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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Your cell phone is killing millions of birds

I know that it is a tragedy when a person wants to check Twitter on her phone, and the service sucks and -- aaaaahhhh -- now she is bored. Bored, bored, bored, and AT&T is the worst, and why didn't you wait for the Verizon iPhone? Luckily for bored humans, there are 84,000 communications towers in North America intended to forestall this type of angst. Unluckily for birds, these 84,000 communications towers in North America often kill the birds as they are migrating each year.

The University of Southern California put a number on this massacre and it is large: 7 million bird deaths each year.

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Urban carnivores have higher survival rates than their country cousins

I heard this weekend that there's at least one coyote living permanently in Central Park. Everyone's heard a story like that recently -- bears, coyotes, and other carnivores stalking through city streets and parks, right where we'd least expect them. But according to a new study, certain carnivores -- raccoons and coyotes -- do better in cities than in rural areas. Conservation Magazine reports:

One team found seven times more coyotes per square kilometer in urban parts of southern California than rural areas, and raccoons have reached an “astonishing” 333 animals per square kilometer in one Fort Lauderdale, Florida park, about four to 400 times their density in the countryside.

Read more: Animals, Cities

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Kashi promises (some) ‘natural’ products will be GMO-free

One benefit of having every food product in existence owned by big corporations? Big corporations are super touchy about their reputations. So when the internet got all up in arms about Kashi's "natural" cereals being less than fully organic/GMO-free/grown by fairies, the brand (owned by Kellogg Company) announced pretty quickly that it would change its ways.

Read more: Food, Living

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Which banks provide the most support for coal?

A new report [PDF] from the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack, and the Sierra Club looks at which of the biggest banks in the country provide the most support for the coal industry. If you count the number of transactions that a bank was involved in, Bank of America comes out the worst (44 transactions) with JP Morgan Chase not far behind (42 transactions). But in terms of hypocrisy, none of them are doing well:

These grades are based on the banks' stated policies and "how well they uphold these policies based on investments, transactions of coal mining and coal burning utility companies."

Read more: Climate & Energy, Coal

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Critical List: EPA official resigns; skeptics think clouds will save us

Al Armendariz, the EPA official who said he'd crucify environmental lawbreakers, resigned.

Two of the last few northern white rhinos on earth have done it. (You know, IT.) No word yet if the pair's expecting a little rhino, but there's a video, if you want to see what rhino sex looks like.

The National Zoo's panda bears were not doing it (not doing it competently, at least) so zookeepers decided to artificially inseminate Mei Xiang. They live-tweeted the operation. Now is your chance to check out the blurry pictures.

BP's first quarter profits were down compared to 2011.

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This time-lapse video of Yosemite is beyond beautiful

Shawn Reeder, who made this almost mystical work of art, writes:

Yosemite, the High Sierra, and the Eastern Sierra are some of the most beautiful places on earth.  Ever since I serendipitously won a trip to Yosemite when I was 18, the beautiful Range of Light has captured my heart and become my home.  Nothing brings me more joy than to share this life changing beauty with other.

Read more: Living

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Wind farms DO NOT cause climate change

A study that just came out in Nature Climate Change found that wind farms can impact local temperatures, particularly at night. Basically, the turbines mix warmer air from high up with colder air closer to the ground. Hence, warmer air overall, in these very local spots.

So, of course, Fox News is telling people that "New research shows wind farms cause global warming." Not to be out-crazied, the Telegraph is going with "Wind farms can cause climate change." Gizmodo at least uses the word "local" in its headline. But unfortunately such restraint hasn't stopped the internet from deciding, as this apparently very patriotic gentleman on Twitter demonstrates, that "Wind farms = worse for local climate change than 100 years of pollution (0.6 degree F)."

Which, FINE, the scientists report that the temperature changes they've documented, "if spatially large enough, may have noticeable impacts on local to regional weather and climate." That impact, however, is different from what we normally mean by climate change. We're talking about the increase of global average temperatures, which -- funny how averages work -- is a much bigger deal than local temperature increases.

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Budget-friendly hotel chains also have the smallest carbon footprints

When choosing an environmentally friendly hotel chain, the best indicator probably isn't whether the place asks you to hang up your towels if you don't want them replaced each day. According to a new analysis [PDF] by sustainability company Brighter Planet, budget and mid-range hotels tend to produce the least carbon per room.

Topping the list are Vagabond Inn, Red Lion Hotels, and Red Carpet Inns. Travelodge comes in fourth. It's not a hard and fast rule, but if you want to aim for carbon-friendliness, budget chains are likely the best option: The top performer in the high-end range, Four Points Hotels by Sheraton, came in 33rd overall. 

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Multinational food companies sell everything, from polo shirts to tampons

Imagine that this past weekend, you went out in New York City and bought a new pair of fancy Diesel Jeans. Then, because you were feeling good, you indulged in a KitKat bar. You forgot your reusable water bottle at home, so you bought a bottle of Poland Spring. On the way home, you stopped by the Kiehl's store and picked up some face lotion. Oh, and you were running out of cat food, so you grabbed some Fancy Feast at the bodega around the corner.

All of those purchases would have benefitted the same company -- Nestle.

Nestle doesn't own all of those brands. But it's got a large stake, for instance, in L'Oreal, which owns Diesel. And Nestle's chief executive just joined the L'Oreal board last month.

It's not just Nestle, of course, that dominates the food system, as this map makes clear :

Click for a larger version.
Read more: Food, Living, Pollution

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Critical List: Wind farms cause temperature changes; the problem with sardines

Wind farms can lift local temperatures.

President Obama made a couple of jokes about eating dog meat at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

Eating sardines may not be the best idea for the environment.

Germany’s clean jobs initiative is flagging.

Cute animal code red! The koala's a threatened species in Australia.

Read more: Uncategorized