Texas's Continuing Drought; Curbing Coal

Monday's best green reads: NPR on the Texas drought, Mother Jones on anti-coal activism, The New York Times on uranium-mine radiation, The Guardian on measuring global warming, and Good on an eco-friendly pantry.

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NPR on Texas's continuing drought A wet winter in Texas has brought sweet relief from a drought-filled 2011, but that doesn't necessarily mean that 2012 will be any less dry there. NPR's Morning Edition talked to ranchers fretting another dry summer and one expert with projections that the Texas drought could continue for the next several years. "In my opinion the drought needs to continue for another two or three years to get people's attention," hydrologist Raymond Slade says, arguing that the state's famously stingy government funding no substantial drought management. Meanwhile, NPR's website offers up an interactive map of the drought. Drought conditions as of the middle of last month are still high.

Mother Jones on activists curbing coal When a cap-and-trade bill was killed in Congress in 2010, environmental activists took it upon themselves to curb carbon emissions from coal and impose a de facto moratorium on new coal plant construction. By Mother Jones' count, green activists, led by the Sierra Club, have prevented 166 coal plants from being built since then. "The movement's strength was grounded in retail politics—people talking with friends and neighbors, pestering local media, packing regulatory hearings, protesting before state legislatures, filing legal challenges, and more,"  explains Mark Hertsgaard. To its credit, the Obama's administration strict enforcement of EPA regulations also helping curb coal, too.

The New York Times on different sort of nuclear fallout in the Southwest Toward the middle of the last century, uranium was mined in Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico to fuel the government's nuclear weapons program. This century, the Navajo people living near some of these abandoned mines, many in poverty, are getting sick with cancer and other diseases from the unchecked radiation. The New York Times reports that there are hundreds of poorly maintained mines on Navajo land and not enough funding from the federal government to prevent them from seeps radioactive dust and contaminated water. “If this level of radioactivity were found in a middle-class suburb, the response would be immediate and aggressive,” public health professor Doug Brugge tells The Times. Though the federal government is often successful at pressuring previous mine operators to pay for the clean-up costs when sufficient public funding is unavailable, the sovereign Navajo nation is often at a loss on how to cajole the feds making the old mines safe.

The Guardian on taking the Earth's temperature Proving global warming isn't as simple as reading a thermometer every year. As The Guardian explains, many variables need to be taken into account to ensure our temperature records are reliable across time and across place. Among the influences that can skew temperature readings are the tendency for urban areas being hotter than rural ones and changes in instrumentation (gone are the days of boat pulling buckets of ocean water aboard to measure sea temperature, since since even a little evaporation can cool it).Nevertheless, scientists are confident in global warming. "The reality of recent global warming is shown by multiple strands of evidence." One needs look no further than the melting glaciers.

Good on making an environmentally-friendly pantry Good magazine offers tips for reducing your carbon footprint while on your April cleaning: buy fewer processed foods, can your own fruits and vegetables, and whatever you do never ever go with bottled water. The most eco-friendly foodstuffs, we're told, are "lentils, beans, and nuts," along with "brown rice or quinoa." Enjoy the protein.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.