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Grist List: Look what we found.


IKEA will ship disposable furniture on disposable pallets

IKEA knows from disposable. So when the company realized it could save money and shipping space by using cardboard shipping pallets, it tossed out its traditional wooden pallets like last year's BILLY bookshelf. The new pallets can support loads as heavy as the wooden pallets could, but they’re only a third as high and weigh 90 percent less. As a rule, more efficient shipping saves energy, because those monster boats that make globalization possible pig out on fossil fuels. On the other hand, the cardboard pallets will each only get one use. But they'll be recycled. But they come with …


Critical List: $4 billion for energy efficiency; SUVs rise again

President Obama and former President Clinton are announcing $4 billion to make buildings more energy efficient over the next two years. A fierce wind storm hit the West yesterday, taking down trees and fanning fires. Coke ditched those white, pro-polar bear holiday cans preeetttty fast. Apparently they confused Coke drinkers, some of whom thought the soda “tasted different in the white cans.” The Department of Energy and the Department of State are teaming up to work on energy issues. Apparently Scandinavians don't care that much about trees. All we hear about is carbon, carbon, carbon. What if cutting back on …


The most heartbreaking polar bear picture, ever

I don't know if this guy is actually trying to push this icebreaker ship away from his home. Maybe he just thinks there's a free buffet if he can climb aboard. But in the context of the polar bears' plight, with their numbers dwindling due to climate change and habitat loss, this looks like a heartbreaking picture of a lone bear trying to hold back the inevitable. UGH MAKE IT STOP.


Energy-producing toilets kill two birds with one … well, you know

Leave it to MIT geeks to figure out how to solve one problem (the need for a sustainable energy source) by solving another (insufficient sanitation). Sanergy, a company founded by a group of MIT grads and newly funded by USAID, provides low-cost toilets to sanitation-challenged communities in Kenya, then harvests the waste to convert into energy and fertilizer. It turns out you can polish a turd.  Sanergy hopes to install 6,000 toilets to serve 600,000 people, which will have a big effect on public health -- in parts of Nairobi, the majority of residents use a plastic bag for waste …

Read more: Uncategorized


Cool map shows density at a glance

The pixels on Fathom Information Design's Dencity map get smaller the more people they represent -- meaning that sparsely-populated areas are low-resolution, and densely-populated ones are sharp and bright. It illustrates both the positive and negative aspects of density: Each pixel gets less space the more pixels there are, but that means that denser areas can fit more pixels and transmit more information. Also, it looks wicked cool. Click the image to go to the Fathom site, where you can look at details and buy it as a poster!

Read more: Cities


Eating horses is legal now, and PETA loves it

Hey, you can finally defrost that horse steak you've had in the freezer! The spending bill that Obama just signed included a provision lifting the ban on federal inspection of horses that are raised for food, a ban that has made it effectively illegal to slaughter horses for the last five years. And weirdly, PETA is all for it. This change won't mean much to your daily life, unless maybe you are in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, which you aren't because they broke up in 2008. First of all, we're going to guess that the ban on horse meat …

Read more: Animals, Food


Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown more terrifying than we thought

In a new report, Tokyo Electric Power company has revealed that the Fukushima meltdown probably did more damage and was more dangerous than anyone realized at the time. The report's based on a simulation, but that simulation indicated that the entire ration of fuel inside one reactor could have turned into a pile of molten goo. Molten nuclear goo has only one thought -- DESTROY -- and could have pulverized two-thirds of its concrete containment base. The simulation indicated that the situation wasn't quite so bad in the other reactors. Only 60 percent of the fuel dropped through the concrete …



Adorable video defends public transportation

Here's a sweet 30-second plea for the improvement of the public transportation used by 35 million Americans every day. Because there should be many tens or hundreds of millions more of them, but at the rate we’re going now, that’s not looking likely. Eighty-four percent of transit systems have raised rates or cut service. Is this any way to handle the inexorably increasing price and environmental consequences of our ever more desperate quest for oil?


Airport to increase safety by gassing birds

Last year, a Royal Air Maroc plane made an emergency landing at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport after it was hit by a flock of geese. They've been trying everything to get rid of the birds, they say, including "luring them away" (presumably with irresistible offers from Groupon). Incidents like these have been increasing at the airport, so its directors are seeking permission from Brussels to shoot the birds as well as gas them with CO2. Birding groups are not happy.


Critical List: A small fracking victory; fracking still sucks

In New York, government officials are extending the public comment period on fracking rules. In Pennsylvania, a judge gave Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. permission to stop supplying fresh water to families whose well water was tainted by fracking operations. And the Chesapeake Bay Foundation used infrared video to document emissions pouring out of natural gas drilling sites all over the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Melting permafrost is going to dump carbon into the atmosphere faster than anyone expected. The clean energy standard is staging a comeback, thanks to Sen. Jeff Bingaman. Republicans are bringing unions and TransCanada execs to the …