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Fog Over Hot Pond, BLM Battle Mountain District. Chip Carroon / BLM Nevada / Flickr

Massive Fracking on Nevada Public Lands Sought by Trump Administration, Conservation Groups Launch Legal Protest

Three conservation groups filed an administrative protest Monday against an enormous Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction, scheduled for Dec. 12, that would allow fracking on more than 600 square miles of Nevada public lands. The 388,000 acres in eastern Nevada includes important regional springs and groundwater and critical habitat for imperiled species.

The protest—filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, WildLands Defense and Basin and Range Watch—says the BLM has violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act by failing to analyze the risks of drilling for oil and fracking with dangerous chemicals on such a massive scale. Development of these parcels, one of the largest fracking plans in the country, could contaminate ground and surface water, threaten endangered species and cause irreparable harm to the global climate.

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Science

15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Warn Humanity of Environmental Catastrophe

More than 15,000 scientists have signed a chilling article titled “World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice," urging global leaders to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.

The plea, published Monday in the international journal BioScience, is likely the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with 15,372 total signatories, Motherboard noted. The scientists represent 184 countries and have a range of scientific backgrounds. Prominent signatories include Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson and James Hansen.

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Trump Watch
U.S. Department of the Interior building. Kmf164 / CC-BY-SA-2.5

Department of the Interior, or Ministry of Doublespeak?

Defenders of Wildlife recently obtained a copy of Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke's "Top 10 Priorities" for his department (text version). These priorities are reflected in the department's recently leaked draft 2018–2022 Strategic Plan, but the priorities themselves are noteworthy for their strikingly euphemistic tone.

They are written to evoke a responsive, progressive Interior Department serving the country by protecting our natural heritage and ensuring sensible use of our natural resources. And there's the problem. All ten priorities are entirely disconnected from Interior's actions to date. Following is our take on the doublespeak nature of the secretary's Top 10 Priorities.

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Food
Sorghum, anyone? The right crop in the right place will grow more food. Tomascastelazo / Wikimedia Commons

Scientists: Strategic Crop Growth Based on Climate Change Could Feed 825 Million More

By Tim Radford

Scientists in the U.S. and Italy have worked out a strategy to feed an extra 825 million people—by rearranging where crops are grown. Their new menu for the global table could serve up 10 percent more calories and 19 percent more protein, while reducing the use of rainwater by 14 percent and cutting irrigation by 12 percent.

The secret: shift the patterns of crop growth to make the best of climate change, in a rapidly warming world in which rainfall patterns could become less predictable and drought and heat waves will become more frequent and more intense.

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Climate
The Sahara Forest Project / saharaforestproject.com

High-Tech Farming to Protect Crops Against Climate Change in Jordan

In Jordan's arid southern desert, just outside the port city of Aqaba, environmental engineers are working to mitigate the threat of climate change to the country's agriculture sector.

A high-tech farming initiative led by the Sahara Forest Project aims to use sustainable technology and an abundance of Red Sea saltwater to grow crops in the otherwise arid environment of southern Jordan.

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Flint, Michigan water distribution. U.S. Department of Agriculture / Flickr

Artist Gives New Life to Flint's Empty Water Bottles by Turning Them Into Clothing

Flint, Michigan doesn't just have a water problem—it has a water bottle problem. Ever since the 2014 lead contamination crisis, city residents have had no choice but to turn to bottled water for their daily H2O needs.

The state is required to give each Flint resident 14 bottles daily, and when you multiply that with its population of approximately 97,000, that's more than 1.3 million bottles that could be handed out in a single day. That's a lot of plastic—and it's not always recycled.

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Science
www.youtube.com

Moved by Flint Water Crisis, 11-Year-Old Scientist Invents Lead-Detecting Device

An 11-year-old girl was given a top award after inventing "Tethys," a sensor that detects lead levels in water.

Gitanjali Rao of Lone Tree, Colorado won the 2017 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge and a $25,000 prize for the innovation, which she said was inspired by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

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FEMA

A Month Later, U.S. Is Failing With Its Food and Water Crisis in Puerto Rico

Update, 10/20/17: Since this piece was posted, we became aware of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority's (PRASA) boil water notice for all people who have access to running water. So, while roughly 70 percent of the island has access to tap water, it appears it is not safe to drink untreated. However, FEMA appears to be reporting this figure as potable water. We've translated the boil water notice on PRASA's site as of Oct. 20 as the following: "After service is restored—To ensure that the water is drinkable: boil it for five minutes without covering [and] add chlorine bleach (without fragrance or other detergent), using the appropriate amount for the amount of water you will use. READ THE LABEL before using to guarantee that it contains only bleach. Read the percent of bleach and add the recommend amount to the water according to the table on the left. Mix well with water and leave for 20 minutes. You should be able to smell a faint odor of bleach. If that is not the case, add more bleach and leave for another 15 minutes. You can also use bleach in pill form sold in pharmacies. Follow the instructions on the label."

It's been a month since supercharged Hurricane Maria delivered a devastating blow to Puerto Rico, and people are still suffering without food, water and electricity. This is America in 2017, and there is only more climate chaos ahead thanks to the tight fist that fossil fuel interests have on climate policy. What will the response be to this new normal—deadly hurricanes, horrific and deadly wildfires, and their equally deadly aftermath? The past few weeks of climate disasters during this historically vicious season have shown that we need to move swiftly off of greenhouse gas-spewing fossil fuels. They have also shown that if we don't prioritize an equitable and just response to these unnatural disasters, more Americans will continue to face climate-fueled humanitarian crises.

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Energy
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The Old, Hidden Pipeline at the Bottom of the Great Lakes

By Conor Mihell

At dawn, I launch my kayak and paddle into a velvety expanse of turquoise water. Here, in northern Michigan's Straits of Mackinac, Great Lakes Michigan and Huron meet like the middle of an hourglass. To the east, the rounded form of Mackinac Island is the centerpiece of an archipelago in Lake Huron.

According to an Ojibwe creation story, this is Mishee Makinakong, the Great Turtle, whose surfacing shell became a refuge for plants and animals as floodwaters surged in the days before time. Today, droves of ferries buzz to and from the island, a bustling summer tourist destination replete with kitschy fudge shops and horse-drawn carriages.

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