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Grist List: Look what we found.


From single malt to sauvignon blanc: Scotland warms up to wine


Ach, Scotland! Land of elves playing folksy instruments, statues of Mel Gibson in face paint, and a refreshing glass of riesling to go with your haggis! Wait, what?

That old specter of climate change strikes again, but this time it’s helping the Scots diversify their options for getting hammered. Climbing temperatures are slowly turning Scotland from the land of sheep and plaid to wine country.

Bloomberg News reports that famed Scottish foodie Christopher Trotter has started up his own vineyard outside the city of Edinburgh, and he’s preparing to bottle up an inaugural harvest this year. In recent years, Scottish summers have been unseasonably warm enough to inspire Trotter to go into the winemaking biz. According to Scottish government data, the average temperature of the 2000s so far has been nearly 1 degree Celsius higher than the average measured between 1961 and 1990, and regional annual average temperatures are expected to increase by another 2.6 to 3 degrees Celsius by 2080.


This new study shows that vegetarians have worse health. Should we care?

David Jones

Diet-related health findings have been all over the news lately, particularly a new study of 1,320 Austrians published in Nutrition and Health. The provocative paper spewed some pretty damning findings about vegetarians, including that they’re more likely to have cancer, food allergies, and anxiety or depression. Vegetarians also take fewer vaccines and have fewer preventative check-ups, researchers noted, before throwing down some major smack-talk:

Overall, our findings reveal that vegetarians report poorer health, follow medical treatment more frequently, have worse preventive health care practices, and have a lower quality of life.

Them’s fighting words!

To temper that a bit, the study also notes that vegetarians had the lowest BMI, and a recent review of 39 studies found that vegetarians have lower blood pressure. (And there's, you know, all of the climate- and resource-related benefits.)

But the real message here is that this study shows correlation, not causation. No one can say for sure that going vegetarian will make you depressed, give you cancer, or kill you. As several Redditors suggest, maybe people with food allergies or cancer go vegetarian in an attempt to eat healthier (which would definitely skew the results).

Read more: Food, Living


Startling image shows how much trouble lions are really in

Lions seem fierce, loud, well-coiffed -- basically the Beyoncé of the animal kingdom. They certainly don't seem vulnerable. But that’s the classification the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has given African lions. (In West Africa in particular, they're endangered. How can this be?!)

But because a picture’s worth a thousand Beyoncés, check out the following map of African lions’ habitat, which has shrunk drastically in the past few decades. The red shows where lions used to roam, and the blue is their much smaller current territory:

Click to embiggen
Click to embiggen.

Treehugger unearthed the image, which Wikipedia user Tommyknocker created in 2009 with this explanation:

Read more: Living


Kangaroo farts could help slow climate change

Rob Jamieson

Not only are kangaroos cuter than cows -- those built-in overalls! -- but their farts contain way less planet-warming methane. (They aren’t totally methane-free, as scientists once thought, but the amount per food unit is about 80 percent less than cows.) And scientists think the intricacies of kangaroos’ bacteria-rich guts could help them figure out how to cool the planet.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Now you can get raw milk from a vending machine

John Kroll

What if buying fresh milk from local cows were as easy as getting a Sprite? It is in Europe, of course (an entire continent seemingly dedicated to inspiring jealousy).

Modern Farmer reports that raw milk vending machines are commonplace in countries like France, Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Expat Rebecca McCray raves that not only do local farmers own all of Slovenia’s raw milk vending machines, or mlekomats, but the unpasteurized stuff simply tastes better:

[T]he unskimmed milk from the mlekomat is utterly unrecognizable compared with the bluish, watery counterpart I bought in the U.S.

True that. Skim milk is nobody's idea of a good time.

Read more: Food, Living


Old-timey sunset paintings shed light on pollution’s past

The Lake, Petworth: Sunset, Fighting Bucks, by J. M. W. Turner

Did you know you can tell how polluted the air is based on the color of the sunset? True fact! Sunsets can look redder for YEARS after a volcano erupts, due to the ash and gas in the atmosphere.

Armed with that knowledge (and a bunch more, because they’re really smart), German and Greek scientists examined sunset paintings from 1500 to 2000 to see whether the 50-plus volcanic eruptions during that time affected the colors used. Spoiler alert: They totally did!

“We found that red-to-green ratios measured in the sunsets of paintings by great masters correlate well with the amount of volcanic aerosols in the atmosphere, regardless of the painters and of the school of painting,” says [lead author Christos] Zerefos.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Can I get a Dasani, bro? Not in this national park, you can’t!

Bear photo: Eric Gorski

“Man,” said one bear to the other, prying open his Dasani water bottle with one claw. “It’s gonna be such a bummer once they ban these babies.”

“I feel you, dude,” his ursine friend responded, gnawing at a bottlecap. “I cannot get ENOUGH of these things!”

This exchange is clearly fictional. Contrary to popular commercial imagery, bears don’t drink out of bottles. Even if they did -- which they don’t, seriously -- those taking up residence in national parks across the United States are going to start finding it a lot more difficult to get their paws on some Aquafina. More than 20 national parks across the country  have now banned the sale of plastic water bottles, with more parks expected to enact bans of their own this year.


This pickle chandelier is a delightfully mystifying take on alternative lightbulbs


If you shoot 300 watts of electricity through a little pickle, it glows, thanks to the acetic acid and sodium chloride in its vinegar. And if you wire together 60 pickles and give ‘em enough juice to light a city block, you can have a gherkin chandelier on your hands! Who knew?

Whimsical culinary wackos Bompas & Parr, that’s who. Quoth Ars Technica:

"We knew you could use any pickled foods, even hotdogs, for improvised food-based light features. But gherkins are best through their high water content and translucence, the ultimate food based bulbs!" says Bompas.

"The prince of pickles works as a high resistance material, like the filament in a bulb with a ghostly yellow light. The electricity excites the sodium ions in the salt. Falling back to ground state they emit light at a frequency called Sodium D-line. This light frequency has allowed space scientists to identify sodium in Mercury's atmosphere."

Read more: Living


Golf clubs probably started two California wildfires


Going golfing during a drought is practically Gatsbian in its excess, even if the course uses recycled water. (“A ‘responsibly managed’ golf course still used 83 percent more water to irrigate its plants than was necessary,” writes Joel Makower of GreenBiz.) So it’s doubly insulting to us plebes that golf clubs might have started two recent fires in California.

In a new paper in Fire and Materials, UC Irvine researchers explain how relatively new, lightweight titanium golf clubs spark when they hit a rock, unlike traditional stainless steel clubs -- and the sparks are hot enough to start a fire. Watch awesomely named UC Irvine professor James Earthman make sparks fly:

After two golfers confessed to starting fires, the Orange County Fire Authority asked if the researchers would investigate. Reports the New York Times:

Read more: Living


See the complete evolution of the bicycle in 60 seconds

Got a minute and wanna see your fixie’s ancestors? Check out this lovely little video from Copenhagen design firm Visual Artwork:

Kind of interesting that the bicycle’s earliest incarnations from the early 1810s don’t look THAT different from what we ride today, with identical-size wheels and a seat positioned toward the back. It’s all those versions in the middle that look so funky: the high-wheel bicycle of the 1870s, with its huge front wheel, and the high-wheel safety, with a giant rear wheel.

Read more: Living