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Grist List: Look what we found.


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An ode to scary mutant fruits

Awl editor Alex Balk found out that farmers have been tinkering with plant genetics to create cross-breeds like "pluerries," and it inspired him to heights of lyrical brilliance: Please Don't Make The Fruits Do Sex To Each Other The freakish fruits that Science spawns— The pros we know, but not the cons What laws of nature might we breach By blending apricot and peach? Or still more fearsome, contemplate An apple grafted to a date It makes one sit with mouth agape To ponder kiwi mixed with grape You know you need to read the rest of it. It could …

Read more: Food, Scary Food

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How Gmail saves energy

There are a lot of benefits to cloud computing. For instance, if you believe the commercials, it lets you replace your family's heads with better heads! Also, it saves you storage space and means you can access your data with multiple devices. But this might be the best argument so far: Switching from local email servers to a cloud-based service like Gmail could make companies 80 times more energy-efficient. In fact, a full year of Gmail requires less energy than it takes to make a bottle of wine (both the wine and the bottle), drink it, put a message in …

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Do individual green actions matter? Maybe not, says New York Times

The Huffington Post's eco-etiquette column yesterday featured a question from “Kimberly,” who writes "I used to be enthusiastic about going green, but now I feel like what's the point? Like a stupid reusable water bottle is going to make a difference … " She got a comforting answer, but if she’d written to the New York Times, op-ed contributor Gernot Wagner might have told her she might as well pack it in. HuffPo’s advice columnist Jennifer Grayson identified Kimberly’s problem — "You're having a F**k it moment right now" — and told her to step back, take a breather, and …

Read more: Green Home, Living

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Rick Perry: Just because global warming is a 'fact' doesn't mean it's real

Oh, Rick Perry. He's like a feudal lord who was just defrosted from the 13th century, only better-coiffed and less handy with a lance. He's like his own personal Renaissance Festival. Science? Forsooth, milord, what dost thou mean? In last night's debate, Perry offered the following extremely convincing argument against global warming: Not all scientists believe in it, I am pretty sure. I can't name any scientist who doesn't, but then, I can't name any scientists at all. Even if they do say it's a fact, that doesn't mean it's true. Because Galileo. Hey, Galileo! He's a scientist who probably …

Read more: Election 2012

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Moving documentary on ferry drivers who rescued 9/11 refugees

On 9/11 the Coast Guard put out a call: All boats who were willing should report to Governor's Island to effect a rescue of the hundreds of thousands trapped on Manhattan Island. This documentary, by Road2Resilience, a project of the "independent think tank" Center for National Policy, documents what happened next. The stated goal of Road2Resilience is "building the reflexes and instincts necessary at every level of American society to respond quickly and wisely to future crises." Resilience in cities comes in many forms. Disasters natural and human-made test our cities in ways we'd never expect. In this case, half …

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Could ammonia be the zero-carbon fuel we've been waiting for?

Ammonia would make a pretty handy, potentially carbon-free liquid transportation fuel, say engineers, and it could be produced right at gas stations using electricity from the grid, water, and air.  Researchers at Texas Tech University have developed a new ammonia production system, which makes an end-run around the problems of the so-called "hydrogen economy" -- you remember, all those hydrogen-powered "freedom cars" that Bush Jr. said we'd be driving by now. Hydrogen is difficult to store, but this system combines the hydrogen with nitrogen from the atmosphere, turning it into ammonia, which is still a good fuel source but a …

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Meter-long king crabs invade Antarctic waters, eat everything

On the seafloors of Antarctic basins, the water has warmed by just 0.27 degrees C — but that’s enough to allow giant king crabs to take over the ecosystem and eat everything they find. These suckers are more than three feet across, and they're gobbling up sea urchins, sea lilies, sea cucumbers, and starfish. They're also messing with the make-up of the sea floor. Check out the (terrifyinggggg) video above: The crab looks like an invasive vehicle in a Star Wars movie that's launching a sneak attack on an unsuspecting, peaceful civilization. Scientists had predicted these guys would invade Antarctic …

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Critical List: Obama admin backs more solar projects; Kiribati president wants a new island

The Obama administration provided a loan guarantee to a SolarCity project that would put solar panels on 160,000 military homes — "the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history," Energy Secretary Chu said. Rick Perry thinks he's a smart as Galileo. Or at least that some climate-denying scientists are. So he’d be pretty irked to see yet more evidence that global warming is real, if he actually read newspapers. As temperatures shift in the Andes, residents are looking to hardy crops, like huaña, that Andean people depended on historically. The president of Kiribati, an island nation scheduled to succumb …

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The Dalai Lama and other Peace Prize winners ask Obama to reject Keystone XL

If Obama won't listen to the Tar Sands Action protesters, will he listen to nine of his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates? Because they've all but told him -- in their very kind and Peace-Prizey way -- that they'll be embarrassed to share the medal with him if he doesn't. Nine laureates, including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, have written Obama a letter urging him to nix the pipeline. The night you were nominated for president, you told the world that under your leadership—and working together—the rise of the oceans will begin to slow and the planet will …

Read more: Climate & Energy, Oil

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ConAgra pulls a dirty frozen-meal trick on food bloggers

Hey, remember those ads where they used to secretly replace people's actual made-from-beans coffee with freeze-dried Flavor Crystals? Those were a laugh riot, right? So obviously the most genius possible marketing plan for frozen dinners -- basically the food equivalent of instant coffee -- would be to make people think they're eating real made-from-food food, and then alert them that they've been baited and switched. It can't fail! You know, unless the people involved are food bloggers who care about eating organic, fresh, and healthy ingredients rather than mass-fabricated sodium-enhanced spun and capped protein strands. Then they might get pissed. …

Read more: Food, Scary Food