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Grist List: Look what we found.


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Wall Street and ethanol cause starvation, say scientists

Today's supervillains are soooo boring. If only they'd wear tights and touch entrapped damsels’ hair in a way that made us uncomfortable, we'd be up for patriotically pistol-whipping them, Captain America style. Instead we find out that Wall Street and ethanol -- a diffuse network of trading computers and a colorless inebriant, respectively -- are the reason billions are going hungry in the developing world. How are we supposed to launch a hideously expensive vendetta-war against that? The takeaway from Brandon Keim's excellent writeup of a study conducted by researchers at New England Complex Systems Institute is that if you …

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Make a speed-displaying vest for cycling at night

There are a lot of bike accessories that will let cars know you're there. But it can still be hard for them to tell whether you're speeding up or slowing down -- which can make it tough for even a well-meaning driver to keep a safe distance. Mykle Hansen's speed vest is designed to reduce accidents that come from misjudging speed, plus irritation and aggression that come from cars assuming that bikes will slow them down. To make the vest, you'll need to be comfortable with electronics and know how to program an Arduino microcontroller. But you won't need any …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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Critical List: DOE’s loan guarantee head out; some beluga whales are toxic

Jonathan Silver, DOE's loan guarantee czar, is the first government employee to lose his job over Solyndra. leaving the government because the loan guarantee program doesn't have any money left, anyway. Solyndra's also screwing the rest of the cleantech industry. The BP spill is still affecting Louisiana, where the oyster season could be delayed and shrimp harvests dropped 99 percent. A judge ruled that the EPA was a little too excited about regulating West Virginia coal mines and should have gone through more formal rulemaking on guidelines to dump coal waste into streams. Another part of their work, on water …

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Car-crushing mayor wins an Ig Nobel prize

Remember Arturas Zuokas, the mayor of Vilnius, who ran over a Mercedes parked in a bike lane USING A TANK? He's just won an Ig Nobel prize, the coveted award for research (or, you know, a mayoral publicity stunt) that first makes people laugh, then makes them think. Mayor Zuokas won the Ig Nobel Peace Prize for "demonstrating that the problem of illegally parked luxury cars can be solved by running them over with an armored tank." He attended the ceremony at Harvard, joining such luminaries as Ludwig Huber, who found that tortoise yawns are not contagious, and Darryl Gwynne and …

Read more: Biking, Cities

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WSJ: We can't trust climate science because neutrinos might go faster than light

Someone at the Wall Street Journal read a press release about a scientific finding! And then decided that since people are evidently still discovering things, climate science is probably going to turn out bullshit. Last month, scientists at CERN, the prestigious high-energy physics lab in Switzerland, reported that neutrinos might—repeat, might—travel faster than the speed of light. If serious scientists can question Einstein's theory of relativity, then there must be room for debate about the workings and complexities of the Earth's atmosphere.  Hey, why stop there? If serious scientists can do a single as-yet-unreplicated experiment casting doubt on relativity, then …

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People love smart cities, as long as you don't call them smart cities

The vast majority of Americans -- almost 80 percent -- are totally on board with living somewhere that's close to jobs and schools, where the environment is clean and you don't have to spend much money on gas. They just don't want to live in places that are "sustainable" or involve "smart growth," because that shit is for hippies. Messaging is crucial when it comes to community planning, according to a panel at the SXSW Eco conference. Suburban and rural dwellers don't care about things like climate change, transportation, and land use, but those factors have serious impact on their …

Read more: Cities, Smart Cities

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Tolkien parody turns recycling into an epic journey

What I know about Lord of the Rings can basically be summed up in a single Flight of the Conchords song, but someone clearly had a terrifically good time making this recycling-based parody, so I still think it's pretty super. I haven't yet stayed awake through an entire Lord of the Rings movie but I made it through this whole thing! Separating your trash look pretty easy when the alternative is journeying to Mordor, doesn't it?

Read more: Living

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Greens join Occupy Wall Street, protest against everything being super screwed up

In all of the navel-gazing that climate activists conduct in order to figure out why the world is on the highway to carbon hell, one thing that's easy to forget is what we're up against: Gigantic, tremendously wealthy entrenched interests whose only goal is to maintain the status quo right up until the Once-ler burns the last of our fossil fuels. In other words, corporations. Corporations fund the climate denial machine, lobby for subsidies to keep themselves viable long after the social and environmental costs of their ways have become egregious, and at the slightest provocation, sic their anointed party …

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Environmentalist was barred from U.S. because FBI feared he'd glue himself to Palin

Last week, the U.K.'s "most effective environmentalist," John-with-an-H Stewart, had his entry visa revoked mid-flight when he tried to visit the U.S. for a speaking tour. All we knew for sure was that customs officials had grilled him for six hours about his plans for his visit, then sent him back to Britain with nary a pat on the rump. But Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones has uncovered the real reason Stewart was barred from the country: Super-glue. Stewart was scheduled to do this speaking tour with British activist Dan Glass, who was also denied a visa to enter the …

Read more: Climate & Energy

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Detroit everyman uses DIY moxie to turn his town into a solar mecca

Dave Strenski, resident of Detroit exurb Ypsilanti, got it into his head that he would help the local food co-op reduce its bills by installing solar panels on its roof. And he didn't let his complete lack of experience with solar stand in the way. At this point, he's not only put solar on the roof of his co-op and four other buildings, he's also created his own system for monitoring its power output, and has turned his website into a hub for solar DIYers worldwide.