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Exxon ... You're a Bunch of Jerks, Whale-Soup Scrub?, All-You-Can-Eat Jellyfish Buffet
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

The air up there: The air quality is now so bad in China—how bad is it?—they’re trucking in bags of “mountain air” so urban residents can sample a taste of clean oxygen. Happily, the bags were just part of a PR stunt designed to drum up interest in Laojun Mountain, a recreational area outside of Zhengzhou. While the air-bags are a bit of a joke, the city’s AQI (air quality index) is not. It measured 158 on Monday, while Bakersfield, California (America’s most polluted city) weighed in at just 45. (Bonus: obligatory Space Balls clip.) Wall Street Journal

Hiding in plain sight: The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has taken the world on a wild goose chase across the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. Unfortunately, officials still have no idea what happened to the airliner, but their search has uncovered another dismal reality: our oceans are full of crap. Like, how full? Current estimates suggest as much as 20 million tons of new trash enter the sea each year. OnEarth

“The Cultures of Climate Change”: For just a minute, I want you to forget about the 2°C and 400 ppm. All the papers, all the evidence—accept them as a given and open your mind up to what comes after all the science. This is the aim of a new course at the University of Oregon that teaches the story of climate change, not with numbers but through poetry, photography, fiction, and film. New York Times

Sorry not sorry: So, remember how shareholders convinced ExxonMobil to release an asset risk report, and we thought it might be a meaningful way to bridge the gap between industry interests and the global threat of climate change? Yeah, about that. Exxon released their statement Monday, and the company basically said there’s no reason to worry about the risks to its assets, because it doesn't anticipate any serious legislation that will prevent it from drilling until Kingdom Come. Furthermore, Exxon says it acknowledges the threat of climate change, but still anticipates extracting and burning every last drop of its reserves. (So, in other words…) Grist

Jelly Belly: The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (see “Calculated Risk”) has a lot to say about how the oceans stand to change as they warm. For instance, many fish species will not be able to adapt to new temperatures and will instead move toward the poles. Corals, being far less mobile than fish (duh) and more susceptible to ocean acidification, will probably suffer humongous casualties. And as water warms, it holds less oxygen, creating what may amount to huge dead zones. But don’t worry, some species will thrive in such waters! But are you OK with trading in your sushi and lobster for a jellyfish the size of a refrigerator? Quartz

Here I go again on my own: Some have called Jay Inslee of Washington the greenest governor in America. And he’s certainly tried to live up to the title. Inslee has been pivotal in brokering the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy, a partnership between Washington, Oregon, California, and British Columbia that aims to set a cap or price on carbon dioxide emissions. It’s a forward-thinking project that transcends borders and has the potential to set a serious example. Just one problem—like President Obama, Inslee has to battle his state’s Republicans to get anything done. And so far, the Republicans are winning. Climate Desk


Good for what whales ya: All too often, when a whale washes up on a beach it’s a sign of something we’ve done wrong—pollution, seismic testing, collisions with watercraft … But back in 1896, one man found a way to make the best of a bad situation. What follows is the story of how one man (allegedly) cured himself of rheumatism by spending 30 hours up to his neck in the festering corpse of a whale. Full disclosure: He was probably drunk. Smithsonian


Toxic Coal Ash Poses Persistent Threat to US Waters Christian Science Monitor

California’s Spring Snowpack Is Worst in Quarter-Century Al Jazeera America

Even Better than More Cowbell: Doctors Are Prescribing Bikeshare Memberships Grist

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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