Skip to content Skip to site navigation

More Articles


Sustainable butcher shop responds to PETA attack in classiest way possible

PETA billboard
Publican Restaurant

Yo PETA! I got a bone to pick with you (as it were). Why go after a small, sustainable neighborhood butcher shop when you could take on, I DUNNO, Tyson? Hormel? Cargill? You know, pick on somebody your own size!


The consistently assholey (and sexist) animal rights group put up a billboard across the street from Chicago’s Publican Quality Meats. (“You can live without those ribs. I can't,” the sign reads, with a photo of a pig. “Try vegan.” Image above.) But rather than get ragey (like, say, I just did), Publican responded with grace and intelligence:

We choose to eat meat, but acknowledge that death as respectfully as possible. We deal with farms and purveyors where animals are free-range, uncaged, fed natural diets, are given no antibiotics or steroids and are slaughtered as humanely and painlessly as possible. But they ARE slaughtered. There is a death.

This is why we do not waste a molecule of these beautiful animals ... We feel this honors the life of the animal and is the right way to do this kind of work ...


North Dakota’s top oil regulator is also its top oil promoter


In North Dakota, where an oil boom is leading to spills and explosions, the top oil regulator also serves as a cheerleader for the oil industry. And some Democrats think it's time for the pom-poms to change hands.

The Forum News Service reports that state's Senate and House minority leaders have asked the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which oversees industries including oil and gas, to separate the oil regulation and promotion responsibilities of the Department of Mineral Resources's boss.


Thanks to new regulations on toxic paint, female snails are losing their penises

Penis of the Phallomedusa Solida (a Mangrove Snail From The Sydney Harbour)
John Brash/Maria Fernanda Cardoso
Penis of the Phallomedusa solida (a mangrove snail from the Sydney Harbor).

There's nothing wrong with switching genders, but you want that process to be voluntary. And for female marine snails who found themselves with penises and vas deferens so big they blocked eggs from coming out, it definitely was not.

The sneak-attack peens were caused by the chemical tributyltin (TBT), which leached out of the paint on ship hulls and into the ocean. The chemical has been messing with marine life since the 1970s, and we’ve understood the extent and gravity of the problem since the '80s, says the Australian Broadcasting Corporation -- but it took until 2008 for a global ban on TBT to finally take effect.

But it's only taken a few years, ABC says, for the snail populations to settle back in their correct secondary sex characteristics:

Read more: Living


North America’s bike-friendliest apartment building has parking for 1,200 bikes


Via the Atlantic Cities, we see that there’s a new development in Portland that’s going to be 657 apartments and a whopping 1,200 places for residents to park their bikes.

That's one bike parking spot for every unit, plus 547 more.

Bike Portland says that, as far as they can tell, this is the largest concentration of bike parking, well, anywhere:

Reached over the last few days, bike experts in Canada, Mexico and across the United States said they didn't know of any single project on the continent with more bike parking; Mexico's largest facility, at a train station, holds 800. In Los Angeles, where two skyscraper projectswill get more than 700 bike parking spaces, some developers have been predicting that LA's new minimum bike parking requirement is a waste.

Read more: Living


The best rap about mushroom foraging you’ve ever seen

mushroom man copy

Mosey, which makes a travel app with user-contributed itineraries, sent a team on a cross-country road trip in an old bus to see what they could turn up. And one of the joys that they stumbled upon was the Mushroom Man, Alan Muskat, who performs the only rap we've ever heard that threatens enemies with toadstools. Watch to the break-dancing break -- at least:

Read more: Food, Living


Don’t be smug: Your suburban neighbors cancel out your green urban lifestyle

Mark Mathosian

When it comes to green lifestyles, decades of accumulated wisdom point to dense, efficient, mixed-use urban communities as the way of the future. People who live in cities generally have shorter commutes, the thinking goes, as well as greater access to public transit, grocery stores, karaoke bars, and other amenities, meaning they don't burn as many fossil fuels just getting from one place to the next.

