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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Denver zoo test-drives elephant-poop-powered vehicle

The Denver Zoo has to deal with a lot of waste. A good deal of that waste comes from visitors, but the zoo also produces hundreds of thousands of pounds of animal poo each year. Now, zoo engineers have found a positive use for it: They rigged up a poo-powered tuk-tuk. (A tuk-tuk is a motorized rickshaw.)

"We want to show people that we're not crazy for wanting to take elephant poop and turn it into energy," one engineer told the Denver Post.

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This ocean climate model is downright hypnotic

Last year, a group of NASA scientists and animators put together this animation of the world's ocean surface currents, based on ocean flow data for June 2005 to December 2007. The video starts over the Atlantic, and as the globe rotates, you can see the whorls and waves dancing across the ocean, the relative calm of the Pacific, and the stillness around Antarctica. It's dazzling and hypnotic. We really should be posting this on a Friday afternoon:

Read more: Climate Change

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Critical List: Gulf of Mexico dolphins have serious health problems; tweeting from the ocean bottom

James Cameron hung out at the deepest point in the ocean yesterday -- and tweeted about it.

Dolphins that have been in living in the Gulf of Mexico have serious health problems -- low body weight, liver and lung cancer -- that scientists describe as "consistent with oil exposure."

Obama's promoting an "all-of-the-above" energy plan, but he hasn't been mentioning coal as part of it.

The Sierra Club's Michael Brune goes on the offensive against hydrofracking.

Demand for beef is driving deforestation in Paraguay.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Wooden skyscrapers are like log cabins on steroids

No, this is not the world’s biggest Jenga game. (Image by Michael Green Architects.)

When most folks think “wooden building,” they conjure up images of rustic log cabins or ye olde fashioned outhouses. Architect Michael Green wants to whittle something decidedly more modern out of wood: skyscrapers.

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One giant, offshore wind turbine can provide power for 6,000 people


Off the coast of Belgium, truly gigantic wind turbines are going up. They're rated at 6.15 megawatts. The blades of these monsters cover the surface of two soccer fields, according to RWE Innogy, the German company behind the project. The hub holding the gear that makes the electricity? It's the size of a two-family home. Just one of these things can provide power for 6,000 people.

It's hard to get a sense from the photo above how big wind turbines like this are, because the sea is so massive. But check out this video of a six megawatt rated wind turbine … it's just huge.

Read more: Cleantech

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James Cameron descends the Mariana Trench

James Cameron is apparently missing his Titanic fame, and he’s willing to go pretty far to recapture it -- like nearly seven miles straight down to the bottom of the ocean. (Hey, it worked for the ship.) Cameron is travelling in a submersible to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the lowest known point on Earth.

Cameron recently started descending 6.8 miles below the surface of the water in a vessel that he helped design, the Deepsea Challenger. The trip takes nine hours one-way, which would normally prompt a lot of “are we there yets?” but Cameron is making the voyage by himself. He’s only the third person to make the journey down the Mariana Trench, and the first to do it solo.

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McDonald’s ditches Styrofoam … maybe

McDonald’s may be getting a little less evil … maybe … I guess … if consumers really, really want it to. The fast food behemoth recently announced plans to swap out Styrofoam cups for paper ones at 2,000 of its stores. If customers respond well to drinking their bargain coffee out of greener vessels, the Golden Arches will start using paper cups at all of its 13,000+ restaurants.

In the stores where the paper cups are being used, customers who order a hot beverage will now get it in a double-walled fiber hot cup. McDonald’s will be looking at “consumer acceptance, operation impact, and overall importance.”

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Critical List: America has 3.1 million green jobs; a battery made of paper waste

The United States has 3.1 million green jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

High temperatures in the Midwest are as much as 40 degrees F above normals for this time of year.

Is the EPA ever going to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants?

Read more: Uncategorized

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Climate change threatens baby seals

Photo by Liam Quinn.

You could probably intuit that climate change would threaten seal pups, being as how they're vulnerable critters who require cold climates. But just in case you had doubts, new research has arrived to tell you that yup, Antarctic fur seal pups are screwed.

Read more: Animals, Climate Change

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Here’s how to never get cancer

Over at Jezebel, the inestimable Lindy West has noticed just how many foods, chemicals, and habits are reported give you cancer, and she's figured out how to dodge them all. She walks us through a day of her cancer-free lifestyle, from waking up in a windowless apartment in Singapore (lower rates of cancer in women) to drifting off while munching on Brazil nuts.

Read more: Food