Don't tell Michele Bachmann, but it turns out that when food isn't adequately regulated, you can get giant deadly food poisoning outbreaks. Most recently, a crop of listeria-tainted cantaloupe has now killed 13 people officially, and possibly as many as 16 -- shooting right past the salmonella episode three years ago that killed nine. This is the most deaths from contaminated food since a 1998 listeria outbreak that killed 21.
Dumping buckets of fish guts into the ocean turns out not to be so good for the ecosystems involved. Basically, the more dead fish you put in the water, the fewer live fish can survive there. Off the coast of Alaska, one seafood processor has created "a massive wasteland of fish guts about 50 acres or more … a dead zone." The processor, Seattle-based Trident, now has to pay $30 to 40 million to clean up its mess (plus, stop dumping so many damn fish innards into the sea).
Red-collared lorikeets—a type of parrot—show up every year in Australia acting like they've been hitting the fermented fruit juice a little too hard. Locals report symptoms like "falling over" and "difficulty flying" and "running into things" and "act[ing] friendlier than normal," which will be familiar to anyone who’s ever gone to college. (Don’t ask about “difficulty flying.” That was a bad night.) Ok, but less funny ...
The EPA and its inspector general disagree over what qualifies as a "scientific assessment." The EPA has concluded that greenhouse gases are dangerous; the IG now says that the assessment didn’t go through sufficient peer review. This is actually about the review of the relevant “technical support document,” not about the scientific findings, but tell that to Republicans. The DOE gave a $737 million loan guarantee to a solar-tower project in Nevada, which had better the hell not fail now. Motorcycles are more fuel efficient, but their tailpipe emissions contain nasty stuff.
Apparently the right-wing blogosphere, not to mention some "news" organizations, will believe just about anything about the EPA. The most recent ridiculous rumor is that the agency, which currently employs 17,000 people, is on track to hire "230,000 new bureaucrats" -- at taxpayer expense, natch -- while bumping its $8.7 billion budget up to $21 billion. How did this happen? Basically, the world's dumbest game of telephone.
By 2015, coal production in Appalachia will be half what it was in 2008. Some coal industry advocates argue that such a drop is due to increased regulation by the Obama administration (go figure). But geologists and others who work in the industry say it's actually the result of a much more basic fact: Appalachia is running out of coal.
A company called Renmatix says it can make ethanol from wood and woody biomass using nothing but water. If they're right -- and they just cut the ribbon on an R&D facility in Pennsylvania in order to find out -- it could mean the unlocking of a vast reserve of biomass previously untouched by the cleantech industry.
Let's say you want to build a playground for refugee children from Myanmar. And let's say you also want to recycle some rubber tires. You could tie the tires to ropes and make swings out of them, like kids have done pretty much since the tire was invented, or maybe you could put them on the ground to make an obstacle course. Or, hey, you could fashion them into a sort of Gigeresque nightmare squid! That one sounds good, let's do that.