A new analysis from UC-Berkeley puts this assumption to the hard-data test, and, in a classic science move, finds that it’s a little more complicated than we thought.

The research, conducted by Daniel Kammen and Chris Jones and published in Environmental Science & Technology last month, gives us a bird’s eye view on the urban/suburban issue, if birds used the Mercator projection. The duo produced an interactive map of the U.S., factoring in regional sources of electricity, driving patterns, weather conditions, and consumption of goods and services to show the average household’s greenhouse gas emissions in any given zipcode. (For anyone keeping track, that is 31,531 zipcodes.) High-emissions-per-capita counties are marked in alarming shades of red, while less offensive districts are pure Eden in green.

map of US HCF
Jones and Kammen, Environmental Science & Technology

Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy


This scientist summed up the 2,200-page IPCC report in haiku

Greg Johnson

Have you read the latest IPCC report? Yeah, we haven’t either. It's not that we don't have the attention span to get through 2,200 pages; it's that were subconsciously waiting for oceanographer Gregory Johnson to summarize the report in haiku form. And now the wait is over! Hooray!

Just for kicks, when he was sick one weekend, Johnson wrote 19 haiku, one for each of the major points in the report’s summary -- which itself was 27 pages. (They don’t do brevity real well.) He combined them with watercolors to make, dare we say, a far more readable, eye-catching version of the original IPCC report. Here are a few of his haiku:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Did you miss the No-Pants Subway Ride? Here are the (t)highlights

Did you wear pants on Sunday? Now WHY did you do that?! It was the 13th annual No-Pants Subway Ride day! We even gave you advance warning. It's like you're not even TRYING to take your pants off.

Thankfully, you can watch this recap while reclining pantless in the comfort of your own home:

Read more: Living


Native sun: In the Deep South, a solar farm rises on a former cotton plantation

Kimberly Vardeman

Green tech entrepreneur Reginald Parker will be celebrating Martin Luther King Day this year by breaking ground on a six-acre, 1.4-megawatt solar farm in North Carolina, which he’s billing as the largest solar project owned and operated by an African American. From talking to other black business owners in the solar industry, I gather that he’s correct.

African Americans don’t have a lot of skin in the energy game, as I wrote a few weeks back. But Parker is looking to change the face of the green industry, and this is only the beginning. He plans to expand the farm to more than 25 acres for a 20 megawatt project by the end of next year. After that, he’s plotting a 100-acre project 30 miles south of the current one. Not bad for the son of sharecroppers.


Fracking chemicals may make oil extra explosive

A firefighter walks past a burning train wagon at Lac Megantic, Quebec, July 6, 2013.
Reuters/Mathieu Belanger
A burning rail car in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, in July.

Have you noticed the recent spate of oil-hauling trains bursting into flames? There was the devastating explosion last July in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec. It sent a 100-foot-tall fireball into the air, flattened dozens of buildings, and killed 47 residents. In November, a train derailed in Alabama. This time the flames reached 300 feet high. On Dec. 30 in eastern North Dakota, a train explosion sent toxic smoke over homes, forcing most nearby residents to flee.

Something else you may have noticed if you’ve been reading closely: The oil in these exploding trains originated in the Bakken formation of North Dakota. This is not a coincidence. As Grist’s John Upton recently explained, the “light crude” from North Dakota may be more flammable than “heavy crude,” like that extracted from Canada’s tar sands.

But there may be more to the story. It appears that the method of extracting oil from the Bakken formation is making it more flammable still. That method is fracking. Fracking relies on injecting a cocktail of chemicals into the ground to crack it open. Companies refuse to disclose exactly what chemicals they use, on the grounds that this information constitutes a trade secret.

Some of these chemicals are left in the oil when it is transported to refineries. And they may be highly flammable and abrasive. As Bloomberg reported in August: