Grist List

Animals

The top 10 new species of 2011, including a walking cactus and Spongebob Squarepants

The International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University has convened a committee of scientists to determine the 10 best newly discovered species of 2011, and some of them are doozies. Even the monkey, which by all rights should be the cute one, is a noseless Voldemortian horror — and that’s not even to mention the spongy fungi, blue tarantulas, devil worms, and six-inch “leg sausages.” Please enjoy this trip through our weird, weird world of biodiversity — or, alternately, read this and then crawl under the bed with a can of Raid. Both seem legit.

Living

Oh for chrissakes, will.i.am, you did not seriously just take a helicopter to a climate change meeting

It’s great when celebrities get the green bug and decide they want to use their fame to tell people “hey, this climate change thing? It’s a problem.” But guys, GUYS, as much as we appreciate the support, we’re REALLY going to need you not to pull stunts like the one will.i.am just did: showing up to a meeting about climate change in a goddamn gigantic helicopter. The rapper was paying a visit to climate change expert Myles Allen, who apparently is not as exasperated about this as we are. I do believe that, as Allen put it, will.i.am is “committed …

Critical List: China says U.S. violated trade rules; ‘artificial leaf’ won’t be commercialized

Now China’s accusing the U.S. of violating free-trade rules in clean energy development. Radiation from Fukushima won’t increase the risk of cancer for any Japanese people — except a bunch of babies from a nearby town. Whatever! Just babies! Making hydrogen with an “artificial leaf” isn’t any cheaper than making hydrogen from fossil fuels.

Climate & Energy

Heartland adviser: Heat waves only kill people who were basically dead already

The Guardian’s Suzanne Goldenberg is actually braving the Heartland Institute conference this week. And it’s totally worth it, because she’s coming out with quotes of horrifying callousness, like this one, from Heartland policy adviser John Dunn: “Warm is good for people, and it’s particularly good for people as they get older,” said Dunn. “The people that warm spells kill are already moribund.” He went on to say that only extreme cold caused extra deaths. Let us translate: Hey, old people! Sorry about that heat wave that killed you. You were going to die anyway, so no sweat, OK? The next …

Biking

High school seniors suspended for biking to school

Sixty-four high school seniors biked to school in Walker, Mich. Nice, right? Well, the principal didn’t think so. She suspended the kids for the day and threatened to keep them from walking in their graduation ceremony.

Food

Critical List: Keystone XL could raise gas prices; Italy earthquake threatens cheese

Counter to everything Republicans say, building the Keystone XL could raise gas prices. Please, parents, don’t buy your children trendy pets in imitation of popular book characters. In England, hundreds of Harry Potter-inspired pet owls are being dropped off at animal shelters after their owners realized that they’re expensive to care for and don’t actually carry mail. A magnitude-6 earthquake in Italy may have damaged 300,000 ripening wheels of Parmesan cheese — 5 percent of Italy’s supply.