Grist List

NPR has lots of ideas for what to do with Twinkies

The staff at NPR has been responding to the news of Hostess' bankruptcy by getting up to some Twinkie shenanigans. Forget that James O'Keefe stunt, this is NPR's real shame. (But seriously, how do we get in on this action? Call me!) First, Science Desk tried seeing if one would dissolve in Mountain Dew. (Verdict: Not after two hours, but that mouse carcass had a lot longer.) Then the food blog came up with 10 more things to do with Twinkies.  Science Desk also has a whole raft of other experiments they want to perform ("At what temperatures do Twinkies …

Let’s make fun of Rick Santorum talking about climate change

Is it getting boring to make fun of Rick Santorum? I don't really care, because frankly the dude is both a menace and an ignoramus and that is comedy gold even if he didn't look like the love child of Ryan Reynolds and a turtle. (Yes, I recycled that joke, but it's TRUE.) It's all very well to talk about frothy mixtures and whatnot, but opportunities to mock Santorum go well beyond his Google problem. Although seriously, does anyone else feel sort of dirty when they type his name, like they should be writing "Sant*rum" or something? Anyway, Treehugger found a doozy of a quote from Sir Mixture-a-lot about global warming. Let's mock it! (Note to Rick and adherents: We are not in the "then they laugh at you" stage of Gandhi's, or whoever's, hierarchy. We are just laughing at you.)

Teeniest frog ever

Scientists thought they had found the world's smallest frog just a month ago, when a researcher announced he'd found coin-sized amphibians in New Guinea. But psych! Those weren't the smallest frogs. This is the smallest frog. In fact it's the smallest vertebrate known to man.

Go ahead, eat McDonald’s. Nobody will ever know

I’m told, by people with less finicky stomachs, that sometimes even the most well-intentioned foodies and factory-farm opponents really jones for an Egg McMuffin. If you can’t resist the occasional splurge — maybe it’s been a late and smokey night at college, if you know what I mean — then at least you can make sure you don’t see your picture splashed across the front page of Food Scold Daily or something.

American beef consumption is at a 50-year low

According to this graph from the Daily Livestock Report, we are way past Peak Beef. U.S. beef consumption has been dropping for the last 40 years, and projections put it back down at 1950s levels this year, which would mean we're eating less meat than at any time in the last 50 years. Americans are eating a lot less meat overall, but beef and to a lesser extent pork have seen the biggest reductions -- which is cool, because cattle and pigs are the most resource-intensive livestock.

Climate change may have killed 4 out of 5 seal pups in 2011

North Atlantic sea ice in areas where harp seals breed has declined as much as 6 percent every 10 years since 1979, according to scientists from Duke University and the International Fund for Animal Welfare. As a result, in low-ice years, entire populations of brand-new seal pups die, reports Yale e360. According to Canada’s Fisheries and Oceans department, as many as 80 percent of seal pups born in 2011 may have died because of a lack of sea ice. Seal, moping, by Peter Hedger

Here are the potential Solyndras of 2012

Hey makers of right-wing talking points! Pay attention to these solar companies. They might fail this year, and as we all know, when a solar company fails you can repurpose its hide into a political hobby-horse and ride it forever.

Sunflowers show how to capture solar energy more efficiently

In design, biomimicry -- the idea that nature does design best -- is all the rage. So it must have been a head-slapping "duh" moment when solar-power designers sought inspiration from sunflowers -- a plant that has "sun" in its name, for goodness' sake! It turns out that sunflowers are really good at using the sun (NO WAY), and mimicking their structure can allow designers to seriously reduce the size of concentrating solar power farms.

Critical List: ‘Super fracking’; pollution threatens Lake Titicaca

Natural gas companies are looking into "super fracking," which uses larger, deeper cracks and draws power from our planet’s yellow sun. West Virginians, Pennsylvanians, and Ohioans are all hoping that Shell will choose to build a petrochemical refinery in their state, because the plant promises jobs. Maybe it's time to abandon Ulysses S. Grant's laws for federal land, which dictate that hard-rock mining is the best use for any plot.

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