Center for Public Integrity on pollution and oil refinery expansion Crude oil from Canada must be refined somewhere, and communities across the U.S. worry that the Keystone XL approval will fuel the spread of refineries. "The thick, asphalt-like crude, known as bitumen, requires more processing than lighter forms of oil, which could lead to increases in pollution if not controlled. The burden would fall most often on communities, like southwest Detroit, populated mainly by low-income people of color."
The New York Times on how a unique salamander can survive in the wild The axolotl, a unique-looking salamander with feathered gills and spiked feet, is an animal mythologized by writers and beloved by both Aztecs and Mexicans. The exotic creature is now endangered due to polluted canals and overpopulation of tilapia in Mexico City water. It's one of the few freshwater animals that can be bred in an aquarium. Some scientists want to improve the canal to keep the salamander alive; others say it's okay to transplant the resilient animal.
BBC on how bananas could be the new potato Warming climates means changes in what crops grow best—meaning warm-weather plants like bananas or cassava could replace cooler weather ones like potatoes, a new study says. Maize, rice, and wheat supply may also decrease in developing countries, sparking a need for alternative crops. But diet changes are not impossible. "Two decades ago there was almost no rice consumption in certain areas of Africa, now there is. People have changed because of the pricing: it's easier to get, it's easier to cook. I think those sort of shifts do occur and I think they will in future.""