When Barnhart said he'd no longer act as a tree hit-man, Lamar gave him the axe. Barnhart's allegations are backed up by his former supervisor, and they're part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

And apparently Barnhart's tale is just one in an industry that's rife with illicit tree removal.

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Six Flags’ Magic Mountain caught polluting a California river

Photo by Jeremy Thompson.

Most folks associate Six Flags' Magic Mountain with water parks, games, and thrilling roller coasters. Turns out the amusement park produces more than just smiles and old fashioned family fun -- a whole mess of water pollution.

A coalition of local environmental groups recently accused Magic Mountain of spewing pollutants and trash into the Santa Clara River, a waterway that flows 45 miles from the park before emptying into the ocean. The coalition says that if the amusement park doesn’t clean up its act within 60 days, they’ll sue -- just in time for summer vacation season.

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Why is the Discovery Channel ignoring climate change science?

The Discovery Channel isn’t a climate change denier, but it’s certainly shaping up to be an equally formidable foe -- a climate change avoider.

Media outlets and activists are lambasting the network for failing to adequately address climate change in its recent series, Frozen Planet. The seven-part series, which was jointly produced with the BBC, explores life in the North and South poles. The series’ final episode, “On Thin Ice,” depicts how decreasing ice cover impacts polar habitat and wildlife, but fails to acknowledge the fact that human activities are spurring global warming.

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On 26th anniversary, Chernobyl’s crumbling seal gets new cap

Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion, the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen. Ukraine officials are gifting the nuclear site with an odd sort of birthday hat -- a massive containment cap, or “Chernobyl sarcophagus.”

An international drive has raised funds from governments towards building a new permanent covering to slide over a temporary concrete-and-steel shelter that was hastily erected after the disaster and is now dangerously crumbling.

The 20,000-tonne arched structure, known as the New Safe Confinement, is designed to last for a century and spans 257 meters.

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Chinese farmer builds AMAZING solar- and wind-powered car

Electric vehicles are great and all, but they’re not exactly practical for everyone. Like, how’s a farmer in rural China going to a) afford a pricey green car and b) get enough access to electrical outlets and vehicle charging stations?

Well, if he’s Tang Zhengping from Beijing’s Tangzhou Wanji Yongle Town, he’ll build his own -- and it’ll be AWESOME.

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Donald Trump still blowing hot air about Scottish wind farms

Scotland’s plan to build offshore wind turbines would curb climate change, reduce the country’s reliance on foreign oil, and create thousands of jobs. But Donald Trump don’t give a f***.

Trump appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s economy, energy, and tourism committee today to speak out against the country’s plan to build offshore wind turbines. His argument? Eleven wind turbines -- located a full 1.5 miles from land -- will “ruin Scotland’s tourism.”

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First-ever video from INSIDE the Northern Lights!

Photo by Joshua Strang/U.S. Air Force.

Camera company GoPro recently got all up in Northern Lights, producing the first-ever photos and video from right inside them. The misty flourescence paired with groovy tunes from the Trey Anastasio Band results in one trippy experience -- without the need for illicit substances.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Top 10 U.S. cities with the worst air pollution

There’s good news and bad news about U.S. air pollution. We’ll hit you with the good news first.

The American Lung Association released its State of the Air 2012 report today, and the study shows some improvement in the nation’s air quality (huzzah!).

The volunteer health organization examined 2008-2010 ozone levels, the main ingredient of smog air pollution, and air-particle pollution at official measuring sites across the U.S.

Out of the 25 cities with the most ozone pollution, 22 saw improvements in air quality over last year's report. Similar advancements were seen among cities with the most year-round particle pollution.

And now for the bad news: Despite the progress, the country’s air is still woefully polluted. About 127 million Americans -- a whopping 41 percent of us -- still endure pollution levels that make it dangerous to breathe. Check out the top 10 regions with the dubious distinction of having the most year-round particle pollution. (Spoiler alert: If you’re from several parts of California, you may want to consider relocating).