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Snow Days and Science Class, Fossil Fuel Disasters of 2013, Farewell to the 40-Watt!
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Flakes: Everyone and their mothers are talking about the massive storm (dubbed "Hercules!”) that’s dropped several inches of snow on half the country. But while most folks know blizzards are simply the standing order for winter in the United States, many science deniers have taken the storm as an opportunity to dismiss climate change (yawn). So to the likes of Donald Trump and Rush Limbaugh we must once again explain: snowstorms do not disprove global warming. In fact, climate change actually may actually contribute to more intense winter weather in some areas. Mother Jones

Your time has come: Much to his dismay, John Kerry’s career hasn’t had many wins in the global warming column. The climate bills that he sponsored as a senator failed, and the UN climate summit he attended in 2009 fizzled before Kerry could get other countries to commit to any legally binding carbon cuts. But now as Secretary of State, he may finally be in a position to influence global climate policy. So far he’s been quietly instrumental in facilitating emission talks between the United States and China, and he hopes to “become the lead broker of a global climate treaty in 2015.” New York Times

Purple mountains majesty: Google “Colorado” and you’ll find a slew of articles detailing the state’s recent legalization of marijuana, but Colorado’s working on another power-to-the-people initiative worthy of your attention: the “right to local self-government." The proposed amendment to the state's constitution would allow local governments to override state law to ban industrial activities if they pose a threat to the health and safety of residents. If the measure makes it onto the ballot this November, it has a chance at giving communities the power to reject oil and gas drilling, the genetic modification of crops, dams, and the use of cyanide in gold mining. Al Jazeera America

Carbon calamities: Speaking of endangering the common good, here’s a list of the numerous fossil fuel disasters of 2013. Some you’ll surely remember—the North Dakota farmer who discovered seven football fields worth of oil spewing onto his property or the deadly oil train derailment in Lac-Megantic, Canada. Unfortunately, many these events—there are 45 in all—likely passed under your radar (until now). ThinkProgress

Cus I’m the scrapman: Old metal, used paper, broken plastic—these are the things America exports more than any other each year, with most of the scrap going to China for reuse or recycling. Globally, the trade keeps 135 million metric tons of trash out of landfills each year and saves us from mining more natural resources or expending petroleum extraction to produce more plastics—all obvious boons for the environment. However, the industry isn’t all sunshine and gumdrops. Many of the workers processing our trash earn paltry wages and are at heightened risk for pulmonary fibrosis and paralyzing strokes. And that’s where things get complicated. OnEarth

Flipping the switch: The 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act has been slowly phasing out the making and importing of traditional incandescent light bulbs. On January 1, 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs made the list of undesirables, following in the footsteps of the 75-watt and 100-watt bulb. So will 2014 mark the end of the incandescent era? Eh, not quite. Incandescent devotees will probably still find their go-to glows on store shelves for a while—but the move toward more energy efficient compact fluorescents, LEDS, and halogens is on! Oregon Public Broadcasting

DAILY DISTRACTION

Water therapy: Whatever’s going on in your life today, take three minutes to watch this short film featuring a pod of whales. Note: The video is SFW but I accept no liability if you’re co-workers see you cry as the mother cradles its calf with her enormous fin. Treehugger

OTHER HEADLINES

Federal Flood Insurance Program Drowning in Debt. Who Will Pay? NPR

Solar Power Poised for a Huge Year in 2014 Earth Techling

Controversial Idaho Hunting Contest Ends with No Wolves Killed Reuters

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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The Earth is a living biosphere with a collective instinct to survive, so when we humans dump tons of waste, the weather systems react with violent extremes like super hurricanes and tornados, hotter summers and colder winters, and since we continue to grow our population and dump more pollution, it will get much worse.