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Is the Beer You’re Drinking Problematic?

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne

Mike Babb was born in Golden, Colorado, in the shadow of the monolithic Coors Brewing Company. He worked at Coors for 20 years, the third generation of his family to do so. During what he calls a sabbatical, he went to Weihenstephan, part of the Technical University of Munich in Germany, where he learned the craft of a master brewer. After teaching at the Siebel Institute, a prestigious brewing program in Chicago, Babb relocated to Michigan. He helped design a new joint higher education degree program at the Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Western Michigan University that’s set to kick off later this year: a four-year Bachelor’s degree in sustainable brewing. The first 30 credit hours at KVCC will give the students a brewing certificate, with hands on classes in an experimental brewing kitchen, along with an associate’s degree that they can transfer to WMU for a more rigorous scientific focus in the second two years.

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Want to Be an Archeologist? Learn to Fight Forest Fires

The effects of climate change are not only threatening fragile ecosystems, but could erase our past as well.

Cliff palaces in Mesa Verde National Park. Image by Ken Lund via Flickr

In the hot middle of August 1996, lightning struck a dense piñon-juniper range in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado. Then flames licked up, burning northward through Soda Canyon, Little Soda Canyon, and Park Mesa’s research area. The blaze ran its course for seven days. Aircrafts doused the park in water, and fire retardants known as “slurry” were used to snub out flames in the nooks of tough-to-reach craggy topography. Slurry stains are still visible, almost 20 years later, on the impressionable sandstone trail to Spruce Tree House, a collection of cliff dwellings. The national park contains an estimated 600 buildings fashioned into cliff alcoves, and over 5,000 other archeological sites produced by the Ancestral Puebloans. Although the fire quit just before reaching the Visitors’ Center, burning through a small (but important) 4,781 acres in the end, it accelerated a natural process known as spalling. When water evaporates in sandstone, layers of rock flake off. Because of this accelerated spalling, the fire claimed an important victim—the famous Battleship Rock Panel, which was degraded and destroyed. This petroglyph panel portrayed humans and animals, dated roughly back to 1100 AD, was chiseled into the sandstone, and helped archaeologists contextualize life of the Ancestral Puebloans.

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Is Britain Ready for the Return of the Big Cat?

Rewilding England’s dwindling lynx population is about more than conservation. It’s about connecting to a long-lost sense of enchantment with nature.

A Eurasian Lynx. Photo by dogrando via Flickr

Back in 2012, residents at a caravan park in the British countryside called the local authorities with an urgent concern: a lion was prowling through the woods and fields nearby. The police deployed two helicopters with infrared sensors and swept the woods, while handlers on the ground from a local zoo weeded through the forest, armed with tranquilizers. But the hunt fizzled out. What would later be known as the Essex Lion turned out to be a local woman’s pet, a big Maine Coon affectionately known as “Teddy Bear.”

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Deciding Which Endangered Species to Save

Desperate times call for desperate conservation measures, like advocating eating rare birds or endorsing “survival of the cutest.”

The disappearing Dartmoor Hill Pony. Photo by Herbythyme via Wikimedia commons

This is not a good era to care about animals, unless you enjoy heartbreak. The latest count on California’s delta smelt, for instance, was a total of six fish, making it functionally extinct in the California Delta despite two decades under a recovery plan. Due to humanity’s actions, worldwide extinction rates are ballooning at such a quick clip that without some drastic reversal, this century will bring the sixth mass extinction in the history of the world. But there are also success stories amid all the death and sadness, as more energy and money pour into conservation efforts. Countries, organizations, and individuals are tuning in to the impending dangers of rapid biodiversity loss. Not all species can be saved from extinction, though, which leaves us in a multi-headed Sophie’s Choice of sorts: How do we pick which species to save?

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That “Green” Cleaning Product Could Still Damage Your Health

Be especially wary of supposedly eco-friendly cleaners boasting fragrances.

Image by Mysid via Wikimedia Commons

While “greenwashing”—marketing products as good for the environment when they are not—is nothing new, according to a paper released earlier this month, allegedly ecofriendly cleaning products may also not be very good for your health. One possible problem? The fragrances often associated with pristine countertops and lemony kitchen floors that are included in many cleaning solutions.

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Lessons From the Brief, Lonesome Life of Echo the Wolf

A gray wolf walked to the Grand Canyon for the first time in 70 years, only to be shot by a hunter.

Photo from the Arrizona Game and Fish Department shows the wolf spotted on the Kaibab Plateau

Even true stories about wolves sound like fables.

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