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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Why climate change is irrelevant to clean energy

Maggie Koerth-Baker, science editor at BoingBoing, has written a book, and the introduction is available free online now. Here’s the basic idea: In America at least, if we want to get anything done on clean energy, we have to divorce it from conversations about climate change.

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‘Ag-gag’ rules choke off supply of livestock snuff films

Rather than deal with the inhumane, superbug-spawning conditions in factory farms, the Iowa state legislature would prefer to stifle one of activists' primary weapons of dissent, reports NPR.

Just this week, the Iowa legislature passed a bill that would make it a crime to use false pretenses to gain access to a livestock operation to engage in activities not authorized by the owner.

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‘Waking Mars’ is the most amazing game about gardening you’ll ever play

New iOS app "Waking Mars" is a game about gardening, botany, and ecology, which sounds boring -- especially if you're about my age, and your primary school teachers tried to get you to learn about ecosystems via some clunky games with Oregon Trail-level graphics where you controlled the number of fish or ducks or some shit and then watched the population spiral out of control. That? That was boring. THIS IS RAD.

(Full disclosure: The designer/company founder is a friend of mine, which probably obligated me to buy the thing, but did not obligate me to stay up until after 1 a.m. playing it.)

Read more: Living

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Giant, awesome ‘tree lobster’ survived 80 years in hiding

The Lord Howe Island stick insect, which you see hatching above, looking like an alien struggling out of a human torso, will grow to the size of your hand. It's also called a "tree lobster" -- that's how big it is.

The most incredible thing about these insects, though, is not how big they are or how Geigeresque they look, but how close they came to not existing. In the early 20th century, a British trade ship crashed on the South Pacific island that these stick insects inhabited, and black rats from its hold took over the island and ate all the bugs. One very small population survived, hanging out around one tiny little bush on another island (really more of a bare outcropping of rock), until a couple of Australian scientists found them there.

Read more: Animals

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MIT students invent bike helmet vending machine

Bikeshares are a really smart idea, so participants obviously know how to use their brains -- but they apparently don't know how to protect them. Helmet use on bikeshare bikes is pretty abysmal -- data from Boston's bikeshare program show that only 30 percent of users wear a helmet. So a group of adorable MIT undergraduates has invented HelmetHub, a vending machine that dispenses bike helmets for $8 a pop. That's a small price to pay to keep your cranium intact.

Read more: Biking

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Critical List: The gas boom scam; Bieber’s electric car

In Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell looks at "the scam behind the gas boom.” What really makes money for a natural gas company? "Buying and flipping the land that contains the gas," Goodell reports.

A team of scientists has discovered how to use wastewater's bacteria to create electricity.

For his 18th birthday Justin Bieber received (among many other gifts, we're sure) an electric vehicle -- a $100,000 Fisker Karma.

The Senate transportation bill could include dedicated funding for walking and biking.

Nestlé's products no longer have artificial ingredients in them.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Hot buttered sloths in pajamas

What do you do when orphaned baby sloths are afflicted with mange? Shave them, rub them with lard, and wrap them in sloth pajamas.

Read more: Animals

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Levitating houses stay safe during earthquakes

Image by Chris Van Allsburg from "The Mysteries of Harris Burdick."

A Japanese company called Air Danshin Systems can make houses fly. Not all the time, and not for particularly long. But when it counts -- during an earthquake -- the company's technology can levitate a house more than an inch off its foundation. That means that while the earth shakes, the house stays safe.

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Spectacular wooden bikes made from salvaged urban trees

Photo by Masterworks.

The Giving Tree should be ashamed of herself. Oh, sure, she let herself be made into a boat and a house and an uncomfortable metaphor for maternal martyrdom, but did she ever turn into a completely sweet-ass bike? Not a chance. That's reserved for the lucky urban trees that fall into the hands of Masterworks Wood and Design.

Read more: Biking

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Frank Lloyd Wright goes solar, posthumously

Taliesin West. (Photo by Artotem.)

Taliesin West, the iconic desert home created by Frank Lloyd Wright, is about to go net-zero, which means it will produce as much energy as it consumes. It's a fitting update for a structure that was way ahead of its time.