Grist List


The McMansion trend has peaked

Americans' ideal home size declined to 2,100 square feet from a peak of 2,300, according to real estate research firm Trulia.


Japan’s emissions shot up after Fukushima — but it could have been worse

After the Fukushima disaster, Japan launched a campaign to cut energy use. Businessmen wore relatively skimpy outfits to the office, turned off lights, abstained from air conditioning. But despite those energy efficiency efforts, carbon emissions still went up after the nuclear plant shut down. Aw hell — hot dark rooms full of scantily clad people aren’t the future of sustainability? According to a new report from the Breakthrough Institute (which is generally skeptical of energy efficiency and cool with nuclear power), Japan produced 4 percent more carbon dioxide this November than last, and the overall carbon intensity increased, as this …

Business & Technology

Pooping robots could run off organic waste

Okay, buckle up, because there’s a lot of poop in this story. The EcoBot, developed by Bristol Robotics Laboratory in the U.K., can collect its own material for its microbial fuel cells, then dump leftover waste at the end of the day. That means it can eat poop and also it can poop, and I swear this is not only important as fodder for jokes by 12-year-olds and Grist List editors. It’s also an important step towards self-sustaining machines.


Industry mocks college students for fighting bottled water

College campuses across the country have been fighting to ban bottled water from campuses, and the International Bottled Water Association is fighting back with a pretty inane video.

Critical List: Trader Joe’s signs Fair Food agreement; newborn baby tapir

Trader Joe’s signed a Fair Food agreement with Coalition of Immokalee Workers that increased the price the company pays per pound of tomatoes. Energy Secretary Steven Chu defended the Energy Department’s loan guarantee program, after a independent review outlined possible improvements to the program’s oversight. The White House is pointing out that the review showed the total program portfolio has less risk than previously thought. The new Maldives government faces an investigation by the Commonwealth of Nations, an organization of countries once under British rule. Former President Mohamed Nasheed says the new government forced him from office at gunpoint. This …

Climate & Energy

Tar-sands magnate, Bill Gates support research on geoengineering

The latest to join the fray are Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and "tar sands magnate Murray Edwards." Just goes to show you what strange bedfellows geoengineering makes.


Young people expect the future to look like Thunderdome

Why do young people view the future as a dire place, even as their elders seem oblivious to the triple threat of climate change, resource scarcity, and growing inequality?


Birth control still one of Obama’s best environmental policies

The Obama administration is expected to propose a birth-control compromise today for Catholic-run institutions that don’t want to pay for their employees to avoid pregnancy. New federal rules guarantee free contraception coverage, but a narrow exception already exists for Catholic churches that don’t believe in not having babies. The compromise would still allow women to access contraception but would not make objecting employers pay for it directly. Update: Here’s a fact sheet with details about the compromise. The upshot: Religious employers aren’t required to pay for birth control, but if they don’t cover it, the woman’s insurance company has to …


Build a side-by-side bicycle for Valentine’s Day

Nothing says “I love you” like a bicycle that forces you and your partner to cooperate to the point of absurdity, so Instructables user Carlitos has posted specs for a bike modification that places two riders side by side. If you have access to a welder and a good source of junker bike parts, you can make this your weekend project and be done in time for V-Day.

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