A farmer in Oregon found a patch of wheat growing like a weed where it wasn't expected, so the farmer sprayed it with the herbicide Roundup. Surprisingly, some of the wheat survived.
The startled farmer sent samples of the renegade wheat to a laboratory, which confirmed something that should have been impossible: The wheat was a genetically engineered variety that had never been approved to be grown in the U.S., nor anywhere else in the world.
Even as it grows in popularity, cycling just can’t shake its reputation as a pastime for spandex- or skinny jean-clad white people. But a new report from the Sierra Club and the League of American Bicyclists challenges that common stereotype, spotlighting a decade of rapid growth in biking among communities of color.
From 2001 to 2009, the percentage of trips taken by bike increased by 50 percent among Latinos, and by 100 percent among African Americans -- compared to only a 22-percent increase among whites. This, the report notes, is in spite of the fact that communities of color often lack the kind of infrastructure that makes biking safer, easier, and more appealing. Twenty-six percent of non-whites said they want to ride more but worry about safety (compared to only 19 percent of whites); 47 percent of non-whites said they’d ride more if they had better access to secure places to park and store their bikes (versus 32 percent of white folks).
These safety concerns aren’t unfounded: The report cites data from the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition indicating that neighborhoods with the largest share of people of color have lower distributions of bike facilities, and that the lowest-income neighborhoods have the most bike and pedestrian crashes. Those neighborhoods have the most to gain from an increase in cycling: The nation’s poorest families spend the biggest chunk of their income on transportation -- 30 percent. The average yearly cost of owning and operating a bike is only $308, compared to $8,220 for an average car.
Simple infrastructure upgrades can have major impacts on riding habits, says the report:
Coal is making a comeback in the U.S., natural gas prices are rising, and Saudis are living like kings off an oil market that is simply heavenly.
Just last year, demand for coal had dropped deeper than a canary lowered down a mine shaft. Prices had been pushed down by the natural gas fracking boom. But The Washington Post reports that demand and prices for coal have rebounded:
According to the latest data from the Energy Information Administration, coal has been reclaiming some — though not all — of its market share in 2013. ...
As the solar sector explodes, some of the solar panels it produces are fizzling out.
The New York Times reports on the problem of faulty panels and says nobody knows how pervasive it is because nobody keeps track. Fingers are being pointed at corner cutting by manufacturing firms in China. From the Times article:
Worldwide, testing labs, developers, financiers and insurers are reporting [quality] problems and say the $77 billion solar industry is facing a quality crisis just as solar panels are on the verge of widespread adoption. ...
The quality concerns have emerged just after a surge in solar construction. In the United States, the Solar Energy Industries Association said that solar panel generating capacity exploded from 83 megawatts in 2003 to 7,266 megawatts in 2012, enough to power more than 1.2 million homes. Nearly half that capacity was installed in 2012 alone, meaning any significant problems may not become apparent for years.
Walmart doesn't just scrimp on employee wages. It also scrimps on employee training, and that led to its workers dumping returned pesticides, bleach, and other hazardous products into the trash or sewer systems.
On Tuesday, Walmart pled guilty to violations of federal environmental laws and agreed to pay $81.6 million in fines and penalties for improper hazardous waste disposal.
[U]ntil January 2006, Wal-Mart did not have a program in place and failed to train its employees on proper hazardous waste management and disposal practices at the store level. As a result, hazardous wastes were either discarded improperly at the store level -- including being put into municipal trash bins or, if a liquid, poured into the local sewer system -- or they were improperly transported without proper safety documentation to one of six product return centers located throughout the United States.
Apple, after getting hit with criticism for using dirty energy at its data centers, has been increasingly drawing on green power -- wind, solar, geothermal, and, now, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
Apple CEO Tim Cook announced Tuesday that Jackson, who served as Barack Obama's top environmental official during his first term, will join the company as vice president for environmental initiatives.
Cook, who made the announcement at The Wall Street Journal’s D: All Things Digital D11 conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., said Jackson will be reporting directly to him and is “going to be coordinating a lot of this activity across the company.”
Follow this if you can: Wood from U.S. trees is being shipped over to the U.K., where coal power plants burn it, producing more greenhouse gas emissions than when those same plants generate an equivalent amount of electricity by burning coal.
The weirdest part? This doubly destructive practice is being subsidized in the U.K. to help the country meet its renewable energy targets. WTF?
The BBC explains that when pine trees are grown in America, the best trunks are cut up for wood planks and sold as timber. Much of the rest of the wood is either used for wood pulp or gets chopped up to be used as fuel. Because the wood chips are considered a renewable energy source by the British government, great piles are being shipped over to England to be burned.
We did it! Despite never ratifying the Kyoto Protocol, America has surpassed the ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets laid out in the treaty.
Or so claimed Secretary of State John Kerry while visiting Ethiopia on Sunday. "We're below the Kyoto levels now," he told a group.
The one problem is that we've done no such thing, and we are below no such levels right now. From the AP, via NPR:
The 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which the Clinton administration signed but never won ratification for, called on the U.S. to cut its greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent from 1990 levels. Although a natural gas surge and economic woes have helped the U.S. lower emissions, they were still up some 9.5 percent from 1990 to 2011, the last year for which full data is available.
Climate change is a helluva thing to live through. But humanity's ability to cope and survive during past periods of climatic upheaval might have been what inspired species-advancing leaps in culture and innovation.
New research published last week in the journal Nature Communications links some of our ancestors' greatest cultural advances during the Middle Stone Age to periods of tremendous tumult in the climate. The findings suggest climate change helped get our African ancestors off their butts and thrust them off on quests to explore the greater world.
The Middle Stone Age, which began roughly 280,000 years ago and ended perhaps 30,000 years ago, was a momentous time in our history. During this period, Homo sapiens developed modern bodies and brains, and began an epic march out of Africa to inaugurate a worldwide diaspora. This migration begat cave paintings, advanced stone tools, and a cultural revolution that would eventually deliver us to the globalized, Twitter-connected, Monsanto-dominated, mountaintop-removing, solar-panel-using, electric-car-driving world we recognize today.
Lizanne Falsetto knew two years ago that she had to change how her company, thinkThin, made Crunch snack bars. Her largest buyer, Whole Foods Market, wanted more products without genetically engineered ingredients -- and her bars had them. Ms. Falsetto did not know how difficult it would be to acquire non-GMO ingredients.