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This tandem bike shrinks to a solo one for after you’ve been dumped

Before your breakup.
Gizmag
Before your breakup.

Calfee Design makes some pretty sweet bamboo bikes, but now it's even anticipating your change in Facebook relationship status. To make breakups a little less painful -- or just make tandem bikes more versatile -- the cycle company created a convertible tandem that you can turn into a solo bike. (It’s a bicycle built for two! Slash one!)

...aaand after.
Gizmag
... aaand after.

The carbon fiber bicycle was a custom design for a couple, so it’s not widely available (yet), but it was recently on display at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show for people to drool over. Gizmag explains the bike’s logistics:

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Turn your poop into charcoal and cook with it!

charcoal-briquettes-flickr
MooBob42

Turds may LOOK like little lumps of charcoal, but, in one of nature’s cruelest tragedies, you can’t really roast a hot dog over them. OR CAN YOU?!

University of Colorado environmental engineering professor Karl Linden thinks you can, and not because he’s been legally smoking doobies. He's working on a solar-powered toilet that turns waste into biochar, which can be used as fuel. This takes lighting your farts to a whole new level:

Read more: Living

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Pat Robertson: God caused a power outage to punk politicians who care about climate change

Can you believe those Democratic senators, staying up all night to chat about something as frivolous as climate change? Well, thankfully a straight white evangelical male God had a hearty chuckle at their expense, at least in confirmed wacko Pat Robertson’s version of things.

The fundamentalist TV preacher, who is essentially just a neckless sack of fear and hate, recently said on air that Harry Reid, Barbara Boxer, and others got a prank for the ages when the guy in the sky sent them a brief power outage:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Grist is looking for the next class of fellows

Xmen-magneto-02
© Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Are you an early-career journalist, storyteller, or multimedia wizard who digs what we do? Then Grist wants you!

We are now accepting applications for the next class of the Grist Fellowship Program.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Sticky green

Can the pot industry make buds with sustainability?

marijuana plant
Shutterstock

The first thing Scott Durkee does when he picks me up at the ferry dock is laugh. "You’re funny," he says. "You thought you could just hail a cab on Vashon Island, just like that? This isn’t Seattle!"

And indeed, Vashon is not. With its winding rural roads, vegetable stands, and slow-paced island charm, it's hard to believe that the island of a little more than 10,000 residents is only a 20-minute ferry ride across the Puget Sound from the city.

Durkee's lived on Vashon since 1990. A self-described "freelance factotum," he reuses just about everything he can find from his various jobs around the island. He makes garden beds out of old barrels from his job at a nearby winery. He powers all three of his cars with vegetable oil from his gig inspecting grease traps for restaurants. He used to build water systems and wants solar panels to make his rainwater catcher "carbon footprint free."

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How seeds could be our saviors — if we save them first

The seed vault "ark" in Svalbard, Norway.
Seeds of Time
The seed vault "ark" in Svalbard, Norway.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner and Irish conciliator John Hume once observed that when people are divided, victories are not solutions.

The insight works just as well for modern agriculture as it did in the context of the Irish troubles, and Cary Fowler, an evangelist for seeds, repeats the observation part way through the new documentary, Seeds of Time. “Victories and solutions are not the same thing,” Fowler says, “and, I think, too often people try to win without actually looking to create solutions.”

The documentary, directed by Sandy McLeod, is a portrait of Fowler -- one that also provides an object lesson in what it looks like to search for genuine solutions.

It’s a welcome change in tone. As eaters have moved farther from the places where their food grows, a lot of the media about farming has taken the form of exposés, alerting us to the hard realities of agriculture. There's a place for exposés, but if we spend all our time talking about the people who are doing agriculture wrong, we may forget that no one has figured out a way to truly do it right.

Read more: Food

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Birthday, it’s ya birthday: Fracking technology turns 65

birthdaycupcake
Shutterstock

Gather round, ladies and gentlemen, for today the technology behind hydraulic fracturing turns 65. We’d personally like to take this moment to remind all the fracking wells out there that they’re now eligible for a free beverage at Taco Bell. Get that Pepsi, girl! The American Petroleum Institute has thoughtfully organized a publicity campaign around this momentous occasion. In the spirit of birthdays being the time of year that we lie to ourselves to feel better about our lives, API’s "happy birthday, fracking!" press release is basically chock-full of fun falsehoods: “Americans have long been energy pioneers, from the 1800’s …

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These pictures of spring flowers will melt your frozen heart

Arenaria_congesta.jpg
Matt Lavin

Climate change might have had a hand in the exceptionally cold winter much of the country just suffered through, but on the upside, there's new evidence that it's sending spring in early, and giving us more time with wildflowers.

That's the conclusion of one of the most exhaustive surveys ever conducted on flowering "phenology," the term scientists use for the timing of seasonal events (such as the day the first migratory birds arrive in a given place or, in this case, the first day flowers open). The study was published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. From 1974 to 2012, biologist David Inouye of the University of Maryland took a team to Colorado just as the winter frost was beginning to thaw, and spent the spring and summer documenting when 60 common plant species had their first, last, and peak (i.e., the most individual plants) flowering.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Self-cleaning subway strap could make your commute a little less sickening

cyclean

As I write this, I am coming off of a week-long bout of flu, and since none of my friends will admit to more than a mild cold I can only assume I caught it the way most New Yorkers catch the flu: by riding in one of those underground germ-boxes we call a subway. So I am very, very intrigued by Cyclean, a (hypothetical) self-disinfecting handle for buses and trains. (No, I really am very intrigued! I just don't have the energy to lift my head up all the way.)

Cyclean, which won a 2014 Red Dot Design award, was conceived as an alternative to the bars and straps we normally put our grubby mitts all over in the subway, which -- sorry -- are so encrusted with invisible grime that it doesn't bear thinking about.

Read more: Cities, Living

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What we can learn from millennials who opt out of driving

preppy guy on bike
Shutterstock

The signs of an American shift away from driving have been so well-reported as to amount to a new conventional wisdom -- declining vehicle miles traveled, increasing mass transit use, the trendiness of biking. Jeffrey Ball of The New Republic examines whether the leaders of this supposed cultural movement, the millennial generation, really are affirmatively choosing not to drive. Could it be instead that most of them are merely avoiding the cost of driving? During the last decade in which driving has plateaued, gas prices have risen and the economy has been weak.

Ball is compelling in marshalling evidence that, except for a relatively small number of educated professionals choosing to live car-free in big cities, the decline in driving reflects economic constraints, not personal preferences. Here are his two concluding paragraphs:

According to data from the Federal Highway Administration, “zero-vehicle households” encompass two Americas, one unusually rich and one unusually poor. Roughly 4% of those households earn more than $80,000 annually, a wealthy group concentrated in and around New York. Yet 70% of U.S. zero-vehicle households earn less than $30,000 per year. It’s a spread, in other words, much like many others in certain coastal American cities: Some well-off and often-child-free folks up top, some struggling folks at the bottom, and not many in between.

Things may well be changing in the land of the Mustang and the Explorer. But for now, most carless households in the U.S. remain what they’ve long been: carless by economic necessity rather than by choice.

Ball suggests higher up in the piece that such a conclusion is bad news for urbanists and environmentalists, who are hoping America’s love affair with the gas guzzler has ended. “[I]t may be ... an economically-driven, and thus ephemeral, shift,” Ball writes. He implies that millennials will start driving more as they move up the income ladder.

While his basic analysis is strong, it could lead to a different conclusion, one much more encouraging to environmentalists.

Read more: Cities, Living