Whoops: Energy Star approves gas-powered alarm clock

This (ahem) “space heater” earned a government Energy Star rating.Photo: Government Accountability OfficeWell this is embarrassing: Federal monitors granted the Energy Star stamp of approval to a number of bogus appliances, including a gas-powered alarm clock and an electric space heater with a feather duster taped to it. The Government Accountability Office submitted the fake items in an audit to test the integrity of the well-known efficiency program. The New York Times describes how it worked: The fake companies submitted data indicating that the models consumed 20 percent less energy than even the most efficient ones on the market. Yet …

food fight

HFCS study authors defend work against attacks

Photo: BoekeMarion Nestle, along with other nutritionists have joined the Corn Refiners Association in criticizing the recent Princeton study on High Fructose Corn Syrup. Indeed the very title of Nestle’s post on the subject — “HFCS makes rats fat?” — seems to question the well-established practice of using rats to test hypotheses regarding human nutrition. While I personally found her objections unpersuasive, she raised several issues with the researchers work that have been echoed far and wide. She questioned the methodology of the study as well as whether there was indeed a direct comparison made between HFCS and sucrose. She …

Don't have a cow

Ask Umbra chews the fat with Moby

Whatever you do when you meet Moby (eventually, we all will), don’t tell him you enjoy his book. “That’s a strange word to use,” he said when I did the very thing I’m telling you not to do. My face briefly turned the same shade as my hair as I attempted to explain how exactly it is I enjoyed reading about the grisly perils of factory farming in the newly released collection of essays, Gristle, which the musician and long-time vegan edited along with Miyun Park, the executive director for Global Animal Partnership. Once I regained my composure, Moby and …

one-night (climate) stand

Celeb couple awkwardly asks you to dim the lights for Earth Hour

On Saturday at 8:30 p.m. local time (wherever you are) join 30 U.S. states, 3,100 U.S. cities, 121 countries, and celeb couple Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen (in both their homes), by turning off your lights for World Wildlife Fund’s 4th annual Earth Hour. And what a more inspiring couple to promote the event than the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback (who looks like he was trapped in the corner of his kitchen) and his supermodel wife? Watch the videos below (and check out Brady’s heavy-handed cover-up 17 seconds in):   OK, maybe not the most inspiring, but who really …

to-go, please

Do you prefer your green space pre-packaged?

This enlightened group of Spanish nightstalkers are fed up with shrinking urban green space. Worried that the most greenery people see nowadays comes in plastic containers with a sell-by date, they decided to prank up the limelight on an ugly corner of Madrid with their Packaged Vertical Garden. We think their style packs way more of a lunch punch than the way others just vine and moan about these sorts of problems. Gustavo Sanabria, Luzinterruptus Luzinterruptus via inhabitat —————————————————————————————————————————————————– Like what you see? Sign up to receive The Grist List, our email roundup of pun-usual green news just like this, …

She dwells on seashells

Ask Umbra dives deep with ocean advocate Sylvia Earle

Water, water everywhere, but is it on the brink? Not if oceanographer Sylvia Earle has anything to do with it. Dearests, meet Ms. Earle, an aquanaut, author, and one of today’s greatest advocates of the ocean—also, I suspect, a direct descendant of Poseidon. (I’ve asked for funding from Grist for a DNA test to be sure. Stay tuned.) As the head of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in the early ’90s, her fierce protection of the blue part of the planet landed her the title Sturgeon General. She’s also a female Buzz Aldrin of sorts (minus the Dancing with the …

holy hole-in-the-ground

Weird and wonderful places to live

The New York Times Magazine did a photo spread of some rather extreme conversions of churches, shipping containers, water towers, and even caves. We do our own roundup of TreeHugger favorites: A chapel converted to residence by ZECC Architects. Churches ZECC Architects, beloved of their conversion of a water tower into a residence, are at it again with this conversion of a Dutch chapel into a single family residence. In some ways it is a bit sad, when formerly public spaces get converted to private residences, but not every church can be converted into a bookstore or other public use, …

You get what you Palin for

Sarah Palin’s spendy nature documentary dreams to become reality TV — on TLC!

UPDATE: Discovery’s TLC has officially signed Alaska’s most famous former official. However, Discovery would really like everyone to stop calling it a reality show, and acknowledge it for what it really will be: a “documentary series about the remarkable Governor Palin and her home state of Alaska.” Will the network’s aspirations to keep it from becoming a “political program” be successful? Perhaps only with an airhead filter. Sarah Palin attracts more drama than Jersey Shore, so it’s only natural for her to guide us to the natural reality-TV shores of Alaska. Rumors say Palin’s asking Discovery Communications to coffer up …

bugging out

First came superweeds; now come the superbugs!

The current crop of superweeds plaguing farmers who rely on Monsanto’s RoundUp pesticide represents by now a well documented crisis. But watch out, world! Here come the superbugs. That’s right, Monsanto’s other flagship product, its “Bt” line of genetically modified seeds which emit their own pesticide in the form of a naturally occurring toxin, is now under threat from resistant insects. Science Magazine ($ub req’d) has the details: Monsanto has revealed that a common insect pest has developed resistance to its flagship genetically modified (GM) product in India. The agricultural biotechnology leader says it “detected unusual survival” of pink bollworms that fed …

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