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Mission not-quite-impossible

U.N. report spells out super-hard things we must do to curb warming

man pushing Earth up a hill
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Hooboy, it's gonna get hot. A U.N. climate panel on Sunday painted a sizzling picture of the staggering volume of greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere -- and what will happen to the planet if we keep this shit up.

By 2100, surface temperatures will be 3.7 to 4.8 degrees C (6.7 to 8.7 F) warmer than prior to the Industrial Revolution. That's far worse than the goal the international community is aiming for -- to keep warming under 2 C (3.7 F). The U.N.'s terrifying projection assumes that we keep on burning fossil fuels as if nothing mattered, like we do now, leading to carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of between 750 and 1,300 parts per million by 2100. A few centuries ago, CO2 levels were a lovely 280 ppm, and many scientists say we should aim to keep them at 350 ppm, but we're already above 400.

These warnings come from the third installment of the latest big report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, compiled by hundreds of climate scientists and experts. (WTF is this IPCC? See our explainer. Feel like you've heard this story before? Perhaps you're thinking of the first installment of the report, which came out last fall, or the second installment, which came out last month. Maybe the IPCC believes that breaking its report into three parts makes it more fun, like the Hobbit movies.)

Here's a paragraph and a chart from the 33-page summary of the latest installment that help explain how we reached this precarious point in human history.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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I don't think you're ready for this jellyfish

Diapers and tampons could soon be made from jellyfish

jellyfish_sprengben1
Spreng Ben

First there was the Diva Cup. Then came the sea pearl. So what’s next for sustainable menstrual solutions? Jellyfish! Uncross your legs, ladies, and get this: Scientists broke down jellyfish flesh and used nanoparticles (for antibacterial purposes) to create a highly absorbent, biodegradable material called "Hydromash."

According to Capital Nano, a company raising funds for the product:

The Hydromash absorbs more than several times its volume and biodegrades in less than 30 days (faster than any other bio-degradable products such as bio-degradable diapers made out of pulp.)

Take that, Playtex! Hydromash has the potential to be used for almost anything that you use absorbent paper products for -- sponges, paper towels, and even diapers.

Here are two reasons why we hope Hydromash makes it to the mass market.

Read more: Living

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WINDË Power

IKEA makes big investment in wind energy (some assembly required)

Let's hope that couch holds up in a stiff breeze.
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Let's hope that couch holds up in a stiff breeze.

IKEA -- though not exactly a friend to forests, and way too fond of dubious meatballs for our taste -- still wins greenie points for having a Scandinavian way with alternative energy. Ninety percent of its massive warehouse stores will soon host rooftop solar panels, including sunny south Florida's largest solar array, and Brits will be able to buy solar panels in U.K. stores starting this summer. On Thursday, the company one-upped its own clean cred by announcing its investment in a giant wind farm in Illinois.

Hoopeston Wind is the most recent in a series of wind investments by IKEA, including several farms in Canada, where the furniture behemoth is the largest retail wind investor. The Illinois farm will produce 98 megawatts of electricity when it comes online in 2015, or enough to power 34,000 Expedit-enhanced homes. That's more than twice the electricity that all of IKEA's U.S. operations consume, and about 18 percent of the company's global consumption. All of those megawatts will be sold locally, and IKEA will count them toward its overall renewable energy goal: to be totally carbon-free by 2020.

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Walmarts and all

Why you should be skeptical of Walmart’s cheap organic food

walmart_organics
Walmart

Out on the mean streets of the U.S. organic foods industry, Walmart has stepped onto the corner with both guns drawn. On Thursday, the superstore behemoth announced its plan to partner with Wild Oats (which you may recognize as a former subsidiary of Whole Foods) to offer a line of organic goods at unprecedentedly low prices in 2,000 of its U.S. stores. To start, the line will offer primarily canned goods and other pantry staples that will cost up to 25 percent less than those of other organic brands.

At first blush, this appears to be great news. Cheaper, more accessible organic food -- isn’t that one of the prerequisites for the kind of healthy food system we’ve all been waiting for? The New York Times notes that Walmart’s big move could ultimately create a larger supply of organic goods, pushing down organic prices in the long run.

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No Bunk: Wendell Pierce is the greenest celeb in the game

We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Wendell Pierce.

A: C’mon man, it’s Bunk from The Wire, our favorite detective who kept a cigar in his mouth and a “fuck” in every quote.

B. Because he said in The Wire, “The Bunk can’t swim. I ain’t too good at floatin’ either.”

C. Because he’s from New Orleans.

D. Because he cared so much about the food desert problem in New Orleans that he opened a bunch of grocery stores that sell local, organic produce.

