Weekend Reads: Dinosaurs of the Bible, Warriors of the Amazon, Sweethearts of the Sewer
Five greenreads to keep an eye on, while the other eye scans the sky for crashing meteors.
Mark Joseph Stern at Slate on dinosaurs in Paradise: As we celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday and legacy this week, Stern reminds us that creationists still hold sway over 46 percent of Americans. “It’s not a losing battle by any means,” he writes. “But it hasn’t been won yet, either.” Case in point: Ken Ham, the man behind Kentucky’s infamous Creation Museum and a series of children's books. In Dinosaurs of Eden, for instance, Adam and Eve feed grapes to cavorting dinosaurs, the T-Rex starts eating meat only after Cain kills Abel, and ... scientists are sinners that burn forever in Hell. Sweet dreams, kids! “If Ham had his way," Stern writes, "schoolchildren across the country would see this image every day, and they’d never be taught the true diversity, complexity, and drama of the evolution of life.” Ham’s latest escapade is a biblical flood theme park called Ark Encounter for which the Kentucky governor is requesting a $43 million tax break. No word yet if there'll be dinosaurs.
Alexander Zaitchik at Salon on Ecuador’s gold wars: Remember that movie Avatar, where aliens (who are humans) threaten to destroy a society (of aliens) all for the love of some mineral lying deep underground? Well, something like that is happening in the Amazon right now, except well, everyone involved is human. Ecuadoran president Rafael Correa wants to strip-mine the rainforested mountains of the Cordillera del Condor, and in classic bad-guy style, Correa is using the power of the state to arrest activists and bully journalists who see the project as an ecological and human rights disaster. He’s also inviting Canadian and Chinese mining companies to do his dirty work, hollowing out whole mountains and kicking aside the indigenous Shuar people who live in the region. But the Shuar aren't the kind of folks who shy away from a fight. Revered in New World history, they are the only tribe to have successfully revolted against both Inca and Spanish occupation, and they're taking today’s battle just as seriously. Shuar leader Domingo Ankwash says: “To get the gold, they will have to kill every one of us first.” Let's hope for a happier ending... (For more on the new global gold rush, see "Buried Treasure.")
Jeff Hull in Outside Magazine on the trappings of fame: In December a hunter legally gunned down a wolf 15 miles outside of Yellowstone National Park. She wasn't just any wolf. “The wolf he shot was the most famous wolf -- perhaps the most famous single wild animal -- on earth.” Known as the 06 Female, she was the alpha of the Lamar Canyon Pack and a favorite among park visitors and Facebook fans all over the world. Around her neck, the 06 Female wore a radio collar, which gave biologists with the Yellowstone Wolf Project important data on how these predators move, hunt, and live -- and how we might better conserve them. The collar is also what might have gotten her killed. With more and more collared wolves dying, speculation is rising over whether hunters are tapping into the wolves' radio frequencies and targeting them specifically. “They’ve been waiting 17 years in Wyoming to kill wolves," says a project volunteer. “I’ve been standing on the side of the road watching wolves and had people pull up and say to me, ‘Lady, you better take a picture of those wolves because they’re the last you’re ever going to see.'”
Daniel Zwerdling, Margot Williams, and Eliza Barclay for NPR on greenwashing the big blue: Next time you find yourself by the seafood counter, contemplating that sustainable-certified slab of swordfish, keep walking. It turns out that lots of fisheries labeled "sustainable" aren't so ocean-friendly after all. Scientists and fisherman alike say that the Marine Stewardship Council, which manages sustainable certification, gives its stamp of approval to fisheries with struggling populations and fishing methods that kill more than the intended bounty. Take the Nova Scotia swordfish fishery, for example, where recent research shows that two sharks die for every swordfish brought onto the boat. NPR’s three-part series covers swordfish, salmon, and the fishermen that earn their living catching them.
Melissa Mahony at OnEarth on sweethearts and sewers: Nothing says romance like 310 million gallons of raw sewage: a wastewater treatment plant in Brooklyn invites couples to spend Valentine’s Day among the muck. Yesterday, Mahony and 300 other filtration-philes took them up on the offer, eschewing the scent of roses for the sweet stench of methane. “We’ve added a lot of odor control here,” boasts one tour guide. By day's end, the couples had a deeper, more intimate understanding of what happens actually when the toilet flushes. "After treatment, the wastewater -- like a born-again virgin -- leaves its sullied past behind and returns to the East River anew." Prrrrr.
Tired of reading yet? Watch this.
Benjamin Drummond and Sara Joy Steele for The Guardian on jungle snapshots: Catching a million snapshots of wildlife in 16 tropical forests around the world is no easy feat, but the work definitely pays off with important data regarding how species are responding to climate change and of course, with adorable animal pics.
Tips: @OnEarthMag (tag it #greenreads)