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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Tragic death leads to energy conservation

Four years ago, a 14-year-old girl touched a fence in a city park in Baltimore and was instantly hit with a lethal 227 volts of electricity. An exposed underground power cable happened to be touching the fence, just one example of hundreds of sites throughout the city that are still "pulsing with potentially deadly stray voltage," according to WJZ, the city's CBS affiliate.

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Cap-and-trade scheme for whaling to be almost as popular as the other kind

Scientists proposed in the journal Nature that one way to save whales is to allow people to hunt them. (The current approach is a "ban" on hunting, but 33,500 whales have been killed since it went into effect 25 years ago, so it's not exactly working, reports Bruce Barcott at OnEarth.)

It sounds nuts, but there's a catch: only so many whales could be hunted every year, and everyone could buy and sell the right to hunt them on a cap-and-trade-style market, like the kind that Europe uses to regulate its carbon emissions.

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The age-old battle of goats versus tortoises

Before reading further in this post, ask yourself a question (and answer honestly): Which do you care about more, guiltless (if hungry) goats or the Galápagos Islands' giant tortoises?

If you answered goats, this post will make you sad.

Read more: Animals

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Critical List: Sustainable energy for all; NOAA might change departments

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon launchedthe Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and called for the world to double its use of renewable energy by 2030.

Climate change is joining evolution on the list of scientific topics that some schools won't teach as science.

China's planning a huge offshore windfarm, its largest yet.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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What environmental policy could we expect from President Colbert?

Stephen Colbert has officially thrown his hat in the ring for definitely possibly considering a run for president. He's already out-polling Jon Huntsman! So what kind of environmental policy platform could we expect from a President Colbert?

Read more: Election 2012

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Don’t believe the hype about the ‘molecule that could solve climate change’

Some chemists came up with a really clever way to observe the intermediate stage of an atmospheric chemical reaction, and then some PR flack got a hold of it and suddenly science has invented a brand-new molecule that will solve all our climate change woes! As usual, things that seem too good to be true probably are.

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Congressional staffers will stop betting on wildfire destruction

We here at Grist mock a lot of people. But we don't always manage to mock some sense into them. Which is why we're pretty psyched about the response to Sarah Laskow's feature story revealing that congressional staffers were making deadly wildfires into a fun office pool:

McKie Campbell, the [Senate Energy and Natural Resources] committee’s Republican staff director, said the contest has been stopped.

“It will never happen again,” he said in an interview Wednesday. “It was in no way indicative of disrespect for any of the folks who put their lives on the line to battle the fires.”

Read more: Politics

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Africa’s first green, locavore, gluten-free beer

In Mozambique, home brewing is big -- not because the country is full of mustachioed, fixie-riding expats from Portlandia, but just because it’s less expensive. So when brewing giant SABMiller wanted to figure out how to sell beer to people who are already making their own, they had to do it on the cheap, reports Marc Gunther at GreenBiz. Using local ingredients and less energy turned out to be key to keeping prices competitive with the corner moonshine still.

The result is Impala, a beer made from cassava, the starchy root endemic to Africa.

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Scientists discover color of galaxy, can only describe it in poetry

We went back and forth on whether this would be relevant to your interests, but it's about the universe and the Earth is in the universe, right? I think that's a non-controversial scientific statement even Rick Santorum would agree with. (Maybe. Does Rick Santorum believe in the galaxy?) Anyway, astronomers have found the exact color the Milky Way galaxy would appear if you were standing outside it, and it turns out it is a color that can only be expressed in poetry.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Scientist blames James Bond for lack of nuclear support

Anti-nuclear campaigners, why do you dislike nuclear power? Is it because of the risk of massive meltdowns? The unsolved issue of what to do with waste? The lack of realistic evacuation plans? Or is it the influence of a James Bond movie you probably watched at least a couple times as a bored child -- Dr. No? David Phillips, president of the Royal Society of Chemistry, said recently that Dr. No's nuclear-powered island lair helped drive the "entirely negative" view people have of the industry. Yup, that must be it. The world also irrationally hates on lasers, solar power, submarines, …