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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Four innovations that will make the future less wasteful

The New York Times Magazine has a lovely list of "innovations that will change your tomorrow." Many of these innovations will give people fabulous new ways to consume more: New coffee! More screens! Underwear that monitors how lazy you are! But a few will also change our tomorrows to help people use less. Naturally, those are our favorites, and here they are:

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Spacecraft could be killing endangered antelope

Add these two factoids to your store of knowledge about Kazakhstan, which, admit it, consists mostly of "It's on the Risk board?" (it's not! You're thinking of Kamchatka) and “Borat is from there.” The central Asian country provides habitat for the endangered saiga antelope, which has a face like a fuzzy alien from Sesame Street. It also sometimes launches rockets into space from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the best-named launchpad in existence. These items are not as unrelated as you might think.

This past year, more than 1,000 saiga antelope have turned up mysteriously dead. And ecologists say that the Cosmodrome could be to blame. "Chemical elements left from space rockets that fly over this place" could be killing the antelope, one ecologist has said.

Read more: Animals, Pollution

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Critical List: Climate change could reduce plants’ power output; Texas power prices could triple

Power plants depend on river and lake water to keep their operations cool. Climate change is going to make that water warmer and keep plants from making as much power.

Power prices in Texas may triple. Utility commissioners worry that without higher prices, the state will consume too much energy and face summer blackouts.

Activists want Sophia Loren to stop the MSC Divina, a ship named in her honor, from entering the Venice lagoon, which the ship will likely royally screw up.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Beverage industry to NYC: Ignore the mayor. Soda’s totally cool

Well, that didn't take long. Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced yesterday that NYC would be banning sugary drinks if they came in containers bigger than 16 ounces. And today, the American Beverage Association is pushing back with an ad that says, basically, "Do not believe that science over there! Believe this science that says soda is tooootally fine for you."

Click to embiggen.
Read more: Food

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Queen of England to eat invasive species pie

Photo by Sara Thompson.

Enemies of invasive species have been advocating for a diabolical solution to doing away with unwanted species: Eat them! And while most people are not down with eating sautéed iguana or lionfish ceviche, on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee, Queen Elizabeth II will be honored with a gift of lamprey pie -- a dish made from a parasitic eel that's invaded the Great Lakes.

Lampreys -- which look like eels, suck the blood of other fish, and have a single nostril on top of their heads -- used to thrive in the River Severn, near Gloucester. So naturally, it's the city's tradition to send the king or queen lamprey pies on special occasions. King Henry I liked the dish so much he supposedly died after overindulging in lamprey-eating in 1135.

Read more: Animals, Food, Scary Food

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Galaxy, right ahead! The Milky Way’s on course for a head-on collision

One day, this is what the night sky will look like. Yup, that's a galaxy (Andromeda, to be specific) headed straight for … our galaxy!

Andromeda's rushing towards us at the crazy fast speed of 250,000 miles per hour. Luckily, it is a galaxy far, far away, and so it will take 3.75 billion years to get close enough to present as it does in the above illustration, which NASA rigged up based on data from the Hubble telescope. 

Read more: Living

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Global warming could wipe out the goth population

Photo by Robert Armstrong.

As a former goth, I had to love this article from British satire site NewsBiscuit about the latest species to be threatened by climate change: the normally nocturnal, tree-dwelling Common Goth.

Britain’s Goth population, identifiable by its distinctive eye markings, peaked at around 90,000 in the 1970s, but since then has been driven out of urban habitats by more aggressive, faster-breeding species like Chavs. While some Goths are expected to hibernate until the weather gives everyone less to be cheerful about, there are fears that some could spontaneously combust in the summer sun leaving behind only a pair of smoking 18-hole Dr Martens.

Read more: Climate Change, Living

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Critical List: Carbon dioxide hits 400 ppm in the Arctic; bedbugs don’t like boozy blood

Carbon dioxide levels in the Arctic have reached 400 parts per million (ppm). Once upon a time, they were 275 ppm. 350 ppm is considered a decent level to aim for these days.

Peanut butter and deli meats have traces of flame retardant in them.

Fishing fleets don't care what regulators say -- they'll fish where they want.

Last year's cold summer meant that there were a fifth fewer butterflies around.

California's going to require "solar ready roofs" on new buildings.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Old photographs found in basement help scientists unravel warming patterns

80-year-old photos of the Helheim Glacier.

While cleaning out a basement at the National Survey and Cadastre of Denmark, researchers found a box full of glass photo plates from a 1930s expedition to Greenland. The forgotten photos showed detailed aerial and ground-level pictures of 132 Greenland glaciers -- which allowed scientists to study how the glaciers changed over a much longer period than was previously possible. The verdict? Many glaciers in the 1930s were actually melting even faster than they are today.

Read more: Climate Change

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Tyrion Lannister loves farm animals

Poster by Reddit user JayJay_90.

Tyrion Lannister is my favorite character in Game of Thrones (both the HBO series and the book series, which I refuse to call by its goofy official name), and Peter Dinklage is super-handsome and deserves 300 Emmys. So it's nice to know that, unlike Tyrion, Dinklage wears his good-heartedness openly -- he's the new national spokesperson for the Farm Sanctuary's Walk for Farm Animals campaign. Book series fans, maybe don't tell them about Pretty the Pig.