Grist List

Cities

Weird astronomical event in New York City tonight

If you’re in New York City at 8:19 p.m. today, get your ass to a major cross street (the best ones are  14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th) and you can see the street grid take on astronomical significance. Tonight is Manhattanhenge, where the setting sun lines up exactly with Manhattan’s east-west streets. It’ll be an impressive visual spectacle, and a neat moment of urban harmony with nature.

Oil

Russian rivers are clogged with frozen oil

Whatever terrors the U.S. oil industry might come up with, the Russian oil industry is worse. Greenpeace’s Jon Burgwald recently visited Usinsk, a frigid city that’s a major Russian oil outpost. The oil pollution is so bad in this area that thawing rivers run black with oil. There’s even oil ice, which you can see in this footage:

Pollution

World’s oldest trees face country’s worst smog

Sequoia National Park can lay claim to two superlatives — its redwoods are the oldest single organisms on the planet and its air quality is the worst of any national park in the country. The smog pollution in the park is so bad that levels reach L.A.-worthy heights. The park might seem like it’s in the middle of nowhere. But that nowhere happens to be right near the San Joaquin Valley, which is full of food-processing plants, diesel-burning freight trains, and trucks driving down one of the busiest highways in the country.

Biking

Giant road lobsters attacking cyclists

We’re gonna need a bigger bike.

Critical List: Prius is world’s third most popular car; irradiated tuna hit the U.S.

Gas should only get cheaper as the summer begins. The Toyota Prius is now the world’s third best-selling car. Bluefin tuna caught off the coast of California have Fukushima radiation in them. (Not much though.) One expert says that those massive dolphin die-offs in Peru were caused by sonar from oil exploration. Where there’s fracking, there’s companies who clean up fracking wastewater. Job creation!

Cities

You can identify poor neighborhoods from space

Tim De Chant at Per Square Mile has noted that rich urban areas have way, way more trees than poor areas in the same city. In fact, the difference is so stark that income inequality can be seen from space. The satellite images above are low-income West Oakland and high-income Piedmont, and I probably don’t have to tell you which is which.

Food

Fast-food burgers have tripled in size since the 1950s

According to this chart from the CDC, fast-food burgers have more than tripled in size since the 1950s, going from four ounces (i.e. a quarter pound) to a whopping 12. And if you think that’s bad, the average soda is six times as big as it used to be.

Animals

Help name this ridiculous baby seal

When this seal pup arrived at the New England Aquarium, he was orphaned, underweight, and blind in one eye, and his unusual mottled coat wasn’t thick enough to keep him warm. Now he’s getting healthy and adorable (you can see him playing with a toy and kicking himself in the head like an itchy dog in the video below). But he still doesn’t have a name to go with his goofy little face, and the aquarium is soliciting suggestions.

Food

Play with your food by tattooing a banana

How do you make fruits and vegetables fun, instead of just good for you and better for the planet than meat? Well, probably not by doing elaborate tattoo designs on a banana. But it’s easy, so why not?

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