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Cascade, 2015. Oil and alkyd on wood panel, 72 x 144 inches. Commissioned by Grand Rapids Art Museum with funds provided by Peter Wege, Jim and Mary Nelson, John and Muriel Halick, Mary B. Loupee, and Karl and Patricia Betz. Grand Rapids Art Museum, 2015 - 19. Alexis Rockman

Beauty and Despair Collide in These Murals of the Great Lakes

By Clara Chaisson

With loons and trout alongside allegorical monsters, the fantastical murals at the center of artist Alexis Rockman's new exhibition don't just look like a dream sequence; they are a dream come true.

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Would More People Ride the Bus if It Looked and Felt Like a Train?

By Jeff Turrentine

It moves through city thoroughfares, towering above automobile traffic. It makes frequent stops to pick up and drop off passengers. It has places to sit, places to stand, and—yes—rubber-tired wheels that go 'round and 'round, all through the town.

But don't call it a bus. It's a "trackless electric train."

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Maxime Aliaga

Scientists Discover a New—and Endangered—Orangutan Species

By Jason Bittel

Scientists have discovered a new orangutan species in the mountainous forests of northern Sumatra. Of course, the Tapanuli orangutan has been here for quite a while—but it's new to us!

"Discovering a new species of great ape in this day and age just shows how little we know about the world around us and how much there still is to learn," said Erik Meijaard, a conservation scientist at the Australian National University and one of the authors of the new paper about the discovery, published online today in the journal Current Biology.

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Dogs Are a Kiwi’s Best Friend (and Worst Enemy)

By Jason Bittel

The kiwi is a small, flightless bird that spends most of the day underground. At night, these needle-billed, chicken-size floofs emerge to hunt insects, crayfish, seeds and fruit, but as they waddle through New Zealand's forests, they create invisible scent trails. By morning, kiwis have often unwittingly led a predator back to their burrows.

For most of their existence, kiwis had to deal only with a few avian predators, all of which are now extinct. But for the past 800 years, ever since humans and their pets first set foot on New Zealand, dogs have become one of the kiwi's greatest curses. Sure, cats (also introduced) eat kiwi chicks too. So do stoats (also introduced). And rats (yup, introduced) compete with kiwis for food. But dogs (both wild and domestic) take a grisly toll on the adults. Because kiwis lack a breastbone, even a small bite can crush them, according to New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC). "A dog can kill a kiwi by just giving it a playful push," the DOC website told us.

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The Amur tiger is the extinct Caspian tiger's closest living relative. Mathias Appel / Flickr

After a Half-Century, Tigers May Return to Kazakhstan

Wild tigers may be on their way back to Kazakhstan.

This news is surprising for a few reasons. First, most people associate tigers with the jungles of India or Sumatra, even the snowy slopes of eastern Russia—not the dry landscapes of Central Asia. But Iran, Turkey and Kazakhstan were once home to thriving populations of Caspian tigers. Unfortunately, sometime between the 1940s and '70s, this subspecies went extinct due to widespread trapping, hunting, poisoning and habitat degradation.

Second, Kazakhstan isn't a nation that often comes up in conversations about conservation. In fact, if Americans recognize the world's largest landlocked nation for anything, it's probably the movie Borat.

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Klaus Nigge

One of These Images Could Bring Home the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award

By Clara Chaisson

A red squirrel pauses in its search for spruce cones on a frigid winter morning; a rain-soaked bald eagle boldly looks straight into the camera; a seahorse clutches at a Q-tip in sewage-choked waters. These are a few of the moments captured by the finalists for Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2017.

Since 1965, the Natural History Museum in London has held this annual celebration of nature photography. Selected from a pool of nearly 50,000 entries from 92 countries, this year's 13 finalists were announced by the museum earlier this month. The stunning images hint at both nature's beauty and its devastation.

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Americans Red and Blue Unite Against Trump's Plan to Drill the Atlantic

By Jeff Turrentine

President Trump, to put it mildly, hasn't worked too hard to bring Democrats and Republicans together on many issues. By almost any account, the partisan divide in this country today is wider than it's been in living memory, certainly wider than it was before he took office.

But on one issue, at least, the president seems to have bridged that divide and fostered some much-needed unity. When it comes to endorsing Trump's plan to open up the Atlantic coast to oil and gas drilling, citizens in both red and blue states—as well as their elected officials—are speaking with one voice.

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Chard grown in Ouroboros's aquaponics system reveals its colorful roots. Ouroboros Farm

6 Innovative Farmers That Will Change Your Perception of What It Means to Grow Food

By Tracie McMillan

How do you feed a hotter, drier, more inequitable world? A new generation of American farmers are coming up with answers that rarely resemble the cornstalks and cattle pens of mainstream agriculture.

Today's American farmers are less white. They're also increasingly experimental. Even as our biggest farms get bigger, small producers are innovating in countless ways as they grapple with the serious questions that face our food system. Some prioritize making high-quality food affordable to folks on minimum wage and accessible in places where fresh produce is scarce; others are learning how to farm with far less water on drought-prone fields. They may be discovering hidden super fruits, reinvigorating coal country or bringing urban farming to the mountains. Here are six who will change your mind about what it means to farm.

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5 Ways Trump Continues His Assault on People and Planet

By Brian Palmer

1. Henhouse, meet foxes.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt renewed his science denier vows on Thursday, telling CNBC that human activity is not a "primary contributor" to the observed warming of the planet in recent decades. So it should come as no shock that he's stocking the upper levels of the EPA with fellow climate change deniers, according to a report by Coral Davenport in the New York Times.

Pruitt has started by borrowing personnel from his fellow Oklahoman, Sen. James Inhofe. To call Inhofe a climate change denier is inadequate. Inhofe is a climate change ridiculer. He is the Don Rickles of climate change, and he relishes his role as pantomime villain for climate change advocates, throwing snowballs in Congress and using the word hoax the same way Trump uses "SAD!" Pruitt's chief of staff and his chief of staff's deputy both come from Inhofe's orbit. Andrew Wheeler, Pruitt's candidate for deputy administrator at EPA, another Inhofe loyalist, has called the Paris climate agreement a "sweetheart deal" for China. It will be interesting to see how a team of science deniers will manage an agency of scientists.

If we must slash the EPA's staff and budget, can we at least keep the real experts and get rid of these guys?

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