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EVs are getting fake engine sounds, because they’re so quiet it’s dangerous

Tesla sales center
Tesla

Hybrids can be so quiet you can’t tell if they’re on. Which is bad news for cyclists and pedestrians -- especially walkers who are visually impaired. So the European Parliament just decided that EVs and hybrids have to add fake “vroom vroom” noises so drivers quit sneaking up on people, goshdarnit.

Acoustic vehicle alerting systems (AVAS) mimic traditional engine noise, and auto manufacturers have to add them by 2019. (Sorry, European Prius drivers: You’ll have to start meditating somewhere else.)

Gizmodo notes the gravity of the situation:

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Meat of the Matter

Eating road kill: Yuck or yum?

roadkillrabbit
Ian Cummings

Ian Cummings was cycling just outside Cambridge, England, when he noticed the freshly hit rabbit on the side of the road. “I sort of looked at it and looked at it, and then cycled on,” he says. But then, Cummings had a change of heart. He turned his bike around, brought the dead animal home, and cooked it into jugged hare — a traditional British recipe. “And it all kind of started from there.”

Since that first day when Cummings, a travel photographer based in the village of Wilbraham, wound up with a Goodyear-tenderized hare on his plate, he has gone on to become somewhat of a road-kill aficionado. From venison with cranberries and chestnuts to pappardelle con lepre, over the years his town’s roads have served him up some pretty delectable fares. But Cummings isn’t the only one out foraging the highways. There are plenty of road-kill enthusiasts on this side of the pond, too -- enough of them that there has been a trend toward states legalizing the practice, like when Montana made headlines by doing so last year. And now, a push to make road kill easier to take home is on the docket in Michigan.

Read more: Food, Living

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That blows

Brits may ban new onshore wind power

wind power in England
Shutterstock

Britain's conservative government is preparing to make an unusual pledge -- a crackdown on clean energy.

Prime Minster David Cameron, leader of the bluntly named Conservative Party (aka the Tories), is overseeing the drafting of a "manifesto" ahead of next year's national election. That manifesto might come dressed up in a stifling windbreaker. The Guardian explains:

The Guardian understands that Cameron has brokered a compromise between warring Tories by agreeing to include measures in the manifesto for next year's general election that will in effect rule out the building of onshore windfarms from 2020. ...

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Fancy new sustainable cement is made of old busted toilets

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
wonderal

What happens when your crapper becomes a piece of crap? If you're lucky, it gets turned into sustainable cement. According to Inhabitat, researchers from England, Spain, and Brazil have repurposed broken bathtubs, toilets, and sinks as a cement mixture that’s much greener than normal concrete. And when red bricks are used, the result is even stronger.

Here’s the nitty gritty:

To create the cement, scientists first grind up old ceramics and mix them with water and an activator solution, which currently uses sodium hydroxide or sodium silicate. This solution is then poured into a mold and exposed to extreme heat, resulting in a solidified mixture.

If the activator solution can be replaced with rice husk ash, it would take yet another material out of the waste stream, provide a way for suppliers generate additional income, and create cement made purely from recycled materials.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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This beautiful tiny house looks like an orange and was built for less than $9,000

To be affordable, tiny houses are often all angles, with sharp, modern design. For those of us tired of spare, impersonal homes in drab brown-black, this mango-like dome is a juicy slice of bliss:

steve-areen-dome-home-thailand
© Steve Areen via Designboom

Steve Areen built the orange dome on a Thai mango farm -- clearly inspired by the fruit -- using blocks of compressed dirt. Treehugger quotes the musician and photographer:

The cost for the basic structure was under $6,000. It took a few more weeks to add the details, such as doors, screens, pond, upstairs structure, stonework and landscaping. All this, including furnishings, was under $3,000 ... Bringing my total cost to about $9,000. Please keep in mind this is in cost-friendly Thailand.

Read more: Living

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Blades of gory: Teaching kids to slice and dice

kid-knives-chopping-cooking.jpg
Shutterstock

Play out this scenario in your head: A writer publishes a cookbook for children, and as part of the book promotion, pens an op-ed in which she advocates handing your kid a gleaming chef’s knife so they can begin working on their high-speed lopping skills.

As you might expect, when this actually happened, a lot of people got worked up. For a moment there, Sarah Elton, the writer in question, was trending on Twitter in Toronto, where her op-ed ran.

