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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Techno music kills dolphins

A "techno party" in Switzerland may have killed a dolphin at a nearby aquarium. The dolphin declined and died suddenly over the course of a couple of hours, and animal protection groups are concerned that loud music from the 16-hour party, which was less than 60 yards from the facility, stressed the animal to death. Or possibly it just really, REALLY wasn't into techno. The local veterinary authority is saying that the music wasn't loud enough to kill anything: [T]he Veterinary Office from canton Thurgau saw no reason to ban the party, arguing that the facility where it would take …

Read more: Animals

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Minneapolis house gets by without a furnace or fireplace

A lot of people talk a good game about passive heating, but are they willing to face getting through a Minneapolis winter with no furnace and no fireplace? Paul Brazelton is. He recently finished retrofitting his home to become one of less than two dozen passivhauses in the U.S., which will mean facing 20-below winters with nothing but two small space heaters to heat a 2,000-foot home. He and his family had better hope passive heating works. Luckily, it does, and it can mean energy savings of 75 to 90 percent. It does require a LOT of work, though: Desiree and …

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Critical List: Carbon regulation starting; Chu to testify on Solyndra

A plant in Texas has qualified for the first greenhouse-gas permit in the United States. Any new project that affects greenhouse-gas concentrations will need to have one in the future -- though, unlike this one, the permits won’t usually come from the EPA. Texas has just refused to issue its own greenhouse permits. Because we should leave regulation up to the states! Energy Secretary Steven Chu will be on the Hill today talking about the never-ending non-scandal that is Solyndra. Here's a different story about the solar industry: A silicon-based solar panel maker says business is looking up. Paul R. …

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Icelandic moonbow plus Northern Lights is methadone for your nature-starved eyeballs

Iceland sits just below the Arctic circle, at the confluence of multiple ocean currents, which means it a) has the Northern Lights and b) gets tons of rain so is covered with waterfalls. No doubt the descendants of Norsemen chant heartily whenever they behold this rare confluence of events:

Read more: Animals

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Las Vegas’ new water park is literally the dumbest thing ever

Scene: Las Vegas Valley, Nevada. A desert. Las Vegas developer: We need more family entertainment! Therefore it is imperative that we BUILD AN $18 MILLION WATER PARK! There is literally no other possible solution. Citizens of Vegas: But the latest assessment of the declining water level in Lake Mead, from which Vegas gets its drinking water, suggests we could run out of drinking water in less than three years. Developer: Can you put a price on quality time? Why do treehuggers hate the American family? This war on the family is so typical of your anti-natalist agenda. Exeunt.

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U.S. roads are built to break

Why do we have to pour so much of our transportation money into highway infrastructure? Well, because 50 years ago, the U.S. decided to structure roads in a way that was cheap to build but expensive and difficult to maintain. It's the infrastructure equivalent of buying a cheap crappy blender and then having to replace it every year. In the early days of the interstate highway system, most freight went by train. Because highways only had to support private vehicles, the priority was quick, cheap construction, not durability. Once shipping companies took to the streets, their trucks quickly made a …

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure

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The new fracking battleground: Trenton

There's a new battlefront in the fracking fight: the Delaware River Basin, which provides water to 5 percent of the country's population. And anti-fracking dreamboat Mark Ruffalo is asking for help in fighting against fracking there. You don’t have to take Ruffalo’s word for it -- you probably want to fight fracking anyway. When 350.org asked supporters what they should fight for while Obama sits on the Keystone XL decision, twice as many people voted to fight oil and gas fracking than for any other cause. But it's still sort of good that someone as famous and handsome as Ruffalo …

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Congress wants to count pizza as a vegetable in school lunches

Parents! You needn't worry about what public schools are feeding your kids, because the USDA is reforming school lunch standards and cutting out things like potatoes and salty foods and … oh wait, that was true. But now Congress has gotten involved. And that means that the government is on track to declare pizza a vegetable. Let's put aside for a second the fact that the soggy, cheesy abomination that's served in cafeterias across the country should barely be called pizza to begin with, much less lumped in with healthy lunch options. Seriously, it’s like a sponge with cheese. But …

Read more: Food, School Lunches

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Paper wine bottle is classier than a box and just as compostable

Typically, drinking wine from paper vessels doesn't exactly scream "classy." Think about wine from a box ... or a Dixie cup ... or a paper bag. But the makers of GreenBottle are trying to break that trend with the world's first paper wine bottle. The bottle has a thin layer of plastic on the inside, which is recycled and recyclable. But the bulk of the bottle is paper, which can also be recycled (it can be used for new wine bottles up to seven times) or chucked in the compost bin, where it breaks down within weeks. And it's not …

Read more: Living

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Mongolia plans to combat warming with giant ice cube

Scientists in Ulan Bator, Mongolia are planning to save energy in summer by cryogenically preserving winter. They want to encourage extremely thick ice to form on the local river, thus storing up cold temperatures that can later be used to cool the city. The scientists are artificially creating "naleds," which are slabs of ice up to 22 feet thick. Naleds occur naturally in northern areas, but the plan is to induce them in Ulan Bator's Tuul river. Because these ice layers are so thick, they'll last all the way into summer. At that point, the melting naleds will reduce temperatures …