You don’t have to restrict your breakfast caffeine intake to your morning cup of joe -- there's instant oatmeal with "as much caffeine as a cup of coffee." And "wired" energy waffles -- you could eat 1.7 waffles instead of drinking a grande cup of Starbucks. If you’re feeling really tired, you could spike it with caffeinated maple syrup. Nor is caffeine just for breakfast; you can also get it in mints, lip balm, and soap.
The FDA is worried about this. Not so much about you, as you are a grown-up, but about the 10-year-old kid who thinks it's AWESOME to have caffeinated waffles. It's like ordering dehydrated soda for breakfast, and it will inevitably lead to a nation of Cornholios. And so, as the Atlantic reports, the FDA "will investigate the safety of caffeine in food products, particularly its effects on children and adolescents." Which means it could begin regulating how much caffeine can be added to our food and drinks. (But it doesn’t say anything about cosmetics or soap. Go nuts with those.)
This wouldn't be the first time the agency tried to exorcise this particular demon from America's children, either.
Things are going to get a lot warmer around here. And everywhere.
Even if the entire global economy woke up tomorrow morning, drank its coffee, and swore off fossil fuels, our future would still unfold at higher temperatures than our past. You can dream up wisecracking variations on "Hot enough for you?" and "Getting hot in here!" all day -- believe me, we have -- and that fact would just sit there, staring dejectedly at you and refusing to crack a smile.
Here at Grist we looked at the news, eyed the calendar, and decided that it's time to turn our gaze in the thermometer's direction. Our theme of the month for May is Hot and Bothered -- which is not just how we feel about what our carbon emissions are doing to the climate, but also, increasingly, how we're all going to feel about what the climate is doing to us.
Here's some of what we're working on this month:
Not so hot? Not so fast
Perhaps you've heard the statistic that's been going around suggesting that the planet has not, in fact, grown any hotter for 15 years? We'll untangle what's true in this claim, what's not, and why it's not a "get out of jail free" card for climate-change deniers. (Hint: It may well have to do with oceans.)
As summers just keep getting hotter, which American cities are the most screwed -- and which best placed to ride out the rougher weather?
Last year, they burned an area the size of Massachusetts and Connecticut combined. How much worse can they, will they get? And why do we keep making our homes in places likely to be threatened by them?
All summer, our handy-dandy 50-state map will track wildfires, droughts, storms -- all U.S. disasters that are potentially related to rising temperatures. By autumn, we'll have a record of all the scars this season will have wrought on our landscape.
Now you see it
We're putting together a stunning gallery of before-and-after shots of those places where once, there were glaciers, and now, there aren't.
Don't just sweat there -- do something??
As warming trends continue, so does the rising chorus of can-do optimists who argue that we have the technical capacity -- and perhaps the moral obligation -- to geoengineer our way out of the climate mess. Can humankind somehow pull down the Earth's shades? Should it? Grist, along with Earth Island Journal, is hosting a live discussion on this question this Thursday in Berkeley, Calif., at 7 p.m. Join us for "Hack the Sky" if you're nearby!
These and other stories await you during Grist's Hot and Bothered theme for May. Got other ideas along these lines? Tell us below in the comments, or on Twitter or Facebook.
This story begins like so many stories do: with two men challenging each other to do something that no one should really bother doing. One of them, Rajiv, expressed a love for Hawkins Cheezies (a.k.a. Canadian Cheetos). Specifically, he said, "I could probably eat only Hawkins Cheezies for the rest of my life." Unfortunately, one of his dudebros heard him. And lo and behold, soon he had committed to eating only Cheezies for 127 hours in a row and his friend Ian had committed to eating only Hershey's Nibs -- little bits of strawberry-flavored licorice. They also got to eat water and vitamins.
A doctor told them: "You can go a week without eating anything and nothing would happen. But it's still idiocy. You should cancel this.”
But they didn't. Here are the results, as reported toVice.
The Formosan clouded leopard, a subspecies of clouded leopard native to Taiwan, has probably been extinct for decades. But in the weird red-tape world of species extinction, it doesn't count until scientists make it official. After 13 years of searching with no leopards in evidence, though, researchers are having to reluctantly conclude that this Taiwanese subspecies is no more.
One day in the future, instead of creating machines to work for us, we'll tinker with living creatures until they do exactly what we want. This is already happening on a small scale; scientists are using synthetic biology techniques to program algae that produce biofuels more efficiently. And now, they’re dreaming of the day when we can use glowing trees instead of streetlights.
Wild, right? If you're into the idea of using genetics to turn nature to human service, you can get in on the ground floor by funding the researchers who fantasize about glowing trees. They've already made smaller plants that glow, and for $40, you can get some of the seeds. For a little more, they'll grow the thing for you. They've raised more than $245,000 so far, and if they get to $400,000 they won't just grow boring old Arabidopsis plants, but also glowing roses.
The name of this bat is, appropriately, Pallas's long-tongued bat. These tiny flying creatures are only two inches long, but they have incredibly long, notably hairy tongues. And those tongues work like "nectar mops," scientists studying the bats told NPR.
Brainerd says it turns out that each hair has blood vessels supplying it. When the bat sticks its tongue out to feed, the muscles of the tongue contract, pushing blood into the hair and making it stand on end. "The mechanism is like an active mop that's opening up to make more space for this liquid nectar to be collected," she says."
It's awesomely gross. Here, you can watch the bat unfurl its long, hairy tongue in slow motion, starting around 0:28
But not all beers are created equal, so in the name of fearless truth-telling, I spoke to brewers and beer experts from across the country, traveled to a distant land known as Soho, and of course, drank plenty of beer. I did all of this in hopes that you, the public, might be better equipped in evaluating the virtuousness of your brew.
It all happened early yesterday morning -- I ran up to the fridge in our office just a few short skips away from my desk, pulled an apple from the fruit drawer, and chomped on it as I returned to my seat. Upon the first crunch, my desk-mate Geoff looked up from his computer, and said the inevitable phrase that eventually led to me writing this post: “Dude, you’re eating that apple all wrong.”
I first became aware of the organization Landfill Harmonic when the following photo showed up in my Facebook feed.
By now the story of Landfill Harmonic is all over the place. It's making a film about and generally promoting an orchestra of children who play music on recycled instruments. "In the barrios of Paraguay, a humble garbage picker uses his ingenuity to craft instruments out of recycled materials -- and a youth orchestra is born. Music arises and children find new dreams." You get the idea.