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Weekend Reads: Snakes on the Brain, Dutch Water Whisperers, Horror on the High Seas
Five #greenreads to digest with five pounds of fun-size candy bars.

The Ghost Commune
Could you give up your smart phone, your daily Starbucks, and all other modern-day conveniences to rough it on a mesa in western Colorado? For a time, Michelle Nijhuis did. This is the story of a group of friends who 20 years ago committed themselves to living simply for as long as possible. Over time, some left for medical reasons, others for work. And in the end, Nijhuis and her husband left because they feared their hardscrabble paradise would one day become their teenage daughter’s prison. Although they no longer live on the mesa, the family has tried to take some of what they learned there back to civilization. Aeon Magazine

Afraid of Snakes?
Humans have lots of weird phobias—public speaking, chewing gum, trees—but the fear of snakes is a special leftover from our evolution. Scientists have discovered a group of neurons in our brain that only exist to identify and protect us from snakes. The result? Adults, children, city folk, country folk, and even other primates who’ve never seen a snake all display a bias towards serpents (a bias we’d do well to overcome). Carl Zimmer explains the origins of one of humanity’s longest-standing fears. New York Times

What a Catch
These days, everyone wants a story with their food. Where did it come from? How was it harvested? Who profits from it? But even for those of us who try to buy local, sustainably harvested products, there are some foods that just don’t make a lot of environmental sense. Like salmon—rich, red, raw filets of salmon. Everyone knows the best stuff comes from Alaska, but how do you get it to New York City in a way that’s good for the fishermen, the ocean, and the consumer? Well, Tim Sohn may have just found the ticket, and it’s a middle-man-free, subscription-based cooperative called the Iliamna Fish Company. Fins up! OnEarth

The Ocean Is Broken
Of course, sustainable fish isn't always easy to find, and here is a horror story of grotesque proportions. Greg Ray writes about one yachtsman’s trip from Melbourne, Australia, to Osaka, Japan, and the horrendous state of the ocean in between. Where once there were squawking seabirds and shark sightings, there now is nothing but silence and empty hooks. Commercial fishing operations have sucked the life out of this stretch of the Pacific, turning everything that isn’t tuna into lifeless bycatch. And to boot, these waters teem with refuse from ocean dumping and the 2011 tsunami. A difficult, but necessary read. Newcastle Herald

Against the Tide
Twenty percent of the Netherlands lies below sea level and 50 percent of the country is just three feet above it. So when people say the Dutch are “ahead of the game” when it comes to water management and sea-level rise, it’s because they’ve been coping with the threat of floods for centuries. And now with the world increasingly concerned about climate change, the Netherlands is learning it can export its expertise like never before. Jeff Chu writes about some of the forward-thinking projects that have earned the Dutch a reputation as water mavericks and how we would all do well to embrace their perspective on long-term solutions. Fast Company

Tired of Reading Yet? Watch This.

Forestry for the children: On Canada's Vancouver Island, decades of get-rich-quick logging severely damaged the Atleo River. But now the Ahousaht First Nation is renewing commitment to the land and working to repair the environment and ensure future generations of its people will be able to enjoy the fish that’s so important to their culture. Bonus: You’ll swear this film was shot on Dagobah. Treehugger



Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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