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The Sea Spits Up a New Island, Fracking's Super Secret Recipe, a Toxic Canal Grows in Brooklyn
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

An offer he can’t refuse (but can): Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited New York City last week where he kicked his push for the Keystone XL pipeline into high gear. In an attempt to convince President Obama that the tar sands pipeline is a wise economic move for both countries, Harper channeled Vito Corleone while saying, “My view is that you don’t take no for an answer.” He also said there is no “plan B” if President Obama does decide to nix the plan. CTV News

No seep ‘til Brooklyn!: Decades ago, manufacturing plants in Brooklyn that turned coal into gas dumped all kinds of toxic sludge into the Gowanus Canal. Today, those same plants, now closed, continue to seep coal tar, which mixes with sewage overflow, and every manner of debris, from metal scrap to concrete blocks to the occasional dead whale. The canal became a Superfund site in 2010, which means the environmental disaster is now the federal government’s problem to fix. The feds look to unveil their $500 million cleanup plan soon, but actual work on the canal might not start until 2015. New York Times

Secret chemical arsenals: What substances fracking companies pump into the ground in order to extract natural gas and oil out of shale deposits has been a longstanding mystery and debate. So in a case regarding poisoned well water in Pennsylvania, a judge recently ordered a fracking company, Range Resources, to disclose their full list of the chemicals they use. But the frackers are having a difficult time providing that list, they say, because apparently they don’t really know what chemicals they use either. And neither do their suppliers. Hmm… Huffington Post

Our lil’ Petri dish: Population is one of those icky subjects you probably shouldn’t bring up at dinner parties. On one hand, this big, blue rock can only sustain a finite number of humans. On the other, the conversation of how to curb our numbers can quickly devolve into topics that make people rip-roaring mad and throwing soup across the room. Fortunately, Alan Weisman—author of The World Without Us—has broken the ice with his new book, Countdown. So does Weisman advocate a one-child policy or government intervention? Nah. His solution is far better: girl power. Grist

Anyone want in on a timeshare?: So this new island just popped up off the coast of Pakistan, right as the country endured a 7.7-magnitude earthquake. Seismologists suspect a "mud volcano" formed the new land and that it’s unlikely to possess the traits we typically attribute to mysterious islands, like pirate treasure, dinosaurs, or giant apes. Nor is the island likely to last. In fact, an Pakistani earthquake in 1968 also birthed an island, but about a year later it left to get a pack of smokes in the middle of the night and never came back. NBC News

Start your week off right: OK, so you spent the whole weekend nervously awaiting the series finale of Breaking Bad—“I am the one who knocks!” But it’s cool, you can still catch our selection of environmental longreads. Learn about the conflict metals in your pocket, the science of wildfire, and how underdogs everywhere are taking on big oil—and winning. OnEarth

DAILY DISTRACTION

Sting-rex: This weekend, we showed you giant manta rays that soar through the ocean. Well, what about the half-ton stingrays that patrol the bottoms of freshwater inlets and rivers? Oh, and their 15-inch venom barbs. Yeah, because those exist. Wired

OTHER HEADLINES

My Shocking Train Ride Through the Heart of China’s “Airpocalypse” Mother Jones

Possible Eco-Terrorists Attack GM Papayas on the Big Island Huffington Post

Hillary Clinton Announces Program Aimed at Stamping out Elephant Poaching, Ivory Trade Washington Post

Burmese Python Trap: Will It Work? Christian Science Monitor

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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