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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Critical List: Perry not afraid to sound like an idiot; Koch Industries trading with Iran

"I'm not afraid to say I'm a skeptic about [climate change]." -- Rick Perry, ladies and gentlemen. So fearless. A Bloomberg investigation found that Koch Industries has paid bribes to obtain contracts and sold Iran petrochemical equipment, in violation of the U.S. trade ban. Trees are nice. Probably not a great idea to destroy them all. If you have an electric toothbrush, extra-large fridge, laptop, iPad, iPhone, multiple flat screen TVs, a flat screen monitor, and god knows what else -- you're killing us here! China wanted its high-speed rail system to represent the country's superior technology, but it’s actually …

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Buy a $150,000 bag of onions to save a family farm

Oh man, you're probably wishing you hadn't spent that $4,500 on a Rick Perry head planter yesterday. If you'd saved it, you could have put it towards ... well, a bag of onions, but also they'll throw in some dirt! The Pawelski family farm, located in New York's Hudson Valley, lost 48 of 51 acres of its onion crop to Hurricane Irene. FEMA doesn't cover agricultural losses, and USDA's coverage is slow and stingy -- and meanwhile the Pawelskis are $200,000 in debt, because at this stage of the growing season they'd sunk most of their money into their crop. …

Read more: Food

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As if they haven't done enough for you, trees also increase property values

Trees, man! They produce oxygen, they cool the planet, they make you smarter, and it turns out they also make your house worth more. It's like a Shel Silverstein book or something. A recent study of Portland, Ore., rental properties, led by Geoffrey Donovan of the U.S. Forest Service, found that the presence of trees can subtly increase rental prices, even once you control for factors like how popular the neighborhood is. A tree in the yard increased rent by $5.62; trees on the street increased it by $21. Donovan's previous research has found that there's a much bigger effect when …

Read more: Cities, Green Home, Living

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Try out these 50 hilarious no-handed bike moves

If you have ever thought to yourself "self, I wonder what are the 50 most hipsterish bike tricks," wonder no more. Not sure how I feel about "the Hitler" -- guys, that one is historically not really funny? -- but you gotta love the "Def Leppard drummer," the "nasty internet commenter," and the "fall the hell off your bike and knock out a tooth" (also known as the no-hands trick I am best at). (Via @brainpicker)

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Reenact global warming in your cocktail

This Japanese site sells ice cube molds depicting penguins and polar bears sitting on ice floes. As the ice melts, both the floes and the critters are destroyed, making this a pretty good simulation of the effects of global warming. Finally, a product that combines climate education with all the drinking you need to do when you think about it!

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Here’s a win-win: Geothermal power can make lithium for electric vehicles

Existing geothermal power plants are powered by a hot brine from deep within the earth's crust, which is just lousy with dissolved minerals -- literally "half the periodic table," reports Scientific American. One of those elements is lithium, which can be extracted from the geothermal fluid that existing power plants in California's Salton Sea are already pulling out of the ground. This is remarkable on many levels at once. 1. The world is desperately in need of more sources of the “rare earth” elements that are required to build advanced batteries and just about everything else in cleantech. 2. Usual …

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How Central Park cools the entire planet

Like all urban parks, Central Park cools New York City through evaporation. That is, its plant life and ponds give off moisture, which takes heat energy with it. It's as if the park sweats. Until recently, though, we didn’t know whether green spaces cool the planet as a whole. It was thought that their local cooling effect could be part of a zero-sum game, leading to equivalent warming elsewhere when the water they give off condenses. They might even help increase the planet’s overall temperature, promoting the formation of the kind of clouds that hold in heat. But while evaporation …

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Is this the perfect urban bike?

This bike, designed by custom bike maker Tony Pereira, took top prize in an Oregon Manifest competition to design the perfect urban utility cycle. Pereira's bike is intended as a transitional vehicle for people trying to make the switch from cars. It includes a stereo, a front-mounted locking "trunk," and an electric assist motor. (Plus, it has a cupholder, of sorts! That should appeal to the SUV crowd.) Some of the other notable features that competitors incorporated into their bikes: Near-ubiquitous fenders, panniers, and racks (storage and not getting mud on you are major considerations for a daily-use bike) Cargo …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Canada probably didn’t NEED that ice sheet, right?

If you thought you were melting over the summer, just be glad you're not an ice sheet that's been chilling out since before Europeans settled in Canada. Over the summer, two huge Canadian ice shelves in the Arctic shrunk down precipitously, report scientists from the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. One sheet had already split into two sections and just kept getting smaller; the other broke in half this year. Icebergs are breaking away and "pose a risk to offshore oil facilities and potentially to shipping lanes," reports the Associated Press. "Since the end of July, pieces equaling one …

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Critical List: MIT recreates photosynthesis; City of Austin goes 100 percent renewable

MIT created an "artificial leaf" that recreates photosynthesis. In Germany, they've got so much wind-generated electricity, they’re giving it away. Driving 75 mph isn't fuel efficient, ahem, Maine. Austin's going to be the largest local government using only renewable energy to power its municipal buildings. Little things are turning people against the Keystone XL pipeline, even people you might not expect to take an activist stand. This Montana rancher just wants to keep his trees, so his ranch land won't erode away. Green and native groups are challenging Shell's Alaska drilling efforts in court. A new online game is sort …