Grist List

All the plants in the Amazon would die without this tiny patch of desert in Africa

Sometimes nature has the coolest trans-continental bromance with itself.

Climate & Energy

Climate change could take away high school football

High school football season is heating up—but not in a good way. Climate change could ruin the sport for good.

Tommy Lee: ‘Please don’t torture whales by playing them Mötley Crüe’

Tommy Lee may specialize in loud music, amateur porn, and wearing eyeliner even though he’s almost 50, but he’s not a monster. He loves his animal brethren, and he would never torment them by forcing them to listen to the same music his human fans pay like $200 to hear live. That’s why he wrote a letter to the president of SeaWorld San Diego, asking him to stop using Mötley Crüe music at whale shows.

Climate & Energy

The only way to evacuate all of humanity from Earth is to use nuclear propulsion

Yes, it is awesome the Curiosity rover can Instagram Mars pics back to Earth from 50 million miles away. But ultimately, one goal of all this space exploration is to have another place to go if we really royally screw up the planet, right? XKCD’s Randall Munroe answers a critical question about that overplayed movie plot secret government plan ahem THEORETICAL POSSIBILITY: If we actually needed to get billions of people off this planet … could we really do it? If you haven’t been reading Munroe’s new “what if?” feature, in which he answers “hypothetical questions with physics,” know that …

Giant pythons are taking over the Everglades

Last week, researchers at the University of Florida got a present — a gigantic Burmese python, the largest anyone had ever found in the Everglades. The good news: It was dead. The bad news: It weighed 164 pounds, measured a record 17.5 feet in length, and was a foot wide. For context, that’s as long as a medium-sized U-Haul, and as heavy as Tom Daley. It also had 87 eggs inside it that could have grown into 87 more monster pythons. CNN reports: The snake was so big that researchers had to pile it on top of itself and wheel …

Climate & Energy

Our Father, who art making the glacier smaller, please make it bigger now, OK?

The people in Fiesch, Switzerland, live near the massive Aletsch and Fiesher glacier, which, like most glaciers, is melting rapidly. But it’s OK — because the town’s highly religious residents have come up with a solution with proven results: prayer. They know it works, they say, because it’s prayer that got the glacier to recede. In the 1600s Europe suffered a mini-ice age, so the glaciers grew, which meant that sometimes pieces of them broke off, fell into nearby Lake Märjelen, and voila, massive floods, property ruined, lives lost, desperate desire to invoke help of Almighty Creator activated. So since …

Food

Paul Ryan used to drive the Wienermobile

Romney's VP pick has driven one of the most intrinsically funny objects on Earth.

This new species of bug was originally discovered on Flickr

It’s not news that you can discover a lot of stuff on Flickr, if you have safe search turned off and you sort photos by “interestingness.” (Seriously, try it sometime.) But this has to be the first time the photo-sharing site has contributed to finding a new species. Entomologist Shaun Winterton spied this picture of an unfamiliar variety of lacewing on Flickr in May 2011, and a year later it was confirmed as being a never-classified species of insect. Winterton was pretty sure, when he first saw Guek Hock Ping’s Flickr stream, that the bug in the photo looked different …

Tick bites can make you deathly allergic to meat

If there weren’t enough reasons to be totally terrified and grossed out by ticks (they drop on your head from the trees, they suck your blood, they burrow into your skin, they transmit a terrible disease you’ll never be fully rid of), the bite of a lone star tick can trigger allergies that mean eating a hamburger can lead to anaphylactic shock. Helen Chappell writes in Discover Magazine about her experience with this relatively unknown danger, and her account is pretty dire: Tick saliva is “a really good provocateur of an immune response, even outside of an infection,” Commins told me, …

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