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Grist List: Look what we found.


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This guy owns only 15 things

Andrew Hyde owns only 15 things. And he knows what you're thinking right now: The first question is always "Do you do laundry? How many pairs of underwear?" I’ll never get a stranger's obsession with my knickers, but that is *always* question #1. Question #2 is the "What do you own?" countdown, which is both fun and annoying to answer. Here's the secret. He doesn't count underwear or socks, because he could "easily replace [them] and could not resell for any value." (Also, how much stuff do you own, buddy? Yeah, that's what I thought.) Hyde told author Scott Berkum …

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Screw China: American scientists are finding replacements for rare earth

Priuses, wind turbines, and other clean technologies require rare earth materials, which generally go into ultra-strong magnets that help power clean technology. But rare earth elements have a couple of problems: China controls most of the supply, they require less-than-environmentally-friendly mining to get at, and, uh, they’re rare. So there's a race on to create a replacement magnet component that doesn't require rare earth. CleanTechnica reports that a team at Boston's Northeastern University has taken one step in the right direction -- developing a material with similar magnetic properties to rare earth. (Now there's just the small challenge of creating …

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Mountain Dew can dissolve a mouse, says Pepsi

An Illinois man is suing Pepsi Co. because, he says, he found a mouse in his can of Mountain Dew. But Pepsi says the guy is pulling a Strange Brew, and here's how they know: If there really were a mouse in a Mountain Dew can, it would have dissolved into "a jelly-like substance" before the guy could find it. Seriously, this is their defense. The company argues it has scientific evidence that the mouse was not in the can when the case was sealed in August 2008 and that a veterinary pathologist examined the mouse, finding that it could …

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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Critical List: Ghost octopi in the Antarctic; without ethanol subsidies, gas prices rise

The creatures discovered living in thermal vents near Antarctica -- ghost octopi, limpets, yeti crabs -- are le awesome. Two major solar industry groups are merging in order to focus on state-level policies. With ethanol subsidies gone, gas will cost more. Try as it might, Chevron cannot squirm away from responsibility for $18 billion worth of oil pollution damage in Ecuador's rainforest. Green-roofed gas station: STILL A GAS STATION.

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Climate change got even less media coverage than last year

Wait a minute, aren't liberals supposed to control the media? Well they're not doing their jobs, then, because climate change has been sliding slowly off the radar at major newspapers and magazines. That graph above shows coverage on a steady down slope since 2007, with a bump in 2009 because it's hard to slaver about "Climategate" without mentioning climate change. Last year at least 7,140 journalists and opinion writers published some 19,000 stories on climate change, compared to more than 11,100 reporters who filed 32,400 stories in 2009, according to DailyClimate.org. The decline was seen across almost all benchmarks measured …

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Yeah, looks like fracking caused Ohio quakes

The Youngstown, Ohio area has had 11 minor earthquakes since last March, and according to seismologist John Armbruster of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, you can blame those rumbles on fracking. A fracking wastewater disposal well has been identified as the source of the quakes -- extraction companies inject the briny wastewater into the well, and the pressure from that injection ripples outwards, Armbruster says. The injection well that caused the Youngstown quakes has been shut down, but the area can still look forward to another year of uncharacteristic seismic activity. Brine wastewater dumped in wells comes from drilling operations, including …

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Rick Perry advocates solution to climate problem he doesn’t believe in

Of all the GOP candidates, Rick Perry has been perhaps the most fervently dismissive of the reality of human-caused climate change. So why does his energy plan include a provision for "clean coal" technology, which is used to capture carbon dioxide and pump it underground? Confusion in Perry's assessment of the climate and energy nexus extends to his energy plan, which says that "we must continue to invest in clean coal technology through research and development tax incentives." If, as Perry has claimed, climate change is a baseless hoax, it makes no sense that he should advocate for a technology …

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Shark sex increasingly kinky, thanks to warming waters

If you thought interspecies boot-knocking was the sole purview of a handful of Bronies, check out what Australia's sharks are up to. Climate change and shifting water temperatures are causing different shark species to mingle their habitats, and apparently the mingling doesn’t stop there. The continent is now seeing an unprecedented number of hybrid sharks. The hybridization may be adaptive, allowing the sharks to better handle their changing environment. “Hybridization could enable the sharks to adapt to environmental change as the smaller Australian black tip currently favors tropical waters in the north while the larger common black tip is more …

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Climate change messing with giant ice buildings

A century ago, winters in Bavaria were so brutal that one Christmas, villagers in Mitterfirmiansreut were unable to hike to the nearest church, and they were forced to build one out of snow. For the 101st anniversary of the snow church this year, the town enlisted architect Alfons Doeringer to rebuild the snowthedral, nicknamed “God’s Igloo.” This took $168,000 and 49,000 cubic feet of snow, but the whole thing was nearly derailed by unseasonably warm, wet weather. The number of "ice days" in Bavaria with maximum temperatures above freezing is projected to decline by 50 percent by 2050, leading to …

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Organic food is not always sustainable food

Good food, as we've come to know it in the last few years, has a few characteristics: It's local. It's grown using responsible, land-loving techniques, like crop rotations and polycultures. And it's organic, raised without chemical fertilizers and poison pesticides. At one point, “organic” was shorthand for all of that, because the same people who cared enough to grow their vegetables with manure cared about environmental sustainability and tended to be local. But now “organic” can be shorthand only for adherence to a certain set of rules that outlaw certain concentrations of certain types of fertilizers and pesticides, and as …

Read more: Food, Organic Food