Best longreads 2020

Our top 5 long reads of 2020

We've made it to the final week of 2020—a big accomplishment in a year that felt never-ending.

With the holidays here, you may have a little more time to relax. Wondering what to do with that time? We've got you covered.


Kick up your feet, grab a mug of your favorite hot drink and settle in to catch up on our top five long reads of the year. From the ocean floor to the forests of North Carolina to the blustery North, below are our top investigations and features.

1. Unplugged: Abandoned oil and gas wells leave the ocean floor spewing methane

Gulf of Mexico oil and gas drilling

The Gulf of Mexico is littered with tens of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, and toothless regulation leaves climate warming gas emissions unchecked.

2. How Europe’s wood pellet appetite worsens environmental racism in the US South

An expanding wood pellet market in the Southeast has fallen short of climate and job goals—instead bringing air pollution, noise and reduced biodiversity in majority Black communities.

3. ‘Them plants are killing us’: Inside a cross-border battle against cancer and pollution

Air pollution Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

Two communities — one in Canada, one in the U.S. — share both a border along the St. Marys River and a toxic legacy that has contributed to high rates of cancer. Now the towns are banding together to fight a ferrochrome plant.

4. Microplastics in farm soils: A growing concern

Researchers say that more microplastics pollution is getting into farm soil than oceans—and these tiny bits are showing up in our fruits, veggies, and bodies.

5. Exempt from inspection: States ignore lead-contaminated meat in food banks

Hunter-donated meat provides crucial protein to US food banks. But an EHN investigation found a lack of oversight that could result in potentially hundreds of thousands of lead-contaminated meals this year.

Banner photo: The Algoma steel plant after sunset, in Sault Ste., Marie, Ont., on Friday, Jan., 17, 2020. (Credit: Christopher Katsarov Luna/EHN)

In-depth reporting that you may have missed.

Dorchester's Moakley Park will receive $2.2 million to mitigate climate change impacts

Moakley Park, the waterfront space connecting Dorchester and South Boston, is set to receive a $2.2 million infusion as part of federal, state and local efforts to mitigate the effects of rising sea levels and other climate change impacts.

Sunrise in the woods

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Sweden's green revolution in response to climate change

A boom of renewable-powered industries have found a home in northern Sweden, fueling the country’s ambitions of a fossil-free economy.

Climate change groups in Missoula protest renewed federal oil, gas leases

350 Montana joined other environmental groups across the nation in protesting the Biden administration’s continuation of oil and gas lease sales on public land.

Humber Estuary conservation project to release 500,000 oysters

More than half a million oysters are to be released into the Humber estuary as part of a £2.5m conservation project. It is hoped introducing the native shellfish, as well as the planting of seagrass meadows, will help restore plant and fish life and reduce CO2.

U.S. Energy Secretary praises green energy in western Pennsylvania

During a visit to Pittsburgh Tuesday, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm described investment in a low-carbon future as a do-or-die proposition. She was speaking at the former Bethlehem Steel plant in Leetsdale, which built parts for landing crafts during World War II.

Oil showdown: 3 ways Interior may shape industry

Three oil and gas moves this week could reveal how President Joe Biden’s Interior Department plans to shape the federal fossil fuels program amid tense political fights over inflationary energy prices.

Airbus UK to build satellites measuring detail in climate change jigsaw

Airbus in the UK has been awarded a €160 million (£138m) contract to build satellites that will help measure the greenhouse effect and fill in a critical missing piece of the climate jigsaw.

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Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Global Warming: Why the problem is worse – and solutions simpler – than you thought

Noted ecologist John Harte offers a fresh take on the dire topic of climate change.

Colorado fracking

Colorado is the first state to ban PFAS in oil and gas extraction

The toxic “forever chemicals” are used in fracking wells across the country.

gun control

Peter Dykstra: Gun and climate change delusions

Millions here suffer from twin hallucinations: Guns don’t cause our mass shootings, and the climate isn’t changing.

Op-ed: An engine for social justice leads the way to change

Engine for social justice leads to change

Virginia Organizing's 27-year history as a role model for The Daily Climate

Using comedy to combat climate change

Using comedy to combat climate change

The Climate Comedy Cohort aims to help comedians infuse climate activism into their creative work.

roe v. wade

Derrick Z. Jackson: Roe v. Wade draft bodes ill for air, wetlands and the EPA

Justice Alito’s longstanding consistency in wanting to restrict EPA authority makes it transparent where he wants the court to go.

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