It's easy to get paranoid when you're riding a bike alongside drivers who, despite commanding vehicles much bigger and faster than yours, seem uninterested in your safety or survival. Sometimes it feels like they're out to get you. Or at least like they'd be happy if you got hurt.
And apparently, that paranoia is not entirely unjustified. In the U.K., for instance, one driver bragged on Twitter about knocking a person off his bike with her car:
In this case, bike activists who monitor social media for anti-cycling comments alerted the police, who told Way to report having being in a collision. (We can just imagine her whining "but I did report it! I told everyone on Twitter he deserved it!") But it is creepy that anyone would be so excited about potentially injuring another human being.
Gold mining today is far from the charming, if soggy, practice of standing in a river and trying to sift out gold nuggets. Today, miners sift out gold from a river of cyanide, basically: They mine rock with tiny concentrations of gold in it, crush it up, and use cyanide to pull the gold molecules out. This is terrible for the environment, as you might imagine. Mother Jones pulled these statistics together a few years ago:
Mining gold to create a single 1/3-ounce 18-karat ring produces at least 20 tons of waste and 13 pounds of toxic emissions.
Those emissions contain 5.5 pounds of lead, 3 pounds of arsenic, almost 2 ounces of mercury, and 1 ounce of cyanide.
But now scientists think they've come up with a way of extracting gold using a compound much more benign than cyanide. Instead, they think they can use cornstarch.
Back in 1897, a structure called the California Cycleway came very close to beautiful existence. The elevated structure would have provided a smooth, flat, uninterrupted ride for the nine miles from Pasadena to downtown. (You can see a Google map of the proposed route here.) Man, bike infrastructure proposals were so much better when bikes were the only game in town.
Tom Steyer spent years as a wildly successful hedge fund manager, a vigorous philanthropist, and a sought-after funder of Democratic politicians, but most of that activity took place beneath the public radar.
In August 2010, he and Taylor signed the Giving Pledge, vowing -- as with Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett -- to give away at least half their fortune, which in their case runs to $1.2 billion. Later that year, Steyer poured $5 million into a winning campaign against California's Prop 23, which would have rolled back the state's seminal global warming legislation. In November 2011, he co-founded the Advanced Energy Economy, a trade association of clean energy businesses. In October 2012, he resigned from his hedge fund to pursue social change full-time. Also in 2012, Steyer crafted, and spent $32 million to back, California's Prop 39 -- which voters approved in November, closing a tax loophole benefiting out-of-state corporations and directing half of the resulting revenue to clean-energy initiatives.
Most controversially, in March of this year, he dove headlong into electoral politics, pouring scorn and threatening to pour money into a Mass. Democratic senate primary campaign against Stephen Lynch, a supporter of the Keystone XL Pipeline. Lynch's opponent Ed Markey won, but Steyer's involvement drew fire. Markey himself disavowed the hardball tactics and political operatives everywhere clutched their pearls.
We met with Steyer when he came through Seattle, for a chat about climate, politics, and money. (This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Q.What first engaged you on climate and energy in such a significant way? Was there a turning point or moment of clarity?
A. I don't think there was a big epiphany. But getting involved in the No on 23 campaign in 2010 was an incredible education for me in how human beings think about this, how they relate to it, and what moves them on it. It definitely corrected a bunch of my preconceptions as to who cared and why they cared. People's image of environmentalism is very different from the actual Americans who care about it. That Latinos care the most about environmental issues is not a popularly held view in the U.S., but it consistently polls that way.
The good folks at BP, Shell, and Statoil would never break the law and screw over their customers in a quest for inflated profits, surely.
Yet that is the very accusation coming out of Europe, where the industry giants are suspected of colluding to fix prices for crude, biofuel, and refined oil products at artificially high levels, allowing them to reap greater profits than the laws of supply and demand would dictate in a truly competitive economy.
Offices of the companies were raided last week by European Commission officials, and the Justice Department is being urged to investigate whether the alleged price fixing spilled over onto American shores.
BP has gone crying to mummy over the big payouts it's having to make because of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. It wants the U.K. government to ask the U.S. government to step in and give a hand.
BP says it's being forced to make overly large payments to companies in the Gulf Coast region that claim to have lost business because of the spill, and it says those payments are jeopardizing BP's own financial recovery and potentially putting the company at risk of a hostile takeover. The payments are being calculated by a court using a formula to which BP agreed.
But now BP has filed an appeal in court against that agreement, claiming that the compensation amounts are overinflated or, in some cases, entirely unnecessary. The company recently warned shareholders that the $8.2 billion it previously anticipated forking out in compensation was a significant underestimation.
If you've ever read anything on the internet, chances are you've encountered a troll. No, not the kind that live under bridges, or the ones with a shock of neon hair. We’re talking about those annoying commenters who get their kicks by riling people up as much as possible. But have you ever wondered who these people really are? Well, we found out.
Internet researchers at George Mason University recently found that when it comes to online commenting, throwing bombs gets more attention than being nice, and makes readers double down on their preexisting beliefs. What’s more, trolls create a false sense that a topic is more controversial than it really is. Witness the overwhelming consensus on climate change amongst scientists -- 97 percent agreement that global warming is real, and caused by humans. But that doesn't settle the question for Twitter addict and Climate Desk perennial thorn-in-the-side Hoyt Connell.
"If you allow somebody to make a comment and there's no response, then they're controlling the definition of the statement," Hoyt says. "Then it can become a truth."
We first encountered Hoyt, or as we know him, @hoytc55, several months ago on our Twitter page, taking us to task for our climate coverage. And the screed hasn’t stopped since: In April alone, Hoyt mentioned us on Twitter some 126 times, almost as much as our top nine other followers combined. So we did the only thing we knew how to do: Track him down, meet him face to face … and ask a few questions of our own. Here's episode one of our three-part series, Trollus Maximus:
With summer nearing and the weather heating up, I’m wondering about sunscreens. Is there any such thing as a strong, full-spectrum sunscreen that isn’t hella toxic? Please don’t tell me to sit under an umbrella and wear long-sleeved shirts all summer.
Emma North Charleston, S.C.
A. Dearest Emma,
It just so happens that Grist is exploring the theme “Heat” this month, so your question fits right in. How are we to protect ourselves from the searing rays of the summer sun? Do the products meant to protect us actually do us harm, as you suggest? This is one hot topic.
Before we dive in, let me remind you: I’m not a doctor, and you should talk to yours if you have health questions. However, I do hold an Adv. D. -- Doctor of Advice-ology -- which allows me to freely dispense opinions about the dubious nature of the “personal care products” we use.
The prospects for broad-based Congressional action putting a price on carbon emissions are nil. The House is run by people who care little for environmental issues generally, and Senate Republicans who once favored a pricing strategy, like John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have long since slunk away. Meanwhile, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee have spent the last two weeks trying to derail Mr. Obama’s nominee to run the Environmental Protection Agency — a moderate named Gina McCarthy. Ms. McCarthy has served two Republican governors (Mitt Romney was one) but is considered suspect by the right wing because she wants to control carbon pollution, which is driving global temperatures upward.
A riverside refinery that has operated in Detroit since the 1930s began refining a new type of oil in November: tar-sands oil from Canada.
In the few short months since it began handling the Canadian oil, the refinery has already spewed out a three-story mountain of black waste covering an area the size a city block. That mountain is still growing, and it is not covered with anything to prevent tiny carbon particles from blowing over the city.
The waste can't be legally used as fuel in the U.S. So the Koch brothers have bought up the pile and plan to sell it to be burned in poorer countries that enjoy freedom from all of America's bothersome environmental regulations.