Grist List

Living

Mercury-loaded cosmetics target minority communities

Beauty may only be skin deep, but the damage from cosmetics reaches way down into the kidneys, brains, and other organs — at least, it does if those cosmetics contain mercury, as several brands do, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). What’s even worse is that these mercury-loaded cosmetics are targeted specifically towards historically marginalized communities. The recent FDA report found that heavy-metal-filled skin care products, soaps, and cosmetics are found mainly in stores frequented by people of Latino, African-American, Asian, and Middle Eastern descent. The FDA has counted 35 potentially poisonous products, which include goods made by …

Food

Delicious, edible food packaging could curb plastic waste

If you want to know why the earth and waterways are quickly morphing into giant garbage heaps, look no further than your pudding cup. Desserts, sodas, yogurts, and every other processed treat that comes tucked inside a plastic container are creating a slew of plastic pollution. But Harvard scientist David Edwards has an innovative — and tasty! — solution: Make packaging as delicious as the goods held inside.

Solar Power

Watch today’s solar flare erupt from the sun

Two solar flares burst out of the sun on March 6. NASA notes: “One of the most dramatic features is the way the entire surface of the sun seems to ripple with the force of the eruption.” Badass! The first flare was the second largest of this solar cycle (which started in 2009), and it’s traveling at 1,300 miles per second, which means it could sweep the continental United States in less than three seconds. It was scheduled to reach Earth at 1 a.m. EST this morning — give or take 7 hours. Which means it’s already hit. And all’s …

Animals

Oh my god, now there’s a live polar bear cam??

Apologies to anyone who thought they were ever going to get anything accomplished ever again.

Biofuel

In 2014, corn biofuel is out, wood biofuel is in

Biofuel sounds like a pretty good idea — down with power plants, up with regular plants! — but if the country switches over to corn ethanol we will basically be unable to grow any other crops. A new study has calculated that corn destined for ethanol production would have to take over 80 percent of current farmland in order for the country to meet current biofuel goals. But next generation biofuels can come from many other plants besides corn. And for the first time, they might be commercially viable.

Nuclear

Map shows what a U.S. Fukushima could have looked like

With the one-year anniversary of the Fukushima reactor crisis approaching, the Natural Resources Defense Council has put together a mapping tool that lets you envision what could have happened if one of the 104 U.S. reactors had suffered a similar accident. The take-home message: If you live on the East Coast, you’re practically guaranteed to be in some power plant’s 50-mile contamination zone.

Critical List: Solar storm to hit today; the U.S. is a net exporter of petroleum products

Solar storm a-comin’! Batten down the planet! Seriously, it’s today and it’s supposed to be the strongest in six years, which is confusing because the one two months ago was supposed to be the strongest in seven years and how does THAT work? Anyway, it could “disrupt power grids, satellites, oil pipelines, and high-accuracy GPS systems.” Barack Obama announced $1 billion in government support for alternative vehicles yesterday. Here’s the official James Hansen “I’m just a reticent midwestern scientist” TED talk (sponsored by Goldman Sachs?). He explains why he decided to get arrested in front of the White House. The …

Climate & Energy

Entire nation of Kiribati has to move to avoid rising seas

The Pacific island nation of Kiribati is moving up in the world -- but not in the good way. The small country is looking to relocate to higher ground in order to escape rising seas brought on by climate change.

Climate & Energy

New Melbourne restaurant runs on your pee

Melbourne’s Greenhouse restaurant wants your patronage. But more importantly, it wants your pee. That’s right — this pop-up restaurant, which is open from March 2 through the 21st in honor of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, wants you to get all up in its custom-made toilets. The green eatery is collecting human urine and using it to fertilize soybean and canola crops. The restaurant, which is designed by Joost Bakker who is clearly a maniac, then uses unrefined canola oil to generate electricity for all of its operations. Urine may seem an unorthodox energy source, but it is actually …

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