Pollution

Light pollution is stealing our night sky — here's how to get it back

This (left) is your sky. And this (right) is your sky on ONE MAJOR LIGHT SOURCE. So it's no surprise that suburban starscapes have been totally desaturated by the lights on buildings, roads, and parking lots. Less than half the U.S. -- and almost none of Europe -- has dark enough night skies to see the Milky Way.

Obama blows smog in everyone's face

President Obama has yanked back the EPA's proposed new restrictions on ground-level ozone (i.e. smog). That's a huge win for Big Business, which had claimed it couldn't weather an economic downturn AND keep from suffocating people at the same time. But it's an equally huge loss for everyone else -- especially since the reason the EPA was revising the smog standards in the first place was because the allowable limit was well above safe levels, according to the agency's science advisors.

Critical List: Federally backed solar company closes; London drops carbon offset plan for Olympics

Solyndra, a solar company that had received more than $500 million in federally backed loan guarantees, is shutting down. Vermont's still reeling from Irene. Oklahoma lawmakers are looking for ways to block the Keystone XL pipeline locally. The organizers of the 2012 London Olympics are dropping their plan to offset the Games' carbon emissions. Weak.

Politics

Letter from prison: Tim DeChristopher speaks

From a prison in Utah, climate activist Tim DeChristopher speaks out with a handwritten letter to Grist extolling the power of words.

European farmers spend millions on knock-off pesticides

Buying a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag is one thing, but in Europe, farmers are buying knock-off pesticides. Counterfeit pesticides have become a multimillion industry over there, and if that sounds like bad news, it is: According to the Wall Street Journal, these knock-offs contain a solvent that the European Union banned because it's a huge problem for pregnant women. The WSJ's article also makes the E.U.'s efforts to deal with the problem sound like a giant clusterf*ck.  There are loopholes in counterfeiting laws that mean customs can't seize the fake pesticides. The company that's been ripped off has to deal with the goods and try to recoup costs from counterfeiters, who are obviously the sort of people who'll say, "Whoops, you found me! Here are the millions of euros I made selling nasty, dangerous goods under your name!" (Or, as the WSJ puts it: "[P]ractically this can prove complicated and even impossible, as many of these companies are beyond EU jurisdiction or completely bogus.")

Koch Industries fights anti-terrorism regulations

Here's another bit of info to include in your "man, the Koch brothers are eeeevil" file. In environmental circles, the Koch family is best known for its funding of climate deniers, but Koch Industries also owns 56 facilities that use petrochemicals. The government is a teensy bit worried about the attraction these facilities could hold for terrorists, but the company has spent its time and money lobbying against stricter safeguards for chemical facilities. Hey, regulations are regulations, whether they protect against pollution or terrorism, and all regulations are for liberal weenies! iWatch News found that 4.8 million people live within risky distance of these plants, and that:

Climate Change

70 arrested on first day of tar-sands-pipeline protest

Seventy people from across the U.S. and Canada were arrested in front of the White House Saturday morning on the first day of a two-week sit-in aimed at pressuring President Obama to deny a permit for the massive new Keystone XL oil pipeline.

How to turn raw sewage into profit

For most people, having a open stream of sewage running past your backyard is a problem, not an asset. That how Keshav Tavre, who lives in Bhiwandi, India, saw it, until he decided to set up a homemade filtration system. With a series of walls and layers of soil, he was able to filter the sewage until it was clean enough to use to grow crops. Later, he sold water commercially do local dye industries.

Human excrement is killing all your coral

You know how when you go snorkeling, the guide tells you not to touch, breathe on, or even think about getting anywhere near the coral because it's really sensitive and also a great marine resource? Well, it's all true, but on a macro level, humans haven't been paying attention to those instructions and instead have been spraying the coral down with water contaminated with our waste. So basically we have been POOPING ON THE CORAL, which is kind of the opposite of not touching it. And human waste infects coral with something called white pox disease, which causes lesions and has led to a 90 percent decline in elkhorn coral, a key player in reef building.

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