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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Modern-day DeLorean? Airplane runs on trash

Photo by Paul O'Donnell.

One man's trash is another man's airplane fuel.

Adventure-seeker Andy Pag aims to obtain funding and become the first person to fly a trash-fueled plane from one end of the U.K. to the other. His aircraft, a microlight plane, will be powered by gasoline made from un-recyclable plastics like bags and packaging.

The fuel is made by a British company using Fischer–Tropsch synthesis--a process of making synthetic fuel that dates back to before WWII. Pag says the fuel is worth highlighting because it produces limited CO2, and reduces the volume of plastics that otherwise would go to landfills.

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Ew! Eyeless shrimp and deformed fish now routinely caught in the Gulf

Ok, this is gross. The shrimp coming out of the Gulf of Mexico two years after the BP spill have some seriously nasty stuff wrong with them. They are lacking in eyes. Their gills are full of junked up black stuff. (Not normal!) They have lesions. And yet they are making their way into grocery stores! The picture above is of a shrimp that was being sold to be eaten for dinner.

Now, I don't personally spend a lot of time looking at the insides of raw shrimp and fish and crabs. But Al Jazeera did an in-depth report on the situation, in which a slew of people who've worked in the fishing business for years say that they've never seen anything like these deformed creatures:

Read more: Food Safety, Oil, Pollution

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Power Shift turns Bank of America ATMs into truth-dispensing machines

What are you supporting when you leave your money in the oily hands of Bank of America? Among other evils, investment in coal-fired power plants and the bankrolling of climate change. Normally you don't think about that. You just get your money and scoot away. But Power Shift activists forced ATM users to think twice about what they were really doing by mindlessly punching buttons when they turned a bunch of Bank of America ATMs into "automated truth machines."

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Ad men illegally hack down trees for billboards

Photo by Ryan Tir.

Watch one episode of Mad Men and you'll see just how shady the advertising biz can be. But apparently the red-headed stepchildren of the advertising industry -- outdoor billboard companies -- are taking douchebaggery to new lows. An investigative report from Fair Warning details how billboard agencies illegally chop down trees to ensure that potential viewers get unobstructed looks at their signage. Don Draper's womanizing and debauchery isn't looking so bad now, eh?

Take Robert J. Barnhart, a former employee of Lamar Advertising Company, the largest outdoor billboard company in America. When trees got in the way of the company's Tallahassee, Fla., signs, Barnhart says his boss instructed him to kill them off using a mega-lethal herbicide. When Barnhart said he'd no longer act as a tree hit-man, Lamar gave him the axe. Barnhart's allegations are backed up by his former supervisor, and they're part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

And apparently Barnhart's tale is just one in an industry that's rife with illicit tree removal.

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Critical List: More droughts and floods coming; Koch super PAC hits Obama on green energy

The earth's water cycle is speeding up twice as fast as climate models predicted, which means more droughts and more floods.

The Kochs' super PAC spent $6.1 million -- more money than it's ever spent before on a single ad -- on this ad criticizing the president's green energy spending.

Now Peru has a domestic climate change policy. Soon it'll just be the U.S. holding out.

In Africa, foreign investors have bought up land of an area the size of Kenya.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Six Flags’ Magic Mountain caught polluting a California river

Photo by Jeremy Thompson.

Most folks associate Six Flags' Magic Mountain with water parks, games, and thrilling roller coasters. Turns out the amusement park produces more than just smiles and old fashioned family fun -- a whole mess of water pollution.

A coalition of local environmental groups recently accused Magic Mountain of spewing pollutants and trash into the Santa Clara River, a waterway that flows 45 miles from the park before emptying into the ocean. The coalition says that if the amusement park doesn’t clean up its act within 60 days, they’ll sue -- just in time for summer vacation season.

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Why is the Discovery Channel ignoring climate change science?

The Discovery Channel isn’t a climate change denier, but it’s certainly shaping up to be an equally formidable foe -- a climate change avoider.

Media outlets and activists are lambasting the network for failing to adequately address climate change in its recent series, Frozen Planet. The seven-part series, which was jointly produced with the BBC, explores life in the North and South poles. The series’ final episode, “On Thin Ice,” depicts how decreasing ice cover impacts polar habitat and wildlife, but fails to acknowledge the fact that human activities are spurring global warming.

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4 out of 5 top transit cities are on the East Coast

Walk Score put together a list of the country's top transit cities, based on the company's transit scores for more 1 million locations in the largest 25 cities with open public transit data. (Lack of data meant Atlanta and Phoenix were left out.) And, surprisingly, four out of the top five are on the East Coast: New York (No. 1), Boston (No. 3), D.C. (No. 4), and Philadelphia (No. 5).

San Francisco (of course!) is the one West Coast spoiler. (You can check out the full list is below the jump.)

I was surprised to see Boston and, in particular, Philadelphia come out on top of cities like Chicago and Seattle that I think of as public-transit friendly. One interesting wrinkle in the Walk Score methodology is that it measures not just the extent of public transportation but its "usefulness." 

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Hungry bacteria help make bugs resistant to pesticides

Use pesticides on a field for long enough and the bugs that you're supposed to be defeating will adapt. But you know what adapts faster than bugs? Bacteria. They can run through multiple generations in a day or so, and a new study shows that when bugs team up with a certain pesticide-loving bacteria, the bugs, too, can develop resistance to pesticides incredibly quickly.

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On 26th anniversary, Chernobyl’s crumbling seal gets new cap

Today marks the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl explosion, the worst nuclear disaster the world has ever seen. Ukraine officials are gifting the nuclear site with an odd sort of birthday hat -- a massive containment cap, or “Chernobyl sarcophagus.”

An international drive has raised funds from governments towards building a new permanent covering to slide over a temporary concrete-and-steel shelter that was hastily erected after the disaster and is now dangerously crumbling.

The 20,000-tonne arched structure, known as the New Safe Confinement, is designed to last for a century and spans 257 meters.