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Weekend Reads: Much Ado About Space Junk, Right Whales on the Right Track?, Bees Saving Us--Life and Limb
Five #greenreads to enjoy on long roadtrips in your swimming pool.

Moon seen from International Space Station

Five #greenreads to enjoy on long roadtrips in your swimming pool.

“The Untold Story of Rana Plaza” | When more than 1,100 Bangladeshi garment workers perished in a Dhaka factory collapse last April, the media dutifully covered the tragedy's economic implications, human rights concerns, and questionable labor practices. But there’s another story to be told here—a story of water and climate change. Like a river, George Black’s complex tale winds its way from the headwaters of the Ganges to the Bay of Bengal. It passes through poisonous leather sheds and dyeworks, trickles through back alley gutters and erosive tributaries. One way or another, a changing climate is the reason many Bangladeshis had been drawn to the city to work in a place that is now nothing more than a pile of rubble. OnEarth

“Space: The Final Frontier of Environmental Disasters?” | In space, no one can hear you … complain about littering. But that shouldn’t stop us down here from debating about the environmental health of the great beyond. The fact is, there are many unanswered questions about what our obligations are in space. Virtually everything we do out there creates dangerous detritus that may one day come back to harm us. (Cue trailer for Gravity.) Intergalactic preserves, mining rights, invasive species, and the ethics of terraforming—Adam Mann takes us through many of the issues, small steps, and giant leaps concerning the “nascent field of space environmentalism.” Wired

“The Whale's Return” | Psst … can you keep a secret? North Atlantic right whales are making a comeback. Scientists and conservationists are reluctant to tell anyone the news—perhaps out of guarded optimism or superstition—but the numbers don’t lie. And now that these endangered blubbery beasts are showing up in force (relatively speaking, of course), all sorts of new mysteries are surfacing. For instance, why are the whales suddenly palling around with bowhead whales, a species native to the Arctic, which is thousands of miles away? Can right whales really live as long as 300 years, as some evidence suggests? And, uh, what’s with that 12-foot-long organ in this cetacean’s lower jaw? Philip Hoare may not have all the answers, but it’s safe to say this piece has a lot of good questions. Aeon Magazine

“Farming a Future for Veterans” | Soldiers returning from war face many hurdles as they begin transitioning back to civilian life, and of those, finding meaningful employment is often the most daunting. But an organization called Veterans to Farmers is now providing vets with an 8-month education course in the ways of controlled-environment agriculture. Using methods like hydroponics and aeroponics, this dirt-free farming takes up less space and can consume as little as one-tenth the amount of water as a traditional farm. Helping our vets, conserving our resources, producing yummy eats—Sam Brasch may have cracked the code of what makes for a great human-interest story. Modern Farmer

“Saving North America’s Tallest Bird” | The whooping crane is often held up as one of conservation’s greatest coups. The bird owes its very existence to the intense efforts of just a handful of humans. (I mean, we teach adolescents birds to migrate by having them follow us in ultralight planes.) And yet, the whooper’s recovery is not certain. Many factors still threaten the species, including climate change, flooding, water quality, drought, coastal development, and yokels with guns. The inimitable Ted Williams takes us through the days of whooping-crane conservation’s past, present, and future. (And if you’re looking for a longer read on whoopers, Jon Mooallem’s Wild Ones will also throw you through some loops.) Audubon Magazine

Tired of Reading Yet? Watch This.

Swarm intelligence: Wars end, but landmines never stop fighting, and they don’t discriminate between soldiers and civilians. That’s why scientists are enlisting something else you don’t want to step on in the hunt for buried explosives. Bees! With just a few days of training, these insects are able to identify landmines with their highly attuned sense of smell. Scientific American

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)
Image: NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

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