But here’s what’s surprising about the whole episode: Rather than condemning Elton as a bad mother, practically everyone agreed with her.

Read more: Food, Living

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Fahrenheit 451 and rising

Climate change: The hottest thing in science fiction

future sci-fi city
Shutterstock

The world as we knew it is gone.

Even if nobody is talking explicitly about it, it’s clear that something terrible has happened and in its wake, humanity must once again reset its priorities. Can we, in this resource-scarce new world, fashion some kind of idyllic agrarian commune with shared goods, serene faces, and hemp robes? Or are we doomed to be selfish hoarders, creating even greater scarcity which we can then leverage for our own benefit? Also, is that … is that some kind of genetically modified man-wolfephant?

Post-apocalyptic science fiction isn’t new. But you may have noticed an uptick in books set in the wake of some kind of major climate disaster. Some call it “cli-fi” -- sci-fi infused with the increasingly frightening impacts of climate change. The trope has deep roots, says science fiction scholar Istvan Csicery-Ronay, and plenty of room to grow.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Bird body count still rising following Galveston Bay oil spill

Galveston Bay cleanup
NOAA

There have been so many oil spills lately -- from trains, from pipelines, from barges, from a refinery -- that it's easy to forget about the particulars of each one. Unless you're an unlucky local resident or an emergency responder.

In Texas, where more than 100,000 gallons of heavy fuel spilled into Galveston Bay two weeks ago following a collision between a barge and a ship, the Coast Guard has recovered more than 300 oiled birds -- nearly all of them dead. The Texas Tribune reports:

Read more: Climate & Energy

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We might get a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth

al-gore-an-inconvenient-truth-flickr
Juampe López

Considering Fast and the Furious 18 is now in theaters, it’s almost weird there hasn’t been a sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, the first gobsmackingly successful movie about a slideshow. (Moviegoers around the world gladly parted with almost $50 million to get bummed about climate change!)

So hearing that the doc’s producer is in talks to make a sequel to the 2006 film elicits a big “FINALLY!” From the Hollywood Reporter:

"We have had conversations," producer Lawrence Bender tells THR. "We've met; we've discussed. If we are going to make a movie, we want it to have an impact."...

Environmental activist Laurie David also believes a sequel should be on the agenda. "God, do we need one," she says. "Everything in that movie has come to pass. At the time we did the movie, there was Hurricane Katrina; now we have extreme weather events every other week. The update has to be incredible and shocking."

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living

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Only 28 percent of Fox News climate segments are accurate

fox-news-protest.jpg
Rena Schild / Shutterstock

According to a Pew study released last year, 38 percent of U.S. adults watch cable news. So if you want to know why so many Americans deny or doubt the established science of climate change, the content they're receiving on cable news may well point the way.

According to a new study by the Union of Concerned Scientists, misinformation about climate science on cable news channels is pretty common. The study found that last year, 30 percent of CNN's climate-related segments were misleading, compared with 72 percent for Fox News and just 8 percent for MSNBC. The study methodology was quite strict: Segments that contained "any inaccurate or misleading representations of climate science" were classified as misleading.

In 2013, 14 Fox News segments referencing climate science were entirely accurate whil 36 continated misleading statements. In 2013, 121 MSNBC segments referencing climate sciene were entirely accurate while 11 contianed misleading statements.
In 2013, 14 Fox News segments referencing climate science were entirely accurate while 36 contained misleading statements. Meanwhile, 121 MSNBC segments referencing climate science were entirely accurate while 11 contained misleading statements.

By far the worst performer was Fox (this is hardly the first study to associate this channel with sowing reams of doubt about climate change). Notably, the UCS report found that "more than half" of the channel's misleading content was due to The Five, a program where the hosts regularly argue against climate science. For instance, Greg Gutfeld, one of the show's regular co-hosts, charged on Sept. 30 that "experts pondered hiding the news that the Earth hadn't ... warmed in 15 years, despite an increase in emissions. They concluded that the missing heat was trapped in the ocean. It's like blaming gas on the dog if the ocean was your dog." (To understand what is actually going on with the alleged global warming "pause," and why the deep oceans may well explain part of the story, click here.)

You can watch Gutfeld's comments here: