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Grist List: Look what we found.


It’s almost impossible for Pa. landowners to find out about fracking violations

Fracking companies might be violating drilling rules all over the place, but in Pennsylvania, landowners who leased their property to gas companies likely have no idea. CNN Money reports:

That's because the state agency charged with regulating the wells -- the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) -- does not have to notify landowners if a violation is discovered. Even if landowners inquire about safety violations, DEP records are often too technical for the average person and incomplete.


The coolest church you’ve ever seen is inside an 800-year-old tree

This oak tree in Allouville-Bellefosse, France, up near the country’s north coast, has been alive for at least 800 years. In the late 1600s, a bolt of lightening hollowed out the center, but the tree survived and kept putting out leaves and acorns. And when they see something like that, 17th-century Frenchmen think about the same thing as the Insane Clown Posse: MIRACLES.

Read more: Cities, Living


Critical List: Other countries manage to pass climate change laws; Greenpeace is busy

Plants are freaking out about climate change: Their timing for flowering and leafing is even more off than climate models predicted.

Also, species extinction could be a major driver of climate change and keep the environment from producing awesome resources like ... food.

South Korea's parliament approved a cap-and-trade plan. Kenya and Peru are also working on climate change laws.

A judge granted BP preliminary approval of its plan to settle Deepwater Horizon claims. The company could pay out nearly $8 billion to settle private claims for injury or economic loss from the spill.

Read more: Uncategorized


Sharks with actual frickin’ laser beams

Oil spill? Pff, whatevs. The new undersea menace is considerably more dangerous, where by "more dangerous" I mean "less dangerous, but  more awesome." That's right, folks: I'm talking about sharks with frickin' laser beams attached to their heads.

Read more: Animals


SUV with built-in stationary bike: It’s like biking to work, except stupid as hell

Oh sure, biking to work helps you keep toned leg muscles, like a good trophy wife. But it also reduces carbon emissions, and everyone knows that saving the environment is for poor people. No, what you need is a chauffeured Cadillac SUV with a built-in stationary bike, so you can do your morning exercise while James ferries you to the office. (Ha ha, just kidding! Like you go to an office. You can pedal while James ferries your husband to the office, and then takes you back home so you can direct the rest of the staff.)

Read more: Biking, Living


Beautiful chart tells you how to eat seasonal (in the U.K., at least)

This beautiful interactive chart from U.K. organization Eat Seasonably may not apply precisely to your climate, and it's pretty British in other ways too -- "courgettes" are zucchini, FYI. But I love the concept -- a handy calendar showing you what fruits and veg are in season at what times -- and I love the idea of having a star vegetable or three for every month.

Read more: Food, Locavore


Teen makes prom dress out of 5,000 soda can tabs

Some people wear their commitment to reuse and sustainability on their sleeves; Regan Kerr wears hers to prom. The Colorado high school junior spent five months making her prom dress out of 5,114 soda can tabs (and no, before you ask, she didn't drink 5,114 sodas by herself -- she collected them over two years). When I was a kid we used to lace these onto our Chucks for some reason, but I've never seen anything this elaborate.

Read more: Living


President Bartlet wants you to go for a walk

If you worked in President Bartlet's White House, you would not have to worry about dying an early death from sitting all day, because the West Wing staffers are always walking! And talking! And walk-and-talking! About things like how no one realizes that the president actually can't fix gas prices.

And after you watch this West Wing reunion video from Funny or Die, you too will want to walk. Because President Bartlet gave an inspiring speech that referenced Greece, and due to the President Bartlet magic, it's effective even though he is old now and Charlie has a gross mustache. But if you need a real reason … well, as the staff says, walking helps prevent diabetes, stroke, all sorts of cancer, and depression. (They said it very quickly, so maybe you missed it.)

Read more: Living, Transportation


Humans and dolphins conspire to kill fish

Off the coast of Brazil, dolphins and humans have been working together to snare mullet since 1847. Ed Yong reports at Discover Magazine:

The dolphins drive the mullet towards the fishermen, who stand waist-deep in water holding nets. The humans cannot see the fish through the turbid water. They must wait for their accomplices.

As the fish approach, the dolphins signal to the humans by rolling at the surface, or slapping the water with their heads or tails. The nets are cast, and the mullet are snared. Some manage to escape, but in breaking formation, they are easy prey for the dolphins.

Read more: Animals, Food


Meatpacking plant turns into net-zero-energy vertical farm

Photo by Plant Chicago.

Soon, a former meatpacking plant in Chicago will replace carcasses and rendering vats with bakers and brewers and fish farmers and mushroom growers. The Plant (ho ho, a double meaning!) is gathering together a bunch of food-makers to create a self-sustaining system in the 93,500-square-foot abandoned space. As Fast Company reports, a former meatpacking plant is the perfect place to start a food business of this kind: It already contains "food-grade materials" which are safe for food preparation.