Tag Archives: world

An old coal-fired plant in North Dakota is trying to go green.

“The relationship that I had with Putin spans 18 years now,” the secretary of state said during a 60 Minutes interview with CBS’ Margaret Frank. “It was always about what I could do to be successful on behalf of my shareholders, and how Russia could succeed.” A true deal-maker.

But as U.S. secretary of state, the ex-CEO of ExxonMobil is supposed to put the United States’ interests first. That should ostensibly put some pressure on the relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Tillerson, which was commemorated with a Russian friendship medal in 2013 after ExxonMobil signed deals with Rosneft, the state-owned Russian oil company.

Russia is one of the world’s top exporters of both oil and gas. As Alex Steffen and Rebecca Leber have written, the country stands to benefit from procrastinating on climate change action that would limit fossil fuel extraction.

In the 60 Minutes interview, Tillerson recounted his first meeting with the Russian president after becoming U.S secretary of state. “Same man, different hat,” is how he recalls reintroducing himself.

“What he is representing is different than what I now represent,” Tillerson elaborated. “And I said to him, ‘I now represent the American people.’”

Convincing! And now, on to the SNL skit that apparently made Tillerson laugh out loud:

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An old coal-fired plant in North Dakota is trying to go green.

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Arkansas banned a weedkiller. Now, Monsanto is suing.

Here’s how humanity could all but ensure its own demise: Dig up all the coal we have left and burn it, warming the planet 4 to 6 degrees C.

But that worst-case scenario doesn’t match up with what’s really happening in the world, Justin Ritchie, lead author of a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, told Grist.

That’s because money spent on climate change measures goes further than it did 30 years ago. Plus, baseline trends show greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline. Most studies underestimate the effect these factors have on global decarbonization.

The study indicates that the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are more achievable than previously projected — but that’s not to say humanity isn’t in deep trouble.

It’s not “4 to 6 degrees bad,” Ritchie says. “It’s 3 degrees bad. You can’t say we don’t have to worry about implementing policies, we do. But it’s not going to reach the truly catastrophic scenarios.”

Another recent study published in the same journal shows that if all the coal plants currently planned actually get built, humanity could blow past the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels.

Ritchie said his research doesn’t counteract that finding. “There’s a whole range of scenarios that can occur,” he says. “What our paper is trying to do is look at that whole range and how can we design policies that are more robust.”

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Arkansas banned a weedkiller. Now, Monsanto is suing.

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The nation’s biggest warehouse project meets a legal obstacle.

Here’s how humanity could all but ensure its own demise: Dig up all the coal we have left and burn it, warming the planet 4 to 6 degrees C.

But that worst-case scenario doesn’t match up with what’s really happening in the world, Justin Ritchie, lead author of a new study published in Environmental Research Letters, told Grist.

That’s because money spent on climate change measures goes further than it did 30 years ago. Plus, baseline trends show greenhouse gas emissions are on the decline. Most studies underestimate the effect these factors have on global decarbonization.

The study indicates that the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement are more achievable than previously projected — but that’s not to say humanity isn’t in deep trouble.

It’s not “4 to 6 degrees bad,” Ritchie says. “It’s 3 degrees bad. You can’t say we don’t have to worry about implementing policies, we do. But it’s not going to reach the truly catastrophic scenarios.”

Another recent study published in the same journal shows that if all the coal plants currently planned actually get built, humanity could blow past the Paris goal of limiting warming to 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels.

Ritchie said his research doesn’t counteract that finding. “There’s a whole range of scenarios that can occur,” he says. “What our paper is trying to do is look at that whole range and how can we design policies that are more robust.”

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The nation’s biggest warehouse project meets a legal obstacle.

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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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FEMA struck a deal with a company that failed to deliver enough meals to Puerto Rico.

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 effects 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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FEMA struck a deal with a company that failed to deliver enough meals to Puerto Rico.

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How to Create a Mind – Ray Kurzweil

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How to Create a Mind
The Secret of Human Thought Revealed
Ray Kurzweil

Genre: Life Sciences

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: November 13, 2012

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


The bold futurist and bestselling author explores the limitless potential of reverse-engineering the human brain Ray Kurzweil is arguably today’s most influential—and often controversial—futurist. In How to Create a Mind , Kurzweil presents a provocative exploration of the most important project in human-machine civilization—reverse engineering the brain to understand precisely how it works and using that knowledge to create even more intelligent machines. Kurzweil discusses how the brain functions, how the mind emerges from the brain, and the implications of vastly increasing the powers of our intelligence in addressing the world’s problems. He thoughtfully examines emotional and moral intelligence and the origins of consciousness and envisions the radical possibilities of our merging with the intelligent technology we are creating. Certain to be one of the most widely discussed and debated science books of the year, How to Create a Mind is sure to take its place alongside Kurzweil’s previous classics which include Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever and The Age of Spiritual Machines . From the Hardcover edition.

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How to Create a Mind – Ray Kurzweil

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The Drunkard’s Walk – Leonard Mlodinow

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The Drunkard’s Walk

How Randomness Rules Our Lives

Leonard Mlodinow

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $14.99

Publish Date: May 13, 2008

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


With the born storyteller's command of narrative and imaginative approach, Leonard Mlodinow vividly demonstrates how our lives are profoundly informed by chance and randomness and how everything from wine ratings and corporate success to school grades and political polls are less reliable than we believe. By showing us the true nature of chance and revealing the psychological illusions that cause us to misjudge the world around us, Mlodinow gives us the tools we need to make more informed decisions. From the classroom to the courtroom and from financial markets to supermarkets, Mlodinow's intriguing and illuminating look at how randomness, chance, and probability affect our daily lives will intrigue, awe, and inspire.   From the Trade Paperback edition.

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The Drunkard’s Walk – Leonard Mlodinow

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Seven Elements That Changed the World – John Browne

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Seven Elements That Changed the World

An Adventure of Ingenuity and Discovery

John Browne

Genre: History

Price: $2.99

Publish Date: February 4, 2014

Publisher: Pegasus Books

Seller: OpenRoad Integrated Media, LLC


From iron to uranium, titanium to silicon, this is “a wide-ranging look at scientific progress. It’s also a lot of fun” ( The Wall Street Journal). Iron. Carbon. Gold. Silver. Uranium. Titanium. Silicon. These elements of the periodic table have shaped our lives and our world, in ways both good and bad. Combining history, science, and politics, this “lively, educational examination of civilization’s building blocks” reveals the fascinating story ( Publishers Weekly ). With carbon, we can access heat, light, and mobility at the flick of a switch. Silicon enables us to communicate across the globe in an instant. Uranium is both productive (nuclear power) and destructive (nuclear bombs). Iron is the bloody weapon of war, but also the economic tool of peace. And our desire for alluring gold is the foundation of global trade—but it has also led to the death of millions. Explaining how titanium pervades modern consumer culture and how an innovative new form of carbon could be starting a technology revolution,  Seven Elements That Changed the World  is an adventure in human passion, ingenuity, and discovery—and the latest chapter in a journey that is far from over. “The human quest for knowledge has led to extraordinary progress. This book forces us to confront these realities and does so in a unique and fascinating way. It weaves science and humanity together in a way that gives us new insight. This is an expertly crafted book by a unique thinker.” —Tony Blair “John Browne uses seven elements, the building blocks of the physical world, to explore a multitude of worlds beyond. A lively story that enables us to see the essential elements of modern life in a new and highly engaging way.” —Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Quest “Part popular science, part history, part memoir, these pages are infused with insight and lifted by the innate optimism of a scientist.” —Brian Cox, physicist, broadcaster, and author of The Quantum Universe “An admirable popular science account of how iron, carbon, gold, silver, uranium, titanium, and silicon affect our lives . . . An expert on carbon (i.e., oil), Browne relies on the public library for much information but mixes in his travels and anecdotes from an impressive career to produce a lively, educational examination of civilization’s building blocks.” — Publishers Weekly John Browne was born in Germany in 1948 and joined BP as a university apprentice in 1966, rising to group chief executive from 1995 to 2007, where he built a reputation as a visionary leader, regularly voted the most admired businessman by his peers. This is his first book.

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Seven Elements That Changed the World – John Browne

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20,000 Hawaiians could lose their homes to sea-level rise.

After long days of reading about the dismantling of the EPA, I wanted to think about anything but politics. Samin Nosrat’s wonderful cookbook provided plenty of fodder.

Nosrat breaks cooking into its key elements; food science becomes clear and usable. For example: Roast chicken should get a hearty dose of kosher or sea salt the day before going in the oven. In a wild and woolly year, apolitical facts such as these were a godsend, and they actually got me to cook more.

Take dinner with a friend (and former Grist fellow) who was guest-writing the excellent newsletter WTF Just Happened Today. He got up early every day to sort through Trump administration noise and summarize the real news. He was, as you might expect, questioning everything. A distillation of our conversation:

Him: “All of this has me thinking about printing press capitalism’s link to the rise of nationalism. And with that, how international news has expanded our idea of community despite our inherent lack of agency. How about that?”

*Throws ingredients into soup*

Me: “What kind of salt you using over there, big guy?”

One night, I used the cookbook to make buttermilk chicken for this friend and others. They filtered in, various degrees of flustered and wide-eyed. I placed the skillet on the table and our manners and worries melted away. We ripped meat off the bones and gestured that yes, you should really just grab a handful of potatoes to scoop up the sauce. 

The world was still going batshit outside my door, but we could ignore it for a little while. We laughed and chatted as the salt and fat dripped down our chins.

Darby Minow Smith is the senior managing editor at Grist.

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20,000 Hawaiians could lose their homes to sea-level rise.

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Radical Evolution – Joel Garreau

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Radical Evolution

The Promise and Peril of Enhancing Our Minds, Our Bodies — and What It Means toBe Human

Joel Garreau

Genre: Science & Nature

Price: $1.99

Publish Date: May 17, 2005

Publisher: Crown/Archetype

Seller: Penguin Random House LLC


In Radical Evolution, bestselling author Joel Garreau, a reporter and editor for the Washington Post, shows us that we are at an inflection point in history. As you read this, we are engineering the next stage of human evolution. Through advances in genetic, robotic, information and nanotechnologies, we are altering our minds, our memories, our metabolisms, our personalities, our progeny–and perhaps our very souls. Taking us behind the scenes with today's foremost researchers and pioneers, Garreau reveals that the super powers of our comic-book heroes already exist, or are in development in hospitals, labs, and research facilities around the country — from the revved up reflexes and speed of Spider-Man and Superman, to the enhanced mental acuity and memory capabilities of an advanced species. Over the next fifteen years, Garreau makes clear, these enhancements will become part of our everyday lives. Where will they lead us? To heaven–where technology’s promise to make us smarter, vanquish illness and extend our lives is the answer to our prayers? Or will they lead us, as some argue, to hell — where unrestrained technology brings about the ultimate destruction of our entire species? With the help and insights of the gifted thinkers and scientists who are making what has previously been thought of as science fiction a reality, Garreau explores how these developments, in our lifetime, will affect everything from the way we date to the way we work, from how we think and act to how we fall in love. It is a book about what our world is becoming today, not fifty years out. As Garreau cautions, it is only by anticipating the future that we can hope to shape it. From the Hardcover edition.

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Radical Evolution – Joel Garreau

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