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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Totally plausible water solution: Collect ice in the desert

Look, it's very simple. All you need to solve the water shortage is a giant metal leaf that you put in the desert and it uses solar power to grow ice. Then you drink the ice. How is this difficult? Okay, this is not completely for real. The leaf's creators don't think it will singlehandedly solve the water shortage. But the solar desert ice farm itself, called SunGlacier, is kind of a serious idea. In fact, the refrigeration company that would build the thing has already managed to create a four-inch-thick chunk of ice in controlled desert-like conditions (104 degress, …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Amazing green building looks like it’s made of string

The new design for the Taiwan Tower (which will be built in, where else, Taiwan) is based on the banyan tree, but it looks more like a super-complex cat's cradle. The openwork building, designed by Japanese firm Sou Fujimoto Architects, will house a "semi-outdoor" space, pierced by sunlight and shaded by a green roof. The LEED Gold-certified building will have solar panels, wind turbines, heat pumps, and rainwater collectors, though I'm not sure for what -- it doesn't need climate control or artificial lighting during the day, and the lights that illuminate it at night will be energy-saving LEDs. There …

Read more: Cities

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Your mom was right: Don’t eat raw cookie dough

I know, I know, it's so good. But a study of a 2009 E. coli outbreak, led by CDC researchers and state health officials, has traced the contamination back to prepackaged raw cookie dough. Turns out ready-to-bake is not the same as ready-to-not-bake-and-get-right-to-the-eating. Ugh, god, what are we supposed to scarf when we get dumped then? You'd think CDC researchers and cookie dough manufacturers alike would just be like "you knobs, there are uncooked eggs in there, just don't eat it until it's been baked." I mean, if someone ate raw prepackaged hamburger patties and got sick, nobody would be …

Read more: Food, Food Safety

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video

The most bare-chested grocery-bag video you’ll watch today

This is maybe not the most complex Tim Minchin song I've ever heard, but you have to admit it imbues canvas grocery bags with some much-needed rock star cachet. At least by the time the giant fan comes out. (Hat tip to Umbra reader Jake!)

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Brits make disused landfill into wildlife sanctuary

There are a few options of what to do with an old landfill: cover it over and leave it alone; turn it into a field for solar panels; convince people to play soccer on top of it. One town in England is going a step further and returning a decommissioned landfill to nature. The 16-acre spot in Stourpaine (how do British place names always sound so British?) was taken out of active use in 1993. Now, the town is planting trees and shrubs over the area in the hopes of attracting woodland animals and birds. The new forest will also …

Read more: Animals

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What exactly happened at Durban?

Ok, kids, Durban is over, and it's time for the world to return to its regularly scheduled programming of carbon-induced DOOM. What exactly did the world's long-suffering climate negotiators accomplish? They agreed on a "platform" outlining how they’ll keep trying to create a new climate treaty. Well, it’s … progress towards progress? Here are the most important things to remember about what came out of the conference: Everyone's going to start working next year on a new treaty on climate emissions. The idea is to finish that agreement by 2015 (at the latest) and for it to take effect by …

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Critical List: Durban is over; Rick Perry is an idiot

The Durban round of COP talks ended over the weekend with a "platform" that outlines how work towards a new climate treaty will progress over the next few years. But that's really not good enough. Rick Perry thinks the company called Solyndra is a country called Solynda. That's in Africa, right? It's easier to find an EV charger than a station that stocks 85 percent ethanol blend. The West does have an air quality problem, it's just not FARM DUST.

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Apple HQ could have the country’s biggest solar installation, and it still won’t be enough

The current plan for the new Apple headquarters calls for 500,000 or more square feet of solar panels, generating at least 5MW of power. That could make it the biggest corporate solar panel installation in the U.S. -- but Apple operations take so much power that this will just be supplemental. The proposed building, which would house 13,000 Apple employees, will run primarily on natural gas. The solar panels, which will cover the majority of the building's roof, are providing backup power. Five megawatts is enough to power a million AppleTVs (which I only just found out were a thing), …

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Tokelau, population 1,500, goes renewables-only

At the U.N. climate talks in Durban, the South Pacific micro-state of Tokelau announced that it would be switching entirely to renewable energy. Tokelau has 1,500 people and three cars, but, uh, it's the thought that counts? Tokelau, which has 1,000 fewer people than my high school, currently runs diesel generators that eat up imported oil. But starting next year, it will be getting 90 percent of its energy from solar and 10 percent from homemade coconut oil. I swear I'm not making that last part up. I would never joke about a South Pacific island running on coconut oil; …

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It’s panda-countin’ time!

Get out your panda-counting equipment, because it's panda census time! China's government is organizing the first panda census in a decade, sending out teams of wildlife biologists over hill and under dale in search of the elusive critters. And it's not as fun as it sounds. Pandas are really rare in the wild -- the last census, which was conducted in 2000, turned up only 1,596 of them. So most of panda census-taking involves traipsing around in the mountains looking at a distinct absence of pandas. Although actually, coming up empty-handed might be preferable to what your hands are full …

Read more: Animals