Skip to content Skip to site navigation
Grist List: Look what we found.


Comments

State Department picked less-than-objective company to review Keystone XL impact

Sometimes you wish government bureaucrats would just stop and think. It's been clear for a while now that the State Department favors the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline. But one would think that they'd like to at least preserve the appearance that they were conducting a thorough and unbiased review of the pipeline’s environmental impacts. Apparently that wasn't a particular concern, because the department allowed TransCanada, the pipeline operator, to participate in the selection of the company conducting the environmental review. Perhaps less than surprisingly, Transcanada recommended Cardno Entrix, which considers TransCanada a "major client," to do the job. …

Comments

Critical List: Spilt oil tars New Zealand shores; climate change is a top issue for Europeans

Oil has reached New Zealand beaches, after an oil tanker ran into a reef last week. The tanker was carrying 1,700 tons of oil and 200 tons of diesel. All these attacks on obscure regulations about boilers and concrete might seem boring, but in reality, they're part of a campaign that could destroy decades of environmental progress. Europeans think that climate change is one of the top two issues facing the globe. (Although the No. 1 concern was a sort of Voltronesque mega-problem: poverty, hunger, and lack of drinking water.) Rick Perry used to be against ethanol, but now he's …

Comments

This amazing off-grid hobbit house cost less than $5,000 to build

Self-taught builder Simon Dale constructed this straight-out-of-a-fantasy-novel house in four months for less than $5,000. The house is designed for low-impact building and low-impact living: it was made from reclaimed lumber and salvaged materials, and the Dales live off the grid, with a compost toilet, a green roof, spring-sourced water, and natural heating and cooling. Plus, have we mentioned that it's unrealistically beautiful? It looks like they should have a one-unicorn garage. If you're interested in a similar project, Dale has posted plans, process photos, and thoughts about the how and why of his hobbit hole on his website.

Read more: Green Home, Living

Comments

‘I will rather invest in cycle tracks than freeways,’ says Danish politician

Denmark is going to be the best cycling country in the world. Cycling leads to better public health, a cleaner urban environment, and helps us reach our climatic goals. So I will rather invest in cycle tracks than freeways! So sayeth Margrethe Vestager, the new Danish minister of the economy and the interior. Vestager wants to increase the share of trips taken by bicycle 50 percent in 10 years, with at least half of those trips representing a replacement of a car with a bike. To accomplish this, she's going to sink her budget into bicycle infrastructure. "This requires that …

Comments

Look! Up in the sky! It's an inflatable wind turbine!

In the department of cool inventions you'll probably never use, the inventor of the Segway has come up with an idea for an inflatable wind turbine. Its main advantage is that it's mobile: imagine parking your EV and sending your inflatable wind turbine up into the sky to charge it while you're at work. It could be moved to take advantage of the best winds as they shift, and, more to the point, It could also be mounted on top of a building or on the side of the road in order to double as a billboard. Like the Segway, …

Comments

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 …

Comments

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

Comments

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 …

Comments

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

Comments

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 …