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Energy efficiency is leaving low-income Americans behind

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Energy efficiency is leaving low-income Americans behind

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Hundreds of mayors stand up to Scott Pruitt over climate change.

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Hundreds of mayors stand up to Scott Pruitt over climate change.

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California to Trump: ‘Not a single drop’ of offshore oil will touch the state.

Which, by the way, is melting.

“This discovery is a game-changer,” said Paul Schuster, lead author of a new study that quantified the total mercury in the Arctic’s frozen permafrost.

And it’s a lot of mercury! To be precise, 793 gigagrams — more than 15 million gallons — of the stuff is currently locked up in frozen northern soils. That’s by far the biggest reservoir of mercury on the planet — almost twice the amount held by the rest of the world’s earth, oceans, and atmosphere combined.

This wouldn’t be a problem if the permafrost stayed, well, permanently frosty. But, as previous research has outlined, it’s not.

Mercury is a toxin that can cause birth defects and neurological damage in animals, including humans. And mercury levels accumulate as you go up the food chain, which is why king-of-the-jungle species like tuna and whale can be unsafe to eat in large quantities.

As thawing permafrost releases more mercury into the atmosphere and oceans, the implications for human health are troubling. Locally, many northern communities rely on subsistence hunting and fishing, two sources of possible mercury contamination. Globally, the toxin could travel great distances and collect in distant ecosystems.

As if we didn’t already have enough reasons to want permafrost to stay frozen.

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California to Trump: ‘Not a single drop’ of offshore oil will touch the state.

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California makes big money from its carbon pricing program. Who gets it?

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California makes big money from its carbon pricing program. Who gets it?

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Urban hunters are pretty delighted by the coyote takeover.

It started with the cinematic, widely serenaded death of spunky little spacebot Cassini, closing out a 13-year mission to Saturn with a headlong dive into the planet’s gaseous atmosphere.

Meanwhile, back on a more familiar planet, an orbiting satellite named DMSP F19 quietly blinked out. The DMSP weather-tracking satellites have meticulously recorded Arctic sea ice coverage since 1978, which makes them one of our longest-running climate observations. But in 2015, Congress voted to mothball the last satellite in the series. Now, on the cusp of the biggest planetary shift humans have ever seen, we stand to lose one of our best means for understanding it.

Also this year, I started following LandsatBot, a project by Welsh glaciologist Martin O’Leary that tweets out random satellite views of Earth’s surface hourly. Like a geographic Chat Roulette, LandsatBot scratches the same imaginative itch that high-def images of Saturn’s rings do, but its alien views are all terrestrial. From satellite height, every landscape looks like an abstract painting, all fractal rivers and impressionist daubs of cloud.

These days, amidst an unending torrent of Game of Thrones gifs, signs of the end of democracy, and variations on that distracted boyfriend meme, I sometimes come across a Landsat image dropped without comment into the clutter. I stop and stare. Whether it’s an astroturf-green wedge of land somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago or the Crest-colored swirl of icy Antarctic seas, I try to imagine the world down there: A place I will probably never go, without landmarks or footprints, but irrevocably changed by us. Whether you recognize it or not, it’s home.

Amelia Urry is an associate editor at Grist.

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Urban hunters are pretty delighted by the coyote takeover.

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6 Must-Try Green Subscription Box Services

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More subscription box service firms specializing in green and natural living are opening up (pardon the pun). If you’re looking to switch to more eco-friendly products, it’s a great way to try new products without a huge investment. Most of these services offer a monthly box, and give discounts for long-term subscriptions.

Here is a list of six must-try subscription box services for discovering great green and natural brands.

Ecocentric Mom

Ecocentric Mom mom box. Image: Ecocentric Mom

Ecocentric Mom offers four different box options: Pregnancy, Mom and Baby (0 and 18 months), Mom and Toddler (18 months to 4 years), and Mom/Woman Only, so you can choose the one that’s right for you. Each box comes with five full-size items, including personal care products, cosmetics, natural remedies, snacks and more. The monthly box runs $27.99, and recent boxes have included everything from lip conditioner and body balm to baby milestone stickers and onesies.

Homegrown Collective

Homegrown Collective is a subscription box service that delivers a “homegrown” experience to your doorstep every month for $34 to $39 per month (plus $9 shipping). Rather than products for you to sample, Homegrown Collective’s Greenbox includes items to teach you a way to live more sustainably and become more self-sufficient. Past boxes have included everything you need to create your own detox products, home remedies, beauty products, household cleaners, kombucha and more! Even the packaging is designed to create less waste.

Natural Herbal Living Herb Box

Do you want to learn more about herbs? The Natural Herbal Living Herb Box is designed to help you learn about herbs on both an intellectual and physical level. Each month, the herb box includes ingredients to make several recipes shared in Natural Herbal Living Magazine (subscription included). These items may include the herb of the month, essential oil, flower essence, additional herbs, oils, beeswax, vinegar, honey and other herbal goodies necessary to make the recipes of the month. Mini boxes are available for $24, while full-size boxes are $48.

UrthBox

Each month, UrthBox delivers a package of sustainable, non-GMO snack foods that they hand-pick from brands that care for the earth. Choose from Classic, Gluten-Free, Vegan and Diet options in four different sizes, from six  to 25-plus snacks ($19.99 to $49.99). Shipping is free in the U.S., $6.95 to Canada and $14.95 worldwide.

