Sarah Parsons

Sarah Parsons is a freelance writer and editor based in Washington, D.C. Her work has also appeared in Popular Science, GOOD, Audubon, OnEarth, Plenty, Change.org, and Inhabitat.com, among others.

Food

Anheuser-Busch turns beer leftovers into usable products

Now you can feel good after knocking back a few brewskis — and not just because you’re tipsy. Beermaker Anheuser-Busch has found a way to turn its waste grain into an array of products, from clothes to cosmetics to biogas. The beer behemoth has partnered with a company called Blue Marble Bio, which plans to set up large-scale biorefineries at Anheuser-Busch breweries that will use naturally occurring bacteria to break down spent grains using proprietary “polyculture fermentation technology.” That process will create both biogas, which can be used to generate electricity, and chemical compounds called carboxylic acids that are used …

Animals

Shell hires dogs to detect oil spills in Arctic

Some of Shell’s newest employees are decidedly cuddlier than the middle-aged white dudes we typically associate with the oil behemoth. That’s because they’re a dachshund and two border collies. New information reveals that the company has experimented with using three dogs — Jippi, Blues, and Tara — as a cheap and effective way to detect oil spills in the Arctic. The dogs’ ability to sniff out oil spills beneath snow and ice has been tested and paid for by Shell — and other oil companies and government research organizations — in preparation for the industry’s entry into the forbidding Arctic …

Energy Policy

Meet the worst Senate amendment that ever lived

A new amendment to the Senate transportation bill greenlights the Keystone XL pipeline and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, among other Big Oil monstrosities.

Nuclear

5 stories about the Fukushima anniversary that you really need to read

This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear accident. While thousands of residents fell victim to the natural disasters, countless others are still living in fear of radiation poisoning from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s triple meltdown. There’s a cornucopia of news in light of the March 11 anniversary, but lucky for you, we’ve broken it down into digestible morsels. Here are five stories about the Fukushima anniversary that are not to be missed:

Climate Change

Study: Even a small temperature increase will obliterate Greenland ice cap

If you’ve been enjoying the recent unseasonably warm weather, prepare for a buzzkill: A study published on Sunday by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research found that even a teensy global temperature increase could turn the Greenland ice sheet into the world’s largest puddle. Previous research has suggested it would need warming of at least 3.1 degrees Celsius (5.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, in a range of 1.9-5.1 C (3.4-9.1 F), to totally melt the icesheet. But new estimates, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, put the threshold at 1.6 C (2.9 F), in a range of …

Animals

New species alert: Check out the Galapagos Catshark

Researchers recently announced a new species of shark, the Galapagos Catshark, or Bythaelurus giddingsi. Catsharks are one of the largest families of sharks, and are also known as dogfish, a synonym scenario that is not at all ass-backwards. And to make classification even more complex, the newly discovered species of catshark/dogfish has a lot in common with the snowflake: The arrangement of leopard-like spots on Galapagos Catshark is unique to each fish. So it’s a catshark or dogfish with spots like a leopard and the characteristics of a snowflake — got it?

Climate & Energy

Philippines police to plant 10 million trees in one year

Police officers in the Philippines are trading their guns and billy clubs for weapons of mass construction: shovels, watering cans, and gardening gloves. That’s because they’re partnering with the country’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to combat climate change and deforestation. Their Green Ops mission? Plant 10 million treesin one year. The push to reforest the Philippines comes on the heels of a recent executive order by President Benigno Aquino, known as the National Greening Program, which aims to rehabilitate nearly 500 thousand acres of previously cleared forest cover by February 2013.

Business & Technology

Electric scooter version of Zipcar hits San Francisco

San Francisco's hipsters are about to get motorized: Scoot Networks rents scooters like Zipcar.

Living

Mercury-loaded cosmetics target minority communities

Beauty may only be skin deep, but the damage from cosmetics reaches way down into the kidneys, brains, and other organs — at least, it does if those cosmetics contain mercury, as several brands do, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What’s even worse is that these mercury-loaded cosmetics are targeted specifically towards historically marginalized communities. The recent FDA report found that heavy-metal-filled skin care products, soaps, and cosmetics are found mainly in stores frequented by people of Latino, African-American, Asian, and Middle Eastern descent. The FDA has counted 35 potentially poisonous products, which include goods made by …

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