Grist List

Cleantech

DIY printable furniture ships as information, not parts

If your modular furniture from IKEA was fashioned from wood harvested on one continent, cut and finished on another, and shipped to yet a third, that’s not exactly sustainable. That’s why design firm Filson and Rohrbacher decided to replace actual furniture with its evanescent, Platonic ideal: pure information. Download the computerized machine-ready plans at their website and you can use them to build just about anything out of anything.

Green Home

Your next house could be made of pot

This North Carolina house is made of eco-friendly hemp-based bricks, and the company that makes them wants to start building a similar house in California. Throw in a natty hemp suit and Cheech and Chong’s marijuana-resin car, and you’ve got most of the recipe for an entirely pot-based suburban idyll.

Living

Ryan Gosling wants you to recycle

Hey girl, are you tired of the Ryan Gosling “hey girl” meme yet? Haha, LIAR. You’re not, and DoSomething.org knows you’re not, and that’s why they’re using Ryan’s handsome mug to get you to recycle.

Renewable Energy

Denver zoo test-drives elephant-poop-powered vehicle

The Denver Zoo has to deal with a lot of waste. A good deal of that waste comes from visitors, but the zoo also produces hundreds of thousands of pounds of animal poo each year. Now, zoo engineers have found a positive use for it: They rigged up a poo-powered tuk-tuk. (A tuk-tuk is a motorized rickshaw.) “We want to show people that we’re not crazy for wanting to take elephant poop and turn it into energy,” one engineer told the Denver Post.

Climate Change

This ocean climate model is downright hypnotic

Last year, a group of NASA scientists and animators put together this animation of the world’s ocean surface currents, based on ocean flow data for June 2005 to December 2007. The video starts over the Atlantic, and as the globe rotates, you can see the whorls and waves dancing across the ocean, the relative calm of the Pacific, and the stillness around Antarctica. It’s dazzling and hypnotic. We really should be posting this on a Friday afternoon:

Critical List: Gulf of Mexico dolphins have serious health problems; tweeting from the ocean bottom

James Cameron hung out at the deepest point in the ocean yesterday — and tweeted about it. Dolphins that have been in living in the Gulf of Mexico have serious health problems — low body weight, liver and lung cancer — that scientists describe as “consistent with oil exposure.” Obama’s promoting an “all-of-the-above” energy plan, but he hasn’t been mentioning coal as part of it. The Sierra Club’s Michael Brune goes on the offensive against hydrofracking. Demand for beef is driving deforestation in Paraguay.

Cities

Wooden skyscrapers are like log cabins on steroids

When most folks think “wooden building,” they conjure up images of rustic log cabins or ye olde fashioned outhouses. Architect Michael Green wants to whittle something decidedly more modern out of wood: skyscrapers.

Cleantech

One giant, offshore wind turbine can provide power for 6,000 people

Off the coast of Belgium, truly gigantic wind turbines are going up. They're rated at 6.15 megawatts and the blades of these monsters cover the surface of two soccer fields.

Living

James Cameron descends the Mariana Trench

James Cameron is apparently missing his Titanic fame, and he’s willing to go pretty far to recapture it — like nearly seven miles straight down to the bottom of the ocean. (Hey, it worked for the ship.) Cameron is travelling in a submersible to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the lowest known point on Earth. Cameron recently started descending 6.8 miles below the surface of the water in a vessel that he helped design, the Deepsea Challenger. The trip takes nine hours one-way, which would normally prompt a lot of “are we there yets?” but Cameron is making the …

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