E. Because those grocery stores deliver (since a huge percentage of New Orleanians don’t have cars, and the city has poor public transit).

Read more: Living

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Munnificent

Olivia Munn wants you to save elephants (and the planet) — send her mangoes

We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Olivia Munn.

You may know Olyvia Munn as the brainy economics reporter in The Newsroom. She also worked alongside the Daily Show’s “sexy news bunny,” Samantha Bee, reporting on oil spills and other not-funny disasters. Or perhaps you noticed her in this great photo of a couple of elephants.

Regardless, you might be surprised to learn that she not only plays a reporter on TV, but she’s playing one in real life, co-hosting the new Showtime documentary The Years of Living Dangerously. The esteemed Columbia Journalism Review calls her “a hidden journalist for a generation wary of reporters.”

That’s right. She’s bringing the cause to the masses, putting the cool in the fight against coal -- and the awesome in renewable energy.

She took off her pants for elephants. She’s cast her ballot for the planet. Now she needs your vote.

Quote: “Solar energy equals more jobs equals awesome.”

Tweet your support. 

Read more: Uncategorized

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Please give Don Cheadle a fruit basket for being a badass green celeb

We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Don Cheadle.

The question is really "why wouldn't you vote for Don?" Besides being Oscar nominated for Hotel Rwanda and kicking ass alongside Iron Man, Cheadle is a U.N. Environmental Program ambassador. He travels the world raising awareness for climate change, and has lent his hosting talents to Showtime's climate change series, Years of Living Dangerously. If you still have doubts, just rewatch the clip above.

Quote: "It seems like the same people that don’t want to believe in the science believe in science when they need to take a pill or believe in science when they you know want something to work right in their house that’s attributable to other smart people who put that together, but in this issue it’s gotta be part of something else." — Years of Living Dangerously

"Reading is fundamental and shit." — Out of Sight

Tweet your support.

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Green, Grenier, Greeniest?

Calling on Adrian Grenier’s entourage: Tell Grist that he’s the greenest of them all

We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Adrian Grenier.

Grenier's eyes aren't the only thing green -- or dreamy -- about him. The Entourage star is one of the most environmentally dedicated actors in Hollywood. He produced a green TV series called Alter Eco and launched an environmental website called SHFT. The man loves puns and hates climate change. What more could we ask for? Let's hug it out, bitch.

Quote: "One of the things Peter [Glatzer] and I bonded on was our disgust with doom and gloom, preachy green content that was all around the space."

"Environmentalism as a separate category doesn’t work. We need to incorporate sustainable choices in our everyday lives."

Tweet your support. 

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Oscar, schmoscar … Jared Leto deserves a fruit basket

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We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Jared Leto.

What's not to love about a guy whose first thought upon hearing he's been nominated for an Oscar is vegan pancakes? Talented, handsome, and hungry: It's a winning combination. Leto shows his commitment to all things planetary in every way: His band is called 30 Seconds to Mars. He's expressed emotional feelings for Saturn and Pluto. And on this orb, he's done everything from partner with NRDC to pester John Kerry about Keystone XL. Plus, you want to talk about low-impact? The guy stopped eating for his Oscar-winning role in Dallas Buyers Club. This man needs a fruit basket, people! Vote Leto ... or death!

Quote: "It's like, you think ... you're safe or something, cause you can just ... walk away, anytime, cause you don't, like, need her -- you don't need anyone. But the thing you didn't realize is, you're wrong." -- Leto as Jordan Catalano, obviously mooning over Mother Earth

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We love it when he's angry

Mark Ruffalo Hulk-smashes fracking — so give him a fruit basket!

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We're on a quest to give your favorite celeb a fruit basket for supporting green causes. Here's why you should vote for Mark Ruffalo.

Mark Ruffalo started a nonprofit, Water Defense, to fight everything from fracking to mountaintop removal to deep-sea drilling. He's an outspoken, dashingly grizzled opponent of tar sands. And he's passionate about renewable energy, cofounding an organization to speed the transition to clean energy and calling gas "a bridge to nowhere."

Plus, Ruffalo wants any future standalone film about The Hulk to have a theme as green as the character, so the masses start to get the picture about climate. As he told audiences recently at Sundance, "What we have to do as storytellers is to take science and make it relatable." SWOON.

Quote: "It has yet to be proven that we can frack without destroying our water and air. If it can be done, why aren't they doing it?"

Tweet your support.

Read more: Uncategorized