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Greens: KXL Would Be a Climate Calamity, a Battle Over Bears, Blue Bloods with Benefits
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Horseshoe crab

#KXLfail: Further development of the Canadian tar sands would have an "enormous" impact on the world's climate, according to a new analysis (titled simply "Fail") from a coalition of environmental groups (including NRDC, which publishes OnEarth). And despite industry claims to the contrary, the construction of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline is crucial to that development, the green groups show (often using industry's own internal analyses, which frequently run contrary to their public statements). President Obama has said that he would only approve the project if it "does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution." The new report makes a strong case that it does. Huffington Post, Reuters

Dry farming: Crops need water to grow, right? Well, some wild and crazy guys at Happy Boy Farms near Santa Cruz, California, claim a garden left to languish produces sweeter crops than anything you’ll find in the supermarket. “Once you taste a dry-farmed tomato, you’ll never want anything else,” says sales director Jen Lynne. The math is straightforward: less water means a higher percentage of sugar and other flavors per plant. Dry farming produces dramatically lower yields, but what is now a niche method may become a necessity as Earth’s climate continues to warm and droughts in major ag regions become routine. NPR

Something’s fishy here: It shouldn’t surprise anyone that big ocean species like swordfish harbor high levels of mercury. But a new study of mercury isotopes in different species of fish has given scientists some clues about the source of these pollutants. Hint: It might be coming from a certain continent to the east of our shores with a massive penchant for burning coal. Los Angeles Times

Back to school: As parents everywhere send their kids off to school, one mother seeks healthy, green options for her daughter's classroom supplies. What she finds is both discouraging and a little bit terrifying. OnEarth

Grizzly roll call: There’s a big hubbub brewing over the number of bears currently living in the Greater Yellowstone region. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says grizzly numbers are up and wants to drop the animals from the endangered species list in 2014. But many scientists, including researchers at the University of Colorado-Boulder and the University of California-Berkeley, say every major grizzly food source is in decline and current population estimation methods are likely inaccurate. In the end, the decision may have more to do with politics than bear science—a proposition that always benefits the animals, right? High Country News

The blue bloods: If you’re one of the millions of Americans who vacation at the beach each year, you’re probably familiar with horseshoe crabs—those helmet-shaped crustaceans that sometimes wash up dead in the morning surf. Well, here’s something you probably didn’t know: horseshoe crabs have blue blood, and someday… it might just save your life. Deep Sea News


The way we were: There’s a lot of talk about the good ol’ days and how much this country has changed. But wherever you fall on the spectrum of nostalgia and politics, these pictures of what Pittsburgh looked like at noon in 1940 are a healthy reminder of how far we’ve come on the pollution front. Pittsburgh Magazine

And now for beauty: The Yosemite Rim Fire is probably one of the most closely observed in history. Without being anywhere near the blaze, you can experience it by satellite and aerial flyby. (See “’That is Unreal’: Yosemite’s Massive Rim Fire”.) But if you watch one wildfire video today, make it this time-lapse of the chaos unfolding in California. It’s as awesome as it is apocalyptic. Huffington Post


A Cooler Pacific May Be Behind Recent Pause In Global Warming NPR

New EPA Chief Steps Into Alaska Mine Controversy McClatchy

Filling in Some Blanks to ‘All of the Above’ Energy Policy Climate Central

Florida Citrus Grower Fined $1,500 For Killing Millions of Honeybees Treehugger

Obama Energy Dept. Proposals Would Make Commercial Fridges, Coolers More Efficient Washington Post

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)
Peter Massas

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