Grist List

Climate change solves missing persons case

Texas woman Brenda Kay Oliver has been missing since July 12, 2008, when she disappeared without a trace. Now her beige 1999 Chevrolet Monte Carlo has been discovered in a drought-lowered lake in Martins Mill, Texas. Investigators don’t believe foul play was a factor in her death. But you don't need a smoking gun to know that climate change was a factor in her discovery.

Solar companies fight to the death

Are we done mourning the death of Solyndra yet? Because, according to solar executives, it's just going to be the first victim in a Highlander-style fight among solar companies to prove who is best. One Chinese exec predicts that two-thirds of solar companies could disappear by 2015. Part of the story here is that certain companies in the industry are seriously winning the future. Just six manufacturers dominated panel sales in this year's second quarter, accounting for 55 percent of the market, according to Bloomberg. This isn't a problem for the industry as a whole, or for consumers — only …

Study: Climate-related events cost the health-care system $14 billion

A new study, spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council and published in the current issue of Health Affairs, puts a price tag on climate-related health effects — and it is steep. All told, the study says, climate change-related events have burdened the U.S. health-care system with $14 billion in costs, and accounted for 1,689 premature deaths, 8,992 hospitalizations, and 21,113 emergency room visits. The study considered costs associated with smog pollution, heat waves, hurricanes, wildfires, mosquito-borne diseases, and flooding. Some of these cases of death, injury, and disease aren't necessarily related to climate change; there have been flooding deaths since …

How the EPA and states are failing to keep air clean

NPR and iWatch News* have a monster report out about the ways the Environmental Protection Agency and state regulators have failed to crack down on air polluters. Here's the takeaway point: While some business and political leaders, including President Obama, increasingly warn of the impacts of overregulation on the foundering economy, many ordinary Americans face health risks from hazards that could have been limited through better policing. The report documents how the EPA and state regulators recognize pollution problems and identify "high priority violators" but do not crack down quickly enough to keep communities safe and free of health problems. …

Here’s a black rhino flying across South Africa

This photo, by Green Renaissance for the World Wildlife Fund, shows a sedated black rhino being airlifted across South Africa. The WWF's Black Rhino Range Expansion Project aims to move the rhinos into safer habitats, which may mean transporting the beasts more than 900 miles.

How to make your e-book reader solar-powered

If you're willing to pry apart your e-book reader — maybe you got it for cheap, or maybe you're just a super-hacker — you can tweak it so it runs on solar power. If you can't even pronounce "solder," or if you don't know what the following things are: Schottky diode MAX1551 or MAX1555 IC SOT23 to DIP breakout board then you are probably not going to be able to pull this one off. If you're tech-savvy, though, it's a relatively simple procedure: Cut a hole in the back of the case for the solar panels, install them, wire them …

Critical List: Australia will have a carbon tax; 10 percent of Chinese farmland contaminated

Australia is going to have a carbon tax: The prime minister's plan just passed the country's senate. Not only do cars kill, so do commutes. A man in England dumped more than 1 million tires across the country. Heavy metals have contaminated 10 percent of farmland in China. Shorter Rick Perry: The government should stop picking energy winners and losers, unless the winners are oil and gas companies.

Inspector general will investigate Keystone XL

According to a memo posted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the State Department's inspector general will conduct an investigation into the Keystone XL permitting process. Fourteen members of Congress requested an audit two weeks ago, citing irregularities in the environmental review for the pipeline.  Just to recap: At TransCanada's suggestion, the State Department hired environmental contractor Cardno Entrix to conduct the environmental review. But Cardno Entrix considers TransCanada a "major client," which means they are … maybe not the most objective choice?  But never fear, the inspector general will get to the bottom of this. Apparently the review "will include …

Is post-Jobs Apple going to stop poisoning China?

While Steve Jobs was head of Apple, the company was one of "America's least philanthropic companies," lacking even a basic corporate charitable arm. Apple also often seemed reluctant to green its operations. But under new CEO Tim Cook, that might be about to change. In the meantime, many of Apple's suppliers are still poisoning the environment and their employees. Ma [Jun, director of China's Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs] recalls one factory worker — an 18 year-old girl — who was poisoned while working for an Apple supplier. "After half a year [at work] she couldn't walk properly and …

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