Grist List

Climate & Energy

Texas got a CRAZY amount of hail

I know this looks like a firefighter standing in a crack in some rocks, but no, my friend: those are four-foot hail drifts in Amarillo, Texas. The reason they look so dirty is that this is basically the only precipitation the drought-stricken state has been getting lately — Texas was covered in mostly dust, so now it’s covered in mostly dusty ice. Which is not really an improvement in terms of things like agriculture, but it sure looks impressive.

Natural Gas

Depressing videos show the human toll of fracking

Because your Friday could use a little bleakness, here’s the trailer for Water Defense’s “Natural Gas Exxposed” video series, showing the toll that fracking takes on communities.

Green Living Tips

Government spends $40 million mowing lawns of empty homes

The U.S. government owns 200,000 foreclosed homes. And to keep those empty homes looking spiffy for would-be buyers, the government has to keep up appearances — including the appearance of the lawn. As a result, we taxpayers are forking over $40 million for lawn-mowing at these uninhabited houses.

Sustainable Business

Swedish fast food chain makes bank by becoming ‘Klimatsmart!’

Sweden's No. 1 burger chain got rid of its kids'-meal boxes and, contrary to expectations, sales of the meals rose. Apparently parents who are facing the prospect of their children scrabbling for survival on this wrecked cinder of a planet don’t like creating needless trash?

Business & Technology

Scorcese doc ‘Surviving Progress,’ featuring Margaret Atwood, is now in theaters

"I think it's important to make a distinction between good progress and good progress. Things progress in the sense that they change. But when they reach a certain scale, they turn out to be dead ends."

Cleantech

Turbine makes fresh water out of thin air in the desert

If you've ever watched water drip out of a window a/c unit, you've seen the operating principle of Eole Water's new wind turbine in action.

Critical List: Meat consumption must drop 50 percent; Los Angeles the Energy Star of cities

We going to have to eat half as much meat as we do now in order to curb climate change. After Deepwater Horizon, throughout the Gulf “things are just a little bit out of kilter,” says the head of NOAA’s restoration team. With 659 certified Energy Star buildings, Los Angeles has the most of any city in the country. The House just won’t give up on trying to force Keystone XL approval through.

Animals

Now you can smell like fake whale vomit

Finally, thanks to modern science, you no longer have to feed a whale a bathing suit full of rotten fish to get a supply of precious ambergris, the whale-vomit-derived material used in perfumes. Researchers have worked out a way to reliably synthesize ambergris from plants. 

Biking

Everyone in Beijing is ditching bikes, except for the foreigners

In 1986, 60 percent of the citizens of Beijing rode bikes; now 17 percent do.

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