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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Want an ethical vacation? Try sunny Latvia

Ok, Latvia does look like a nice place to visit.
Dainis Matisons
OK, Latvia does look like a nice place to visit.

Even once you've exhausted your staycation possibilities and your travel bug is so bad that you just have to get on a plane and go somewhere far, far away, you might still want to go somewhere that you can feel good about visiting -- a place that treats its people right and keeps the environment healthy. After all, as Ethical Traveler puts it, "Travel is one of the world’s largest industries. Where we go -- where we spend our travel dollars -- has real economic and political significance."

So Ethical Traveler, a project of journalist Jeff Greenwald and of the Earth Island Institute, has provided us with a simple list of places to go where you can feel certain that your hosts are "promoting human rights, preserving their environment, and upholding civil society -- all while creating a sustainable, community-based tourism industry." Turns out: Latvia.

To be fair, there are also some more touristy destinations on the no-particular-order list:

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These crazy psychedelic photos can help scientists save the rainforest

Click to embiggen.
Carnegie Airborne Observatory
Click to embiggen.

The Carnegie Airborne Observatory's Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System (AToMS) is just an array of smallish sensors packed into a plane, but when researchers fly it over the Amazon rainforest, it turns the landscape below into a dazzling psychedelic wonderland that wouldn't have been out of place on a dorm wall in 1968. But the CAO scientists aren't just looking for something to stare at while they pack their bongs. Data from AToMS' spectrometer images could help them to save threatened rainforests.

psychedelic_rainforest_1
Carnegie Airborne Observatory
Read more: Climate & Energy

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World’s most famous wolf shot near Yellowstone

I am not the wolf that died but I probably have her autograph.
whalt
I am not the wolf that died but I probably have her autograph.

Wolf hunting is a complicated issue -- the people who are against it say we need more wolves, and people who are for it say we need fewer, but sometimes both claim it's for the wolves' own good. (Although one side is probably wrong.) All I know for sure is that when I look at photos of a wolf referred to as 832F, who was studied by researchers and beloved by tourists but then shot dead by hunters last Thursday, I feel really sad. She was one hell of a nice-looking and mighty-looking creature. And she has been called not only the most famous wolf in Yellowstone, but the most famous in the world.

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Stunning time-lapse video of a total solar eclipse

eclipse

This seems to be a hard week for everyone, probably because nighttime is lasting like 26 hours a day and we all want to hibernate. What to do? Well, how about watching this time-lapse video of a total solar eclipse? Seeing the shadow sweep over the landscape and -- this is the crucial part -- go away again ought to restore your hope for the future. For a little while, anyway.

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This office building is made entirely out of recycled paper

dratz1-537x402

This roughly 2,000-square-foot office building was built by two German architects who are brothers out of compressed recycled paper. That's not surprising. After all, if anyone is going to build something out of paper that kind of looks like a late modernist painting it's going to be two German brothers named Dratz.

So obviously this thing is cool-looking. And here's the inside, also cool-looking:

dratz3-537x355

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Hey, McDonald’s is selling that sad pig/gym mat sandwich again

A reason to go on until December 17.
A reason to go on until Dec. 17.

It's McRib season, bitches! And this year there's more on the line than your annual intake of demoralized sad pigs and azodicarbonamide, which is used to make gym mats and shoes. This time, it's all about saving McDonald's bacon.

You know how we're still in that recession that Obama caused, because he is a commie? Well, even McDonald's is not immune. Profits are floundering. The head of U.S. operations stepped down. Between Taco Bell and Wendy's and etc., etc., etc., there's just a hell of a lot of fast food out there to sample and people are frickin' busy eating shit that's not McDonald's. So McDonald's is taking off the gloves, and they are fighting back the only way they know how: McRib style! Starting Dec. 17, you will be able to order this coveted cult sandwich again. Is this a great country or what?

Read more: Food

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While away the pre-apocalypse laughing at these randomly generated eco-doom headlines

Mother Jones editors admit that sometimes, maybe, readers might catch them "posting scary stories about how your consumer choices are ruining everything." We do our fair share of this at Grist, as well, and so it is with particular glee that we share with you MoJo's Eco-Doom Headline Generator, for all your climate apocalypse headline needs.

Our favorites so far:

  • Did the Captain of Larry Ellison's Yacht Once Harm This Tiny Baby Octopus?
  • Will Chickens Give Your Kids Cancer?
  • Did Eric Cantor Just Decimate the Everglades?
  • Does Friending Your Exes Unfairly Malign Organic Tomatoes?
  • Is TEDx Secretly Harming Newborn Babies?

We'll let you in on a little secret: One of these is actually a real story! (Take a guess which one.)

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Climate change could wipe out pasta

pasta
Ruthie Hansen

From time to time, we have a little freak-out about all the foods climate change is going to take away from us. Like chocolate. And coffee. And bourbon. But, though we’re reluctant to admit this, a lot of these food items are luxuries. (All of them but bourbon, in fact.) Today we are having a slightly bigger freak-out, because we're thinking about how we could possibly deal with a world where there is no more pasta.

No more spaghetti. No more penne covered in pesto. No more fettuccine in creamy alfredo sauce. No more stuffed shells or orecchietti or lasagna. No more soft, perfect ravioli. OK, now we’re getting into luxuries again, but for real: Tons of people depend on pasta as a staple. This is serious.

Here is basically all you need to know about this, from Newsweek:

Wheat is a cool-season crop. High temperatures are negative for its growth and quality. …

Pasta is made from wheat, and a large, growing body of scientific studies and real-world observations suggest that wheat will be hit especially hard as temperatures rise and storms and drought intensify in the years ahead. …

Extreme and volatile weather patterns are especially threatening to durum [pasta wheat], which is more finicky than conventional wheat varieties. If too much rain falls at the wrong time, durum’s quality can be ruined.

And do not think this will happen in some apocalyptic future. No. It's happening now, Newsweek reports:

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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An animated history of all life on Earth in a single day

life_video-crop

The Earth has been around for 4.5 billion years, so it was very kind and ambitious of Buzzfeed contributor Mitchell Moffit to put together this claymation/magic marker video that compresses this lengthy history into a 24-hour period.

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This tennis player has a monopoly on donkey cheese, the world’s most expensive cheese

This just felt like the most appropriate photo of Djokovic to use, somehow.
Carine06
This just felt like the most appropriate photo of Djokovic to use, somehow.

The most expensive cheese in the world comes from a donkey farm in Zasavica, Serbia. About 100 donkeys live on the farm, and they're milked three times daily. While in normal cheesemaking a pound of cheese requires about a gallon of milk to make, it takes more than three gallons of donkey milk to make a pound of this donkey cheese. And that pound of donkey cheese costs about $500.

“Aha,” you say, “luckily I am a rich idiot with a powerful hunger for donkey cheese!” Well, buster, if you want any you'll have to go through Novak Djokovic, ranked No. 1 in men's tennis singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals. The best men's tennis player in the world has bought up all of the donkey cheese. Every single last bit of it.

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