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Drilling the Atlantic, Germany Wins (Again), Synchronized Swimming with Robots and Hippos
Our top picks: today's environmental news and best #greenreads.

Cold calculation: The Obama administration announced Friday that it will open the Eastern Seaboard for offshore drilling, and allow oil and gas companies to use sonic surveying cannons, a technology known to disrupt the communication systems of marine mammals, causing them to beach themselves. But hey, apparently that’s OK with the feds. “The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed even as it approved opening the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida to exploration.” Associated Press

Of grouse and men: The greater sage grouse population has declined 80 percent over the last century. Clearly, the species is in need of saving, but doing so would require reining in both fossil fuel exploration and wind farm development in the bird’s prairie habitat out west. New York Times

We’re number one! We’re number… oh: A new study has ranked the world’s biggest economies by energy efficiency, and the results are … well, the United States came in 13th (out of 16, mind you). Apparently, we waste a “tremendous” amount of energy. China, Canada, Australia, and India all beat us, with Germany taking first place. This prompted a German official to gloat, “We are pleased to win a second title in a week’s time.” Yeah, yeah, we get it: You’re good at kicking balls AND flicking light switches. Al Jazeera America

High and dry: More than 80 percent of California is now in extreme drought. So it’s strange that a couple in Glendora, California, is facing a $500 fine for not watering their lawn. According to the letter they received from their city, “Despite the water conservation efforts, we wish to remind you that limited watering is still required to keep landscaping looking healthy and green.” (Psst. Glendora, you’re doing it wrong.) ThinkProgress

The Anthropocene diet: If the estimates are right and the world adds another 2.6 billion people by 2050, we’re going to need new ways to feed everyone. And according to a recent study, the best ways to do that would be to increase crop yields in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe, learn how to grow certain crops (i.e. rice, wheat, and corn) more efficiently, stop wasting the food we do grow, eat less beef, and use less land for growing biofuels. Great plan!—Except climate change will likely make doing all that harder. Vox

Oh, now you care: Beneath California, there’s a patchwork of aquifers that were once thought to be so deep or of such low quality that the state basically told oil and gas companies: “Ah, what the heck, it’s cool with us if you want to pump your fracking wastewater down there.” But now that the state is out of water, farmers have started to tap into these poisoned aquifers, prompting officials to order an emergency shutdown of 11 waste injection sites. ProPublica

DAILY DISTRACTION

Number 5 is alive! (For now.): Hippos may look like pudgy pink pigs, but they’re considered Africa’s most deadly animals (specifically to human beings who swim too close to these very territorial vegetarians). This makes filming them a bit of a tricky assignment. Lucky for us, robots have no fear of disembowelment. Or do they? Earth Touch News

OTHER HEADLINES

Train Derailment Forces Evacuations in Wisconsin Town Chicago Tribune

Without Much Straining, Minnesota Reins In Its Utilities’ Carbon Emissions New York Times

Fires in NW Territories in Line with ‘Unprecedented’ Burn Climate Central

As Gray Seal Populations Boom, So Do Conflicts as Residents Decry Those They Once Protected Associated Press

Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)

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