Grist List

Coal-burning energy company demands more regulation

Baltimore company Constellation Energy has retrofitted two coal-burning power plants in anticipation of new EPA emissions laws. Now a lawsuit has delayed the new regulations from being enacted, and Constellation is pissed; if they're going to shell out $885 million to be in compliance, by god everyone else should have to, too. So they're flipping a Uie from usual energy company behavior, and agitating for stricter rules.

Mmm, vegan beefcake

There are vegan bodybuilders. Yes, this is going to blow the minds of people who look at vegetarians blankly and ask, "But how do you get enough protein?" A New York Times trend piece (it's in the Sports section! That makes it more real than a trend piece in the Style section) features a few, plus reports that while "there is little official data on competitive bodybuilders who are vegan," a website called "has more than 5,000 registered users."  

St. Louis Zoo builds love hotel for salamanders

Ozark hellbenders, aka "snot otters" and "lasagna sides," are among the world's largest and least cute salamanders. Looking at them, it’s probably not a big surprise that they’re having a hard time breeding -- although inexplicably, scientists think it’s NOT because of their pancake heads or beady little eyes, but some problem in the natural environment. Now that there are fewer than 600 hellbenders left in Ozark rivers, scientists at the Saint Louis Zoo decided to step in and create a place for the salamanders to get it on. The salamanders' love nest is a simulated river built to bring out amorous feelings in hideous beasties: The zoo has built a kind of honeymoon resort for salamanders, assembling a mini water treatment plant and carefully tweaking water chemistry to recreate their cold, fast-flowing Ozark streams — minus any distracting predators or pollution. ...

Critical List: Toxic chemicals on the rise; baby seals in trouble

The EPA may retest water in Dimock, Pa., where residents have linked polluted water to fracking operations. In its first round of testing the town's water, the EPA declared it safe. GM is fixing up the Volt in order to avoid in real-life battery fires like the ones that started during testing. As winter sea ice disappears in the Arctic, fewer baby harp seals are making it. The amount of toxic chemicals shunted into the environment went up 16 percent between 2009 and 2010, according a new EPA report.

Zombie bees!

We've been concerned for a while about colony collapse disorder, which has been decimating honeybee populations. The disorder is of uncertain origin, though there's some evidence linking it to pesticides; there's also evidence for viruses, fungi, and mites, or maybe it's all of them. And now scientists are investigating the possibility that it's caused by parasitic flies turning bees into zombies.

FDA regulates 0.3 percent of antibiotics in livestock

So if you were the FDA, and you wanted to regulate the feeding of antibiotics to livestock -- which you don't, but bear with me -- there would be a couple of ways you could go. You could regulate the ones that are the most widespread and cause the most problems. Or you could regulate the ones that a tiny and decreasing number of people use in the first place. The second one is less effective, but it's easier! So that's what the FDA is doing. The agency has announced that it will ban the agricultural use of cephalosporins, a class of antibiotic used in humans to treat pneumonia and certain infections. That's a good step towards keeping factory farms from becoming breeding grounds for antibiotic-resistant microbes -- or anyway, it would be, if it weren't for the fact that effectively zero percent of farms use cephalosporins in the first place.

The world’s tallest treehouse

The Minister's House in Crossville, Tenn., is 10 STORIES HIGH, over 97 feet tall, and supported by six full-grown oak trees. If you're a total purist about your treehouses and believe they need to be entirely off the ground and supported only by limbs, then this doesn't qualify, but screw you because it's awesome. 

Pre-fab yurt is the FEMA trailer of our post-optimism future

Homelessness, extreme weather, civil unrest — the 21st century is going to give us a lot of reasons to house people as cheaply as possible. So hobbyist Malcom White came up with a way to …

Climate change bumps prices at Starbucks

Crap weather means that the wholesale price of arabica beans is at a 14-year high of $3.09 per pound, and coffee distributors are blaming climate change, reports the nifty new you-should-be-reading-it Bloomberg sustainability channel. “Climate …

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