Grist List

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?

Biking

Cape Cod woman finds bike she lost 40 years ago

Forty years ago, in 1970, little Lisa Brown was riding her totally rad banana-seat bike through the woods of Cape Cod. She approached the Herring River, but the only way to cross it was a rickety plank board bridge. When Brown started out on the bridge it was two feet wide, but halfway across it narrowed to 12 inches, and she had to turn just a little bit to stay on track. In a split second, she was in the river. “I went in with the bike, I floated to the surface, I kicked away from the bike, and I …

Critical List: Record carbon dioxide emissions in 2011; eating dirt is normal

2011 saw a record high in carbon dioxide emissions, with China’s contribution growing the most. Climate change is a boon for one species, at least: The brown argus butterfly, previously rare, has been staking out more turf for itself as the areas north of its range become warmer and more hospitable. With the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on his way out, the president nominated Allison Macfarlane to take his place. Negotiations for the Rio+20 summit are “painfully slow,” says U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Climate Skeptics

Sorry guys, no more Heartland Institute conferences

Denialist think tank the Heartland Institute likes to have all its besties over once a year to watch movies, braid each other’s hair, and talk about how they don’t believe in science or, when it comes down to it, really know what it is. Well, I have bad news for journalists looking for telling quotes, and for people like Lord Monckton who don’t get invited to any other parties: This year’s shindig was the last one for the foreseeable future.

Farm Bill

Cartoon explains what’s wrong with our food system in under four minutes

Here's a quick, simple primer on the relationship between corporate interests, farmers, and consumers.

Coal

This coal-plant snow globe could be yours for only $3,100

The world inside a snow globe is usually pretty idyllic — just pure white snow falling lightly on famous landmarks. Not really an accurate reflection of the environmental toll of mass-produced tourist kitsch. So the artists of the Dorothy collective have produced a limited run of two coal power plant globes, complete with ash-flake “snow.” One has already been sold — but the other can be yours for £2,000, or a little over $3,100.

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.

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