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Fracking George Washington, Arsenic in Rice, Watch Out for That Skunk!
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.


In our forefather's forest: Two years ago, the U.S. Forest Service proposed a ban on fracking in the George Washington National Forest in Virginia, a 2 million acre Eden at the headwaters of the Shenandoah, James, and Potomac Rivers. But some folks—such as the state's Republican governor Robert F. McDonnell and well, the oil and gas industry—think that would be a squandering of resources. Will they get their wish? We'll know later this month after the Forest Service decided on the park’s 15-year management plan. Washington Post

Rocky mountain high and dry: In 2002, Colorado suffered through what may have been the worst drought the state had ever seen. Today, its drought task force serves as a sterling example of how western states can anticipate and react to water scarcity and heat waves. From no-till farming to snow banking and floodwater diversion storage, such forward-thinking environmental policies almost make you forget this is the same state where people are lining up for drone-hunting licences. High Country News

Beetle in a haystack: In the Philippines, the city of Manila houses a population greater than that of New York City in a space just one-quarter the size of Washington, D.C. And deep within that roiling mass of humanity, there toils a tiny beetle that was—until yesterday—unknown to science. How humbling it is to think that even in the most densely-packed city in the world, there’s still life left to discover. Smithsonian

Warm globally, think locally: We know climate change will continue to alter the world’s ecosystems in new and surprising ways. For instance, warmer temperatures may allow subtropical mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus and malaria to settle territory they’ve never buzzed in before. However, scientists also think rising temps could work against the mosquitoes in areas the little bloodsuckers currently occupy by drying up breeding pools and desiccating larvae. Which shows just how hard it is to make specific predictions about the exact results of climate change on a micro-level. Pacific Standard

Safe in moderation: Don’t you just love that term? Well now it applies to the arsenic levels in rice, at least according to the Food and Drug Administration. So our rice has arsenic in it, but not so much that you should be concerned. Except, yeah… you might want to think about varying your diet. You know, just as a precaution. Christian Science Monitor

Pepé le population explosion: From the backwoods of Pennsylvania to the gates of Dodgers Stadium, reports are coming in from across the United States that suggest we’re in the middle of a skunk renaissance. Possible reasons for the black-and-white boom include reduced budgets for waste disposal, mild winters, and available shelters like foreclosed properties. In addition to the chemical weapon skunks pack in their caboose, the animals often carry rabies—and incidences of rabid skunks are way, way up. Motherboard


Hungry, hungry trees: Remember in the Lord of the Rings when Old Man Willow tries to gobble up the hobbits? Well, real-life trees do that, too. It just takes a while. Check out these amazing pictures of trees eating things. Huffington Post

Nesting instinct: When was the last time you stopped to marvel at a bird’s nest? They use everything from lichen and twigs to mud, human hair and Snickers wrappers, and yet, in the end it’s all woven into something protective … something beautiful. Says photographer Sharon Beals, “Bird nests, even without knowing which birds constructed them, seem hardly possible.” Check out her amazing work. Smithsonian


A Climate Alarm, Too Muted for Some New York Times

‘Flushable’ Personal Wipes Clogging Sewer Systems, Utilities Say Washington Post

Governor, Chippewas Battle Over Mine USA Today

Here Comes the Story of No Hurricanes Grist

EPA Quietly Withdraws Two Proposed Chemical Safety Rules Huffington Post

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)
Image: Alan Levine

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