Let's take a deep breath and look at some positive news

Weekend Reader, Sunday March 25

We often hear from readers about the lack of positive news on our pages. Yup. We cover the environment and climate change, and for the most part, the news isn't good. But exceptions to the rule abound.


Here's a parade of upbeat stories from just the past week.

From Science Magazine: Buried in the 2,000+ page omnibus spending bill passed by Congress are some of the biggest increases in funding for scientific research in the past decade. NOAA, USGS, the National Science Foundation, and DOE's Science Office will all see larger budgets.

Another rider buried in the budget bill would prohibit federal funds from being used to build the border wall through the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge in Texas. (NBC News)

And the immense $1.3 trillion spending bill initially included 80 anti-environment riders. But cuts to EPA's budget and DOE's Renewables Office were removed from the bill. (Inside Climate News)

Big Oil's lead attorney in a climate lawsuit brought by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland acknowledged in court that human-caused climate change is real. The trial continues. (Associated Press)

And in Oregon, another suit brought on behalf of 21 young people against the U.S. Government for climate inaction has cleared a major hurdle. A federal judge denied a government move to dismiss the suit as too broad.

The New York Times has an optimistic report on China's pollution cleanup efforts

Fortune reports that McDonald's is launching an ambitious plan to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by one-third.

There's a great story about using predators instead of pesticides to protect crops: Cherry orchards in Michigan use kestrels (a small falcon species) to drive off smaller birds who feed on cherries.

Miami TV meteorologist John Morales wrote an eloquent rant in refusing an invitation to moderate a climate "debate" featuring the Heartland Institute. (AGU)

Factcheck.org dissects a recent op-ed by Rep. Lamar Smith, the climate-denying Chair of the House Science Committee. It isn't pretty. Let's hear it for factcheckers.

Octoparole? The Canadian Press reports on the Vancouver Aquarium's release of a giant Pacific octopus into the wild. The female octopus was showing signs of mating behavior, but had no prospects in the Aquarium's tank. Now, it's cruising the Pacific.

As for more good news, please feel free to send us anything you see. Or, like the kids in Washington DC and elsewhere this weekend, feel free to make your own.

Top Weekend News

The New York Times reports on near-record low Arctic ice cover this winter.

Drought and rising temperatures could drastically increase wildfires in the western U.S. (Outside Online)

Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher. It's worth six minutes to watch.

From CleanTechnica: New research finds that extreme temperature fluctuations can be linked to a higher rate of heart attacks.

While we were focused on guns, Canada focused on pipelines: Over 100 arrests, including two members of Parliament, took place at a protest of the construction of the Trans Mountain Pipeline.

Opinions and Editorials

The Jacksonville, FL Times-Union editorializes on the U.S. military's preparedness for climate impacts.

The Montana Standard spanks its home-state cabinet member, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

On PRI's Living On Earth, Peter Dykstra and Steve Curwood talk about an oil company scrubbing the word "oil" from its name; using animals to take the place of farm chemicals; and a crucial court case about DDT.

This Week in Trump's Science/Environment Purge

House Oversight Chair Trey Gowdy, best known for his pursuit of Benghazi, is now seeking answers on Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's $139,000 expenditure on new office doors. Dare I say "Door-Gate?"

As the Senate debated the massive $1.3 trillion spending bill, Idaho Senator Jim Risch briefly stalled the proceedings. A rider to the bill called for re-naming an Idaho Wilderness Preserve after the late Cecil Andrus, former Idaho Governor and Risch's political archrival.

EPA may be preparing to side with automakers in lowering fuel efficiency standards. (Auto News)

At Vox, David Roberts warns of another attempt to bail out dirty power plants.

Fractured: Harmful chemicals and unknowns haunt Pennsylvanians surrounded by fracking

We tested families in fracking country for harmful chemicals and revealed unexplained exposures, sick children, and a family's "dream life" upended.

This is part 1 of our 4-part series, "Fractured," an investigation of fracking chemicals in the air, water, and people of western Pennsylvania.

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www.bbc.com

'UK first' nuclear fusion plan for Nottinghamshire power station

A Nottinghamshire power station is put forward as a possible site for a prototype reactor.
www.bayjournal.com

Baltimore church converts neglected urban forest into ‘peace park’

Project to restore degraded woodlands in damaged community enlists help from all over.

www.newyorker.com

Bill McKibben: The shift to renewable energy can give more power to the people

We shouldn’t give up on the idea of democratizing energy ownership as much as possible.
news.mongabay.com

The possible meat: A Brazilian farmer shows ranching can regenerate the Cerrado

Matheus Sborgia, a Brazilian chef, decided to bet on regenerative agriculture after inheriting his grandfather's cattle ranch in the heart of the Cerrado.

news.mongabay.com

When Chinook salmon is off the menu, other prey will do for endangered orcas

For nearly 20 years, Robin Baird has been following killer whales, trying to figure out what they eat. At first, he would look to see what was in their mouths as the whales feasted on fish near the surface. But then he and his colleague, Brad Hanson, started looking for more subtle clues in their […]
news.mongabay.com

Facebook enabling Amazon land grabbing, deforestation, finds investigation

The illegal sale of protected land in the Brazilian Amazon has been going on for years, but a new BBC report got deeply inside the criminal network and found some land grabbers advertising on Facebook.