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Watch a blizzard bury a backyard in snow in 15 seconds

We’re officially time-lapse video junkies, and this one of Blizzard Nemo from earlier this year is pretty cool. It’s only 15 seconds long, but an incredible amount of snow completely covers a Connecticut man's back patio, turning a table into a formidable snow mushroom. Grab your cocoa and get cozy for this one:

Read more: Living


Christmas lights have toxic chemicals all over them

Matty Farah

OnEarth’s Susan Cosier was upset to find that the Christmas lights her kid had been playing with were covered in toxic lead:

Sure, I’m aware that our everyday environment is full of toxic chemicals … But on Christmas lights? Really?

Yup, really, it turns out:

Read more: Living


Fracking company finds new way to screw over the environment

a no-fracking sign

Props are in order for Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the country's biggest natural gas producers, for finding yet another way to make a big mess with fracking. This time, it was irresponsible construction practices.

Company subsidiary Chesapeake Appalachia will pay a near-record $3.2 million in federal penalties for clean water violations at fracking facilities in West Virginia. It will also spend $6.5 million more to restore 27 sites that it damaged with construction activities and pollution. From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:


Icelandic elves block highway project


In Iceland, elves are a powerful political constituency. Possibly more powerful than the president. At the very least, they have the power to delay highway construction.

The AP reports that Icelandic elf advocates (along with environmentalists interested in more tangible creatures) are protesting a highway that's being built from "the tip of the Alftanes peninsula, where the president has a home" to the capital, Reykjavik. And the elves are winning. The project's on hold, and the country's Supreme Court is going to weigh in. The AP:

And it's not the first time issues about "Huldufolk," Icelandic for "hidden folk," have affected planning decisions. They occur so often that the road and coastal administration has come up with a stock media response for elf inquiries, which states in part that "issues have been settled by delaying the construction project at a certain point while the elves living there have supposedly moved on."

Read more: Living


These gorgeous time-lapse photographs make traffic lights look magical

Traffic lights aren’t usually a thing of beauty -- unless you’re late and they’re green as far as the eye can see. But with a little help from some fog, German photojournalist Lucas Zimmermann managed to turn stoplights into gorgeous works of art:

Lucas Zimmermann
Read more: Cities, Living


Domino’s now offers a (gross?) vegan pizza

Dan Lev, Domino’s

Get the door -- it’s mediocre stoner food, minus the meat! At least, it is if you live in Israel. Domino’s just rolled out a family-sized vegan pizza at its 50 locations in the country, thanks to massive demand on Facebook. (We KNEW Facebook was good for something!)

According to Ecorazzi:

The vegan pizza comes with a soy-based cheesy topping and veggies. It sells for 69.90 shekels ($19.91) ...

Yossi Elbaz, the CEO of the Israeli franchise, said it took six months to develop and taste-test the vegan version. “We’ve notified Domino’s Pizza’s world headquarters and they’re very pleased,” Elbaz said. “They’re waiting to see the results.”

Will it be any good? It's Domino's, so don't hold your breath. But who cares? It's vegan!

Before you get too excited, though, NPR’s food blog The Salt reports vegan Domino’s won’t show up in the U.S. anytime soon:

Read more: Food, Living


Pollen angels: The E.U.’s ban on bee-killing pesticides begins. Will it help?

A honeybee on a flower

On April 29, the day that the European Union voted to ban three of the most widely used pesticides in the world, I was at an insecticide industry conference in England having having tea and cookies. The ban on clothianidin, imidacloprid, and thiamethoxam -- collectively called neonicotinoids --  would begin on Dec. 1, and was specifically aimed at seeing if this class of pesticide was indeed making honeybees too stupid to find their way back to the hive, as some studies suggested. Delicious snacks aside, the mood in the conference room was apocalyptic. The panic persisted despite the fact that the …

Read more: Food


2013′s climate grinches: Stealing Christmas warmth and putting it into the atmosphere

Nathan Rupert

Climate change is the most pressing challenge of our time, yet meaningful action to address this global threat seems increasingly elusive. What’s standing in the way? There are numerous individuals, organizations, and corporations that actively work to obstruct attempts to cut our carbon emissions, advance clean energy, and prepare communities for the devastating impacts of climate change. Here is a list of just a few of these thwarters who stood out in 2013.

Read more: Climate & Energy


China doesn’t want our genetically modified corn


Genetically modified strains of corn not authorized for sale in China have been showing up in cargoes exported from the U.S., prompting China to reject them.

And we're not talking about trifling amounts here. In November and December, the country rejected more than 500,000 tons of American corn that had been genetically modified by Syngenta to repel caterpillar pests.

It's hard to conceptualize that much corn, but it works out to more than a dozen shipments, or nearly a third of the corn shipped from the U.S. to China this year. Another way to think about it: The rejected shipments weighed more than 100,000 elephants.

Here's the latest from the BBC:


The Obama administration is undermining its own plans for carbon capture

oil rigs

The Obama administration will soon require new coal-fired power plants to capture the carbon dioxide they produce and store it underground. Coal companies that had long touted "clean coal" turned on the idea, arguing that carbon sequestration isn't commercially viable.

But don't you worry about the poor coal industry. The fossil fuel guys have a trick up their sleeve. Here is the AP, reporting on an approach adopted at a new coal power plant in Mississippi: