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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Pardoned turkeys go to Disneyland

Did you know that the turkey pardoned by the president then gets shipped off to Disneyland or Disney World to lead the Thanksgiving parade? (It seems like short notice -- maybe they only pardon turkeys who can already twirl a baton.) I didn't, but that's because I haven't thought about turkey pardoning nearly as deeply as Michael P. Branch, who has an awesome essay about the phenomenon in Orion magazine. Branch provides historical background on the turkey-pardoning rigmarole, including a destined-to-be-immortal Obama quote: "There are certain days that remind me of why I ran for this office. And then there …

Read more: Animals

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Don’t look now, but some turkey has antibiotic-resistant superbugs

Not to put a damper on your Thanksgiving or anything, but there are two new studies showing that drug-resistant bugs like MRSA are showing up in farmed meat, including turkey. Farm animals get fed a cocktail of antibiotics, which can create resistant strains of bacteria. It's been hard (though not impossible) to determine whether that's happened in the U.S., but these studies are more evidence that it has. One study found 27 staph-tainted samples among 165 samples of beef, chicken, pork, and turkey. Only two cases, both pork, were MRSA, but the non-MRSA staph, which included seven tainted turkey samples, …

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XKCD illustrates the cost of electricity

The webcomic XKCD usually has pretty stripped-down images, and saves its complexity for the jokes. But when creator Randall Munroe gets his hands on some data, he can make an infographic you could get lost in. The above (click to embiggen) is just a tiny section of his epic chart comparing how much money gets spent on various things. We pulled it out because it's a nice visual representation of the cost of electricity -- each of those yellow boxes represents a billion dollars you'd have to spend to provide the U.S. electricity for a year. But you should also go …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Your TV is an even bigger piggy than you are

There are two grand traditions to observe on Thanksgiving: eating a whole bunch and watching a whole bunch of football on TV. And in terms of energy use, it turns out your TV is much more of glutton than you are. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has been working to sell consumers on energy-efficient TVs (they call them "Energy Forward") and they have created this delectable infographic to show exactly how much grub you could have prepared with the energy you wasted on your television.

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Google drops renewable energy program

Google announced yesterday that it's trashing its Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal program, or or RE<C, as part of its "spring cleaning." (Ugh, Californians. It is nothing like spring right now.) This move puts RE<C in the same category as Google Wave, which was useless from the first moment it existed and was also offed in this (mushy, rainy, cold, November) round of housecleaning. Google wants us to know that it's not giving up on green altogether, although the "green energy czar" who worked on RE<C also left the company this month. The RE<C page now urges visitors to check …

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‘Mountain tsunamis’ are a thing; threaten Himalayas

The kingdom of Bhutan, famous for maximizing "Gross National Happiness" rather than GDP, is sitting under a gigantic time bomb of water that could burst at any moment, flooding its villages and putting a major damper on all that good cheer. Bhutan has 2,674 glacial lakes, 24 of which are considered unstable. When the ice dams holding them back burst -- as happened in 1994, killing dozens -- they lead to "mountain tsunamis." Long-term, the bigger danger isn't too much water, but too little. Forty percent of the country's wealth comes from its hydroelectric dams, and its farmers rely on …

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‘Lost’ caribou herd was behind the couch the whole time

The Beverly herd of caribou, 276,000 strong, had apparently vanished off the face of the planet last time scientists surveyed the tundra. Turns out, they just moved. There aren't quite as many of them as there were, but the herd is safe and sound a bit further north and closer to the coast. And now scientists know that some caribou herds migrate. Local First Nations elders told researchers that the caribou had moved, not disappeared. But caribou aren't supposed to move -- they're supposed to return to the same calving ground every year. At least, that's what biologists thought; people …

Read more: Animals

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Turning vacant lots into parks reduces violent crime

A new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology analyzes a 10-year project in Philadelphia to turn abandoned lots into public parks. As it turns out, the project hasn’t just eliminated eyesores -- it’s also reduced crime. Gun-related assaults, vandalism ,and criminal mischief all dropped off significantly in the reclaimed spaces. The researchers theorize that this is because manicured parks suggest to would-be criminals that an area is being watched over by concerned citizens who might call the cops. Also, lawns aren't as good for storing guns and other contraband as lots overgrown with weeds and trash. The researchers …

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Critical List: Turkeys to be pardoned; Bill O’Reilly can totally get solar if he wants it

President Obama will pardon two 19-week, 45-pound turkeys from Minnesota today. Their names are Liberty and Peace. It is possible to have Thanksgiving without turkey or turkey-shaped soy loaf. Here are a few ideas for what to serve instead. We're sacrificing holiday time to commercialism for no reason. Longer Black Friday sales don't increase stores’ take; they just spread purchases out over longer periods of time. Bill O'Reilly said he couldn't find someone to help him go solar. Now solar companies are falling over themselves to give him a hand. Drilling for shale gas will ruin the U.K.'s chance of …

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New batch of Climategate emails even lamer than the first

The hackers who originally leaked the so-called "Climategate" emails (perhaps more accurately called the "Big Fuss Over Nothing" emails) have released a new batch of stolen communication from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit. Now that those involved in "Climategate" have been cleared of all suspicion by multiple independent investigations, climate scientists are in danger of actually getting a chance to do some climate science, and we can't have that! Better lob another giant distraction! The last time this happened, two years ago, deniers combed through the documents to find words like "trick" and "hide," then presented those …