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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

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Low doses of BPA are worse for you than high doses

The pesticide and plastics industry have a lot invested in the safety of chemicals like bisphenol A and atrazine. Such "endocrine-disrupting" chemicals mimic human hormones, and research has tied them to health problems like cancer and infertility. But these industries have always held up studies that look at exposure to huge doses of endocrine disruptors. In massive quantities, the industries point out, these chemicals don’t cause problems. Therefore, they must be safe.

But those huge doses may actually obscure the chemicals' effects, a new study argues. Endocrine-disrupting compounds "can have effects at low doses that are not predicted by effects at higher doses," the authors write. In other words, low levels of exposure to these chemicals -- like the levels that you'd get from, say, drinking water out of a BPA-laced plastic bottle -- can have worse effects than high levels of exposure.

Read more: Living

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Study: GMO crops are killing butterflies

Photo by David Slater.

We’re all familiar with Big Ag’s bad reputation of picking on small-scale and organic farmers. Now Monsanto and its cronies are beating up an even more innocuous set of victims: beautiful, defenseless monarch butterflies.

A new study from the University of Minnesota and Iowa State University fingers Monsanto’s genetically modified corn and soybean crops as the culprit behind monarch butterflies’ declining populations.

Between 1999 and 2010, the same period in which so-called GMO crops became the norm for farmers, the number of monarch eggs declined by an estimated 81 percent across the Midwest, the researchers say.

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Critical List: Chevron execs face ‘environmental crime’ charges; even small doses of BPA are dangerous

Everything about Frozen Planet is awesome, except Alec Baldwin's narration.

Chevron execs in Brazil must surrender their passports and face criminal charges for "environmental crimes" connected to oil spills off the country's coast.

Endocrine-disrupting chemicals like bisphenol A and the pesticide atrazine can have significant health effects even for people exposed to only small doses, according to a new study.

Mitt Romney wants Obama to fire Steven Chu, Lisa Jackson, and Ken Salazar because as heads of departments (Energy, EPA, and Interior) that have some responsibility for energy, they "are on a mission to drive up the price of gasoline and all energy."

Scientists have been monitoring Isle Royale National Park's grey wolves for decades, but with only one female left in a pack of nine, the wolves could die out.

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Heartland Institute tried to steal documents from Greenpeace

Photo by Stefan.

Okay, we don't want to beat a dead horse here -- like, say, the way certain organizations kept harping on the Climategate non-scandal -- but allow us just one more instance of pointing and laughing at the Heartland Institute's gross hypocrisy. When we last left our intrepidly two-faced heroes, they were wounded to the core by the fact that climate scientist Peter Gleick had posed as a board member in order to obtain internal documents. Now it turns out the denialist think tank did basically the same thing to Greenpeace.

Read more: Climate & Energy