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If oil spills in the Arctic and no one is around to clean it up, does it just stay there?

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Who will save them after an oil spill?

Oil and shipping companies are salivating as the climate change that they helped cause melts away the ice at the top of the world. Planning and exploration is underway for an Arctic drilling and shipping boom. But what aren't underway are meaningful preparations for responding to the oil that will inevitably be spilled into the remote and rugged Arctic environment by these accident-prone industries.

The National Research Council has catalogued these hazards in a new report, warning that the lack of Arctic infrastructure would become a "significant liability" should oil be spilled.

"It is unlikely that responders could quickly react to an oil spill unless there were improved port and air access, stronger supply chains, and increased capacity to handle equipment, supplies, and personnel," wrote the council in a report requested by the American Petroleum Institute and various U.S. agencies. "There is presently no funding mechanism to provide for development, deployment, and maintenance of temporary and permanent infrastructure."

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Milk & cookies

Tired of milking your cow? There’s a robot for that

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Bursting at the teat, a cow at the Borden family dairy farm ambles over into a big metal cubicle. Like a car in a drive-thru wash, the cow stands still while a rotating brush sweeps under and wipes down her udders. Then the lasers take over, locating the cow’s glands to insert them into plastic tubes, which begin to suck out milk.

This isn’t a scene from a distant, twisted future: Turns out, these milk bots are the next big thing in dairy.

The New York Times reports:

Scores of machines have popped up across New York’s dairy belt and in other states in recent years, changing age-old patterns of daily farm life and reinvigorating the allure of agriculture for a younger, tech-savvy -- and manure-averse -- generation.

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Pony up, frackers: Texas family wins $3 million in contamination lawsuit

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What should you do when a fracking company sets up a drilling site right in your backyard? After you stock up on extra-strength Tylenol and Kleenex for the forthcoming chronic headaches and copious nosebleeds, you might want to call a good lawyer. Yesterday, a jury in a Texas county court issued a landmark ruling against Aruba Petroleum for contaminating a family’s property and making them sick. The company has been ordered to pay $2.925 million in damages to Lisa and Bob Parr of Wise County, Texas. In March 2011, the Parrs filed a lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, alleging that air …

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Forget Ferrari: The hot rides for sports stars are fuel-efficient

Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints
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Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints

The Pro Athlete Stereotype™ wouldn’t be complete without ladies, liquor, and luxury cars. But The New York Times says ballas are increasingly opting for eco-friendly rides. What’s next, trading Dom for kombucha?!

NYT reporter Ken Belson has no hard numbers, but he points to Jeremy Guthrie of the Kansas City Royals as one of the sports stars leading the trend. And he mentions a handful of others who are embracing Teslas and Priuses, whether because they're green, trendy, or high-performance:

It is unclear precisely how many athletes drive electric vehicles or hybrids, but some stars like Steve Nash of the Los Angeles Lakers, Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints, and LaMarcus Aldridge of the Portland Trail Blazers drive or drove Teslas and other high-priced electric vehicles and hybrids.

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This DIY solar backpack looks tricky but doable

Whether you hike, camp, or just drunkenly lie in the sun at Coachella, a solar backpack’s an outlet-free way to juice up your gear. But you might not have upwards of $200 lying around. If you ARE rich in time and patience, Treehugger’s got a tutorial via Instructables for wiring up your own solar bag.

DIY-solar-backpack-instructables
Kajnjaps

Here’s the gist of it: You attach four encapsulated two-volt/200-milliampere solar panels together, fusing their wires with a soldering iron (you have one of those, right?). When you end up with a positive and negative cable, you connect it to a battery box to charge four NiMH batteries. That part looks pretty tricky -- please don’t electrocute yourself (or get into a soldering gun battle ... that shit burns!).

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Fresh fruit for rotting vegetables

When your produce gets wasted, it’s really a cry for help

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When Nick Papadopoulos looked at all the veggies that didn’t sell at the farmers market, he felt terrible. Papadopoulos is general manager of Bloomfield Organics, and he’d seen all the sweat, all the nutrients, all the coaxing and coddling that it had taken to persuade the land to produce this bounty. These were beautiful, well-proportioned, organic vegetables! And now they were bound for the compost heap. He sipped his beer and thought, there has to be a better way.

