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Our Best Environmental Stories of 2018

From climate change to industrial influence.
A view of homes that were destroyed by the Carr Fire on July 27th, 2018, in Redding, California.

A view of homes that were destroyed by the Carr Fire on July 27th, 2018, in Redding, California.

2018 was a record-breaking year—and when it comes to the environment, that's not a good thing. California's most destructive wildfire on record razed the town of Paradise to the ground. One of the most intense hurricanes ever to make landfall in the United States submerged the Florida Panhandle in 10 feet of storm surge. Heat waves, drought, and algal blooms threatened lives across the globe. And to it all cap off, the United Nations'  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a near-apocalyptic report finding that, without "drastic and immediate action," the world could warm more than 1.5 degrees—bringing even more extreme weather to hundreds of millions of people. 2018 provided ample proof that climate change now impacts survival on a daily basis.

But with every broken record comes people pushing to fix it, and here at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on the survivors, activists, and scientists who are holding climate change deniers accountable. Under the Trump administration, new federal policies are actively harming the environment, removing references to climate change, rolling back environmental regulations, and attacking public lands protections. Meanwhile, many agencies charged with protecting the environment—and, with it, human lives—have failed to enforce existing laws.

The year's best stories do not necessarily contain "drastic and immediate" action, but they do feature people who are dedicated to exposing the truth or exploring creative solutions. (And as a more personal kind of salve, there's this year's honorable mention: an ode to fat bears.)