Sign Up for Our Newsletter


Endangered Rhino for Sale, Congressional Climate Defenders, Snail Song Sing-a-Long
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Tap trouble: After an unknown quantity of 4-methylcyclohexane leaked into the Elk River and a water treatment plant last week, around 300,000 West Virginians are still without safe, clean water to drink, bath in, even wash clothes with. Tests are starting to show the contaminant to be present in less than 1 parts per million at the treatment facility, which means officials will now begin checking the water throughout the state to verify whether the threat has passed. The spill has harmed the local economy by shutting down restaurants, discouraging tourism, and turning Charleston into a ghost town for the last five days. And although the spill is one of the nation’s largest in years, the story registered nary a blip on the Sunday news programs. Bloomberg

Lone rancher: People are technically not allowed to live in the evacuation zone surrounding Fukushima, but that hasn’t stopped one local man from returning to feed his cows. More than a simple humanitarian mission, Masami Yoshizawa is maintaining his herd as a protest against the government—for its decree that all contaminated cows be rounded up and slaughtered, for the way it failed to protect its people in the aftermath of the meltdown, and for the way it would have everyone pretend that the disaster never happened. In addition to his own herd, Yoshizawa has been saving abandoned cattle from other farms. New York Times

Fight club: The Republican Party has been very clear about its intention to fight a number of President Obama’s climate initiatives, like the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to limit carbon pollution. So in anticipation of that showdown, a number of liberal Senate Democrats have decided to band together publicly as climate defenders. Their goals include creating momentum for the EPA, raising the profile of climate issues, and generally saving the world. National Journal

Going once, going twice, gone forever: Only about 4,000 black rhinos remain in the universe, which is why it’s kind of strange that Namibia just auctioned off a permit to kill one. So, what’s the going rate for an animal on the brink of extinction? The low, low price of $350,000. Namibia and the Dallas Safari Club, the group that hosted the auction, say that all the funds will go toward—wait for it—black rhino conservation, and that the animal is an old male, which would likely die soon anyway. In contrast, conservationists, animal rights activists, and pretty much the rest of the rational world have unilaterally declared the auction a total clustercuss. The FBI is already investigating death threats made against the winner (read: loser) who wishes to remain anonymous. Associated Press

Predator problems: New research shows that three quarters of the world’s top carnivores are steadily declining. And when you mess with the tops of food webs, you can throw the whole ecosystem out of whack. For instance, loss of seasonal shore ice, studies show, forces polar bears to eat the eggs of migratory birds rather than hunting seals—a ripple that affects the population of all three species. Los Angeles Times

Beef: It’s what’s for Weekend Reads: It’s not too late to catch up on last week's batch of environmental longreads! Learn about a weird government loophole that feeds the beef industry, what happens when scientists get stranded at the bottom of the world, and the murderous dealings of Costa Rican turtle egg poachers. OnEarth


Blame it on my mucous trail: Snails are not typically thought of as charismatic creatures. Nor would you consider them ambassadors of alt rock. But I'll guarantee two things after watching this video: 1) You’ll come out of it thinking snails are kind of ballers. 2) You’ll be humming “SNAIL” for the rest of the day. The Pet Collective


Global Warming and Energy—Intertwined Problems in Africa Guardian

Mountain Lions in Santa Monica Mountains Need More Room, Experts Say McClatchy DC

Enviros Sue Canada Over Species at Risk of Enbridge Pipeline Environment News Service

New York City to Make 20% of Parking Spaces Ready for Electric Car Charging over Next Decade Treehugger

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

Like this article? Donate to NRDC to support OnEarth's groundbreaking nonprofit journalism.