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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Renewable hydropower could supply all of Africa’s electricity

In Africa, 587 million people go without electricity -- only about two-fifths of the continent's population has access to a regular supply. But according to a new United Nations report, hydropower -- a form of renewable energy -- could supply all of Africa's electricity needs.

Right now, only about 32 percent of the continent's energy comes from hydropower, but there's vast potential for growth. Africa is only using about 5 percent of its hydropower potential.

There are two main obstacles to tapping into this resource: money (not enough of it) and the need for cooperation. Rivers make great international borders, which is not exactly convenient for countries who want to build large dams. They have to come to an agreement with other governments in order to move forward.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Soon, your toilet could heat your apartment building

Now you can dump energy waste just by, well, taking a massive dump. Green tech company OriginOil is working on a project that uses toilet wastewater as a way to heat apartment buildings.

OriginOil, a start-up based in Los Angeles, CA., has begun a pilot of its urban algae farm concept at the La Défense complex near Paris. Wastewater from buildings nourishes algae growth; algae is processed to make heat. The company is attempting to prove that integrating algae production into large building complexes will help bring them closer to net zero.

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Energy monitoring device lets dad bust up rager from 500 miles away

If this were a movie, hardware and software developer David Rowe would look like a sitting duck for teen shenanigans -- I mean, we don’t know the dude, but we’re pretty sure he’s a dweeby dad (or as close as you can get in Australia). The man describes himself as “kind of a power geek” -- and he is talking about home energy use, not imperialism. But in fact, Rowe’s power geekiness has now translated into powerful hardass parenting: He busted up his daughter's New Year's bash from 500 miles away, thanks to his home energy monitoring device.

Over New Year's, Rowe was traveling in the Melbourne area, an eight-and-a-half-hour drive from home. His 16-year-old daughter was staying with friends. The vacant house piqued Rowe's energy geek curiosity: How would it perform with no one in it? So he fired up his energy-monitoring device and took a look.

Read more: Green Home

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Need a ride? Check out London’s mobile bike library

Photo by London Bicycle Library.

A bus and a library make most people think of boring days locked inside a school -- unless that bus holds an AWESOME mobile bike library! Meet London’s Bicycle Library: This roving bike provider lets Londoners “check out” a bike, just as they might check out a book from a public library (although the bike library requires a small deposit, too).

The librarians provide on-site expertise to teach you about the art and science of bicycles. There’s even a bicycle matchmaking service where a librarian can match you with your true love on two wheels. Given that you can choose from folding, MiniVelo, "fixies" (Fix Gear Single Speed), Ladies Coaster, Mens Coaster, cargo, and electric bicycles, there’s no excuse for not finding something that works for you.

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Critical List: Happy vernal equinox, Alec Baldwin calls Inhofe an ‘oil whore’

Happy spring! Check out the Google doodle celebrating the vernal equinox.

A new survey shows that fewer Americans consider alternative energy development a bigger priority than oil, coal, and gas production.

Air emissions from fracking contain pollutants that pose health risks to those living nearby, a new study confirms.

Read more: Uncategorized

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David Lynch would like you to stop littering OR ELSE

Perhaps to make up for the bad rap he gave to woods, owls, sycamore trees, and the little pine weasel in Twin Peaks, David Lynch apparently also directed a 1991 PSA about littering. It's almost exactly what you would expect from a David Lynch PSA about littering -- there's even weird jerky dancing AND coffee! -- except there should probably be scarier lighting and at least one torch song.

Read more: Cities, Pollution

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Starbucks juice bar: Vegan nirvana or yuppie hellhole?

There are two ways to think about Starbucks' first juice bar, which opens Monday. Either this juice heralds the end of times, or it is a boon to vegans and vegetarians everywhere.

The basic background: Back in November, Starbucks bought Evolution Fresh, a company started by the guy behind Naked Juice. The coffee company is using that business to launch an entirely new chain. It will service fresh fruit and vegetable juices, smoothies, wraps, salads, and soups. The first store opens Monday in Bellevue, Wash., which Reuters describes as "an upscale city just east of Seattle."

Now, for those who believe -- no, are certain -- that Starbucks ruined coffee forever, this is terrible news. People swear by their juice bars: in the East Village, where I live, you're either a Liquiteria fan or a Juicy Lucy fan. We have regular jazz-ballet dance rumbles. For those whose No. 1 priority is having fresh juices and vegan wraps available two to a corner … well, it’s probably still terrible news. Can a giant corporation really get a wheatgrass-spiked kale-apple-carrot-banana smoothie right? It is not unreasonable to fear that the result will be gross and probably full of sugar.

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Engineer wants to stop Arctic warming with a cloud-whitening machine

Painting your roof white can (maybe) reflect enough heat to save a year’s worth of emissions. So painting the clouds white should be able to reflect enough heat to stop global warming, right? At least, that’s the theory recently put forth by an eminent U.K. engineer who wants to “whiten clouds” to prevent Arctic ice loss.

Engineer Stephen Salter wants to build massive “cloud-whitening” towers in the Faroe Islands or on islands in the Bering Strait in order to keep Arctic temperatures from climbing.

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Cloned baby goat is a super-adorable terrifying monster of science

The Kashmir region of south Asia is economically dependent on cashmere (the homophonic name is not a coincidence). But populations of pashmina goats, which produce the expensive wool, have been dwindling. So scientists at Sher-i-Kashmir University decided to hurry the process along, cloning a pashmina goat named Noori with little more than a microscope and crossed fingers.

Read more: Animals