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Grist List: Look what we found.


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All of the internet uses less than 2 percent of the world’s energy

Humanity spends a lot of time on the internet. Too much, probably. And every little Google search, Facebook message, and tweet uses some energy. All that Hulu uses a lot more. It's been clear that energy going to internet use is growing, but how does it compare to total energy use? If we really want to become sustainable, are we going to have to stop playing so much Words With Friends? Well, maybe. But at least now we know that the internet accounts for less than 2 percent of the world's total energy use. That's still a pretty big amount. …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Rep. Markey blasts GOP for making real laws to solve fake problems

This is the honest-to-god title of the video above as posted to Rep. Ed Markey's official YouTube account, and also the news release on his website: "Oct. 25, 2011: GOP Farm Dust Bill A Waste of Time Cooked Up in Fantasy-Land." Guys, he is awesome. Is it weird if he reminds me of Alan Alda? Mainly just the delivery. Rep. Markey is clearly bowled over by the absurdity of Republican attempts to counter imaginary "farm dust" regulations. But rather than go all spluttery, he goes all Snopes.com, pointing to the parable of the email tax to explain how ridiculously Congressional Republicans …

Read more: Politics

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Designers launch high-fashion bicycle labels

Do you wish you could bike more, but you can't bear the thought of going your whole commute without flashing high-end labels? Okay, probably not, but if you were we'd have a solution for you. Kate Spade, Missoni, and Ralph Lauren have all launched designer bikes this year. According to the rules of a New York Times trend piece, three is officially a trend, so we're calling it: Fashion label bikes are the new hot thing. The designers don't have anything to do with the structure of the bikes, of course -- those are manufactured by established bike fabricators. But …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Patagonia asks customers to overthrow capitalism’s basic tenets

Patagonia, the official apparel of green-minded outdoorsy people and all of San Francisco, wants its customers to buy fewer of its products. Instead, the company is asking that Patagonia lovers reuse and repair their clothes. The company will mend its products for cheap, and help customers sell them on eBay or through their website. It will give money from new sales to environmental groups. The key here, perhaps: The company's owners claim they "aren't looking to get wealthy." Instead, they're just looking to do well by themselves and the planet.

Read more: Living

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Critical List: Rina heads to Cancun; French wildflowers are disappearing

Hurricane Rina is heading towards Cancun. The U.S. wants to start trade wars all over the place. First, the solar industry goes toe to toe with China, and now the House of Representatives is mixing it up by trying to exempt U.S. airlines from the EU emissions scheme. Multinational energy companies who want to exploit Indonesia's geothermal resources are annoyed that Indonesia's government wants to regulate the process, and citizens have some concerns about the whole thing. Environmentalists in Bellingham, Wash., are fighting against a new terminal that would ship coal to China. Venture capitalists are shying away from investing …

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High BPA levels in pregnant moms may change their daughters’ behavior

It's not just hippie paranoia that should keep pregnant women from eating too much BPA-laced canned food. A new study found that 3-year-old girls were more likely to show symptoms of depression and anxiety if their mothers had tested higher for BPA levels during pregnancy. (There didn’t seem to be a correlation for boys.) The symptoms are still within the normal range, but as one researcher says, "subtle shifts" can have "very dramatic implications" for these girls’ lives. In other words, your daughters won't be totally crazy but they might be worse off than they'd be otherwise. Naysayers say that …

Read more: Food

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Energy-saving LED light bulbs fuel this insane light display

Okay, it's no Dancing Dror, but this is a pretty amazing Halloween light display done primarily with LED bulbs. Switching to LEDs can cut your holiday lighting energy expenditure by 90 percent, according to DOE (though they're just talking about a Christmas tree, not a full-front singing house display), and widespread use of LEDs for everyday illumination could reduce electricity use for lighting by 33 percent. A display like this is still kind of a giant energy hog, but so much less than it would be with incandescents!

Read more: Living

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Investors representing $20 trillion get behind climate change prevention

It's sort of a no-brainer to realize that we need to invest in clean energy technology and get governments to institute policies that support those investments. Greens have been saying that for ages. But greens, for the most part, do not represent $20 trillion in assets. So when people who do wield that amount of money finally catch on, we should probably take notice. The 2011 Global Investor Statement on Climate Change, issued by the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment, is backed by nearly 300 investors who control a combined $20 trillion. And it says that governments need to commit …

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Wind turbine with Inspector Gadget arms makes twice the power

A simple new idea in wind turbines could increase their power production by 100 percent over the course of a year, and even make it possible to put turbines in places where they were uneconomical before. By giving turbines blades that extend -- longer for lower speed winds, shorter for faster winds --  researcher Rajnish Sharma, of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, has found a way to allow them to take advantage of a wider range of wind speeds. The variability of wind speeds mean that wind turbine design is a compromise between making blades long enough to …

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iPod inventor’s next trick: a smart thermostat

I've said before that the next Steve Jobs would be in energy, not in information technology, but I had no idea that day would arrive quite so soon. As filmmaker and design critic John Pavlus reports at Fast Company, Tony Fadell, who invented the iPod, is working on a thermostat as intuitive and potentially revolutionary as … well, as an iPod. The key to Nest Labs' new smart thermostat is its simplicity. Unlike all other comparable systems on the market, which require that a user literally program in his or her preferences while optimizing for energy use, this thermostat has but one …