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Grist List: Look what we found.


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This electrical socket spits out your power-sucking plugs

The PumPing Tap does not like wasted power. It's an electrical socket with a spring-loaded ejector seat, which pops plugs right out if they're slowly sucking energy when not in active use. The idea is to combat vampire power, the massive amount of energy slowly sapped by idling gizmos, like microwaves that aren’t cooking or chargers that aren’t charging anything. The PumPing Tap (which is still in the design stage, sadly) monitors the flow of energy, and if you don't use a device for 10 minutes -- ptooie! -- it's unplugged. Ten minutes seems like a pretty short window in …

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Chief of Staff Bill Daley resigns, environment rejoices

Greens have been singing "won't you go home, Bill Daley" for a while (turn-of-the-century music jokes, anyone? No?). The now-former chief of staff was the guy responsible for kneecapping EPA smog regulations, and he was generally considered to be in the administration merely as a sop to Big Business. So now he's resigning, and probably the next guy will be an improvement? We hope? Critics on the left say Daley, who will be replaced by Office of Management and Budget chief Jack Lew, was too close to business interests. “While Lew's environmental ethic remains to be seen, it's hard to …

Read more: Politics

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Critical List: Canadian minister hates tar-sands opposition; airlines charge for free carbon permits

Canada's natural resources minister is not happy that all of you with your "radical ideological agenda" think Canada's turning into a creepy petrostate. Japan is releasing those three whaling activists who boarded a Japanese whaling vessel. Carbon emissions are delaying the next ice age. Even though they're getting E.U. carbon permits for free initially, airlines are already charging passengers for the "extra" cost. Oil companies are paying penalties for not blending cellulosic ethanol into their products -- even though cellulosic ethanol isn’t commercially available yet. (This is sort of absurd but it’s hard to drum up sympathy for oil companies …

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David Bowie riding the subway

The Thin White Duke turned 65 (I KNOW) yesterday, and Flavorwire has put together a slideshow of him doing normal stuff, just to prove he can. Here he is making use of public transportation, even though he could totally summon a shimmering gargoyle to fly him to wherever he's going. Going car-free: It's cool! David Bowie does it! (Do not click through to the picture of Bowie in a big-ass car.)

Read more: Cities, Transportation

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Mosstika’s living graffiti is amazing

Street art isn't just gang tags -- it can revitalize and beautify urban spaces, increase community identity, and even be a form of nonviolent protest. The work of Edina Tokodi kind of does all of those, plus it's about as green as graffiti can be: Tokodi's studio Mosstika makes street art from living moss. More photos on Tokodi's Flickr stream and the Mosstika webpage. 

Read more: Cities

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U.S. becomes first country on Earth to limit catch size for all fish

In a rare bipartisan move -- the policy was initiated under George W. Bush and finalized under Obama -- the federal government has enacted catch size limits in order to prevent overfishing of coastal seas, reports the Washington Post. "It's something that’s arguably first in the world," said Eric Schwaab, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's assistant administrator for fisheries. "It's a huge accomplishment for the country." Five years ago, Bush signed a reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which dates to the mid-1970s and governs all fishing in U.S. waters. A bipartisan coalition of lawmakers joined environmental groups, some fishing …

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Super scrubber turns CO2 into fuel

Boffins at the University of Southern California have created a plastic-based, sand-like solid that absorbs CO2 from the air at room temperature and releases it at 185 degrees F, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Think of it like clumping cat litter for air -- it sucks up CO2 and makes it easily removable. It can also be used over and over again, and it may be a significantly cheaper, less energy-intensive way to scrub CO2 out of the air, which pretty much everyone who thinks about the issue agrees is something we're going to want/need to do someday. Large-scale scrubbing …

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Trick out your Kindle with solar panels

Screwdriver-and-soldering-iron types have probably already made their e-readers solar powered, but what if you didn't have any Schottky diodes lying around? SolarFocus has the technologically inept among us covered, with a Kindle cover that charges your device with solar panels. An hour of full sunlight can charge your Kindle enough for three days of reading, and a reserve battery provides backup power and runs the cover's built-in book light. The cover costs $80 and it looks like it's for the new itty-bitty Kindles, so it sort of doubles the cost of your device, but it's still rad and definitely not …

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Sports enthusiasts urge you to ditch sports drinks

Professional snowboarders Bryan Fox and Austin Smith have started a "Drink Water" campaign, urging people to stop drinking the $20-a-gallon sugar-juice that props up their industry. Biting the hand that sponsors you is a ballsy move, but it's also the right thing to do, not just for your body but also the environment.

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Monsanto won’t have to clean up dioxin in West Virginia

West Virginia continues to win the game of exposing human beings to extremely hazardous conditions in exchange for working-class pay, then telling them to deal with it when they get sick. The latest example of this behavior doesn't even have to do with coal, but with Monsanto and Agent Orange.

For 30 years, the Monsanto plant in a town called Nitro (named after the chemicals produced there! For real!) produced a defoliant ingredient that would later be used in Agent Orange. But the herbicides made in Nitro were contaminated with dioxin, which meant that Nitro residents were exposed to the toxic chemical beginning in the late 1940s.

Read more: Pollution