Grist List

Cheap alloy could produce zero-carbon hydrogen from sunlight

An inexpensive combination of two metals common in the manufacture of computer chips can generate hydrogen from water, using only sunlight as an energy source. If the process can be made commercially viable -- and the simplicity and cost suggests it might -- it would mean yet another way to produce energy directly from sunlight, and a potential source of hydrogen for the kind of fuel cells that power both buildings and vehicles.

Do climate shifts spark wars?

A study published a little while back in Nature found an association between shifts in climate (in this case, shifts associated with El Niño) and international conflict. The researchers' hypothesis was that El Niño was messing with people's psyches and also creating economic shocks by tweaking food prices, dredging up storms, and fostering disease. These effects tend to make people a little testy and, boom!, conflict.  But, as Sarah Zielinski writes at Smithsonian, it's too simple to say that climate change will cause war:

Critical List: Rick Perry loves nuclear waste; oil spills in Alabama

Rick Perry wanted to expand a nuclear waste site, owned by one of his donors, but a state commissioner objected. Guess what happened to the state commissioner. No, he wasn’t killed, Jesus! But Perry did offer him another job, in order to bribe him away from the waste commission so he could be replaced. Beijing's going to put congestion fees in place, a policy that New York City has failed to get past suburban commuters. Ah, democracy. Will you be living under high water stress? Some businesses, like the insurance industry, believe in climate change. But that doesn't mean they're prepared for it.

Are vegetarians more fun in the sack?

Apparently vegetarians do eat meat. Data from the online dating site OKCupid indicate that vegetarians enjoy giving oral sex more — or anyway, they say they do. There are all sorts of causation and correlation-based …

Climate convert says deniers are dumb

In a beautifully written post on Climate Crocks, former skeptic D.R. Tucker illuminates the way that far-right climate change denialism encourages and feeds off of science-phobia. Tucker is clearly far from stupid, but he wonders if stupidity is a required characteristic for climate change denial -- not because there's really an IQ requirement, but because denialists glorify ignorance and roll their eyes at complexity. That's appealing to dumb people, surely. But it's also appealing to people who lack for good science education or who think they're dumb at science, and who feel disadvantaged and judged because of it. Climate deniers like Rush Limbaugh make them feel like that's an asset, not a flaw.

Don Cheadle's Captain Planet is not taking any crap from you

Yeah, whatever it is Captain Planet does is cool and all. (What does he do? Recycle really hard?) But certified badass Don Cheadle has a better idea, one that will save the Earth FOREVER. 

Musical GPS lets you steer your bike without looking at a screen

It's hard enough to look at your GPS and at the road while you're driving, but on a bike that split second of inattention could easily lead to injury. So Dutch researchers, who know from biking, have developed a music-based navigation system called "Oh Music, Where Art Thou?" It's a smartphone app that lets you navigate by following a strain of music through the streets. If the sound seems to come from the right, you go right; if it comes from the left, you go left. (Hopefully there's a needle-scratch feature for missing your turn.)

The last Keystone pipeline had a record number of leaks

The Huffington Post has posted one of those giant infographics on the subject of Keystone I, the last TransCanada pipeline in the U.S. and progenitor to the proposed Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline. It's crazy big, …

Why the hell does Michele Bachmann want to drill for oil in the Everglades?

Michele Bachman wants to drill for oil "whether that is in the Everglades or whether that is in the Eastern Gulf region or whether that is in North Dakota." Even Republicans think this is kind of nuts, because even Republicans are willing to agree that the Everglades has some nice stuff that it'd be darn shame to ruin forever. But for Bachmann, it's a "wonderful treasure trove of energy that God has given us in this country." If you're thinking, oil in the Gulf … ok; oil in North Dakota … sure, I read that New Yorker article; but … is there even oil the Everglades?? … well, we're with you. A federally employed geologist told a local Florida TV station that "there is no known evidence that there is a significant hydrocarbon deposit beneath the Everglades."  But the Associated Press reports that there is one tract of privately owned land where oil was found in 1943. 

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