Grist List

Living

Tree poachers steal 800-year-old red cedar

A decade ago, British Columbia had 40 full-time park rangers who monitored 1,000 parks. Today, it only has 10. And they don’t often make it out to faraway parks like the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Park, which is on the southern end of Vancouver Island. With no one around regularly, it must have been easy for poachers to come into the park and hack away at an 800-year-old red cedar tree. Well, “easy” is relative, because we’re talking about a lot of sawing — this granddaddy cedar was so old, its stump measures almost 10 feet in diameter. But there was so …

Climate & Energy

Wisconsin hospital is powered by beer and cheese

Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, in La Crosse, Wis., aims to be energy independent by 2014. Hospitals use a ton of energy, so that’s a tough goal to meet. But Gundersen is getting there by piggybacking on Wisconsin’s best-known industries: beer and cheese. Beer and cheese, while delicious, both slough off a lot of gas while they’re being made. (Not to mention after they’re consumed.) The hospital system has been sourcing biogas from a local brewery and from a dairy farm that makes mascarpone and fresh mozzarella cheese. And recently the system started getting gas from a La Crosse landfill, as well.

Critical List: Eating organic makes people judgey; U.S. selling drones to Iraq to protect oil

Eating organic food makes people more judgmental about others’ actions and less altruistic, according to a totally bogus study. The U.S. is selling drones to Iraq to protect oil exports. White-tailed deer are eating so many leaves, they’re keeping migratory birds from being able to build their nests.

Climate Skeptics

The Great Billboard War of 2012

Heartland’s crazy billboard featuring crazies was quickly pulled down, but climate groups are fighting fire with fire — or, in this case, billboard with billboard. Forecast the Facts came up with this lovely specimen: But Clear Channel, which apparently controls the billboard system in Chicago, was having none of it, and would not approve it. The company did, however, give its blessing to a sign from Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, which asks, more tamely, “Who to believe on climate? Heartland … or EVERY National Scientific Academy in the world?” Zing.

Critical List: Massive tariffs for Chinese solar panels; Bike to Work Day

The Commerce Department announced that the U.S. could put tariffs of up to 250 percent on Chinese solar panels imported into the country. It’s Bike to Work Day! First the Arizona Congress wanted crazy legislation to ban all government work on sustainability, now it’s the New Hampshire Congress. So trendy!

Biofuel

The answer to our fuel woes might be monster sweet potatoes

Corn ethanol is a good idea in theory — what’s more renewable than a fuel source you plant and harvest every year? But corn is such an inefficient energy source that if we wanted to meet our biofuel goals with corn ethanol alone, they’d have to shoulder out every other crop. You know what yields more ethanol per acre than corn, though? Sweet potatoes. And you know what yields more ethanol per acre than sweet potatoes? GIANT MOTHERFUCKING SWEET POTATOES OF DOOM.

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