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EPA Agents Get Sick on the Job, Homeless Nuclear Waste, Florida's Sea Turtle Boom
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads

Do you smell that?: How do you know when an urban oil field is unsafe for the surrounding community? When the federal environmental officers sent to investigate the scene come down with sore throats, coughing fits, and debilitating headaches. That’s what happened at an Allenco Energy Co. site in southern Los Angeles. For years local residents have lodged hundreds of complaints against the operation but have had difficulty convincing authorities to do something about the local air quality. But now that the Environmental Protection Agency has tasted the noxious fumes for itself, change may soon be in the air. Los Angeles Times

Turtle power: Back in 1979, only 62 green turtle nests remained in Florida. Hunting, boat strikes, beach development, and a disease that’s best described as turtle herpes had taken a heavy toll on the species. To save these docile reptiles, officials added them to the endangered species list, which made it illegal to harvest their eggs and banned them from restaurant menus. (Apparently, Floridians used to really love of eating sea turtles.) Because the animals take about 30 years to sexually mature, we've only recently begun to see the results of the conservation campaign. But boy did it pay off—officials estimate that the state now has 35,000 green turtle nests. (I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel like dancing.) NBC News

Hot potato: South Carolina's Savannah River Site houses a bunch of decaying nuclear weapons waste leftover from the Cold War. Cleanup of the facility and its underground tanks was supposed to be completed by 2023, but sequestration budget cuts have pushed that deadline back to “well into the 2040s.” The state is now not only stuck sitting on this nuclear waste, but will have to allocate hundreds of millions of dollars for the site's maintenance and security in the meantime. This example is only the latest in a string of battles concerning America’s growing nuclear waste issue. And now that the Yucca Mountain project is kaput, timely solutions seem hard to come by. New York Times

It’s about to get cold: In just the last week, the United States tied or set about 1,000 new cold temperature records. These low temperature records are part of a larger trend for 2013, which has led some scientists to project that this year will be the first since 1993 in which the lows outpace the highs. But there’s no need to perfect your Mr. Freeze puns just yet; on the long scale, heat records are still beating out cold ones at a ratio of 2:1, and even with its icy weather, 2013 will still probably rank among the 10 warmest years on record. Climate Central

Answers from the past: Sometimes the future lives up to projections made by science fiction decades ago (cue fake meat and jetpacks). But much of the innovation that's poised to change the world is actually reminiscent of older ways of thinking. This is the theme for OnEarth’s first-ever month-long series! It kicks off with an essay from New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert about looking backward for the next big sustainable innovation. But the ideas keep coming all December long as we investigate the ancestral wisdom informing our future. OnEarth


The good, the bad, and the ugly: Earth … ain’t she a beaut? Every day I’m amazed by images of worldly wonder seen by way of the Internet. And yet, there are quite a few scenes that show the damage we’ve wrought, too. This dichotomy is the theme of photojournalist Peter Essick’s Our Beautiful, Fragile World—a book that's guaranteed to shock and awe. Fast Company


Western States Want to Delay Wolverine Listing Salt Lake Tribune

Billionaire to Raise Pressure on Keystone The Hill

Urban Schools Aim for Environmental Revolution New York Times

Australians Cryogenically Freeze Coral Sperm from the Great Barrier Reef Popular Science

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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The Earth is afflicted with growing tons of human-generated waste materials, so it is resorting to extreme temperatures and extremely violent storms, trying to process the toxins we dump every day all year. So, is "a growing economy a healthy economy"?. Just the opposite, a growing economy is an ecocidal economy.