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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

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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:

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Director Werner Herzog hates chickens but loves KFC

KFC-kentucky-fried-chicken-bucket-flickr
Soubhagya S Behera

Do chickens scare you? Does staring into their beady eyes smack of your own mortality? If so, congrats: You’ve just scored “Werner Herzog” in Buzzfeed’s “Which German director of Grizzly Man are YOU?!” quiz!

As Modern Farmer recently noted, the filmmaker is bizarrely vocal about his bilious fear of chickens -- unless they’re between his teeth. He intones in a 2012 video (which is AMAZING):

The enormity of their flat brain, the enormity of their stupidity is just overwhelming ... It’s very easy to hypnotize a chicken. They're very prone to hypnosis, and in one or two films, I’ve actually shown that.

It’s true -- the befuddling ending of Herzog’s 1977 film Stroszek includes hypnotized chickens dancing and playing the piano (more or less humane than factory farming? Discuss):

Read more: Food, Living

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Ohio cracks down on methane pollution from fracking

Criminalize fracking
Bill Baker
This guy probably understands that Ohio's new rules don't go far enough.

Drillers in the heavily fracked Buckeye State will now have to do more to find and fix leaks in their systems, part of the latest initiative to crack down on climate-changing methane pollution. The Akron Beacon Journal reports:

Ohio on Friday tightened its rules on air emissions from natural gas-oil drilling at horizontal wells. ...

Drilling companies now are required to perform regular inspections to pinpoint any equipment leaks and seal them quickly.

Such leaks can contribute to air pollution with unhealthy ozone, add to global warming and represent lost or wasted energy. Fugitive emissions can account for 1 to 8 percent of methane from an individual well, according to some studies. ...

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Designed for lone commuters, this three-wheeled car gets 84 mpg

elio-three-wheeled-car

Glancing around at nearly empty cars on the freeway, it’s sadly clear that almost 80 percent of commuters drive to and from work alone. Public transit, biking, and carpooling are both much greener, obvi, but in lieu of those, a tiny, fuel-efficient car for one would be a wee step forward.

With its 84 mpg on the highway (49 mpg in the city) fuel efficiency, The Elio can go 672 freeway miles on a full tank. It’s technically not a car without a fourth wheel, but the mini pod will still get you to the office -- at up to 100 mph if you’re REALLY late. Its price tag is equally bite-size: $6,800.

elio-rear-view

If this “tiny, three-wheeled car!!!!” thing sounds familiar, it’s because others have tried but made itty-bitty death traps Americans understandably had no interest in buying. With its professed commitment to safety and more than 13,000 people in line, the Elio sounds promisingly different, but former Grister Tyler Falk is wary:

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This project has rescued more than 800 endangered baby penguins in six months

rescued-african-penguin-chick
Francis Louw/Britson Zoo Gardens & The Wild Place Project

The Chick Bolstering Project sounds like a GoldieBlox-style girl-empowerment trip, but it actually rescues endangered baby penguins -- no Beastie Boys lawsuit necessary!

The project is a partnership with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, the South African government, and others. In the past six months, they’ve rescued more than 800 endangered African penguin chicks from starvation. Does that mean it's time for a cuddle party?!

baby-penguin-chick-cared-for
Francis Louw/Britson Zoo Gardens & The Wild Place Project

That’s aww-worthy AND a big deal because African penguins are dying off like gangbusters. In the past 80 years, their population has shrunk 97.5 percent, because overfishing has eliminated their food and unusually cold weather puts ’em on ice. (Climate change, you buttface!)

In this most recent case, parent African penguins were abandoning their little ones because the babies were too small or sick. The Chick Bolstering Project hand-rears the chicks, helps them bulk up a little, and releases them three months later. Whether staffers actually chant, “Go! Have wild unprotected sex to further your species!” into the wind is anyone’s guess.

Read more: Living

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In the battle against proposed coal terminals, you are kicking ass

beating coal
Shutterstock

Companies that want to build hulking coal export terminals in Washington state have put out an industrywide mayday after a string of similar proposed projects were defeated amid fierce local opposition from activists and neighbors.

Opponents of such projects are worried about climate change and local air pollution and congestion. And now the terminal developers are worried that they are staring down complete and utter defeat. The Missoulian reports on a delightful tidbit from an energy conference last week: