Environment

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Can synthetic cells help solve the world’s energy problems?

The scientist responsible for sequencing the human genome has created a synthetic cell — with funding from the Department of Energy.

BP struggles to cap leak as officials grow frustrated with response

As BP prepared what it called a “top kill” procedure to stop the leak, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said flatly that he did not have faith in the company.

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The remaking of Medellín

The Colombian city long known for its entrenched poverty and violent drug cartels (including one led by notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar), has embarked on an ambitious program to reinvent itself through design.

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  Pot: Not so green after all?

California’s marijuana industry is worth an estimated $14 billion. But large, mostly illegal marijuana growing operations illegal — are polluting local ecosystems on an industrial scale in rural counties and places as unlikely as state parks.

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One month after Gulf oil spill, damage remains uncertain

A month has now passed since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, spilling at least 5,000 barrels a day into the fragile waters along the Louisiana coastline.

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Children working on farms at younger ages, report says

More kids are working at younger ages on farms, according to a new Human Rights Watch report, and a bill pending in Congress attempts to change that.

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  When birds wash ashore

Need to Know spoke to Lisa Margonelli, author of Oil on the Brain, about the oil industry, the environmental movement, and what might happen when we start seeing oil-covered birds washing up on the Gulf Coast.

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  Big Oil’s influence in the Gulf

Oil drilling is a major part of the Louisiana economy. And in return, says one observer, the state has become Big Oil’s “PR department.”

Translating executive-speak in the Gulf oil spill hearings

Need to Know tells you what the oil company executives really meant to say.

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As crews race to clean up Gulf, some turn to a low-tech approach

The absorptive qualities of hair make it an effective way to soak up the oil in the Gulf.