Roundup: a climate time machine, vertical farms, and a kinda boring toy

A look at what's happening elsewhere on the Web.

Courtesy NASA
NASA's Climate Time Machine shows how much the Arctic ice cap has diminished over the past three decades.

NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a nifty interactive "Climate Time Machine" that lets you see the effects of burning fossil fuels. By dragging a slider, you can see how the Arctic ice cap has melted over the past three decades, what rising sea levels would do to selected cities, the rise in CO2 emissions, and the rise in global temperatures. The only thing I could have done without is the creepy music.

The Alaska Wilderness League, a nonprofit that seeks to protect Alaska's public lands, has released a report [PDF] describing some of the donors of Newt Gingrich's "Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less." campaign, which, in addition to making copyeditors' lives difficult, urges Congress to approve of offshore drilling. The League's startling conclusion: some of Gingrich's donors come from the oil industry.

Bina Venkataraman, a reporter for The New York Times (and a former Monitor scribe), writes about the possibility of "vertical farms" built into self-sustaining skyscrapers, thereby allowing urbanites to dine on super-local produce. "Obviously we don’t have vast amounts of vacant land," said Dickson Despommier, the Columbia University professor who is pioneering the concept. "But the sky is the limit in Manhattan."

The Canadian Press reports on a study by Canada's government that shows that levels of toxic chemicals in Artic game are finally starting to drop. This is good news for the Arctic's indigenous people, for whom beluga, narwhal, walrus, and ringed seal constitute a major part of their diet, and who have been found to have elevated levels of toxic chemicals in their bloodstreams and even in their breast milk. The bad news is that mercury contamination – which comes largely from coal-fired power plants – hasn't declined at all.

The Brothers Brick, a Lego blog, reports that the Danish toymaker will be releasing a wind turbine set, which of course is not really wind-powered, but motorized. Batteries not included.

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