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OnEarth's Hottest Stories of 2013
From sexy climate scientists to nuclear sushi, here's what kept you clicking this year.

Some journalists hate making year-end lists, to the point that it’s become a staple of the genre to complain about the assignment even while fulfilling it. But I kinda love ’em. If patience is a lost virtue, as our own David Gessner argues, then being forced to slow down and look back on the year, even if only to categorize some portion of it for a listicle, can be its own reward.

At an online publication, where the demand to fill virtual space can never be fully satisfied, it’s nice to have a reminder of the stories that most resonated with readers over the year—especially when the results show that our readers continue to reward wit, originality, and digging for answers, which, not so coincidentally, are some of the qualities we most value in our journalism and commentary.

Here, then, are your 13 favorite OnEarth stories of 2013, starting with the most popular (as ranked by pageviews). Enjoy them all over again.

Climate Models, XXX = YYY-Wowza! by Melissa Mahony
Sorry shirtless firemen: climate scientists could take over the sexy calendar market in 2014.

The Curse of Cute
by Jason Bittel

The Internet teems with footage of cute and cuddly animals. Could these viral videos be fueling the illegal wildlife trade?

Our Life in a Museum
by Melissa Mahony

What’s it like caring for the oldest Dutch Colonial farmhouse in New York City? Quite frankly, it’s a pain the neck (but still pretty rad).

Fracking the Amish
by Elizabeth Royte

In a community that shuns technology and conflict, the intrusion of gas wells shatters tranquility and brings unexpected schisms.

Should We Be More Worried About Nuclear Sushi? by Brad Jacobson
Two years after Fukushima, our response to the discovery of radiation-contaminated tuna illustrates a disturbing scientific divide.

The New Pork Gospel by Barry Estabrook
Raising pigs crammed into metal pens and dosed with antibiotics nearly killed this farmer. Now he preaches a better way. Chipotle, for one, is a believer.

The Sound and the Fury by Kim Tingley
On the trail of the "Windsor hum," a mysterious noise that’s driving Canadians crazy.

Generation Toxic by Florence Williams
We’ve known for years that lead seriously impairs early childhood development. Now scientists are finding that our kids’ brains are at risk from a barrage of other common chemicals.

When It Rains, It Poisons by Jason Bittel
Climate change could bring more runoff and toxic algal blooms to Lake Erie.

Antibacterial Soap: Safe Suds or Snake Oil? by Laura Fraser
The main ingredient in many antibacterial soaps is not only useless, it’s bad for you. So why do government regulators let industry keep pushing triclosan on hospitals and consumers?

Are We Ignoring the Most Important Science About the Gulf Spill? by Rachel Nuwer
There’s no way to link the Deepwater Horizon blowout to dolphin deaths, mutated animals, and other strange occurrences in the Gulf of Mexico without toxicology studies. And few are getting funded.

What’s Killing Minnesota’s Moose? by Jessica Benko
The iconic monarch of the North Woods is dying at an alarming rate. Is it climate change, a brain-piercing parasite, or is something else to blame?

Port Arthur, Texas: American Sacrifice Zone by Ted Genoways
After decades of neglect, residents of the Gulf Coast’s most toxic public housing complex are preparing to get out. But in a city given over to oil refineries, is anywhere really safe?

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image of Scott Dodd
Scott Dodd is the editorial director of NRDC, which publishes OnEarth. He was a newspaper reporter for 12 years, contributing to coverage of Hurricane Katrina that won a Pulitzer Prize, and has written for Scientific American, Slate, and other publications. CJR praised his expansion of as an outlet for "bang-up investigative journalism." He also teaches at Columbia University. MORE STORIES ➔