Rich dude/dreamer Dennis Tito wants to send a man and a woman on a round-trip journey to Mars in 2018. One of the challenges of such a journey: cosmic radiation. A solution for this challenge: lining the walls of the spacecraft with water, food, and -- we really hope this stuff isn't all going to be touching each other -- the astronauts' own feces.
While we've been pumping the atmosphere full of heat-trapping gases, Mother Earth has been belching sulfur pollution through volcanoes and slowing down global warming.
That's the conclusion of a new study that's helping to explain why the globe warmed less during the first 10 years of this century than climate models suggest it should have. If volcanic activity calms down and sulfur pollution levels fall away again, runaway global warming could ensue.
I was already pretty irked when I heard about a study that said women gain weight because they don't do enough work around the house, but I mostly resolved to ignore it because it is dumb. What I didn't realize at first, though, is that it was funded by the Coca-Cola company. Suddenly, the frantic flailing for any bullshit, sexist, non-soda-related explanation for U.S. average weight gain makes a lot more sense.
The study looked at a bunch of diaries and found that women averaged 13 hours a week doing housework in 2010, compared to 26 hours in 1965. They also spend more time sitting at computers than they did in 1965, for some mysterious reason. Boom: An explanation for why we as a country tend to weigh more, one that doesn't have to account for tricky variables like food culture, weight thresholds, health care, potential hormone disruption, the idea that women are capable of doing other active things besides housework, or the existence of men!
On Friday afternoon, The New York Timesdiscontinued the Green blog, the paper’s one-stop shop for environment-related news. Then on Monday, the Washington Post announced it was pulling its star climate reporter, Juliet Eilperin, off of the beat and putting her on an “online strike force” covering the White House.
The Times decision in particular has people's heads spinning. Curtis Brainard at Columbia Journalism Review called the paper’s recent pledge to continue its robust environment coverage “an outright lie.” Paul Raeburn captured the sentiment in a post on the Knight science journalism blog Tracker: “The editors of the Times have perhaps forgotten that they work on an island, and that the entrance to their building is not too far above sea level -- current sea level, that is.” Slate served up a sampling of “the 65-odd other Times blogs that did not get the axe,” which include The Carpetbagger, about awards shows, The Rail, on horse racing, and six blogs on style, fashion, and leisure.
Subsidize green veggies, slaughter big sodas, and steal candy from babies? These kinds of government policies intended to promote healthy eating are A-OK with most of the American public, it turns out. A new poll from Harvard's School of Public Health found that people "were surprisingly positive about these new public health laws," as NPR reports, with big percentages in favor of encouraging exercise, making fruits and veg affordable, pushing for healthier restaurant choices, and banning use of food stamps to buy unhealthy foods.
"We clearly saw that the more coercion was involved, the more people you lost," says Michelle Mello, a professor of law and public health at the Harvard School of Public Health, who was a co-author of the study. It was published in the March Health Affairs.
The researchers were surprised to find that people with health problems like obesity and diabetes didn't object to new laws targeting them.
"We thought that people who felt like targets would be much less likely to support them," says Stephanie Morain, a graduate student in ethics who co-authored the study. "That wasn't true." ...
We already know Washington, D.C., has the worst gridlock in the world. But now we know it has the worst traffic too. HEYOOOOO
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute has just put out its annual Urban Mobility Report [PDF], and D.C. can proudly proclaim that it remains No. 1, based on data collected in 2011. If you are living and driving in D.C., you can expect to lose 67 hours a year and 32 gallons of gas to traffic gridlock. And you can expect to spend roughly $1,400 a year on the problem.
I’ve met many good people in my life, and a few great ones. And one of the marks of the latter, it seems to me, is that they’re often under attack.
Like this morning. I opened the newspaper to read a column in the New York Times by Joe Nocera. It’s his fourth column pushing for the Keystone XL pipeline; fair enough. (Though in the third, he managed to get the economics of carbon so completely backward that he had to append a long correction to yet another column.) This time, though, the vehicle he used was an attack on NASA scientist James Hansen, who had correctly identified the huge amount of carbon in the tar sands of Canada and Venezuela. Nocera didn't like Hansen lending his credibility to the fight against Keystone XL, and even though Hansen been meticulous to make sure he’s always spoken as a private citizen, the columnist insinuated he should lose his job: Are these, he asked, “the sort of statements a government scientist should be making?”
If Nocera’s crusade against Hansen leads to pressure from his employers, it wouldn't be the first time -- he’s been in trouble with every presidential administration since George H.W. Bush, and for precisely the same reason: Unlike most scientists he’s been willing to loudly sound the alarm about climate change, and try like hell to get across the message that we must act. From the very first day he came to public notice, warning Congress in 1988 that global warming was real, the establishment has tried to tell him to speak more softly. He hasn't listened -- not because he’s an ideologue, but because he’s a father and a grandfather.
Over the past few years, McDonald's has grown its subsidiary coffeehouse brand McCafe like a juiced-up Starbucks -- there are now 1,300 Mc-coffee shops worldwide. That's a lot of coffee! And now the company says it wants that coffee to be greener.
Over the next five years, McDonald's plans to invest $6.5 million to help about 13,000 Guatamalan coffee growers produce fancier, more sustainable beans, to be used in a proprietary arabica blend. The company says it aims "to promote the environmental, ethical and economic long-term sustainability of coffee supplies." From Bloomberg:
“Investing in both certification and sustainable agriculture training addresses the immediate need to assist farmers today, expands capacity for greater sustainable coffee production in the future and helps assure our customers we will continue to provide the taste profile they have grown to love and expect from McDonald’s,” Susan Forsell, the vice president of sustainability, said in the statement.
Fellow animal lovers, rejoice: No longer will we have to bite our nails with worry, wondering whether otters are better than sloths or sloths are better than walruses. Buzzfeed is running a March Madness tournament for the cutest things nature has to offer, and when it's done we'll all know for certain which animal is best. At least this year.
Although, wait ... are there no sloths in this tournament? I CALL SHENANIGANS.
Meiffert practiced a type of cycling called "motor-paced racing" in which, rather than riding with a group of other cyclists, the racer rides behind a motorcycle or a car equipped with a wind-screen. American Cyclist explained it like this, in a 1965 article on Meiffret's exploits:
Racing behind motorist is quite different from racing in a group. Behind motors, the speed is higher, the pedaling faster, the concentration greater. It is like a continuous sprint. A motor-paced rider must have suppleness rather than strength. And he must have flair.
Also, a high tolerance for risk. Riding at these speeds -- 70, 80, 90 miles per hour -- isn't exactly safe. And Meiffert's attempt to ride faster than 200 kmh -- 124 mph -- easily could have killed him.