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Grist List: Look what we found.


Critical List: Earthquake off the coast of Indonesia; Tennessee anti-climate teaching bill now a law

An 8.6 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia has triggered a tsunami warning across the Indian Ocean region. (UPDATE: The warning has been lifted.)

Remember that bill in Tennessee that would allow public schools to teach climate denialism? Welp, now it's a law.

An energy company called Oneok Partners wants to run an oil pipeline from the North Dakota shale to Oklahoma.

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS is attacking Obama on oil policy and gas prices, which most people think Obama is not addressing promptly enough, according to a new poll.

Read more: Uncategorized


This is the coolest-looking, least practical bike helmet we’ve ever seen

Photos by Natalie Walsh.

Have you ever wanted to have a stunningly beautiful bike helmet that would shatter into dangerous splinters if you ever actually fell on your head? Well, you're in luck, because Instructables user Natalina has posted step-by-step procedures for making a helmet that looks like a disco ball. (She emphasizes that it's meant as a costume piece, since it's, you know, covered with glass -- but you could do it with acrylic mirrors instead for a safer ride.)

Read more: Biking


Chris Christie’s strategy for killing public transit: Lies, lies, and lies

You may remember that Chris Christie -- our most favoritest governor of New Jersey -- ripped the beating heart out of a N.Y.C.-Jersey transit project that public officials had only been planning for since, oh, 1995. At the time, he said the project would cost New Jersey too much. But guess what? He lied about the costs, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The GAO called Christie out on making up his "facts." Christie said state transportation officials had revised project costs upwards to more than $14 billion. But nope, their estimates were under $10 billion, just like they always had been. He also said New Jersey would shoulder 70 percent of costs. The actual number? 14.4 percent. And Christie also claimed his state would have to pay for 100 percent of cost overruns. The actual deal hadn't been closed yet, and the federal government had made offers to take on some of the costs.

Read more: Transportation


Americans walk less than any other industrialized nation

Tom Vanderbilt owns the "how we get around" beat, and we're excited for his new series on walking, the first installment of which was published Tuesday. The juicy bits:

  • Americans walk less than citizens of "any other industrialized nation." (OK, technically just Switzerland, Australia, Japan, and Britain, according to the reports cited in the story. But most likely everywhere else, too.)
  • Walking will save your life: "Walking six miles a week was associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s … walking can help improve your child’s academic performance; make you smarter; reduce depression; lower blood pressure; even raise one’s self-esteem," Vanderbilt writes.
  • Pedestrians don't count to traffic engineers: In modeling software, people are "a mere 'statistical distribution'" or "implicit 'vehicular delay.'"
  • The very word pedestrian is an insult to people who aren't driving -- the Greek word it derives from means "prosaic, plain, commonplace, uninspired."
Read more: Transportation


80 percent of humans are delusionally optimistic, says science

Maybe the reason we can't do anything about the existential crisis of climate change -- or, indeed, any of the other existential crises we're facing at present -- is that 80 percent of humanity has what's known as an "optimism bias." (If you're reading this, I'm willing to bet you're among the "lucky" 20 percent whose perceptions of reality are demonstrably realistic.)

People who have an optimism bias do irrational things in the laboratory, like systematically ignoring concrete information about risk, reports Scientific American Mind.


Detroit residents are turning the city into suburbs

Detroit is undergoing a remarkable process of un-building, its residents literally transforming its denser neighborhoods into sparse suburbs. It's the inevitable consequence of the shrinking of a once-great city.

By estimates of the city and various experts, about 40 square miles of the city's 139 square miles are vacant today -- empty fields from which all structures have been removed.



Critical List: Mexico City’s pollution-busting vertical gardens; tiny kitchens

Mexico City is building huge vertical gardens to help scrub the city's air of pollution.

In New York City, compost at the giganto Fresh Kills landfill went up in flames, leading to a five-alarm fire.

Oil prices are high enough that energy companies are drilling in the Gulf of Mexico's shallow waters, an area once considered tapped out.

A new study says that, on carbon emissions, natural gas does beat coal as a source of electricity -- even when methane leaks are accounted for. But as a fuel for vehicles, natural gas produces only questionable carbon benefits.

Read more: Uncategorized


XKCD has some amazing facts about oceans for you

Randall Munroe, writer of the web comic XKCD, has put out another one of his dizzyingly meticulous infographics, and this one is about the depths of various bodies of water. No, wait, don't leave, it's actually really cool!

Read more: Climate & Energy


Dr. Seuss is the reason the bees are dying

Yeah, you heard me: Dr. Seuss killed the bees. No, wait, stay with me here: See, pesticide kills bees, and, says Mother Jones, a lot of the credit for our widespread use of pesticides may go to Mr. Lorax himself.

Read more: Living