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Grist List: Look what we found.


Bear bile farming is just as bad as it sounds

Animal welfare foundation Animals Asia has just rescued 14 moon bears, which had been farmed and abused for a substance produced in their gall bladders. Gah. People are willing to perpetrate some real atrocities on animals in order to get valuable commodities -- rhino horns, elephant ivory, tiger parts. But man, once you start doing horrible things to bears just so you can get their gallbladder secretions, you really need to step back and take a look at your life. The moon bears have undergone gruesome conditions in the name of extracting bile, an important ingredient in a number of …

Read more: Animals


New York’s bike commuters have doubled in four years

Despite the best efforts of bike lane opponents and overprivileged New Yorker columnists, bike commuters in the Big Apple have increased by 102 percent since 2007, according to new figures from the New York Department of Transportation. Bicycle commuter numbers have almost quadrupled since 2001. Just imagine what it will look like when their bikeshare debuts! This presents some infrastructural challenges, of course, but the city is up for it. There may be some bike lane growing pains, cough cough John Cassidy and his Jaguar, but there are also ambitious plans to expand the bike lane network. As for parking, …

Read more: Biking, Cities


Watch a time-lapse image of 2011′s crazy weather

Sure, we all know 2011's weather was bananapants, but just how banana WERE those pants? The Natural Resources Defense Council has put together an interactive map showing all the record weather events from the last year. The map shows record snowfalls, record rainfalls, record high and low temperatures, and the affected range from disastrous events like floods, droughts, and wildfires. (They didn't even include events, like tornadoes, that haven't been conclusively linked to climate change.) The image above is a summary of the year -- click it to watch a time-lapse video of 2011's record-busting weather, and to look at …


Tighter efficiency standards may lead to bigger, more ironic vehicles

The idea behind fuel efficiency standards, nominally, is to end up with more efficient cars. But according to a new study from the University of Michigan, what they actually do is create a financial incentive for bigger cars -- because bigger cars don't have to be as efficient.  Fuel economy goals are stated as an average for the whole industry. But the guidelines actually vary by company depending on their vehicles' footprint, which is track width times wheelbase. Companies that make bigger cars can aim for a lower average fuel efficiency. This study found that average vehicle size could increase up …


Funniest thing in months: Conan O’Brien’s parody of Ron Paul’s campaign video

Ron Paul made a campaign video that borders on self-parody, and if you haven't seen it, do yourself the favor of watching it immediately. Keep in mind when you do that the budget cuts Paul is touting will come in part from eliminating the EPA (in addition to basically every other damn thing). Then watch Conan O'Brien's parody of it, above. Honestly, what’s crazier in the long run -- killing the EPA or issuing every citizen a rusty pipe? YOU MAKE THE CALL but it’s not the pipe.

Read more: Election 2012, Politics


Polar bears may be driven to cannibalism by climate change

If you watch nature shows, you know that male bears see cubs as tasty little McNuggets with fur, so it's not like one bear eating another is a big deal. Except that in the Arctic, polar bears are increasingly deprived of the sea ice they rely on to access seals and other tasty mammalian treats. This has led to speculation that, trapped on land where there's no food, they may be resorting to cannibalism at rates significantly higher than before. Jenny Ross, a photojournalist who says she’s been seeing higher instances of bear-on-bear action, told the BBC: Predating another bear …


Coming soon: Street View-style maps of the country’s endangered rivers

Internet time-wasters, start your engines. A nonprofit called Below the Surface is gearing up to map 27 of the country's most endangered rivers using the same technology that gave the world Google Street View. That means 360-degree shots of beautiful, polluted, shrinking, over-tapped waterways for the world to click on (and, hopefully, get fired up about). This endeavor, called the Riverview Project, earned Below the Surface's two founders, a couple of smart surfers, the distinction of being Outside's 2012 "readers of the year." They'll be updating readers about the project's progress on the magazine's website. And since we can't resist …

Read more: Pollution


Critical List: Same old U.S. and China at COP talks; Warren Buffett’s solar farm

At the COP talks, the United States is driving all the other countries crazy. The U.S. response: "What, us?" China's conditions for a climate deal include the demand that it and other growing economies would have to meet different standards than rich countries. So, essentially, nothing has changed. Warren Buffett's buying Topaz Solar Farm, a California project worth $2 billion. Is Silicon Valley taking over the auto industry from Detroit? Gainesville, Fla., ranks between Japan and Spain on per capita solar power.


Study: The climate is changing faster than species can adapt

Whatever the Republican candidates for president may have told you, climate change and evolution are both realities of nature. But it turns out that in a fight-to-the-death throwdown, climate change would win by a mile. A new study published in the journal PLoS One has found that over the next 90 years, the climate in North America will change faster than species can adapt.  The rate at which species can change to adapt to their environment tracks with the climate's change rate over the last 300,000 years. The climate variations in that time have been nothing to sneeze at -- …


‘Organic water’ is a thing now

A German brand of bottled water called BioKristall has gotten the official go-ahead to market itself as organic water. That's right, not a single pesticide was used to keep away the insects that feed on water crops, and it didn't need any chemical fertilizer either. Thank goodness SOMEBODY cares about our health. Okay, now all the Lululemon-wearers have gone to petition their local Whole Foods to import BioKristall. The rest of you are probably saying "wtf, isn't all water organic," and indeed a watchdog group said exactly that, and they said it in court. But somehow, even though their case …

Read more: Food, Organic Food