Most popular stories of 2020

Our 5 most read stories of 2020

Revisit the stories and words that most resonated with our readers.

It's always something of a mystery to see what most touches readers. Black food sovereignty, DuPont's pollution, fracking and horses—this year's most read stories from our newsroom reflect true diversity in the world of environmental health.


We were delighted to see that whether essay, straight science reporting, explainer piece, or investigative feature, our work can reach millions.

Don't miss out, see what others have been reading. Below are our top five most read stories from the past year.

1. We don't farm because it's trendy; we farm as resistance, for healing and sovereignty

For more than 150 years, from the rural South to northern cities, Black people have used farming to build self-determined communities and resist oppressive structures that tear them down.

2. A lasting legacy: DuPont, C8 contamination and the community of Parkersburg left to grapple with the consequences

"We all have stories of friends and family, neighbors, dying too young or being diagnosed with various medical problems"

3. Coronavirus, climate change, and the environment

A conversation on COVID-19 with the director of Harvard University's Center of Climate, Health and the Global Environment.

4. Fracking linked to rare birth defect in horses: Study

A new study has uncovered a link between fracking chemicals in farm water and a rare birth defect in horses—which researchers say could serve as a warning about fracking and human infant health.

5. Organic diets quickly reduce the amount of glyphosate in people’s bodies

A new study found levels of the widespread herbicide and its breakdown products reduced, on average, more than 70 percent in both adults and children after just six days of eating organic.

Banner photo: Tracy Danzey grew up in polluted Parkersburg, West Virginia. (Courtesy Seth Freeman Photography)

california wildfires climate insurance
Big Stock Photo

California homebuyers face new obstacle as State Farm stops offering insurance

Californians looking to buy a house face some of the country’s most expensive real estate prices and wildfires that threaten scores of housing tracts. Now there’s another obstacle: finding an insurer willing to cover their dream home.
Senator Whitehouse & climate change

Senator Whitehouse puts climate change on budget committee’s agenda

For more than a decade, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse gave daily warnings about the mounting threat of climate change. Now he has a powerful new perch.
oak tree logging forest climate
Image by Karl Oss Von Iya from Pixabay

Log and burn, or leave alone? Indiana residents fight US Forest Service over the future of Hoosier National Forest

The mighty, valuable oak is at the center of conflict between federal officials and logging opponents over how to manage mature forests in an era of climate change.

EPA spurns Trump-era effort to drop clean-air protections for plastic waste recycling

Affirming long-standing incineration regulations, the Biden administration has withdrawn a plan to help ease the way for unchecked pyrolysis and gasification of plastic.

youth climate lawsuit oregon
Photo by David Veksler on Unsplash

Youth climate lawsuit against federal government headed for trial

A federal judge has ruled that a high-profile climate lawsuit, brought by a group of Oregon youth against the U.S. government, can finally go to trial.

silvopasture cows livestock forest
Image by Reinhard Borrmann from Pixabay

The new livestock farm is a forest, too

Silvopasture, the ancient practice of integrating trees and pastureland, is making a comeback as a way for farms to improve animal health while benefiting the climate.

Breweries are starting to capture carbon — from beer

Breweries are capturing carbon - from beer

Washington Post reporter Charlie Scudder writes about craft brewers who are using techniques developed by NASA to capture naturally produced CO2 and dissolve the molecules into their ales and beers.

In a nutshell:

New technology, developed by NASA and implemented by companies like Earthly Labs, captures CO2 from fermentation tanks, purifies it, and stores it for use in carbonating beer. By reusing the naturally produced CO2, breweries can cut down on their CO2 purchasing and improve the flavor profile of their beer. While the environmental impact of the technology may be small, it offers financial savings and contributes to sustainability efforts in the brewing industry.

Key quote:

“It’s good to get our fingers out of the petroleum industry any way we can,” brewery owner Brad Farbstein says.

Big picture:

By embracing such innovations, breweries can set an example for other sectors, highlighting the importance of finding practical solutions to minimize environmental impact. As more breweries implement these technologies, the collective effort can contribute to the larger goal of mitigating climate change and promoting sustainability in the brewing industry.

Read the full Washington Post story here.

wildfire smoke climate toxics health
Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash

How wildfire smoke and resulting poor air quality impact your health

Dark plumes of smoke from wildfires scorching Nova Scotia are drifting down the northeast corridor, leaving behind a pungent aroma and prompting health authorities to issue air-quality warnings as far east as New Jersey, southeast Pennsylvania and parts of Massachusetts.

From our Newsroom
Supreme Court wetlands

Opinion: Supreme Court undoing 50 years’ worth of environmental progress

The Supreme Court has taken a brazen anti-regulatory turn. It’s our planet and health that will suffer.

healthcare sustainability

Reimagining healthcare to reduce pollution, tackle climate change and center justice

“We need to understand who is harmed by an economy that’s based on fossil fuels and toxic chemicals.”

plastic pollution

Recycling plastics “extremely problematic” due to toxic chemical additives: Report

Negotiations are underway for a global plastics treaty and parties differ on the role of recycling.

UN plastics treaty

Opinion: UN plastics treaty should prioritize health and climate change

Delegates should push for a treaty that takes a full-lifecycle approach to plastic pollution.

halliburton fracking

How the “Halliburton Loophole” lets fracking companies pollute water with no oversight

Fracking companies used 282 million pounds of hazardous chemicals that should have been regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act from 2014 to 2021.

President Joe Biden climate change

Op-ed: Biden’s Arctic drilling go-ahead illustrates the limits of democratic problem solving

President Biden continues to deploy conventional tactics against the highly unconventional threat of climate change.

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