Contracting the West Nile virus is too damn hard. You have to go somewhere hot like Texas and practically BEG an infected mosquito to suck on you. Save your airline miles, friends, because climate change will raise temperatures so residents of California and even southern Canada will have a better shot at the virus.
Time reports that a warming world will see higher rates of West Nile, because the virus is tied to higher temperatures and lower precipitation. A new study in Global Change Biology projects just where the virus will spread:
Is there anything more fun than sexism in marketing? (See: Bic Pens for Her. And yes, everything short of toenail removal is more fun.) Its latest coup: tarnishing the enthusiasm we might have otherwise felt for Sustain Condoms. Created by the founder of Seventh Generation and his daughter (um, AWKWARD), the condoms are made from non-toxic, fair-trade rubber from an Indian plantation that pays workers a fair wage.
Sustain thinks fair-trade condoms will primarily appeal to us ladies with our squishy bunny hearts, rather than men, who hate sustainability and only buy brands that sound like monster trucks. (Trojan Magnum Destructo! OK, maybe Destructo would be a poor choice for a condom brand.) Explains Jeffrey Hollender:
Part of the challenge we are facing is the huge discomfort women feel buying condoms. If a man buys them, he's having sex and he's cool. Women have a negative attitude.
New York City produces over 14 million tons of trash every year with most of it trucked long-haul to out-of-state landfills. In a typical year, we spend more than $300 million dollars on trash transport while incurring a hefty environmental bill along the way.
Kinda hard to believe, but the Exxon Valdez oil spill was 25 years ago. “Yeah, sheesh,” says the sea otter population that has spent this entire time struggling to recover from the spill's effects.
Back in 1989, the 10.8 million gallons of crude oil that leaked into Prince William Sound killed otters and 20 other species. Roughly 1,000 otters died from the spill right away, and lingering oil in clams (otter food) and in otters’ fur slowly killed 1,000 to 2,000 more otters later.
Thankfully, a new study indicates the number of sea otters off Alaska’s southern coast is finally back to normal -- although it sure took long enough. Explains Reuters:
The report's findings underscore the lengthy recovery times for many species affected by oil spills, U.S. Geological Survey research biologist Brenda Ballachey said in a statement.
"Although recovery timelines varied widely among species, our work shows that recovery of species vulnerable to long-term effects of oil spills can take decades," said Ballachey, the study's lead author.
I’m glad to see that 12 Years a Slave won a few well-deserved Oscars Sunday night, including best picture and best adapted screenplay. Those who’ve been following me know that I used this film as one of the starting points for my blog, and as a lens for examining the intersection between environmentalism and social justice. I’ve been curious if there were others who saw in the movie the same crimes against nature I saw, along with the crimes against black people.
The film includes scenes of enslaved Africans hacking away at dense fields of sugarcane stalks, and chopping away trees in the plush forests of Louisiana, all at whip- and gunpoint, and all in efforts to expand the plantation state. This, to me, made it clear that director Steve McQueen was trying to show not only how slavery exploited and devastated African Americans, but also how it did the same to the American environment. He said as much when describing his cinematic vision: “The story is about the environment, and how individuals have to make sense of it, how we locate the self in events.”
McQueen drew his inspiration from the book on which the film was based: The memoir of Solomon Northup, an African American born free but sold into slavery. And as it turns out, there were many people during Northup’s time who were making the same observations about how slavery was wrecking the nation racially, physically, and biologically. Among them was Henry David Thoreau, the 19th-century naturalist and political philosopher.
Dog shit doesn’t do(o) much for green space. Sidewalks, public parks -- pretty much everywhere is better off without it. And yet some people insist on pulling a Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and leaving their pup’s poop for the rest of us to step in.
Naples, for one, has stinky shoes, and the Italian city isn’t taking any more of your canine irresponsibility. The city plans to DNA-test abandoned dog doo-doo, find the guilty party, and slap you with a $685 fee for being a shitty pet owner/human being. Explains the New York Times:
The idea is that every dog in the city will be given a blood test for DNA profiling in order to create a database of dogs and owners. When an offending pile is discovered, it will be scraped up and subjected to DNA testing. If a match is made in the database, the owner will face a fine of up to 500 euros, or about $685.
Yeongyang County is a remote, mountainous, and relatively untouched area that’ll soon be home to South Korea’s National Research Center for Endangered Species. And if designs by Seoul firm Samoo Architects & Engineers (SAMOO) are implemented, bubbly biodomes will play a major role.
As part of the 172,000-square-foot center, the biodomes will house research areas and indoor/outdoor breeding facilities. We all know what that’s code for: plenty of romantic, candle-lit spots for endangered animals to bone and make adorable babies. (Hands off the slow lorises, Lady Gaga.)
Tiny houses have seemingly taken over the landscape of aspirational real estate, and not just for the green-minded. When it comes to choosing a compact cottage of one’s own, tiny house fetishists need only adopt the guiding principle of sage philosopher Ludacris: What’s your fantasy?
Ranging from impossibly twee to space-age minimalist, with rustic cabins in snow-covered woods lying somewhere in between, there’s seemingly no limit of miniature dwellings to fill the Pinterests of a growing audience. The prolific Tiny House Swoon website, for example, offers pages upon pages of shelter porn for those who dream of downsizing: a fairy-tale treehouse in Germany; a stark West Virginia cabin built entirely of recycled materials; and a transparent cube unit in Switzerland that may as well have been abandoned by an extremely adorable Martian.
What's the appeal of a home the size of a toolshed? You can’t scroll through a page of design sites such as Inhabitat and Dwell without hitting at least one. Graham Hill, founder of TreeHugger, launched LifeEdited, an online publication about downsized living inspired by his own 420 square-foot apartment, in 2010. Outside of niche publications, tiny houses been featured in The New York Times, The Independent, and even Fox News-- and that’s just in the past two months. Is all this hype a real push toward more sustainable lifestyles, or is it just a manifestation of widespread preoccupation with cuteness?
In Tim Cook’s three-year reign as Apple CEO, the company has roughly tripled its reliance on clean energy, and Cook snagged former EPA head Lisa Jackson to steer Apple’s green initiatives. But on Friday, at Apple’s annual shareholders meeting, shit got real.
That was when the National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR), a right-wing think tank and Apple shareholder, told Cook to ditch sustainability efforts unless they make the company money. Here’s the statement from NCPPR General Counsel Justin Danhof:
We object to increased government control over company products and operations, and likewise mandatory environmental standards. This is something [Apple] should be actively fighting, not preparing surrender.
Right. Fight against green regulations, because when we don’t have a planet to live on, at least our Martian grandchildren will have shiny goo-gaws. Or as Cook fired back:
Suburbia sucks for a lot of reasons: Public transit usually isn’t as timely or extensive; commuting takes longer; amenities like fresh food aren’t as accessible. (This guy even says they’re worse for our health.)
Now two maps from Sightline Institute illustrate what you probably knew all along: It’s just plain harder to get places. (Or as former Grist writer Sarah Goodyear put it, “A mile in an American suburb is a lot longer than a mile in Rome.”) Sightline compares Seattle with one of its suburbs, Bellevue, to show that walking or biking a mile in the latter doesn’t get you as far as the former: