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Critical List: Obama budget ups clean energy funding; Monsanto poisoned farmer

Happy Valentine's Day! Enjoy that chocolate now: it could be harder to find as climate change takes its toll on the cacao tree. Here are some other "green(ish)" ideas for presents to the one you love, be it your sweetie, your kid, your BFF, or your favorite teacher. And here’s Grist’s V-day roundup.

President Obama's 2013 budget increased funding for renewable energy by 29 percent.

In France, a judge found Monsanto guilty of poisoning a farmer who was exposed some of the company's weedkiller.

Hurricanes could tear up offshore wind turbines

Read more: Uncategorized

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Even Fox News likes this anti-factory-farm ad

This adorable/emotional Chipotle ad, featuring Willie Nelson justifying Coldplay's existence, has been knocking around the internet since at least September. But after its TV debut during the Grammys, it stole the heart of ... Fox News.

Read more: Sustainable Farming

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Sweden builds 18-story greenhouse

Swedish company Plantagon International is taking the urban greenhouse to the next level, and then the 17 levels beyond that. Their new vertical greenhouse in Linköping, Sweden will be 177 feet high.

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McDonald’s becomes one iota less horrible to pigs

Okay to be fair this is a German one. My image research indicates that U.S. crates usually don't have tops but Creative Commons pictures of them are hard to come by.

McDonald's has announced that it's requiring pork suppliers to phase out gestation stalls -- pig-sized pig cages where pregnant sows are confined, often unable to stand up or move around. Whoa, McDonald's food has actual pigs in it? Who knew.

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New York City could see devastating floods every three to 20 years

Nowadays, New York City is hit with a six-and-a-half-foot flood of seawater once every 100 years or so. By the end of this century, thanks to climate change, that could happen every three to 20 years, says a new analysis from researchers at MIT and Princeton.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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How 1.6 billion people who live on less than a dollar a day afford renewables

If you're not already connected to an electricity grid, renewable energy is a no-brainer, argues Michigan professor of history and "scholar of the Muslim world" Juan Cole. For the one-third of the world's population that lives on less than a dollar a day, fossil fuels aren’t just environmentally unsustainable -- they’re financially unsustainable too.

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The McMansion trend has peaked

Americans' ideal home size declined to 2,100 square feet from a peak of 2,300, according to real estate research firm Trulia. (The full account of this trend was laid out by Kaid Benfield at Atlantic Cities, and it's worth checking out.)

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Japan’s emissions shot up after Fukushima — but it could have been worse

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan launched a campaign to cut energy use. Businessmen wore relatively skimpy outfits to the office, turned off lights, abstained from air conditioning. But despite those energy efficiency efforts, carbon emissions still went up after the nuclear plant shut down. Aw hell -- hot dark rooms full of scantily clad people aren’t the future of sustainability?

According to a new report from the Breakthrough Institute (which is generally skeptical of energy efficiency and cool with nuclear power), Japan produced 4 percent more carbon dioxide this November than last, and the overall carbon intensity increased, as this graph shows:

Read more: Nuclear

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Pooping robots could run off organic waste

Photo by Paul Keller.

Okay, buckle up, because there's a lot of poop in this story. The EcoBot, developed by Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the U.K., can collect its own material for its microbial fuel cells, then dump leftover waste at the end of the day. That means it can eat poop and also it can poop, and I swear this is not only important as fodder for jokes by 12-year-olds and Grist List editors. It's also an important step towards self-sustaining machines.

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Industry mocks college students for fighting bottled water

College campuses across the country have been fighting to ban bottled water from campuses, and the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA) is fighting back. The trade group put together this pretty inane video, which we recommend you watch for the giggles. (We particularly like the soundtrack’s switch to new age-y happy music the first time a bottled water vending machine makes an appearance.)

The IBWA has two main arguments, laid out with all the intellectual grace of a freshman composition class paper dashed off an hour before it's due.

Read more: Pollution