Grist List

Border fence is bad for bears

Ever since America decided the best way to keep the teh-rur-ists and immigrants out was to build a fence along the southern border, environmentalists have worried about the impact of a gigantic, impenetrable fence on the local wildlife. And while we know that it's hard for most people to get their hackles up about the fate of the dune sagebrush lizard, we've got your charismatic fauna right here: adorable black bears. According to a new study, the bears near the Arizona border are actually Illegal Immigrants — they’re more closely related to black bears in Mexico than to those living …

Whole Foods is a little confused about Chanukah

Oh, Whole Foods. Haven't you heard of seasonal eating? (Via Marjorie Ingall, who took this photo in New York, a city where you can buy a knish at a roadside stand but where Whole Foods apparently still doesn't know what Jews eat.)

Critical List: The shortest day of the year; some grey wolves to come off endangered species list

Today marks the solstice: the shortest day of the year and the beginning of winter. Things will only get better from here on out, as long as by “things” you mean “the amount of daylight available in the Northern hemisphere.” Grey wolves in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin will be taken off the endangered species list. A 40,000-barrel oil spill in Nigeria could be the area's worst in a decade. In a climate-changed world, fewer malaria parasites are infectious, which means fewer people could get malaria. (Stand by for Rush Limbaugh complaining that liberals and Al Gore just want us all …

The world’s first solar menorah

Chanukah is all about fuel efficiency, so it seems appropriate that the town of Woodstock, N.Y., now has a solar-powered menorah. The menorah, one of the big electrical kinds that progressive towns put up next to their Christmas trees in order to be inclusive, has always spent the holiday season standing around unlit, because there's nowhere to plug it in on Woodstock's Village Green. But a local Hasidic rabbi decided that a dark public menorah was a pretty sad sight, so he designed and built a solar apparatus from spare parts. Now the area's 5,000 Jews will have an illuminated …

Maine bans LEED in state buildings at timber industry’s behest

The pristine wilderness of Maine would make anyone feel more in touch with the environment … unless you're a politician and vested interests with tons of money put pressure on you to undermine green programs like LEED and you cave. That's the short version of what happened earlier this month. For a while, Maine was building new state-owned buildings to LEED standards. But Maine has lots and lots of trees, and the timber industry there wasn't producing wood that met the LEED-approved Forest Stewardship Council standards. So Gov. Paul LePage signed an executive order in early December that bans the …

There’s never been a better time to build a hobbit house

If you're anything like me, i.e. friends with dozens of nerds, your Twitter stream was aflame with talk of the Hobbit trailer last night. I'm psyched about it! It's the only Tolkien book I read, and will therefore probably be the only one of the movies I can stay awake through. Anyway, hobbits are cool now, so this is an excellent time to start building your sustainable hobbit home!  The one below, which we wrote about in October, looks like it could come straight off the movie set: But in fact, it was put together for just $5,000 by a …

Cops mock Seattle jogger nearly killed by a truck

In Seattle, a semi truck hit a jogger, nearly killing him. While the jogger lay almost dying, the police officers who responded to the accident were busy sneering at his decision not to drive a car. This being 2011, their comments were caught on video. Here's the most relevant excerpt, from the local TV station that obtained the video: "That's why you drive a car!" the first one remarks. "Yeah, don't try to jog to work, you dumb (expletive)," said the other. Now, bikers are often subjected to such 'tude, but joggers? Isn't it a god-given right in this country …

Critical List: E.U. court OKs airline carbon emission scheme; climate change kills frankincense

The E.U.'s version of the Supreme Court decided that it's totally cool for the E.U. to require flights originating elsewhere to participate in its carbon-emissions trading plans. Later today, the EPA will announce new regulations for power plants that limit mercury and other emissions. Climate change: also killing Christmas. Okay, just the production of frankincense, and to be fair, we’re not sure what that’s for. But if you need a gift for a magic baby in the future, you might be one-third out of luck. The Interior Department just approved a solar project in Arizona and a wind farm in …

The Royal Family goes hydroelectric

It's not easy greening the Queen. Several attempts to set up alternative energy sources for Windsor Castle have failed due to lack of funding. But today a British company is completing the installation of a $2.7 million hydroelectric installation that will power the royal residence plus 300 homes.  The Telegraph reports that "the Queen was unable to install the turbines herself," which is a pretty hilarious image, but Windsor Castle will be buying its electricity from the company that owns the installation instead of from the conventional power grid. This will save money, which seems a little silly for a …