Kiera Butler

Kiera Butler

Senior Editor

A senior editor at Mother Jones, Kiera covers health, food, and the environment. She is the author of the new book Raise: What 4-H Teaches 7 Million Kids—and How Its Lessons Could Change Food and Farming Forever (University of California Press).

 

Get my RSS |

What's the Most Polluting Car?

| Thu Jul. 10, 2008 2:20 PM EDT

suv.jpgForbes.com has published a list of the ten dirtiest cars. Or more accurately—vehicles, since all but a few are SUVs and trucks. (And surprise! The Hummer isn't number one).

The list order is mostly based on the EPA's air pollution rankings, but to break ties, Forbes.com also took into account vehicles' carbon footprints. The nadir of the coverage is in their "Tips for Polluting Less":

Experts say that realizing even minor improvements in fuel economy among the worst polluters on the road is the most efficient way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions overall. For example, choosing a base GMC Yukon with a 5.3-liter V8, which gets 16 mpg overall, instead of the high-end Denali version and its 14-mpg 6.2-liter V8 would save more than 130 gallons of gasoline per year for the typical driver, and eliminate 1.7 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, says Therese Langer, transportation program director for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Langer then goes on to say that "achieving the same savings through improvements to a 42-mpg Honda Civic Hybrid would require a 25-mpg boost, to 67 mpg."

So let's get this straight: Consumers should feel good about choosing a Yukon SUV over a hybrid, since the Yukon is way more efficient than the Denali? That's kind of like trying to lose weight by eating a ho-ho instead of a ding-dong.

Full top ten list after the jump.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Warm, Fuzzy Satanists

| Wed Jul. 9, 2008 5:30 PM EDT

satanist150.jpgSome divorced couples argue over whether their kids should have dessert. Some over homework.

And some argue over whether their kids should be brought up Satanist.

From the Chicago Tribune comes the story of an Indiana mom who wants a court to make her Devil-worshiping ex-husband take her kids to Christian church. Long story short, Satanists are not exactly the role models she had in mind for her offspring. But the Beelzebub fans themselves say she's got them all wrong. From a related Trib blog post:

"Some of your readers might wonder what exposure to Satanism might do to a developing child," Gilmore said. "I recognized myself as a Satanist at age 13 and was subsequently the valedictorian of my high school class in 1976, being quite open about my religion."

Uh, yeah, Gilmore? Chris Kattan wants his material back.

Making Fake Stuff Look More Real

| Thu Jul. 3, 2008 7:00 PM EDT

pleather%20couch%20150.jpgBad news for snobs and aesthetes the world over: Scientists are working hard to make synthetic material look "more natural."

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory in England have set up an experiment to determine what tips our brains off that a substance is the real deal, and not an impostor:

The physical characteristics of a surface, such as its colour, texture and surface roughness, are being linked to what is happening in a person's brain when they see or touch the surface. Once this is understood it should be possible to accurately predict what we will perceive as natural, and manufacturers will be able to design synthetic products to meet this expectation. The results could have a great impact on materials such as wood, animal skin and furs, marble and stone, plants and even prosthetics.

Offended though your rarefied tastes may be, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Ostensibly, these fakester materials of the future will be a far cry from Naugahyde. Ultimately, if we get to the point where we can (sustainably and non-toxically) make faux ivory so convincing it's indistinguishable from the actual elephant product, well, I know a few elephants who probably wouldn't have too many aesthetic complaints. I've never known an old-growth forest to call fake mahogany tacky, either.

Photo by Flickr user Somaamos

Yearning for Polygamist Fashion

| Thu Jul. 3, 2008 2:56 PM EDT

dress150.jpgRejoice, ye Laura Ingalls Wilder wannabes.

People have called the Yearning for Zion ranch members a lot of names since their compound was raided in April, but "fashionable" has never been one of them. Until now.

The New York Times reports that members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (FLDS) have begun peddling their prairie-chic children's couture online.

Modesty, it turns out, is totally affordable. The Jr. Teens girls' underwear, which, with long sleeves and pants, is the ultimate anti-thong, costs between $25 and $32, depending on size. The Teen Princess Dress will set you and your flesh-concealing daughter back $60 to $73.

The bummer is that so far, the FLDSdress.com only sells clothes in kids' sizes. Which leads us to the real question: Where does Chloe Sevigny's character on Big Love get her weird duds?

Photo courtesy of fldsdress.com.

Tue Aug. 12, 2014 1:35 PM EDT
Thu Jun. 26, 2014 6:42 PM EDT
Fri Apr. 25, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Mon Nov. 11, 2013 7:00 AM EST
Mon Sep. 16, 2013 2:28 PM EDT
Mon Jul. 15, 2013 6:00 AM EDT
Mon May. 13, 2013 6:00 AM EDT
Thu Dec. 27, 2012 12:52 PM EST
Fri Sep. 21, 2012 2:02 PM EDT
Tue Sep. 18, 2012 4:37 PM EDT
Fri Aug. 31, 2012 11:12 AM EDT
Thu Aug. 23, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Mon Aug. 20, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Thu Aug. 16, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Fri Aug. 10, 2012 2:43 PM EDT
Tue Aug. 7, 2012 12:49 PM EDT
Thu Jul. 19, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Wed May. 16, 2012 3:43 PM EDT
Wed May. 16, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Tue May. 15, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Fri May. 11, 2012 3:08 PM EDT
Mon Apr. 2, 2012 6:00 AM EDT
Fri Mar. 16, 2012 2:59 PM EDT
Mon Feb. 27, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Fri Jan. 27, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Fri Jan. 13, 2012 7:00 AM EST
Sun Jan. 1, 2012 7:00 AM EST