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Grist List: Look what we found.


‘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 …


‘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


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 …


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 …


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 …


This Texas town could run out of water by Dec. 6

There are 11 towns in Texas that are on a state list of places in danger of running out of water. One of them, Groesbeck, has only until Dec. 6 to find an new supply, the Houston Chronicle reports. The Texas drought has been going on for more than a year now, but what's terrifying about this story is that it seemed like Groesbeck had more than enough water at the beginning of the summer. Then it experienced 90 days where temperatures topped 100 degrees. The town's public works director calculated that 731 million gallons of water evaporated over that …

Read more: Cities, Infrastructure


Most polluted body of water in U.S. comes back to life

In the no-man's-land between Brooklyn and Queens, a 3.8-mile-long river known as Newton Creek has attained the dubious distinction of being one of the most polluted bodies of water in all of North America. And yet the toilet of New York City's industrial revolution for the past 150 years is slowly coming back to life, reports Bloomberg's Grid blog. Fish, birds, and plants have all returned to the creek, despite the fact that about 1 million cubic yards of dirt in the bottom of the creek are contaminated with heavy metals. The EPA has put up signs warning that pregnant …

Read more: Animals, Pollution


Global warming to swamp one-third of NYC’s streets

Right about the time Miami has turned into a barrier island, a single flood supercharged by higher sea levels and rowdier storms will overwhelm New York City's low-lying infrastructure, including its iconic subway system. It will cost $80 billion to clean up … and then it will cost another $80 billion to clean up again 10 years later. These so-called "100 year floods" (because in the past, meteorologists expected them to happen only once ever 100 years) will become commonplace, once-a-decade events, says a new report from New York State on vulnerability to climate change. “The frequency of flooding will …


We’re on track to kill the planet faster than the worst extinction in history

Earth has had many mass extinctions, but about 250 million years ago something really, really bad happened. In an event known to paleontologists as "the Great Dying," life itself was nearly extinguished by massive releases of greenhouse gases. And by “massive releases” we mean “releases slower than what we’ve got going on today.” Scientists at MIT recently established that the Great Dying happened even faster than they'd previously imagined, and that "the average rate at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere … was slightly below today’s rate of carbon dioxide release into the atmosphere due to fossil fuel emissions." The …


Lisa Jackson, Rachel Maddow, and Richard Nixon discuss the environment

EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson was on Rachel Maddow's show last night, talking about how clean air and water should not be partisan issues. In what is perhaps a show first, Maddow opened the segment with a non-ironic quoting of Richard Nixon, who established the EPA back before Republicans made it into some kind of regulatory boogeyman.