A slimy worm has invaded France from Southeast Asia, and it has a taste for snails. Merde! Experts are warning that if the invasive New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) isn’t stopped, escargot could go extinct pretty quickly. This sucker is so lethal, it’s basically on the animal version of America’s Most Wanted, making the top 100 most dangerous invasive species worldwide. The fate of hoity-toity appetizers is at stake here, people!
Bad news, buffalos: The carbon dioxide we’re belching into the atmosphere will warm the planet even more than previously thought. A study the IPCC published in September taunted us with the possibility that the Earth might not heat as quickly as expected, but a new one from this weekend set the record straight. Here are the deets:
The new study, published Sunday in the journal Nature Climate Change, suggests that the amount of increase in global temperature for each ton of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere may be higher than had been hoped. Climate scientists refer to this relationship as "climate sensitivity”...
[A]ccording to Sunday's paper, the September IPCC report failed to account for the effect of "aerosols" such as smog and fine dust, which reflect sunlight and can cause temporarily lower temperatures in parts of the world with polluted air.
Smog seems like KIND OF A MAJOR THING to account for, right? Maybe the IPCC was distracted by the government shutdown or the crowning of the first Indian-American Miss America or whatever else was going on in September.
It sounds like the IPCC assumed smog and other aerosols were spread evenly around the globe like a spherical beer cozy. Turns out aerosols are concentrated over cities in the Northern Hemisphere.
Here’s an unsettling look at the Walmart-ification of the U.S., starting in Arkansas in 1962 and ending with total domination more than 3,000 stores across the country. First the chain spreads throughout the state, then the Southeast. Then Walmart crawls north and west, looking for all the world like an invasive species:
Ayumi Kim works for Tesla and got tired of explaining to potential EV owners that yes, if you hit a wombat, your car will probably be fine, and no, you can’t plug a chainsaw into the cigarette lighter. “I'm not even joking -- this really happened,” Kim swears. “The same guy asked if he could ‘plug the car into itself to charge.’” Ohhhh boy.
Kim has taken the wacky real-life questions she’s fielded on the job and dreamt up what promises to be an unpretentious, fact-filled electric vehicle coloring book. (Seriously. “Unpretentious” is in the title, perhaps to balance out the hipster lumberjack on the cover.) Kim’s friend Sarah W-R is illustrating the 12-page book. It’s not in any way associated with Tesla, which is why the pair have launched a Kickstarter campaign (a $15 donation gets you the book).
Boats make excellent (and unexpected) roofs -- they’re sturdy and waterproof by definition. And in Baja’s Guadalupe Valley, one of Mexico’s major wine regions, they shelter Vena Cava Winery.
The winery is the creation of married architects Alejandro D'Acosta and Claudia Turrent, who run a design studio in Baja. Explains Gizmodo:
[The couple is] known for their inventive approach to reuse, which includes everything from rammed earth to reclaimed trash. At Vena Cava, the duo salvaged a handful of discarded boats from a nearby port and turned them into vaulted ceilings for the winery's essential functions.
Reading Wendell Berry’s works might inspire some to tape “Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front” to the refrigerator. Or if you’re Shawn Jaeger, you compose an opera. The young composer was reading Berry and enthusiastically growing his own food when he got the idea to put Berry’s short play Sonata at Payne Hollowto music. “I thought, well homesteading isn’t a typical subject that you see represented in opera,” Jaeger told Modern Farmer.
The play centers on a real-life Kentucky couple who lived simply without electricity, gardening and fishing on the bank of the Ohio River. Jaeger contacted Berry about his idea and heard back in a handwritten letter. And when Jaeger went to visit Berry in Henry County, Ky., Berry had already turned his play into a libretto as Jaeger had asked. Get a glimpse of the opera in its near-finished form:
First things first: DuPont's chloride-route titanium dioxide, or TiO2 -- the chemical that makes paper and paint so white -- is NOT used in food. DEFINITELY not. Don’t even think that it might be what makes the filling in Oreos so white, because DuPont says that is NOT true. Nope nope nope! (Mondelez International, the company that makes Oreos, is just like "ummmmm we're not saying either way.")
Now that we’ve established that TiO2 ISN’T the key to Oreo filling -- it must be something naturally white, like fluffy clouds! -- here’s the dish. Two guys were just convicted for trying to sell the recipe for TiO2 to a Chinese company for a cool $20 million. (TiO2 earns DuPont $17 billion annually, according to the Consumerist.)
Check it, dude, climate change is gettin kinda aggro. It’s wiping out those bomb sets that come up on Bondi Beach. These brahs say there’s gonna be fewer days with sick waves on Australia’s central east side, cuz global warming’s been dropping in on the storms that make them. They’re sayin’ greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are keeping the squalls that provide the righteous rides out there, called east coast lows, from happening. Like, waves taller than 13 feet are gonna drop by as much as 40 percent by the end of the century, and by about 20 percent by 2044 -- bummer!
Good news about the world’s most famous clock! Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster are gonna get a little greener in the coming months. Specifically, Parliament is thinking about adding solar panels to the iconic clock’s face. (You can’t turn back the hands of time, but you CAN make them greener.)
The idea came from one of Parliament’s passholders. The palace and clock need to boost energy efficiency by a third by 2020. (According to Parliament, that could “save 22 power stations’ worth of electricity.”) So Parliament asked its stakeholders for energy-saving suggestions, and voila!
[T]he House is carrying out a number of other green measures this year, including installing voltage optimization technology to reduce energy wastage, exploring energy efficiency improvements for all buildings, and replacing lights with low energy LEDs.
Now THIS is gonna melt your brain: Women comprise a mere 49.8 percent of the global population, yet we can HAVE AN EFFECT on climate change, despite our elfin farts and doll-like hands. So says a special blog post from CNN titled “Why women are the secret weapon to tackling climate change.” (Did YOU know about this top-secret segment of the population?!)
Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, writes that women around the world face the brunt of climate change -- both because they’re farmers and don’t have a lot of rights -- yet they can make shit happen:
[W]omen stand at the front lines in the battle against climate change: as providers of water, food, and energy or as leaders in businesses, communities and politics. Women are in a unique position to recognize some of the opportunities that climate change provides.
No beef there. (In countries other than America, women are even allowed to run the nation!) Women developing low-smoke stoves in Darfur or bamboo bikes in Ghana are awesome; we’d never want to pooh-pooh them.
The problem is that Figueres focuses on minor personal changes, conveniently setting aside the fact that the people with the power to make major environmental decisions are overwhelmingly male. She also ignores the fact that the U.S. and Europe contribute WAY more to global warming than the entire continent of Africa. Take this, for instance: