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Here’s what we’ll do with your gift

thankyou
Shutterstock

Thanks for helping Grist end the year with a bang. Donations poured in from over 2,000 people in 26 countries for a grand total of over $66,000 -- and we intend to put your dollars to good use.

Over the last year, reader contributions helped boost Grist to new heights: We added some great new voices to our site; we influenced discussions among politicians, cultural icons, and major media; and more than 65 percent of our readers reported taking action based on our content, from the classroom to the boardroom.

So just how will your donation help? We've already got some big plans for 2014: We’re launching a fellowship program; improving our mobile experience; and looking at new ways to build Grist's green community online and off.

We have a lofty vision: to make green second nature. And we know that's only possible by keeping readers like you informed and invested in these issues. As one of our first-time donors put it, "your writers approach the sobering subject of climate change with enough sport to keep us reading even when the news is painful."

We're honored to have won your hard-earned bucks and we'll use it to keep you and your fellow readers informed on the green stories that matter most -- without making you want to cry yourself to sleep every night.

So thanks again, readers, from all of us on the Grist team. 

Read more: Uncategorized

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San Francisco could ban bottled water at big events

water fountain
joshme17

San Francisco is looking at legislation that would ban the sale of plastic water bottles for big events on public property and push the city to provide permanent sources of water, using innovative technology like water fountains.

The San Francisco Examiner reports:

Beginning October 2014, new leases, including renewals, and permits, such as those for mobile food vendors and vendors in public parks, would prohibit the sale of plastic water bottles. The provision would eventually impact Giants games at AT&T Park, but not for decades, since the team’s lease expires in about 50 years. But other city venue leases are up sooner such as Pier 39, a large collection of restaurants on the Port of San Francisco and the Bill Graham Auditorium, which hosts concerts and other events in the Civic Center.

Unhappy people include the American Beverage Association, whose spokeswoman points out that San Francisco is really good at recycling so … that's basically the same as if the bottles were never made, right? Right. [Ed. Not really right.] Happy people include manufacturers of reusable water bottles that can be filled up at water fountains, and also the Earth.

Read more: Cities, Living

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Cyclist takes a London bikeshare bike to France and rides it up a mountain, all before the rental period expires

London's Bixi bikeshare bikes are, it turns out, becoming quite the world travelers. One has made its home in the Gambia. And another one got taken on a whirlwind tour of France for a jaunt up Mont Ventoux, one of country's more challenging climbs.

The lucky bike met Matthew Winstone, Ian Laurie, and Robert Holden just before 4 a.m. one fall morning, when they checked the bike out, threw it in their car and headed across the English Channel towards the mountain. Atlantic Cities:

Setting out nearly 12 hours after they left London, Holden cycled for almost three grueling hours to make it up the 22 kilometer route, gaining more than 1,600 meters of altitude in the process.

Read more: Living

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Greenpeace 30, Pussy Riot get Russian amnesty

Sini Saarela
Dmitri Sharomov / Greenpeace
Greenpeace activist Sini Saarela, soon to be free.

They're not pirates. They're not hooligans. The Arctic 30, an international group of Greenpeace activists and journalists arrested in September at an offshore oil platform in Russia's Arctic waters, are no longer accused criminals.

Charges against all members of the group are being dropped by Russia, and the 26 non-Russians among them will be free to return to their homelands.

Russia's parliament on Wednesday approved by a 446-0 vote an amnesty that's expected to affect thousands of prisoners and accused criminals, also including the two jailed members of Pussy Riot. The amnesty coincides with the 20th anniversary of Russia's constitution and with the lead-up to the Winter Olympics Games, which Russia is hosting in February. Al Jazeera explains:

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Sand-mine-happy Wisconsin mayor survives recall attempt

Frac sand mine
Carol Mitchell
A hill being excavated by frac-sand miners in Wisconsin. Watch out, horsie!

Sand, ho! Things are looking up for Vista Sand, a Texan sand-mining company that wants to excavate frac sand from hundreds of acres of farming land just outside the Wisconsin town of Glenwood City. And things are looking down for residents who don't want their town turned into a mining mess to help out the fracking industry.

Mayor John Larson on Tuesday survived a recall attempt by opponents of the silica mine, with the latest unofficial results showing he secured 183 votes compared with the 140 votes garnered by his opponent. Once results are finalized, we expect he will waste no time in moving forward with efforts to annex the silica-rich land into town limits and allow the project to move forward. From Wisconsin Watch:

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The LambCam lets you literally count sheep

lambcam-modern-farmer

Modern Farmer is living up to its name with a fluffy technological advancement: the LambCam. Think Shiba Inu puppy cam meets farm. And if that sounds boring, well, it’s not -- a llama walked by and I almost pissed myself. (Although maybe that says more about my low-key Festivus than about the LambCam itself.)

The LambCam streams live from Juniper Moon Farms in Palmyra, Va., which is home to not only 23 adult sheep and 12 lambs (squee!) but also five dogs, four sheep dogs, and the aforementioned llama. (If goats are more your speed, of COURSE there’s a GoatCam for you.) Explains Modern Farmer:

Half the sheep are Cormos (white) and half are Border Leicesters (multicolored). They’re bred for wool, not meat, and they love their owners with a fierceness. Of course, they show their affection as only sheep can -- head-butting stomachs and nosing through pockets for loose change.

Read more: Living

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Rice seeds could save the day for Filipino typhoon victims

rice
Yusmar Yahaya

More than 6,000 people were killed when Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the Philippines last month -- an epic storm with a ferocity that the country's leaders linked to climate change. And now the U.N. and nonprofits are scrambling to help save the survivors from famine.

The storm hit at rice-planting time, tearing farmers' paddies to shreds and stealing their stocks of seeds. From Responding to Climate Change:

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has started to provide the first wave of emergency seeds supplies to residents living in some of the hardest hit rural communities across the Philippines.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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Cute farmers singing Katy Perry will cheer you right up

peterson-farm-bros-roar-chore

It’s hard not to have a crush on the Peterson Farm Brothers, three young farmers who turn pop culture hits into odes to agriculture. Now the trio has struck again, following up their take on the Fresh Prince theme song with a cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar” (called “Chore,” as in what they do all day to keep cows happy).

Here’s a sample of their “Katy Perrydy”:

Read more: Living

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Vitamin D’oh: Your multivitamins aren’t doing a damn thing

vitamins
aSIMULAtor

This just in from the Everything We Thought We Knew Is Wrong Department: Doctors are now warning Americans not to take multivitamins. In a strongly worded editorial just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of doctors reviewed the available evidence, and basically came away shaking their heads in disbelief. Here's how they concluded their statement:

[W]e believe that the case is closed -- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful. These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.

Read more: Food

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Sink tank: In Miami, climate scientists ask, “How deep, how soon?”

miami-wave
Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Harold "Hal" Wanless is a wizened walrus of a man who presides over the University of Miami’s geology department from a fluorescent-lit basement at the north end of campus. His walls are decorated with photos taken on research trips over the years -- glaciers grinding through the northern mountains, a wooden boat hauled up on the tundra -- and a map of Greenland, where he trekked last summer to get a look at the melting ice for himself.

Wanless, with his gray mustache and wire-rimmed glasses, is known hereabouts as the go-to man for predictions of doom. He's been sounding the alarm about melting ice sheets and rising seas for years, and does not mince words when it comes to what he believes is the only sane response for residents of South Florida.

“There’s a lot of silly dreaming about how we’re going to handle this,” he told me during a recent visit to the walrus cave. “We’re going to handle this by relocating.”

Until recently, many people rolled their eyes at comments like this. But as rising seas have begun to flood the streets of nearby Miami Beach, and sea-level rise has consistently outpaced more cautious predictions, folks have begun to take Wanless more seriously.

"Nobody wants to cry wolf. Nobody wants to overestimate the problem," Wanless says. "But our [climate] models are incapable of keeping up with what's happening."

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy