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Life in a Smog, Antarctic Shutdown, What Happens When You Tickle a Platypus?
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Caught with a hand in the conference jar: The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is the government agency responsible for overseeing the 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the United States. According to a new report, this agency seems to be spending more time and money going to fancy conferences sponsored by the oil and gas industries each year than on actually responding to leaks, spills, and breakdowns. So does that just mean we don’t have enough pipeline problems to compete with all those conferences? Nope. The agency has failed to visit more than 300 spills, explosions, and other incidents since 2006. And they’ve inspected less than one-fifth of that 2.6 million miles of pipe. Huffington Post

A day in the [cough, cough] life: We’ve been telling you this week about the smog-out happening in China as we speak. Visibility is nil, air pollution numbers are off the charts, and basic city functions have been forced to shut down. A former Beijing resident writes about what it’s like to actually descend into this murky madness—that instinctive last breath before the plane door opens and China’s air smacks you in the lungs. OnEarth

Ignorance doesn't poll well: New research suggests that Americans don’t like climate deniers. The poll asked people who had seen a series of ads that call out their Congressmen as climate deniers. Apparently, not only did the ads affect the way the public felt about the environmental issue, but the TV spots seemed to change the way they felt about the politicians' “broader professional and personal standing.” (Am I the only one whose heart just grew three sizes?) Washington Post, Climate Science Watch

Shutdown hangover: Remember how everyone kept saying the government shutdown would continue to affect science even after it ended? Yeah, about that… the National Science Foundation is still sorting out what projects get the ax, but they have already nixed an expedition to examine melting ice sheets and their effect on marine ecosystems and a study to understand the feeding habits of the top predators in the Great White South. “It’s deeply frustrating,” says Reed Scherer, a geologist on the now-cancelled WISSARD drilling project that would have provided crucial information about ice sheet stability. “After all these years of development and a tremendous amount of money, we have very little to show for it.” LiveScience

Rio de Greeneiro: In the next few years, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, will host both the World Cup and the Olympic Games, and the events are prompting many to turn a magnifying glass on the city’s ongoing issues with health, transportation, crime, pollution, and disparity of wealth. Most of the city’s ills lead back to the dense blanket of favelas or shantytowns, that surround it, but these areas may be on the verge of a green makeover. Numerous favelas, have made commitments to become sustainable communities by employing greenhouses, rainwater collection, and rooftop greening. The initiatives won't fix all the favelas’ problems, but compared to life before, it feels like a revolution. EarthTechling

Wait, money does grow on trees?: Get this—eucalyptus trees with deep roots can suck grains of gold up through the Earth and incorporate them into their living tissues. Unfortunately, this means trees can help tip us off to gold deposits deep below the surface. (I say “unfortunately” because this feels like a Lorax situation waiting to happen.) Scientific American


Are you sitting down?: I ask because when the human brain gets overloaded with cute serum, people have a tendency to faint. And frankly, I think it’s irresponsible to supply you with a video of Healesville Sanctuary wildlife managers tickling a tiny duck-billed platypus without proper forewarning. You may even want to play it safe and get a spotter, because when you tickle a platypus in the right spot, it kicks its little flippers just like a puppy. (Squee.) Cute Creatures Great And Small


House Rejects Dem Attempt to Protect Environmental Review of Water Projects The Hill

15 Years of Wrangling over Yellowstone Snowmobiles Ends NPR

Dolphins Killed for Shark Bait in Peru CNN

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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