London may be the world's newest best cycling city. Mayor Boris Johnson has announced that the city will be spending a whopping $1.51 billion on better bike infrastructure -- including a 15-mile bicycle highway that will connect the west and east sections of the city.
There are, oh, a gabillion reasons why this is a great idea. But here are the reasons Johnson gave for spending all this money on cycling:
The reason I am spending almost £1 billion on this is my belief that helping cycling will not just help cyclists. It will create better places for everyone. It means less traffic, more trees, more places to sit and eat a sandwich. It means more seats on the Tube, less competition for a parking place and fewer cars in front of yours at the lights. Above all, it will fulfill my aim of making London’s air cleaner.
The New York Times editorial board and Times columnist Thomas Friedman have both come out swinging against the Keystone XL pipeline.
A strong editorial today calls on Obama to kill the project. The headline: "When to Say No."
[Obama] should say no, and for one overriding reason: A president who has repeatedly identified climate change as one of humanity’s most pressing dangers cannot in good conscience approve a project that — even by the State Department’s most cautious calculations — can only add to the problem. ...
Supporters of the pipeline have argued that this is oil from a friendly country and that Canada will sell it anyway. We hope Mr. Obama will see the flaw in this argument. Saying no to the pipeline will not stop Canada from developing the tar sands, but it will force the construction of new pipelines through Canada itself. And that will require Canadians to play a larger role in deciding whether a massive expansion of tar sands development is prudent. At the very least, saying no to the Keystone XL will slow down plans to triple tar sands production from just under two million barrels a day now to six million barrels a day by 2030. ...
In itself, the Keystone pipeline will not push the world into a climate apocalypse. But it will continue to fuel our appetite for oil and add to the carbon load in the atmosphere. There is no need to accept it.
In an op-ed published on Sunday, Friedman also calls for rejecting Keystone, but with a different spin. He thinks Obama will end up approving the pipeline, so he wants activists to make such a stink about it that Obama feels compelled to take other big steps to forestall climate change in exchange.
A mouse at a zoo in eastern China was supposed to be a snake's dinner, but was freed by zoo officials after he informed the snake that he had no plans to go quietly. While the snake was eating another mouse -- let's call that mouse Dinner Mouse -- that had been unceremoniously dropped into its cage for its evening meal, this guy -- who we'll call Brave Alive Mouse -- jumped on the snake's head and started to bite him. This was undoubtedly a combination of survival instinct, having a tiny mouse brain, and maybe rabies, but we're choosing to interpret it as a desperate, heroic attempt to save his friend.
Twelve-year-old Sicily Kolbeck is a girl after our own hearts. She's building a tiny house. It's based on the Gypsy Junker, which we have a particular fondness for. She raised more than $1,500 on Indiegogo to support the project. And she's really concerned about poo. In fact, like us, she writes about it on the internet:
This week I will be working on my composting toilet for the tiny house; I decided to go with a sawdust composting toilet because it's cheap, but just in case I am installing plumbing for an RV hookup because I want to be #1 in the business of #2. Like a boss.
Kolbeck has an advantage over most 12-year-olds who might want to build their own tiny spot to hang out in: She goes to a private school that emphasizes project-based learning. So building this house is what she does at school. (Yes, we are jealous.)
Where not so long ago there was nothing but ice, now there are miles of forests.
As frigid Arctic tundras have melted during the past 30 years, swaths of the northern lands have grown over with lush stands of trees, bushes, and other plants. That's the conclusion of NASA-funded scientists who studied 30 years of satellite data. They published their results Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
"In the north's Arctic and boreal areas, the characteristics of the seasons are changing, leading to great disruptions for plants and related ecosystems," said one of the researchers, Ranga Myneni. From NASA:
As a result of enhanced warming and a longer growing season, large patches of vigorously productive vegetation now span a third of the northern landscape, or more than 3.5 million square miles (9 million square kilometers). That is an area about equal to the contiguous United States. This landscape resembles what was found 250 to 430 miles (400 to 700 kilometers) to the south in 1982.
