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Boy Scout Leaders Earn Vandalism Badge, Fiery Fracking Protests, Eyelashes to Die for
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Just how bad is air pollution in China?: So bad officials basically had to all but shut down Harbin, one of northeastern China’s largest cities. The chokingly high levels of smog led to suspended schools, disrupted public bus routes, and cancelled airplane flights. In fact, the pollution is so bad, you can see it, and not much else ... visibility is down to just over 30 feet. Want numbers? The World Health Organization recommends avoiding daily levels of particulate matter higher than 20 and considers a reading of 300 to be truly hazardous. In some parts of Harbin, the readings are 1,000. Al Jazeera America

Idle hands: Speaking of air pollution, did you know American automobiles emit a million pounds of carbon dioxide pollution per second? Now think how much of that you have contributed to the atmosphere while warming the car up in winter or chatting with a neighbor by the mailbox. The point is, allowing a vehicle to idle is a really careless way to contribute to climate change. And according to the following PSA, idling might even cost you a date. Mother Nature Network

Warning, gas may be explosive: Canadian police arrested at least 40 people last week as an anti-fracking protest turned violent in Rexton, New Brunswick. Concerned natural gas drilling would poison their land, members of the Elsipogtog First Nation erected a blockade designed to keep SWN Resources Canada from conducting seismic testing. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police came in to disperse the crowd and remove the barricade, but they arrived with guns drawn, and the situation quickly deteriorated. The police shot plastic bullets and pepper spray at the crowd, perhaps in response to a shot being fired at them. In the ensuing chaos, the crowd lit six police cars on fire with Molotov cocktails. USA Today

Candid camera: For 60 years, a long pipeline carrying tar sands oil has been submerged beneath the waters between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan. And lately, environmentalists have become concerned that the ol' pipe may spring a leak. And for good reason ... the pipeline belongs to Enbridge, a company with quite the reputation for ruptured pipelines. After waiting for two years for Enbridge to inspect the pipeline, divers from the National Wildlife Federation threw on some wetsuits and did it themselves (with an Enbridge-owned remote operated vehicle spying on them all the way). What they found were broken supports, signs of corrosion, and excess debris. Treehugger

Scouts dishonor: Utah’s Goblin Valley State Park is a beautiful, otherworldly display of what wind and water can do over the course of millions of years (see above). Unfortunately, the park is now also an example of what a trio of yahoos can do in about 30 seconds. Supposedly concerned that one of the rock formations might topple and “kill a family,” three men leading a Boy Scout expedition decided to knock the goblin rock over. The dopes also decided to film their deed and then post it to Facebook (of course). So in addition to earning idiot badges, the men may face felony charges. CNN

Maybe she's born with it: Last week, 140 countries signed a global treaty that bans mercury in cosmetics, soaps, batteries, and some light bulbs. Great news, only the ban does not extend to mascara. Mercury is a neurotoxin known to impact fetal brain development, among many other awful things, though some manufacturers deem it a necessary component to kill bacteria that might infect the eye. Necessary? Not quite. But according to Stacy Malkan, cofounder of the advocacy group Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, many companies have already found alternatives. “There’s absolutely no reason to not include it in the treaty,” she says. “It’s just ridiculous.” Environmental Health News

DAILY DISTRACTION

Fire in the sky: Every time that old geezer Halley’s Comet came through our solar system, it leaves behind a bunch of rocky riffraff and, tonight, all that heavenly detritus will be raining down from the sky at 148,000 miles per hour. (Don’t worry, most of it will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere in the form of brilliant little fireballs before it lands in your neighbor’s pool.) In other words, the annual Orionid meteor shower peaks tonight! So grab some blankets, brew some cocoa, and get ready to watch a celestial fracas! Los Angeles Times

OTHER HEADLINES

Insurance Falls Short for Some Sandy Victims Associated Press

Hit by Low Prices, Lobstermen Are at Odds in Maine and Canada New York Times

How Do You Get People to Give a Damn about Climate Change? Climate Desk

Australia Wildfires: Nearly 100 Fires Rage Across New South Wales Associated Press

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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