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This woman is riding a tricycle to the South Pole

Untitled copy
Screenshot via ICE Trikes

At the end of 2012, Eric Larsen tried to bike 750 miles from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole. He would have been the first person ever to bike to the pole, but he didn't make it. This year, three other people are going to try. And one of them, Maria Leijerstam, is making the trek on the most hardcore recumbent tricycle we've ever seen.

Gizmag reports:

"Fat bikes fail because they get blown over in the high winds, or can’t ride fast enough through the snow to stay upright," Leijerstam explains. ... "I knew I needed something that would overcome these limitations."

Read more: Living


Watch what happened when a mistletoe drone flew over San Francisco

George Zisiadis and Mustafa Khan stuck some mistletoe to a small drone and flew it around San Francisco's Union Square. Watch what happened next:

Kisses, burritos, AND Amazon packages? OK, drones, you’re starting to improve your reputation.

Read more: Cities, Living


Fracking opponents win big in Pennsylvania

Fracking is rampant in Pennsylvania
William Avery Hudson

Robinson Township in western Pennsylvania is home to a couple thousand residents and about 20 fracked wells. In a resounding victory for common sense and for local governments throughout the state, residents there and in six other towns won an epic court battle last week that will give them back the right to regulate or even evict the fracking operations in their midst.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Thursday struck down elements of a state law that had prevented local governments from regulating fracking activities. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:


Artificial sweeteners found in drinking water near Lake Erie

Kevin Trotman

Nature is so sweet! No, literally: Diet drinks are turning rivers into something out of Candyland. This is bad news for most of us, but good news if you’ve ever wished fresh spring water was more like Sprite.

Scientists poked around the Grand River in Ontario, Canada, which feeds into Lake Erie (so pay attention, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York). They found “elevated concentrations” of sucralose, saccharin, and two other sweeteners less fun to say. Apparently the 30 water treatment plants that dump into the river aren’t filtering everything out. Writes the L.A. Times:

Antidepressants, antibiotics, steroids and fragrances are among the products that have been detected in surface waters. Some of the contaminants have been found in fish tissue. Some compounds not only get through sewage plants, they also survive purification of drinking supplies and have been measured in trace amounts in municipal tap water.

Read more: Food, Living


Check out the Onion’s groundbreaking coverage of snowmen protesting climate change


Snowmen and -women might be the best climate activists (at least, until sweaty polar bears are commonplace). So thought the Onion in an oldie but goodie that just resurfaced on Reddit. The article includes these gems:

Joe Centigrade, president of the Advocates For Beings Of Frozen Precipitation, spoke at a mass rally Tuesday on Washington's National Mall.

"The unseasonably warm winters of the recent past are a clear indication of a real environmental threat to humans and their frozen simulacra," said Centigrade, his coals arranged in a frowning pattern. "As snowmen and snowwomen, we accept the inevitability of melting, but the actions of man are causing us to evaporate well before our time."

Speakers at the Washington rally included a Chicago snowwoman who had lost three snowchildren to warm temperatures, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Larry Chilly, formerly a 6-foot-tall, triple-segmented Muncie, IN snowman, who had been reduced to a slushy head.

Poor Larry! At least there was a good crowd of snowpeople at the rally (as well as stray snow abdomens rolling around). But of course there were skeptics too:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Ask Umbra: Must an eco-minded wine connoisseur drink from a box?

wine snob

Send your question to Umbra!

Q. Traditional wine bottles weigh a lot to transport, but the glass and cork seem to be good for recycling. The economical cardboard wine box weighs a lot less and can also be recycled or composted, but inside the box there is a plastic bag which may be recyclable, but may also impart unwanted ingredients to the wine.

Could we add a little weight in the formula to the health of the consumer, since the environmentally and politically active part of the population seems to include a higher percentage of wine drinkers (impression, not hard data), who, if they remain healthy, may better be able to help restore our planet's health?

Ron L.
Philadelphia, Penn.

A. Dearest Ron,

Your question puts the environmental impact of wine in a whole new light. If the world indeed depends upon the health of our wine-swilling, lefty-leaning, grassroots-organizing neighbors, then the presence of dangerous chemicals in their Chablis is a matter of national, nay, global security.

And even if your assumption about a link between wine drinking and eco-activism doesn’t pan out (though it sure is fun to examine the evidence), the health effects of a particular wine package are worth considering when we’re choosing between bottles and boxes.

Read more: Living


Sudsed: The FDA steps down a long road toward banning antibacterial hand soap

contains triclosan
Jack Black's Stunt Double

Earlier this month I wrote about the upcoming FDA monograph on triclosan, that plucky little disco-era chlorinated aromatic compound whose antifungal and antibacterial properties made it the hottest additive around for anyone afraid of germs/decay. Were you a seller of hand soap or toothpaste, looking to make your product seem even more awesome by saying that it was "antibacterial" rather than just regular "soap" and "toothpaste?" Add triclosan. Were you selling something that you didn't want mold to grow on, like a mattress, or makeup, or a cutting board? Add triclosan to it. Now, after years of pressure from activists, …


Right-wingers and dirty energy corporations secretly spending mega-millions on climate denial

dark money

The politics of climate change and dirty energy in the U.S. have changed for the worse over the last five years, as I noted on Friday. The percentage of Americans accepting the reality of climate change declined dramatically, although it has recently rebounded. Senate Republicans who had previously supported proposals to cap carbon emissions, such as John McCain, refused to vote for any cap-and-trade bill after Obama took office. Several Republican contenders for president in 2012 -- Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty -- recanted their previous admissions that climate change is real.

The reasons usually given for this backsliding are the economic downturn and the GOP’s reactionary opposition to anything President Obama supports. A new study by Drexel University environmental sociologist Robert Brulle, released Friday afternoon in the journal Climatic Change, suggests another reason: massive investment in climate change denial by interests that benefit most from frying the Earth.

If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard more about this, it’s because those interests are hiding it. Brulle found that wealthy right-wing ideologues and dirty energy corporations are using foundations with innocuous-sounding names as middlemen for their efforts to sow confusion about climate science.


8 edible gifts you can make at home

Food 52

This article originally appeared on You've all heard the expression, "It's the thought that counts." It's probably what you told yourself after a dinner guest brought Franzia as a house gift or your great aunt gave you socks for your birthday ... again. While we do our best to be grateful for every gift that comes our way, we want to give gifts that are more than plain old thoughtful. Instead, we want to give gifts that leave our loved ones in awe of our great culinary prowess. Gift-giving isn't a competition, but if it were, these homemade treats would …

Read more: Food, Living


California is giving Tesla another huge tax break. Good move


This is going to drive the Tesla-haters crazy. The luxury electric-car maker is getting a huge new tax break from CaliforniaSFGate reports. The state will let it off the hook for sales and use taxes on some $415 million in new equipment it’s purchasing in order to expand production of the Model S at its Bay Area factory. That amounts to a $34.7 million tax break to produce more of a vehicle whose sticker price starts above $70,000.

Tax breaks for the rich! Corporate giveaways! The working people forced to pay for tech titans’ fancy rides!

Well, sort of. But as SFGate’s David R. Baker explains: