‘We’re not a dump’ – poor Alabama towns struggle under the stench of toxic landfills


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“The odor was unbearable, as were the flies and stink bugs,” said Brasfield, who sports a greying handlebar moustache and describes himself as a conservative Republican. “The flies were so bad that you couldn’t walk outside without being inundated by them. You’d be covered in all sorts of insects. People started getting headaches, they couldn’t breathe. You wouldn’t even go outside to put meat on the barbecue.”

The landfill, called Big Sky Environmental, sits on the fringes of West Jefferson and is permitted to accept waste from 48 US states. It used a nearby rail spur to import sewage from New York and New Jersey. This epic fecal odyssey was completed by trucks which took on the waste and rumbled through West Jefferson – sometimes spilling dark liquid on sharp turns – to the landfill.

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Oliver Milman — The Guardian

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The Mysterious Life (and Death) of Africa’s Oldest Trees


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Baobab tress are fascinating. Some can be more than 1000 years old.

Trees—sometimes felled, sometimes planted, sometimes accidental witness to history—provide a setting always growing imperceptibly in the background. We plant trees for resources, shade, sustenance. We often kill trees with intention and purpose: for shelter, for warmth, for paper, for soap, for winter rituals, for clogs, for furniture. But with baobabs, we’re watching in exasperation as they fold on their own. The description of fallen giant trees struck a chord globally, even though the baobab grows mostly in Africa, Australia, and India. (There are a few in Hollywood, Florida, and in Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, where the synthetic spectacle—the Tree of Life—lights up in neon and glitz.) Speaking anthropomorphically, the baobab is the charismatic megafauna of botany, so its fall seems to portend our own.

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Jaime Lowe — Topic

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Why Cellular Network Towers Get Disguised as Trees


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With the rise of mobile phones in the 1980s came ever more cellular network towers, and, of course, not-in-my-backyard (NIMBY) criticisms from nearby residents who saw them as eyesores. Thus, an array of camouflage techniques emerged alongside this expanding technology. Towers were hidden inside church steeples, coupled with water towers, disguised as flagpoles and otherwise made to stand out less in their environments. Of course, there’s not always another structure handy to help hide a tower. So, in the early 1990s, a new idea took root and towers designed to look like trees began to crop up.

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Kurt Kohlstedt — 99% Invisible

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A plant that could save civilization, if we let it


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Besides being edible and nutritious, any super plant would need to tolerate floods and droughts and be able to survive in a wide variety of climates ranging from arid regions in north Africa to temperate regions in northern Europe. Ultimately, Chory’s goal is to breed plants that grow extra-deep roots with lots of suberin for long-term carbon storage. She estimates that if 5 percent of the world’s cropland, approximately the total area of Egypt, were devoted to such super plants, they could capture about 50 percent of current global carbon dioxide emissions.

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Laura H. Kahn — Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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Rem Koolhaas sees the future in the countryside


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Is it time to leave the cities to live in the countryside?

I first realised this in a Swiss village in the Engadin, which I visited often over the past 25 years. I began to notice drastic changes there. The village was simultaneously growing and hollowing out. A man I assumed was a farmer turned out to be a dissatisfied nuclear scientist from Frankfurt. Cows disappeared, along with their smell, and in came minimalist renovations, abundant cushions absorbing their new owners’ urban angst. Farming itself was now left to Sri Lankan workers. And nannies, nurses and assistants recruited in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines were now looking after the homes, kids and pets of the virtual, one-week-a-year population who had caused the village to expand.

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The World in 2018

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The World Is Hot, on Fire, and Flooding. Climate Change is Here.


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It’s the hottest month of one of the hottest years in the history of human civilization, and unusual wildfires are sprouting up all over the map. Sweden has called for emergency assistance from the rest of the European Union to help battle massive wildfires burning north of the Arctic Circle. Across the western United States, 50 major wildfires are burning in parts of 14 states, fueled by severe drought. The wildfires burning in Siberia earlier this month sent smoke plumes from across the Arctic all the way to New England, four thousand miles away. Last year, big wildfires burned in Greenland for the first time in recorded history.

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Yves Smith — Naked Capitalism

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