Weekend Reader for Sunday, Nov. 26

Last week, the Commander-in-Chief met the national symbol, a recovering endangered species.

News and opinion from Thanksgiving week.


President Trump performed the pre-Thanksgiving ritual of pardoning two Thanksgiving turkeys. Meanwhile, his countrymen baked or fried and ate 50 million more. And thanks for modern genetics and chemicals, the turkeys are far, far bigger than they used to be.

With Congress taking a break and much of Washington on holiday, the environmental rollbacks slowed. But nuclear weapons worries spread beyond North Korea, with concerns that modernizing nuclear weapons would lead to a renewed arms race.

Two of the most interesting stories in this edition of the Weekend Reader are about institutional omerta -- the time-honored Mafia code of silence. In one, chemical giant Chemours has gone into silence about alleged drinking water contamination from a North Carolina factory complex. In the other, Russia's gone mum over apparent radiation leaks.

So much of our national media bandwidth is flowing in two directions: Legitimate, vital stories about healthcare, tax reform, sexual abuse, guns, collusion and North Korea. And childish stories about petty Twitter feuds between Donald Trump and sports figures or Gold Star families. That leaves little space on newscasts, websites, and front pages for the irreversible damage being done to environment and climate policy by Trump Administration rollbacks. Non-profit journalism is helping to level the playing field by speaking truth to power. Please remember Environmental Health News on Giving Tuesday, November 28. Thanks! -- Peter Dykstra

Top weekend news

Chemical company's response to water worries -- silence (Associated Press)

Spun off from DuPont Corp. two years ago, chemical giant Chemours goes into radio silence amid fears of drinking water contamination in North Carolina.

A radiation cloud, and a mystery, from Russia (New York Times)

When a container of radioactive waste exploded at the Mayak factory 60 years ago, in one of the worst accidents of the nuclear age, the episode was so shrouded in secrecy that even residents of nearby towns had little clue of the danger.

Monsanto says Mexico revokes permit to sell GMO soy in seven states (Reuters)

Monsanto Co said on Thursday that Mexico's agriculture sanitation authority SENASICA had revoked its permit to commercialize genetically modified soy in seven states, criticizing the decision as unjustified.

Susan Sarandon: "I thought Hillary was very dangerous. If she'd won, we'd be at war." (Guardian Q&A)

One gets the feeling that the Harvey Weinstein business simply isn't very interesting to Sarandon, that there are other causes – the Keystone pipeline, fracking, oil and gas money in politics – that she considers more urgent

Opinions and Editorials

Breathless in Delhi: A taste of environmental Armageddon (Brigid Delaney, Guardian)

It was 2am on Sunday in Delhi and a friend and I were traveling in a rickshaw, heading home from a party. It was a hellscape.

Wanted: Aggressive Lake Michigan protection (Chicago Tribune editorial)

Environmental activists and particularly Chicago's surfing community welcomed news this week that the city of Chicago is initiating legal action against a Lake Michigan polluter based in Indiana.

Should Virginia join the carbon trading club? (Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial)

Virginia has made some modest steps toward reducing total carbon emissions, but it could be doing more — and should. The question is how.

Keystone must deliver on its promises (Bismarck, ND Tribune)

The timing couldn't have been worse. Four days before Nebraska regulators were to vote on a route through the state for the Keystone XL oil pipeline the company reported an oil spill in South Dakota.

Is Trump changing on climate and the environment? (Springfield, MA Republican)

Massachusetts newspaper editorial offers hope -- or maybe wishful thinking.

President Donald Trump has been the worst nightmare of environmental advocates, but there are signs he is modifying his stance.

Living On Earth: Beyond the Headlines

This week in Beyond the Headlines, Peter Dykstra and host Steve Curwood discuss the rapid rise in people registering for federal disaster aid after this year's record-breaking hurricanes, wild fires and floods. Then they note how the Pope regards climate denial, and remember an infamous environmental computer hack.

This Week in Trump

With Congress out and Trump flying out to Mar-a-Lago, the focus has been on nasty-tweeting basketball parents and football stars. But there was still some rollback action in Washington.

Donald Trump's science office is a ghost town (CBS News)

Science and environment get the silent treatment in Trump Administration staffing.

Trump's EPA canceled funding for the Chesapeake Bay Journal (Buzzfeed)

After a political appointee took charge of EPA grants, the agency cut short a six-year, $1.95 million grant to a Pennsylvania newspaper covering the Chesapeake Bay. Now a fight is brewing.

Elephant advocate sue Trump Administration on trophy hunting (Reuters)

Conservation groups sued the U.S. government on Monday over a plan to allow hunters to bring home elephant and lion trophies from Zimbabwe, following changing statements about the possible move by President Donald Trump's administration.




Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Why we need new words for life in the Anthropocene

The Bureau of Linguistical Reality is assembling a new lexicon for people's experience of climate change and environmental upheaval, writes Richard Fisher.
Subscription-based e-bike hire
Allan Harris/Flickr

Subscription-based bike hire schemes on a roll

A growing number of people are choosing to hire a bicycle over a long period of time.
electric vehicle barriers to ownership
Mike Licht/Flickr

Is owning an electric vehicle getting easier in 2023?

Even if the numbers don’t quite show it, regional planner Jeff King knows the shift to electric vehicles is taking off, and quite rapidly.
us snow totals compared
NRCS Oregon/Flickr
Biden bans roads, logging in Alaska’s Tongass
Ian Collins/Flickr

Biden bans roads, logging in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest

The U.S. Forest Service rule restricts development on more than nine million acres in North America’s largest temperate rainforest, reversing a Trump decision.

Clean-energy push puts abandoned Philippine nuclear plant back in spotlight

President Marcos looks to his father’s nuclear project, once dogged by scandal and safety concerns, as a solution to fossil-fuel challenges.
From our Newsroom
oil and gas wells pollution

What happens if the largest owner of oil and gas wells in the US goes bankrupt?

Diversified Energy’s liabilities exceed its assets, according to a new report, sparking concerns about whether taxpayers will wind up paying to plug its 70,000 wells.

Paul Ehrlich

Paul Ehrlich: A journey through science and politics

In his new book, the famous scientist reflects on an unparalleled career on our fascinating, ever-changing planet.

oil and gas california environmental justice

Will California’s new oil and gas laws protect people from toxic pollution?

California will soon have the largest oil drilling setbacks in the U.S. Experts say other states can learn from this move.

popular stories 2022

Our 5 most popular reads from 2022

A corpse, woodworking dangers, plastic titans ... revisit the stories that stuck with our readers this past year.

Pittsburgh environmental

What I learned reporting on environmental health in Pittsburgh in 2022

For a lot of people, 2022 felt like the first “normal” year since 2020. It didn’t for me.

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.