"It's like Winnipeg, Manitoba, moving to Minneapolis-Saint Paul in only 30 years," said co-author Compton Tucker of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
In 2009, three orphaned Bengal tiger cubs were taken to the Bor Wildlife Sanctuary in India. There, they've grown up in relative ease -- in fact, maybe they’ve gotten a little spoiled. They're removed enough from the demands of the world they'd normally grow up in (i.e., constant bloodthirstiness) that one of the tigers hasn't learned that when his keepers put a squirming, moving, meaty goat in his enclosure, they mean for him to eat it. The Times of India:
For two days, the tiger did not kill the goat despite being hungry. Instead it played with it; at one point even playfully dumping it in an artificial waterhole.
According to Isaiah, it's not end times until a leopard hangs out with a kid, but a tiger is getting worrisomely close. It's reassuring, then, that this tiger's other two siblings have more tiger-like ideas of what to do with a goat:
The two tigresses have turned out fine - the goat that was spared by their male sibling was released in their enclosure and instantly killed and consumed by them.
No, Lake Vostok is not some beautiful sylvan locale where Chekhov characters go to trade regrets and bon mots. It is instead the largest of hundreds of glacial lakes lying several miles below the surface of Antarctic ice. Scientists only reached the lake a few months ago after 20 years of drilling. And now that they've had some time to look into what's actually in this lake they were so eager to reach, they have discovered a bacterium so weird it is kind of tripping them out.
On the one hand 3D printers are awesome, the way you can increasingly employ them to make increasingly just about everything, sometimes out of crap you didn't want anyway. On the other hand, one wonders: When will it all end? Will we soon just be able to create everything in a fucking 3D printer and screw all other forms of manufacturing and the people engaged in it? Are we going to 3D print our food? Maybe our houses? Are we going to 3D print ourselves NEW BODY PARTS? Ha ha ha uh actually this guy just had 75 percent of his skull replaced with a 3D-printed skull.
Imagine if every time you ordered a pizza, you opened the box, removed four or five grease-dripping slices -- loaded with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, the works -- and tossed them in the trash. That, in effect, is what Americans as a group do every day: From farm to table, we waste an estimated 40 percent of all the food produced in this country. Meanwhile, 50 million people in the United States don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
We all deserve some of the credit for this waste -- from farmers to grocers to you and me letting our leftovers grow mold in the fridge. But now, a bunch of smart people are harnessing mobile technology to cut down on the amount of food that ends up in the dumpster -- and get more of it to people in need.
“People in the food industry know how much food they waste, and they don’t like it at all,” says Roger Gordon, co-founder of one such new platform, Food Cowboy. He found this out from his brother, Richard, a truck driver who often hauls produce and wanted to do something with the loads of rejected, or “kicked,” fruits and veggies he ends up with about once a week. “When it’s kicked for cosmetic reasons -- the eggplant has the wrong barcode, the eggplant’s not straight enough -- and he’s told to throw it away, he’s called me,” Gordon says. He’d work the phone and the web to find a food bank near Richard’s route that could accept the unwanted produce, sparing it from being tossed.
“We finally got smart and figured out, if these different apps [like Yelp] can help you find a place to buy food to eat, they can help you find a place to take food for other people to eat,” says Gordon.
Food Cowboy, still in beta, works with two large trucking companies and about 20 local charities along the East Coast’s I-95 corridor. If, for example, a pallet of cherry tomatoes falls over and the shipment is rejected, the trucking company sends an alert that allows Food Cowboy to query its nonprofit partners along the truck’s route: “Who can handle 40 crates of cherry tomatoes?” The platform accomplishes what used to be a time-consuming search almost instantly, making it much more likely that the orphaned tomatoes will find a home.
“Think of it as an air traffic controller for organic matter,” Gordon says. “If you’re a food charity, you’ve got the logistics ability of anybody else in the food chain now.”