Green Kid Crafts

There’s a green subscription box service for kids, too! Created by a mom, Green Kid Crafts delivers monthly boxes that include hands-on, award-winning and eco-friendly STEAM-themed kits (that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics). There are boxes available for ages 2 to 10-plus, each with various projects, step-by-step instructions, an activity magazine and achievement badges. It’s a great way to give your kids a creative outlet and support a green company. Rates start at $17.95 per month.

Kloverbox

Kloverbox is a subscription box service that helps you discover organic, natural and cruelty-free beauty, health, nutrition and household brands. For $25 per month, you will receive six to eight deluxe or full-size products from pure and sustainable brands that you can use for an at-home spa day.

Do you have a favorite subscription box service? Share your thoughts with us below.

Feature image courtesy of VFS Digital Design

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6 Must-Try Green Subscription Box Services

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A tiny energy company got in a big feud with San Juan’s mayor.

A new Chicago Tribune investigation found that residents in black and Latino communities are charged water rates up to 20-percent higher than those in predominantly white neighborhoods.

The Tribune examined 162 Chicagoland communities with publicly managed systems using water from Lake Michigan. While only 13 percent of the cohorts surveyed are majority-black, those groups included five of the 10 areas with the highest water rates.

Water bills are soaring across the country. A recent USA Today report of 100 municipalities found that over the past 12 years, the monthly cost of water doubled in nearly a third of cities. In Atlanta, San Francisco, and Wilmington, Delaware, the price of water tripled or more.

Low-income residents and communities of color are bearing the brunt of surging water rates, which have buried families in debt, causing some to lose their homes. In Flint, Michigan, more than 8,000 residents faced foreclosure because of unpaid water and sewage bills.

This year, Philadelphia launched an income-based, tiered assistance program to aid low-income residents. City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez spearheaded the bill because residents in her district — which includes some of Philly’s largest Puerto Rican communities — bore 20 percent of the city’s unpaid water debt despite only being a tenth of its population.

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A tiny energy company got in a big feud with San Juan’s mayor.

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Watch Samantha Bee’s haunted house of climate hell.

A new Chicago Tribune investigation found that residents in black and Latino communities are charged water rates up to 20-percent higher than those in predominantly white neighborhoods.

The Tribune examined 162 Chicagoland communities with publicly managed systems using water from Lake Michigan. While only 13 percent of the cohorts surveyed are majority-black, those groups included five of the 10 areas with the highest water rates.

Water bills are soaring across the country. A recent USA Today report of 100 municipalities found that over the past 12 years, the monthly cost of water doubled in nearly a third of cities. In Atlanta, San Francisco, and Wilmington, Delaware, the price of water tripled or more.

Low-income residents and communities of color are bearing the brunt of surging water rates, which have buried families in debt, causing some to lose their homes. In Flint, Michigan, more than 8,000 residents faced foreclosure because of unpaid water and sewage bills.

This year, Philadelphia launched an income-based, tiered assistance program to aid low-income residents. City Councilwoman Maria Quinones-Sanchez spearheaded the bill because residents in her district — which includes some of Philly’s largest Puerto Rican communities — bore 20 percent of the city’s unpaid water debt despite only being a tenth of its population.

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Watch Samantha Bee’s haunted house of climate hell.

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Despite Trump, states keep getting more energy-efficient.

On Thursday, President Trump announced — after much feeble deliberation — that he would waive the Jones Act, a century-old law that requires all shipping to U.S. territories to be made through American ships and companies. This massively expensive policy, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello noted, created an unnecessary obstacle to getting crucial supplies to a devastated island.

Good! One obstacle down, a billion and three to go — including the fact that trucks, drivers, and gasoline to distribute supplies around the island are currently few and far between.

CNN reports that only 4 percent of 3,000 containers of supplies that recently arrived at the Port of San Juan have made it to communities in need. There are currently upwards of 10,000 containers of supplies waiting to be circulated. Only 20 percent of truck drivers have returned to work, and many are hard to contact due to downed cell towers.

Remember that Puerto Rico’s current financial insecurity and infrastructure failings are largely a product of predatory hedge fund lending and lack of access to states’ resources — like, for example, a congressional representative.

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Despite Trump, states keep getting more energy-efficient.

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Let’s ban gasoline-powered cars, says California’s governor.

The federal lawsuit, filed this week by the environmental group Deep Green Resistance, seeks to protect the Colorado River — a water source for Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, and Las Vegas, among other desert-strewn metro areas.

The New York Times reports that the state of Colorado has been sued for failing to protect the river and its “right to flourish” by allowing pollution and general degradation. The plaintiff’s attorney — the plaintiff being the Colorado River — is Jason Flores-Williams, who told the New York Times that there is a fundamental disparity in rights of “entities that are using nature and nature itself.”

Those entities are primarily corporations, which have been granted human rights in major Supreme Court decisions over the past year. In the Citizens United and Hobby Lobby decisions, for example, the Supreme Court found that corporations should be afforded the human right to donate without limit to political campaigns and to refuse to comply with federal law on basis of religious freedom.

The main challenge for the river case is that a corporation is, by definition, a group of people — but hey, it’s worth a shot! Here’s a short video we made on why protecting waterways like the Colorado River is important, even for city-dwellers:

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Let’s ban gasoline-powered cars, says California’s governor.

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