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Grist List: Look what we found.


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World’s worst elected official makes the case for sprawl

"Well, let me state it unequivocally: I love sprawl," says L. Brooks Patterson, county executive of Oakland County, Mich. "I need it. I promote it. Oakland County can't get enough of it," he continues, in an essay posted to the Oakland County website. Why should any of us care? Well, Patterson appears to be in a position of power, especially if you live in southeast Michigan. And unlike other people in positions of power who make absurd sprawl-feeding, bike-busting laws -- ahem Congress -- he’s laying all his reasoning out on the table.

Read more: Cities, Politics, Sprawl, Urbanism

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Fair Trade gasoline

You know where your coffee beans come from -- so why not your gasoline? Did your $3.50 a gallon go to prop up our tar-sands-addicted frenemies in Canada? Perhaps that tank of gas was originally shipped out of Venezuela and is propping up Hugo Chavez.

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Hillary Clinton is tackling climate change whether you like it or not

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with EPA's Lisa Jackson and a handful of international diplomats, has had enough of climate inaction. She announced a new initiative Thursday morning to start attacking "short-lived climate pollutants" -- otherwise known as "everything except carbon dioxide." Recent research has shown that decreasing these pollutants, which include methane, soot, and HFCs, could actually pull back climate change by as much as 0.9 degrees F. That won't solve the problem, but it could buy the world some time while diplomats continue squabbling over carbon.

There's also a win-win-win angle to attacking pollutants like soot and methane.

Read more: Politics

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Adorable video will make you feel bad for power plants

This video of collapsing power plant cooling towers is supposed to make you want to celebrate the victory of renewable energy over large power companies that run on fossil fuels. And it does! Sort of. But the cooling towers are so adorable that you feel kind of bad for rooting against them. Couldn't they have put some cute moustaches on the turbines, too? 

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Kid-powered school bus

Leave it to the Dutch to figure out how to replace even school buses with a conglomerate of bicycles. The buscycle, used to transport kids to day care, turns elementary schoolers' boundless energy into a source of renewable fuel.

Read more: Biking

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This guy invented a manure-powered car … in 1971

According to this 1971 article from Mother Earth News, British chicken farmer Harold Bate invented a car that runs on animal droppings 40 years ago. Why the hell are we still using oil?

Bate invented a converter that reportedly recycles animal (or human) waste into methane gas -- and he ginned it up from "odds and ends at hand." To be fair, using the converter is a pretty involved process, requiring 300 pounds of manure that has been fermented for up to a week. But on the flip side, Bate estimated it only cost him 3 cents (17 cents in 2011 money) for the equivalent of a gallon of gasoline.

Read more: Green Cars

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Critical List: State Department working to reduce emissions; transportation bill vote delayed

The State Department is going to announce this morning a program to reduce shorter-lived greenhouse gases, like methane.

The House won't vote on Republicans' transportation bill of horrors quite yet.

Worldwide, 92 percent of freshwater water goes to agriculture.

Mining in Mongolia -- good for China, maybe not the best idea for the desert environment or the people who live there, who are mostly herders.

Read more: Uncategorized

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Swamp Thing yells at kids about littering

You gotta admit, Swamp Thing is basically the perfect anti-littering spokesman (especially now that Captain Planet has gone off the rails). I mean, he's essentially made out of the environment. In this so-bad-it's-awesome 1989 PSA, he lectures children about throwing plastic cups in the water.

Read more: Pollution

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You work 3.84 minutes per day to pay for your bicycle, 2 hours for your car

James D. Schwartz of The Urban Country recently calculated that Americans work on average two hours out of every day to pay for their cars. Now he's figured out that a bicycle costs only 3.84 minutes. And that's being conservative, assuming you'll drop $1,500 on a new commuter bike every five years, after which it will have zero value.