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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Go ahead, eat McDonald’s. Nobody will ever know

I'm told, by people with less finicky stomachs, that sometimes even the most well-intentioned foodies and factory-farm opponents really jones for an Egg McMuffin. If you can't resist the occasional splurge -- maybe it's been a late and smokey night at college, if you know what I mean -- then at least you can make sure you don't see your picture splashed across the front page of Food Scold Daily or something.

Read more: Food

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American beef consumption is at a 50-year low

According to this graph from the Daily Livestock Report, we are way past Peak Beef. U.S. beef consumption has been dropping for the last 40 years, and projections put it back down at 1950s levels this year, which would mean we're eating less meat than at any time in the last 50 years. Americans are eating a lot less meat overall, but beef and to a lesser extent pork have seen the biggest reductions -- which is cool, because cattle and pigs are the most resource-intensive livestock. Tom Laskawy speculates about the causes for the drop-off: What really struck me …

Read more: Food

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Climate change may have killed 4 out of 5 seal pups in 2011

North Atlantic sea ice in areas where harp seals breed has declined as much as 6 percent every 10 years since 1979, according to scientists from Duke University and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. As a result, in low-ice years, entire populations of brand-new seal pups die, reports Yale e360. According to Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department, as many as 80 percent of seal pups born in 2011 may have died because of a lack of sea ice. Seal, moping, by Peter Hedger

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Here are the potential Solyndras of 2012

Hey makers of right-wing talking points! Pay attention to these solar companies. They might fail this year, and as we all know, when a solar company fails you can repurpose its hide into a political hobby-horse and ride it forever. Here are this year's candidates for companies most likely to be mispronounced by one of the interchangeable hosts on Fox News, courtesy Matt Feinstein of Lux Research: Nanosolar Solopower Abound Solar Solarworld Oerlikon Suntech Power That list doesn't even include the two solar companies that already announced cuts in the new year, reports Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOm: A week ago …

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Sunflowers show how to capture solar energy more efficiently

In design, biomimicry -- the idea that nature does design best -- is all the rage. So it must have been a head-slapping "duh" moment when solar-power designers sought inspiration from sunflowers -- a plant that has "sun" in its name, for goodness' sake! It turns out that sunflowers are really good at using the sun (NO WAY), and mimicking their structure can allow designers to seriously reduce the size of concentrating solar power farms. Concentrating solar power facilities use mirrors to focus solar energy at a single point, usually a high tower. But CSP fields of mirrors take up …

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Critical List: ‘Super fracking’; pollution threatens Lake Titicaca

Natural gas companies are looking into "super fracking," which uses larger, deeper cracks and draws power from our planet’s yellow sun. West Virginians, Pennsylvanians, and Ohioans are all hoping that Shell will choose to build a petrochemical refinery in their state, because the plant promises jobs. Maybe it's time to abandon Ulysses S. Grant's laws for federal land, which dictate that hard-rock mining is the best use for any plot. We could be losing Lake Titicaca to urban waste. Cool it, you pervs, this is is serious! Green gadget designers are still obsessed with bamboo.

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One day you will play a video game with a pig

As any Portlandia fan knows, ethical meat-eaters don't just want their food to be humanely raised and humanely slaughtered. They also want it to have had a happy life. And it turns out that what makes pigs have a happy life is video games. Seriously -- pigs like to snuffle at flashing lights, which is basically Galaga. Accordingly, ethical farming researchers at Wageningen University are working with designers from the Utrecht School of the Arts to develop a human/pig interactive gaming app. The game, called Pig Chase, is designed to relieve some of the tedium of being a pig on a farm …

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Oil industry gives $12 million to pro-Keystone legislators

An independent research group has analyzed oil industry contributions to Congress, and figures that President Obama is staring down a $12 million barrel of political opposition on Keystone XL. Some of that is going out in huge chunks -- 16 Republican House members and one Democrat have received $100,000 or more in contributions from the oil lobby, and lo and behold, the representatives are all voting just the way their evil overlords would like them to. But the industry is also spreading the wealth around. A total of 118 House members list the oil and gas industry among their top …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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EPA maps the worst greenhouse gas offenders

The EPA has organized its data on major greenhouse gas emitters into a handy interactive map. You can zoom in on your area to see where the emissions come from near you, or scan around for the worst offenders.  This map covers facilities that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of GHGs every year, so it's not like this map shows the sources of all of the country's emissions. There's no transportation, or residential, or agricultural facilities represented. But you're looking at more than half of the United States' GHGs, including all the major polluters.

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Dubai complements world’s tallest building with ginormous solar farm

The largest solar farm in the Middle East will be financed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai. He was also a big promoter of the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa (the one Tom Cruise is climbing on in the video), so the man clearly has a taste for large projects. If you know what I mean. This latest effort will, in one fell swoop, take Dubai from an effectively solar-free nation to one that gets around five percent of its projected 2030 energy use from the sun. It will be the largest solar power project …