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Rainy Days for Penguin Chicks, Water Wars in Cali, China's Surprise Tell-All
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

All the live-long day: Yet another train carrying oil and hazardous materials derailed over the weekend, spilling its contents. This accident occurred near New Augusta, Mississippi, causing around 20 people to be evacuated. Thankfully no one was hurt. So, like, how many of these things need to happen before we get to work on railroad safety? Reuters

Let data ring: As a lark, environmental groups petitioned the Chinese government last year to release official data on air pollution. Much to their surprise, the government agreed. As of the first of this year, 15,000 factories have been required to publicly report real-time details of their emissions and water discharges. Environmental toxicologist Linda Greer of the Natural Resources Defense Council (which publishes OnEarth) says this is the single biggest move China’s made to address its pollution problems and a sign that they’re ready to make a change. Washington Post

When it rains, it kills: If you’ve seen March of the Penguins, then you know these southern birds are capable of surviving damn near anything. But when it comes to the Magellanic penguins of Argentina, rain is their kryptonite. A Magellanic chick's down is soft and warm when it's between 9 and 23 days old, but unfortunately, not waterproof. A hard rain can saturate the chicks and kill them with hypothermia. Well, you can probably guess where this is going … climate change is making the penguins’ normally cold, desert-like habitat much wetter—which brings more dead chicks and threatens the species' existence. Los Angeles Times

Thanks but no thanks: Speaking of rain, California ain’t got none. To help alleviate some of the drought-associated problems, Republicans in Congress cooked up a plan to remove limits on how much water agencies can pump out of the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta—never mind that doing so would override state laws and protections, put the ecosystem at risk, and place certain water interests above others. California Governor Jerry Brown called the GOP proposal “unwelcome and intrusive,” adding “it falsely suggests the promise of water relief when that is simply not possible given the scarcity of water supplies.” Al Jazeera America

Spot on: The high mountains of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and China are probably the last place on Earth you’d expect to find cooperation and progress. But villagers, conservationists, and governments have been working together for years now in an attempt to save the endangered snow leopard. New protected areas, shared research data, and international collaboration are giving the last remaining 7,000 snow leopards a new lease on life. New York Times

Water rings: Seventy years of water level measurements have told us that water levels on the Great Lakes rise and fall on a 13-year cycle. Or at least they used to. Since 1998, water depths have just kept plummeting—like the career of Chumbawamba. “Our lakes have never been lower than they are,” says climate scientist Carl Watras. A disturbance of the circumglobal teleconnection—umm, that's a high altitude wind like the polar vortex-causing jet stream—combined with warmer winters may be causing the anomaly. LiveScience

DAILY DISTRACTION

Take a hike: It took Tyler Fox four and a half months to cover the 2,600 miles between southern California and British Columbia on foot, but the man was indefatigable. And while you and I will likely never conquer the Pacific Crest Trail as he has, at least we can enjoy his three-second-a-day video montage. Awesome. Halfway Anywhere

OTHER HEADLINES

Sochi Winter Olympics: Stray Dogs Are Being ‘Rounded up and Slaughtered Ahead of Russian Games’ Huffington Post UK

13 Vintage Photos of the Dust Bowl Modern Farmer

India Wants to Build a Solar Project So Large (4,000 Megawatts), It Would Dwarf All Others! Treehugger

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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