We end up throwing out a lot of the food we grow. According to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council, we’re tossing 40 percent of our food, the equivalent of $165 billion wasted -- giant lakes of water, mountains of fertilizer, and megajoules of energy, all squandered.

If we’re interested in scaling up regional food systems, we’re going to need a lot more reasonably priced, locally grown calories. And one obvious place to go looking for those calories is among those foods valued so low that they rot, rather than selling in a nearby city. The question is, how do you get people to eat those unloved, unwanted veggies? In other words, how do you solve Papadopoulos’ problem?

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Good apple

Apple announces big clean energy progress

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Climate change is real and a real problem for the world, Apple said on Monday, announcing its progress on environmental targets ahead of Earth Day.

The technology company, in a video narrated by CEO Tim Cook on its green initiatives and updated environment webpages, claimed that 94 percent of its corporate facilities and 100 percent of its data centers are now powered by renewable energy sources such as solar power.

Lisa Jackson, the former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Apple's vice president for environmental initiatives, wrote in a letter: "We feel the responsibility to consider everything we do in order to reduce our impact on the environment. This means using greener materials and constantly inventing new ways to conserve precious resources."

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Apple will now recycle your old products and give you store credit

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Luke Dorny

Forget smashing your old iBook Office Space-style. Just send it back to Apple, and if it isn’t ancient, you could get some sweet sweet store credit. Even if it is ancient, Apple will recycle it for you.

Here are the deets from Apple:

When you recycle with Apple, your used equipment is disassembled, and key components that can be reused are removed. Glass and metal can be reprocessed for use in new products. A majority of the plastics can be pelletized into a raw secondary material. With materials reprocessing and component reuse, Apple often achieves a 90 percent recovery rate by weight of the original product.

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Ukraine belatedly seeks renewable energy as weapon against Russia

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It took a military invasion to get Ukrainian leaders to look seriously at renewable energy.

Ukraine is buying up as much natural gas as it can from Russia before its military tormentors cut off the spigot. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that his Eastern European neighbor had a month to pay its back bills or be forced to start paying in advance for its gas. Bloomberg analyzed energy data and reported Monday that Ukrainians nearly trebled their daily gas imports following Putin's statement.

But the crisis hasn't just triggered a fossil fuel buying spree. It has prompted Ukrainian officials to reimagine their embattled nation's very energy future. From a separate Bloomberg article:

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It's not all bad

Three Gulf Coast victories scored since the BP spill

"Save our Gulf" rally
Infrogmation of New Orleans

You will hear a lot of gloomy reports about the state of the Gulf Coast as we approach the fourth-year commemoration of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster on April 20. And that’s fair. BP deserves little cheer in the face of widespread health problems across the Gulf, for both humans and marine animals, and the disappearance of entire fishing communities. Despite what BP is telling us, it ain’t all good. But it ain’t all bad, either.

Gulf Coast communities from the Florida Panhandle to Texas’s right shoulder had been through a few disaster rodeos before the BP spill. They’ve survived hurricanes named for just about every letter of the alphabet. And they’ve endured careless and reckless decisions from every level of government, way more than one time too many. Given those past experiences, residents and activists along the Gulf corralled together after the BP disaster to make sure their most immediate concerns would be heard this time around. Region-wide networks like the Gulf Future Coalition and the Gulf Coast Fund for Community Renewal and Ecological Health were formed immediately after the spill to harness the expertise of Gulf citizens who often historically were excluded from recovery processes. Through guiding documents like the Unified Action Plan for a Healthy Gulf and media projects like Bridge the Gulf, community members were able to voice their concerns and demands, free of bureaucratic or political filters.

These projects gave Gulf residents the opportunity not only to frame the Gulf recovery narrative, but also to influence government-led recovery plans. The result has been three demonstrable victories: