Farmers markets sometimes get a bad rap for catering to the moneyed set, as though only the well-to-do like to buy their produce in a pleasant, social, outdoor environment, direct from the source.
It turns out that's all a bunch of compost. Low-income shoppers are actually the real farmers-market power users, buying bigger shares of their groceries at the markets than at other stores compared to middle- and high-income shoppers, according to a new report from the Project for Public Spaces.
The bald eagle has been the national bird and national emblem of the United States of America since 1782. We Americans encounter it on the Great Seal from a such an early age -- and we encounter so few real bald eagles -- that our brains are probably wired to render as symbolic any eagle that pops into our consciousness.
Please don't do that symbolizing thing to this week's Eagle In The News: He is a simply a beautiful, noble, eight-foot-wingspanned, government-protected bird that was hit by a car Wednesday afternoon on I-84 in Portland, Ore., while roadside dining, and is critically injured. He has a broken leg, possible paralysis, and is being watched closely at the Audubon Society to see if he will survive into today. Two lanes of traffic were shut down, for 20 minutes, to save him. Rescuers had to creep up from behind to capture and treat the guy.
Encana executives, therefore, will be forgiven for feeling a little frustrated. They're just trying to drill up oil and gas and sell it at a profit while letting your lungs and the atmosphere incur the cost of the pollution, is that so wrong? So when a reporter asked executives a question they found insulting, one responded more colorfully than would be generally recommended. From Reuters:
Encana Corp, Canada's largest natural gas producer, apologized on Thursday because one of its executives cursed after an analyst asked about whether new Canadian investment rules would prohibit its takeover by foreign state-owned entities.
When asked the question by Canaccord Genuity analyst Phil Skolnick, interim CEO Clayton Woitas said: "The answer would be no." Then, in a whispered comment that was clearly audible on a replay of the call, someone can be heard saying, "fucking asshole."
Pirate fishing is an entertainingly named but actually terrible scourge of the oceans.
"It leaves communities without much needed food and income and the marine environment smashed and empty," according to Greenpeace, which has estimated that there are upwards of 1,000 illegal industrial-scale fishing ships at sea. "Pirate fishing compounds the global environmental damage from other destructive fisheries. Because they operate, quite literally, off the radar of any enforcement, the fishing techniques they use are destroying ocean life." The practice is rampant in Central America and parts of Europe and Africa.
But now the super-intimidating international policing ubergroup INTERPOL is convening for the first time ever to talk about policing these pirates at next week's International Fisheries Enforcement Conference in Lyon, France. "High-level Chiefs in the field of fisheries law enforcement are invited to join together with the aim of sharing expertise and strategies to prevent and combat fisheries crime," says INTERPOL.
Mosquitoes are, at best, horrible annoyances. At worst? They are genocidal maniacs, responsible for more than half a million deaths a year, transmitting malaria and other diseases. Were causing extinction subject to popular vote, mosquitoes would win in a landslide.
All of that, relative to the moment, is the good news. Now, the bad.
Mosquitoes laugh at your so-called repellant.
Well, they don't laugh, as such, lacking the capacity for forced expulsion of air from their probosci and, likewise, any sense of humor. Point is, the most common chemical used to repel the little idiots is losing its effectiveness. From Smithsonian.com:
A group of researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine discovered that three hours after an exposure to DEET, many Aedes aegypti mosquitoes were immune to the chemical, ignoring its typically noxious smell and attempting to land on irresistible human skin. …
So why did the mosquitoes, as a whole, overcome their dislike of DEET? Previous studies by this group and others have found particular mosquitoes with a genetic mutation that made them innately immune to DEET, but they say that this case is different, because they didn’t demonstrate this ability from the start.
They suspect, instead, that the insects’ antennae became less chemically sensitive to DEET over time, as evidenced by electroantennography on the mosquitoes’ odor receptors after each of the tests -- a phenomenon not unlike a person getting used to the smell of, say, the ocean or a manufacturing plant near his or her house.
In other words, all picnics should now be scheduled for two hours, 55 minutes in length.
After a seriously dry run, some drought-stricken farmers have gotten a bit of a reprieve. Snow dumping this week on the country's potential future dust bowl is great news for suffering, parched wheat crops.
Nearly a foot or more of snow fell across key growing areas in Oklahoma and Kansas in the last 24 hours, and more was coming.
"I feel a lot better this morning," said Kansas wheat farmer Scott Van Allen, who has about 2,300 acres planted to winter wheat in south-central Kansas. "It snowed all night on us. I was getting very concerned with the lack of moisture we've had."
Well, Scott, here are some scientists to rain on your parade (except without any actual rain, sorry). This extreme weather isn't nearly extreme enough to make up for the other extreme weather.
It should be clear to regular readers of Grist that we love us some efficient living space. Apartments, tiny houses, houses that can be carted around by bikes -- we'll take any of those more efficient, energy-saving, sprawl-avoiding living spaces.
Don't say, "Well it just shows how stupid they are," because that's about the lamest response one can muster on this issue. The fact is we're allowing plastic to enter into the food chain eventually to eat it ourselves so we're the stupid ones.
There is bipartisan agreement on this: Dealing with the budget deficit is urgent.
That's a change. When Obama took office in 2009, during a cascading financial crisis, Americans put deficit reduction in the middle of a list of policy goals in a Pew poll. Now it has risen near the top. Seven of 10 Americans (including not only 81% of Republicans but also 65% of Democrats) say it is essential for the president and Congress to enact major deficit legislation this year. ...
When asked which of four issues was most pressing -- the deficit, guns, immigration or climate change -- 51% chose the deficit, three times that of any other issue. However, there were some significant differences by race and ethnicity. Hispanics were inclined to choose immigration as the most critical issue; African Americans chose guns.
Here's the breakdown on the urgency question by political party (compared to "everyone", which represents the entire pool of respondents).
Even most Democrats don't see an urgent need for action on climate change -- fewer than half say it's a priority for this year. That's astonishing.
2012 was a big year for climate change. It was the hottest year on record. There were superstorms and derechos and thundersnow. You could be forgiven for getting a little depressed. But please do not think we are alone in this battle against the warming of the planet. We have Green Ninja, a little animated green guy (in some videos he appears somewhat more awkwardly and kinda problematically as a real person, and we think there may be a branding issue here but we don't want to be naysayers), who is going to show America's youth how to fight climate change on the superhero level.
The invention of some concerned scientists, artists, and writers, Green Ninja appears in a series of skits wherein he swashbucklingly attempts to alert people to their non-planet-friendly behavior. In one, a cartoon, a man finds his feet growing to gargantuan size, and Green Ninja shows up and sorts his recycling and turns off his entertainment system and cleans his fridge. In another (mildly racist live action), Green Ninja replaces a college student's steak burrito with a chicken one, and his roommate's beef jerky with a carrot. Wait, are you the Green Ninja or Captain Vegetable?
It is perhaps beginning to dawn on you that Green Ninja does not have a terribly good sense of humor, what with his silent judgment of your lifestyle. See for yourself: