Grist List

U.S. becomes first country on Earth to limit catch size for all fish

In a rare bipartisan move -- the policy was initiated under George W. Bush and finalized under Obama -- the federal government has enacted catch size limits in order to prevent overfishing of coastal seas, reports the Washington Post.

Super scrubber turns CO2 into fuel

Boffins at the University of Southern California have created a plastic-based, sand-like solid that absorbs CO2 from the air at room temperature and releases it at 185 degrees F, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Think of it like clumping cat litter for air — it sucks up CO2 and makes it easily removable. It can also be used over and over again, and it may be a significantly cheaper, less energy-intensive way to scrub CO2 out of the air, which pretty much everyone who thinks about the issue agrees is something we're going to want/need to do someday. Large-scale scrubbing …

Business & Technology

Trick out your Kindle with solar panels

Screwdriver-and-soldering-iron types have probably already made their e-readers solar powered, but what if you didn’t have any Schottky diodes lying around? SolarFocus has the technologically inept among us covered, with a Kindle cover that charges your device with solar panels. An hour of full sunlight can charge your Kindle enough for three days of reading, and a reserve battery provides backup power and runs the cover’s built-in book light. The cover costs $80 and it looks like it’s for the new itty-bitty Kindles, so it sort of doubles the cost of your device, but it’s still rad and definitely not …

Sports enthusiasts urge you to ditch sports drinks

Professional snowboarders Bryan Fox and Austin Smith have started a "Drink Water" campaign, urging people to stop drinking the $20-a-gallon sugar-juice that props up their industry.


Monsanto won’t have to clean up dioxin in West Virginia

West Virginia continues to win the game of exposing human beings to extremely hazardous conditions in exchange for working-class pay, then telling them to deal with it when they get sick. The latest example of this behavior doesn't even have to do with coal, but with Monsanto and Agent Orange. For 30 years, the Monsanto plant in a town called Nitro (named after the chemicals produced there! For real!) produced a defoliant ingredient that would later be used in Agent Orange. But the herbicides made in Nitro were contaminated with dioxin, which meant that Nitro residents were exposed to the toxic chemical beginning in the late 1940s. Dioxin has been connected to every bad health impact imaginable—for adults, problems like cancer and immune suppression, and for kids, problems like birth defects and learning disabilities. And now, because of the way West Virginia law works, the most that the citizens of Nitro can ask from the company is that it covers the cost of medical testing fees.

Cooking grease is now so valuable that people are stealing it

Who says that clean energy policies don't create jobs? The boom in biodiesel has created not only a new commodities market in cooking grease, but a new business opportunities for security professionals -- not to mention providing work for thieves and black-market fences, which is a kind of job? That’s because fryer oil is now such a valuable resource that people are straight-up stealing it. In recent years, a couple of state governments have realized that cooking grease has a use as a biofuel source and have regulated grease collection. At the same time, though, some less-than-savory characters have realized the grease’s value as well and are boosting it, costing some small rendering businesses losses on the order of $750,000 per year. And so the world comes to this impasse, as described by The New York Times: The grease is often stored in black Dumpsters that reek of death, in back alleys, which is why pickups usually take place in the middle of the night.

Critical List: No Grand Canyon uranium mining; Supreme Court case on wetlands

The Obama administration will announce today that it's limiting uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. And the Supreme Court will hear arguments in a major environmental case in which the Sacketts, a couple backed by the conservative property rights group Pacific Legal Foundation, claim the EPA unfairly restricted their use of the property by determining that it was a wetland. A Japanese whaling ship is holding three activists who boarded it to protest its activities. Is there a bubble in shale gas stakes?

Ladies, here’s your new tough biker chick mascot

Have you been looking for a new role model for mixing biker-chick toughness with button-boots style? If you have, comics genius Kate Beaton has you covered, and if you haven't, now you know why you should have been. This badass velocipedestrienne (no, seriously, velocipedestrienne) is based on a 19th-century cartoon about "The Awful Effects of Velocipeding," and apparently the awful effects of velocipeding are that it turns you into an AWESOME TRASH-TALKING BICYCLE SPEED DEMON. At least, according to Beaton, whose version of history I always subscribe to.

Take off your pants and hop on transit

D.C. is having its annual No Pants Metro Ride this Sunday, to raise awareness of … public transit? Indecency laws? People's bottoms? (Actually, according to the Facebook page, they're just trying to raise awareness of how funny it is when 400 people are not wearing pants, but let's go with "public transit.") This will easily be the most fun day of the year to take public transportation in D.C., so if you're in the area, this is the weekend to try ditching your car for a few days.