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Grist List: Look what we found.


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We’re on track to kill the planet faster than the worst extinction in history

Earth has had many mass extinctions, but about 250 million years ago something really, really bad happened. In an event known to paleontologists as "the Great Dying," life itself was nearly extinguished by massive releases of greenhouse gases. And by “massive releases” we mean “releases slower than what we’ve got going on today.” Scientists at MIT recently established that the Great Dying happened even faster than they'd previously imagined, and that "the average rate at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere … was slightly below today’s rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel emissions." The …

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Lisa Jackson, Rachel Maddow, and Richard Nixon discuss the environment

EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson was on Rachel Maddow's show last night, talking about how clean air and water should not be partisan issues. In what is perhaps a show first, Maddow opened the segment with a non-ironic quoting of Richard Nixon, who established the EPA back before Republicans made it into some kind of regulatory boogeyman.

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Pepper spray is also a vegetable now, according to Fox News

In the grand tradition of Michele Bachmann's "carbon dioxide is a product of nature" tactic, Fox News is now calling pepper spray a "food product." Man, first pizza is a vegetable, now this. Pepper spray is "a derivative of actual pepper ... a food product, essentially," said Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Seriously guys, it's not assault, it's just a pepper! Oh-ho, condiment puns! We can all have some fun about what happened at UC Davis, because after all the cop just lightly seasoned these students with a delicious food mist. Of course, pepper spray isn't actually "a derivative of …

Read more: Food

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Rep. Don Young throws a weird tantrum over arctic drilling

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6CpvU-DzxE Usually, we at Grist List try to make the news amusing for your entertainment. But sometimes Congress does the work for us. The scene: A committee hearing on drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The characters: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), drilling advocate, professional crank Douglas Brinkley, respected historian Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), committee chairman, author of every bit of anti-environmental policy to come out of Congress since 2008 Grist List presents, "Members of Congress Are Jerks, in One Act"* YOUNG: I will tell you if you ever want to see an exercise in futility, it's this hearing. That …

Read more: Politics

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McDonald’s appears to have at least one scruple about farming practices

If you thought it was impossible to get McDonald's to take abusive and unsafe farm practices seriously, prepare to be proved wrong! Turns out, all it takes for McDonald's to break ranks with a supplier is 13 violations of salmonella-prevention regulations, an FDA citation for "significant ... and serious violations," and undercover video showing unsanitary conditions and animal cruelty. Easy! McDonald's has said it will no longer accept eggs from Sparboe Farms, the subject of the expose above, given that it's apparently in flagrant violation of not only laws but also ethics. But that doesn't mean they've gotten rid of …

Read more: Factory Farms, Food

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Critical List: U.S. winning solar trade fight; the rise of agroforestry

The U.S. is winning the trade spat with China over solar manufacturing. Agroforestry -- growing crops under a tree canopy instead of on clear-cut land -- is growing in popularity. Hydrofracking gone wrong looks "like 1,000 Alka-Seltzers going off" as gas bubbles through puddles, according to a whistleblower. China's Durban strategy includes a drive for clean-energy funds for developing countries. Navajo Nation is working to switch from coal to renewables.

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Fox viewers are the most misinformed about climate change

Yet another study has shown that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed about important political issues -- this time, global warming. This is no surprise, of course; Fox News openly advertises its agenda on climate change, and this isn't even the first study to show that Fox viewers are less likely to accept the scientific position. But it adds to a growing body of evidence that there's nothing benign about Fox's misinformation campaign. Feldman and her colleagues reported on their analysis of a 2008 national survey, which found that “Fox News viewing manifests a significant, negative association with global …

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Pepper spray is not messing around

If this weekend's attack on students had you wondering how bad pepper spray really is, science writer Deborah Blum has you covered. Answer: It's five times more intense than the hottest natural pepper in the world. (Commercial pepper spray is twice as intense, but the police-grade stuff is supercharged.) That's because it's made of capsaicin, the compound that gives peppers their bite by acting directly on heat- and pain-sensing neurons. "Pepper spray" sounds like a condiment, but this should probably be called "sheer pain spray." What does that mean for you and your mucus membranes? Well, pepper spray causes tissue …

Read more: Living

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How extreme weather almost aborted this year’s Thanksgiving meal

It’s a miracle Thanksgiving is happening this year at all, given all the extreme weather we’ve had. If you’re wondering when climate change will start affecting us in ways that are heartbreaking as well as economically painful, here’s how this year’s feast almost didn’t happen.

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Report: Homeownership is keeping unemployment high

The U.S. is suffering crushing unemployment, yet workers can't move to where the jobs are because they are trapped in underwater mortgages, explains a new report from Brookings. This, it turns out, is the ultimate fate of the "ownership society" that our government has been pushing for so long through Fannie, Freddy, and tax policy: People can't migrate to where they're needed most, even if their livelihood depends on it. The new statistics indicate that just 11.6 percent of U.S. residents moved between 2010 and 2011, down from 12.5 percent the previous year, and the lowest rate since 1948. To …