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Weekend Reads: Tsunami-Surfing Invaders, America Gets Its Pigs Back, Raccoons in the Roof
Five #greenreads to help get the image of Ben Affleck in a Batman suit out of your head.

Five #greenreads to help get the image of Ben Affleck in a Batman suit out of your head:

“The Tiniest Tsunami Refugees” | When the waters receded in Japan after the 2011 tsunami, they took with them some 5 million metric tons of wreckage. Earlier this summer, a 188-ton piece of that mess beached itself in Oregon. Passengers aboard this unmoored dock included numerous barnacles, muscles, and algae. Unfortunately, two other species that survived the 4,300-mile float from Japan were a sea star and type of kelp that are considered by scientists to number among the 100 worst invasive species on Earth. Scientists destroyed every living thing onboard, but as many as 60 percent of them probably jumped ship before we could give them the ol’ American howdy-do. Worse still, explains Eric Wagner, 1.5 million metric tons of tsunami waste (and its stowaways) are still out there. Floating … Waiting ... Procreating… Slate

“Turning Grass Into Gas” | The cellulosic biofuel industry has had its share of ups and downs. OK, probably more downs than ups—but maybe it wasn’t given a proper chance. “Wind and solar power, geothermal, and corn ethanol required decades to reach the production levels we see today,” Bruce Barcott explains. “Cellulosic companies were asked to do it in four years.” And while the industry still has hurdles to overcome, there’s no shortage of willing buyers. From the airlines and chemical manufacturers to the U.S. Navy, the world is waiting for this promising renewable fuel industry to turn the corner. OnEarth

“Movements Without Leaders” | For civil rights, it was Martin Luther King Jr. For women’s suffrage, Susan B. Anthony. In the fight for Indian independence, the world will always remember Mahatma Gandhi. But who would you say is the unequivocal leader of modern movements like environmentalism, gay rights, or climate change? Bill McKibben argues not only that today’s movements have become faceless, but that this shift is a good thing. In fact, it requires there be many, many more behind-the-scenes leaders coordinating and collaborating for the common good. Bonus: McKibben gives a fist-bump to Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (which publishes OnEarth).

“The Rise and Fall of the Great American Hog” | In the last 30 years, American farmers bred half as many pigs while doubling the amount of pork produced. That sounds like some sort of bacon alchemy, but it’s really just the result of selective breeding. But once fat was associated with health problems, Americans started buying leaner meats. And that meant breeding more muscle-y pigs. Now that we’ve got them, some argue we’ve created a monster devoid of flavor and succulence. And that’s why Diana Prichard is on a quest to revive the breed of animals now known as “heritage hogs” and return them to their former glory. Modern Farmer

“Waste: The Dark Side of the New Coffee Craze” | Look, I love K-cups just as much as the next guy. They’re quick, clean, and they let me switch from dark roast to pumpkin-flavored joe without brewing a whole new pot. But all those little cups add up. For one, K-cups are designed to be thrown away—and they’re nearly impossible for current recycling facilities to process. Their single-serving nature also means more packaging for shipping, sale, and display. And they carry all that compostable organic matter with them to the grave. All in all, Vanessa Rancaño tallies up the cost of convenience, and it’s a big one. East Bay Express

Tired of Reading Yet? Watch This.

It takes a village: Even the most ardent lovers of nature probably don’t want it sleeping in their attic. So when this mother raccoon had babies in the insulation, the Humane Society had to pull out all the stops to “convince” her to raise her brood elsewhere. It’s a good reminder that doing what’s right isn’t always easy. (And also that baby raccoons are too cute for their suits.) Humane Wildlife Services

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)
Image: Cameron Russell

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