Grist List

Map shows how hard it is to escape McDonald’s

Scientist and data visualization expert Stephen von Worley got curious how far it was possible to get from "our world of generic convenience." So he made up this map of the U.S., color-coded by distance to the nearest McDonald's. Conclusion: The fast food giant is basically breathing down your neck anywhere east of the Mississippi, plus most of the West Coast — and don't think we don't see you there, Denver. To get genuinely out of McRange, you need to travel to the desert near the Nevada-Oregon border, where it is possible to be 110 miles from a McDonald's. Von …

China committing climate blackmail with super-powerful greenhouse gas, say critics

China is threatening to vent super-powerful greenhouse gases if Europe cuts off its supply of valuable carbon credits next year. The climate Kryptonite in question is hydrofluorocarbon-23. One ton of this stuff has the same greenhouse gas punch as 11,700 tons of carbon dioxide. Most of China’s $6 billion in carbon credits have been intended to keep their industrial facilities from venting the stuff. But the EU now says these offsets are too costly, and cost 70 times as much as the firms receiving them spend to destroy their CHF3 on-site. China says that if these offsets go away, producers …

How’s it feel to already be living in a post-peak oil apocalypse?

The International Energy Agency says peak oil came and went — in 2006. The only reason we're not already paying $10 a gallon for gas and generally Mad Maxing it up is that there was this thing called a recession. Well, that, and cough cough the tar sands saved our asses cough cough. Unconventional sources of oil have been making up the difference. But the peak of conventional crude oil — the stuff that comes out of the ground in Saudi Arabia — has already passed. And unconventional sources of fossil fuels won't save us in the future, argues peak …

Superstorm hits Alaska

When the National Weather Service calls a storm "epic," you know something big is going down. (Or that the National Weather Service employs a lot of 20something copywriters, I guess, but in this case it's the former.) The storm currently sweeping over Alaska is going to be one of the most severe Bering Strait storms on record. Here's what Alaska residents, who should really be planning on being Northwest Territories residents temporarily, are in for: Wind gusts up to 100 miles per hour in some areas Major coastal flooding and beach erosion Storm surges up to 10 feet The rest …

State Dept. might reroute Keystone XL

The State Department seems to be seriously weighing a change in the path that the Keystone XL pipeline would take. A change in the route would be a victory for the pipeline's opponents, but only a partial one. There are two main environmental concerns connected to the pipeline project. One is the potential for spills in environmentally sensitive areas. Routing the pipeline around those spots would address some of those concerns. (For whatever reason, State didn't even consider that there might be more than one pathway the pipeline could take before enviros started objecting to the project.) The other concern …

Oil and gas reps suggest using counterinsurgency tactics on fracking opponents

It's obvious that the natural gas industry has no love for opponents of fracking in places like Pennsylvania. But recordings from an industry meeting reveal that the industry's animosity goes a little deeper than mere irritation — they think of opponents as an "insurgency" that should be handled with techniques developed to fight terrorism in the Middle East. Sharon Wilson, who directs Earthworks' Oil & Gas Accountability Project, provided the recordings to CNBC. They're from an oil industry conference held last week in Houston. In the recordings, one communications director says that his company has "several former psy ops folks …

Baby boomers are the worst for the climate

At what age does a person do the most damage to the climate? According to a new study, between about 45 and 80. Starting at birth, a person’s carbon dioxide emissions sprint up and up and up, until they hit their peak at age 65. But by 80, a person's emissions are down to 13.1 metric tons. That's about the same amount of emissions they were creating at age 45. Another way of looking at this is that as people get older (and, presumably, make more money) they just keep consuming more stuff. But then they retire and have less …

Critical List: Humanity is locking in dangerous climate change; California has 1 GW of solar

The International Energy Agency says that within the next five years humanity is likely to fritter away its last chance of avoiding dangerous climate change. Also, the world's still giving more support to fossil fuels than renewable energy—six times as much, when measured in state subsidies. The Obama administration wants to open up offshore areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska for drilling in the next five years. An asteroid came within 202,000 miles of Earth, which in space terms is very, very close—closer than any other piece of space rock has been in more than 30 years. China …

Ethanol is making crap food more expensive than ever

If you're a fan of Uno's pizza, O'Charley's, White Castle, or, god forbid, P.F. Chang's, you have only our government's stubborn love of ethanol subsidies to blame for the increasing cost of your favorite meals, report the gumshoes at Nation's Restaurant News. If you’re not a fan, though, don’t go celebrating with a delicious home-cooked meal just yet. It's actually even worse if you're buying your food at the grocery store and cooking at home. But even though the diversion of corn for ethanol use is contributing to higher food costs throughout the country, the restaurant industry is not passing …