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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Critical List: EPA official resigns; skeptics think clouds will save us

Al Armendariz, the EPA official who said he'd crucify environmental lawbreakers, resigned.

Two of the last few northern white rhinos on earth have done it. (You know, IT.) No word yet if the pair's expecting a little rhino, but there's a video, if you want to see what rhino sex looks like.

The National Zoo's panda bears were not doing it (not doing it competently, at least) so zookeepers decided to artificially inseminate Mei Xiang. They live-tweeted the operation. Now is your chance to check out the blurry pictures.

BP's first quarter profits were down compared to 2011.

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This time-lapse video of Yosemite is beyond beautiful

Shawn Reeder, who made this almost mystical work of art, writes:

Yosemite, the High Sierra, and the Eastern Sierra are some of the most beautiful places on earth.  Ever since I serendipitously won a trip to Yosemite when I was 18, the beautiful Range of Light has captured my heart and become my home.  Nothing brings me more joy than to share this life changing beauty with other.

Read more: Living

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Wind farms DO NOT cause climate change

A study that just came out in Nature Climate Change found that wind farms can impact local temperatures, particularly at night. Basically, the turbines mix warmer air from high up with colder air closer to the ground. Hence, warmer air overall, in these very local spots.

So, of course, Fox News is telling people that "New research shows wind farms cause global warming." Not to be out-crazied, the Telegraph is going with "Wind farms can cause climate change." Gizmodo at least uses the word "local" in its headline. But unfortunately such restraint hasn't stopped the internet from deciding, as this apparently very patriotic gentleman on Twitter demonstrates, that "Wind farms = worse for local climate change than 100 years of pollution (0.6 degree F)."

Which, FINE, the scientists report that the temperature changes they've documented, "if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate." That impact, however, is different from what we normally mean by climate change. We're talking about the increase of global average temperatures, which -- funny how averages work -- is a much bigger deal than local temperature increases.

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Budget-friendly hotel chains also have the smallest carbon footprints

When choosing an environmentally friendly hotel chain, the best indicator probably isn't whether the place asks you to hang up your towels if you don't want them replaced each day. According to a new analysis [PDF] by sustainability company Brighter Planet, budget and mid-range hotels tend to produce the least carbon per room.

Topping the list are Vagabond Inn, Red Lion Hotels, and Red Carpet Inns. Travelodge comes in fourth. It's not a hard and fast rule, but if you want to aim for carbon-friendliness, budget chains are likely the best option: The top performer in the high-end range, Four Points Hotels by Sheraton, came in 33rd overall. 

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Multinational food companies sell everything, from polo shirts to tampons

Imagine that this past weekend, you went out in New York City and bought a new pair of fancy Diesel Jeans. Then, because you were feeling good, you indulged in a KitKat bar. You forgot your reusable water bottle at home, so you bought a bottle of Poland Spring. On the way home, you stopped by the Kiehl's store and picked up some face lotion. Oh, and you were running out of cat food, so you grabbed some Fancy Feast at the bodega around the corner.

All of those purchases would have benefitted the same company -- Nestle.

Nestle doesn't own all of those brands. But it's got a large stake, for instance, in L'Oreal, which owns Diesel. And Nestle's chief executive just joined the L'Oreal board last month.

It's not just Nestle, of course, that dominates the food system, as this map makes clear :

Click for a larger version.
Read more: Food, Living, Pollution

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Critical List: Wind farms cause temperature changes; the problem with sardines

Wind farms can lift local temperatures.

President Obama made a couple of jokes about eating dog meat at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Eating sardines may not be the best idea for the environment.

Germany’s clean jobs initiative is flagging.

Cute animal code red! The koala's a threatened species in Australia.

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Mosquitoes fingered for killer whale deaths at SeaWorld

Photo by Milan Boers.

It's hard to imagine a teensy mosquito taking down an animal as mighty as the killer whale. Yet that's exactly what some folks suspect happened at two SeaWorld locations.

Representatives from the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS) say that orcas that died at SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Antonio succumbed to encephalitis, a virus transmitted by mosquitoes.  WDCS argues that these deaths could have been avoided if whales weren't kept in captivity.

Read more: Animals

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This crazy bill could eliminate Arizona’s ability to do any environmental work

The Arizona House is about to vote on a totally insane bill that could prevent that state from doing even the tiniest smidgen of environmentally friendly work. Solar and wind projects that used a dollar of government funding would be made illegal. State universities could have to stop all sustainability-related research. State buildings wouldn't even be able to use CFL lightbulbs.

The bill, SB 1507, has already passed the Senate, and the House has given it initial approval. The final House vote is coming on Monday. The bill would make it "illegal for any government entity in the state to abide by any tenet or principle" of the Rio Declaration, the Arizona Capitol Times reports. These are incredibly broad principles like, for instance, "enact effective environmental legislation."

Think about that one for a second. If this bill passes, it will be illegal in Arizona to pass effective environmental legislation. (Ineffective? Hey, go for it!)

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Modern-day DeLorean? Airplane runs on trash

Photo by Paul O'Donnell.

One man's trash is another man's airplane fuel.

Adventure-seeker Andy Pag aims to obtain funding and become the first person to fly a trash-fueled plane from one end of the U.K. to the other. His aircraft, a microlight plane, will be powered by gasoline made from un-recyclable plastics like bags and packaging.

The fuel is made by a British company using Fischer–Tropsch synthesis--a process of making synthetic fuel that dates back to before WWII. Pag says the fuel is worth highlighting because it produces limited CO2, and reduces the volume of plastics that otherwise would go to landfills.

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Ew! Eyeless shrimp and deformed fish now routinely caught in the Gulf

Ok, this is gross. The shrimp coming out of the Gulf of Mexico two years after the BP spill have some seriously nasty stuff wrong with them. They are lacking in eyes. Their gills are full of junked up black stuff. (Not normal!) They have lesions. And yet they are making their way into grocery stores! The picture above is of a shrimp that was being sold to be eaten for dinner.

Now, I don't personally spend a lot of time looking at the insides of raw shrimp and fish and crabs. But Al Jazeera did an in-depth report on the situation, in which a slew of people who've worked in the fishing business for years say that they've never seen anything like these deformed creatures:

Read more: Food Safety, Oil, Pollution