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.

Climate change impacts babies in utero

A new study has found that climate change can impact babies while they are still in the womb.

Sunrise in the woods

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Sydney floods force tens of thousands of residents to flee homes

With summer in full swing and daily temperatures peaking well over 100 degrees in the Coachella Valley, a local lawmaker is hoping to pass a few proposals this year to address extreme heat conditions in California.

Summer in America is becoming hotter, longer and more dangerous

Summer temperatures in Reno have risen 10.9 degrees Fahrenheit, on average, since 1970, making it the fastest warming city in the nation during the hottest months, according to an analysis by the nonprofit research group Climate Central.

Stuart P. M. Mackintosh: Don’t let SCOTUS undo decades of progress on climate change

Elect a green Congress, and we can begin to reverse the shortsighted destructive judicial activism of the SCOTUS six, and the U.S. can quickly rebalance and reorient our society and economy towards a more equitable, prosperous, sustainable, green tomorrow.

Africa insurers urged to focus more on climate change

Despite contributing the least amount of greenhouse gas emissions, Africa is most exposed to climate change impact. Africa’s insurance industry has been challenged to play a proactive role in addressing the climate change agenda.

State bills aim to protect workers in extreme heat conditions

With summer in full swing and daily temperatures peaking well over 100 degrees in the Coachella Valley, a local lawmaker is hoping to pass a few proposals this year to address extreme heat conditions in California.

Thomas O. McGarity: The Supreme Court’s devastating blow to the planet

The Supreme Court’s insistence that Congress focus with laser-like precision on every conceivable issue that may come up in the distant future will make it far more difficult for Congress to enact protective legislation.

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environmental injustice

Centering biodiversity and social justice in overhauling the global food system

“The food system is the single largest economic sector causing the transgressing of planetary boundaries.”

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.

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Using comedy to combat climate change

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