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Weekend Reads: Dragons in Decline, Fungal Fever, the Teachings of Termites
Five #greenreads to make up for your binge watching of Oscar-nominated flicks.

Death Dust
Valley fever is a potentially fatal disease caused by microscopic spores of Coccidioides immitis, a nasty little fungus that hitches rides on the plumes of dirt and dust. Amazingly, much of the country has never heard of valley fever, despite it being the second-most reported disease in Arizona in 2012. Not only are incidences of the fever on the rise across the Ssouthwest, but climate change and rampant development are kicking cocci up like never before. I guarantee you, Dana Goodyear’s piece is the scariest—and perhaps most important—you’ll read today. New Yorker

Disappearing Dragons
As the world’s largest lizard, the Komodo dragon holds a place in our imagination as an ancient beast with a venomous bite. But the dragon is in decline, and not because of sword-wielding knights. Instead, Jennifer Holland explains, “Dragon salvation relies heavily on the mundane issue of land management.” As agriculture and livestock practices divide dragon habitat, food is more difficult to come by and populations have become genetically isolated from each other. These reptiles have been around for some 40 million years, but circumstances are so dire, they may not see another 100. National Geographic

Dancing with the Stars
There’s a man in the desert with a box full of white laboratory mice. His job is to release the mice, one at a time, and wait for endangered Mexican spotted owls to swoop down and eat them. Or swoop down and fly away with them. Sharman Apt Russell joins the man, the mice, and the owls on a twilight adventure to benefit these endangered birds. Intrigued? You should be. OnEarth

Burning like a Mountain
The principles we’ve applied to land management over the last century—killing wolves and squelching wildlfires—has taken much of the wild out of the Wild West. Stephen Pyne invokes Aldo Leopold in this thoughtful piece about fire, wolves, humans, and life in the Anthropocene. "Too much safety," the famed naturalist once said, brings more "danger in the long run." Aeon Magazine

The Termite & the Architect
A building in Harare, Zimbabwe, became world renown in 1996 for its ability to mimic a termite mound’s heat regulation. The energy bill of the Eastgate Centre is a mere fraction of the cost of comparably-sized buildings. Just one thing … once the building was constructed, scientists discovered that we had totally misinterpreted the way termite mounds work! But no biggie. Lee Billings explains how even misunderstandings of nature can lead to amazing advancements for humankind. Nautilus

Tired of Reading Yet? Watch This:

Bug bites: Humans all over the world used to eat bugs like it ain’t no thang (and many still do). And now some Westerners want to revisit our insect-munching past, saying that eating bugs could solve a lot of problems, from feeding the hungry to cutting back on the enormously wasteful meat industry. So are you willing to take your first crunchy bite? TED-Ed

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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