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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Samsung’s new Zombocalypse-proof appliances

Samsung's new line of energy-efficient, even solar-powered appliances that are robust in the face of power fluctuations and outages were built for Africa (that’s why they’re called “Built for Africa”), but they have “catastrophist stocking stuffer” written all over them. And Samsung knows it -- how else can we explain their promo shots? This girl is like "hey, power's out because of peak coal, but whatever, I'm just hanging out on this ad-hoc mesh network, IMing with my friends in Taiwan about the spot price of palm oil, 'sup." As part of the company's new "Built for Africa [and also …

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Potato chip advertising is a perfect metaphor for income inequality, says science

A study just published in Gastronomica proves that appealing to our tribal identifications is hardly the sole domain of liquor and cigarettes. The authors use "the language of food to examine the representation of socioeconomic class identity in contemporary America by comparing the advertising language on expensive bags of potato chips with that on inexpensive chips." The results: More expensive potato chips are too busy trying to distance themselves from low-class potato chips to even mention how presumably delicious they are. [D]escriptions on expensive chips, unlike on inexpensive chips, are full of comparison (“less fat,” “finest potatoes”) and negation (“not,” …

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Eating rice raises risk of arsenic exposure

Sometimes it just feels like we should give up eating, particularly if "we" are "pregnant women." A new study links rice consumption with higher levels of arsenic in the bloodstream, which can increase the risks of infant mortality and low birth weight. Most arsenic exposure comes from water, and the study found that 10 percent of its subjects' tap water had levels of arsenic higher than the EPA allows. But rice is also better at absorbing arsenic from water than most other crops are. And while China is on top of this (not surprisingly), the U.S. and the E.U. have …

Read more: Food, Food Safety

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Clean energy investment tops $1 trillion

Somewhere, sometime in the past few weeks, the trilionth dollar to be invested in clean energy made its way into the budget of some co-generation plant, wind farm, solar company, or electric vehicle innovator. To be more specific, this is the trillionth dollar to be invested since Bloomberg New Energy Finance started counting in 2004. Here's what the group's analysts know about this mysterious investment: Like the recent birth of the world's seven billionth baby, it is impossible to pinpoint with certainty the one trillionth dollar of investment. However it is almost certain it took place during the last two …

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Jon Huntsman, how could you?

Dear Jon Huntsman, You were the only Republican candidate to stand up for a truth that will have an immeasurable impact on every generation of humans from now until the earth crashes into the sun and the universe forgets what love even was. When you cravenly reversed yourself on climate change, you broke my heart. Sure, it was the only way to make yourself look even a little like a viable Republican candidate, but Jon, do you really want to be a Heather? Did what we shared mean nothing to you? Have fun explaining to your grandchildren that they have …

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Critical List: Huntsman goes right on climate change; the Mob goes green

Among Republican presidential candidates, denouncing climate science is like a bug. They all have it now. Even Jon Huntsman. Ban Ki-Moon is not particularly hopeful about the prospects of success at Durban. Justifiably. Britain is losing three-quarters of its butterfly species. Katharine Hayhoe is a climatologist and evangelical Christian, which means she spends a lot of her time speaking with Christian colleges and church groups about why climate change is a matter of fact, not faith. The Mob is going green.

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Hungary destroys 1,000 acres of Monsanto maize

Genetically modified seeds are banned in Hungary. So when government regulators found that 1,000 acres of maize had been planted with genetically modified seeds, they just plowed the suckers under. You stick it to the Monsanto, Hungary! Leaving aside the fact that this sort of sweep-the-checkers-off-the-board move is always kind of badass, this is also some amazingly thorough government regulation. For starters, they were willing to take collateral damage -- only some of the seeds on those 1,000 acres were Monsanto-born Frankenmaize, but they destroyed it all despite the fact that it was too late to plant more. Also, these …

Read more: Food

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Bad guys bicker over Gulf oil spill

Apparently today is the day we talk about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill? The White House released its year-in-the-making report about what needs to be done for cleanup ("more better things"), and now it looks like BP is still trying to palm off blame. They're claiming that Halliburton, which produced the cement used to seal the faulty well, hid evidence that their product was defective. BP has apparently gotten sick of paying for cleanup efforts, because they've filed papers in a New Orleans federal court that accuse Halliburton of hiding computer modeling evidence that would have shown their cement …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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Prius is the only survivor of $3 million car crash

A car crash in Japan that's being hailed as the most expensive ever, even though it totally wasn't, totaled eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini, and three Mercedes...es. (Ugh, I just looked it up and Mercedes looks like a fifth-declension noun with the nominative plural "Mercedes," so I can't even make up a cutesy Latinate plural, WHATEVER LATIN.) Nobody was seriously injured, so you can feel free to point and laugh a little bit at the 1 percent getting their fancy toys smashified (to the tune of an estimated $3 million, no less). Here's where it gets really funny, though: The crash …

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White House goals for cleaning the Gulf: Fix stuff

After the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, the Obama administration decided to dig deep into the environmental problems that faced the Gulf Coast and, in the way of governments everywhere, set up a task force to study the issues. This week, that task force released its report. According to the report’s introduction, the president's directive to study these issues was "an important commitment to the Gulf Coast community that went beyond the crisis of the moment and recognized the decades of significant and persistent decline the region has endured." In other words, a bunch of people just spent a year figuring …

Read more: Politics, Pollution