With the passing of October, Planet Experts looks back on the stories we ran this month and decides which were the most important to the environment, and to the planet as a whole. We’ve slogged through the 5 Stupidest Stories of October 2015, cowered at the four scariest, perked up at the four coolest, showed off a little with our two favorite, and now we’re into the biscuits and gravy of this monthly roundup. These are the five stories we were happiest to report in October 2015.

5) Leonardo DiCaprio Will Keep the Heat on Volkswagen

Leonardo DiCaprio. (Photo: US Dept of State)

Leonardo DiCaprio. (Photo: US Dept of State)

Midway through the month, we were as surprised as anyone to report that Paramount and actor Leonard DiCaprio are already teaming up to make a movie about the Volkswagen emissions scandal. For those of you who may have been living under a rock since last month, the biggest carmaker in the world not only admitted to lying about how much pollution its diesel models are emitting, it also lost its CEO and $17.6 billion in the aftermath.

This scandal is ongoing, and the company will be under intense scrutiny from enviros and lawyers for a good long while, but the fact that DiCaprio (an ardent conservationist) has already gotten behind a film adaptation of this thing means it cannot be overlooked by the public. Read More

4) National Drive Electric Week Was a Stupendous Success!

In this great piece from the president of Plug In America, a non-profit organization devoted to accelerating the adoption of plug-in and electric vehicles, we learn all about the overwhelming success of the 2015 National Drive Electric Week.

Nissan LEAF on the road. (Source: Nissan)

Nissan LEAF on the road. (Source: Nissan)

This year, more than 130,000 people attended 196 events in 187 cities to celebrate a petroleum-free driving future. “With total plug-in sales on pace to double that of plug-less hybrids for their first five years, Drive Electric Week resulted once again in EV sales,” writes Michael Thwaite. October definitely started with a bang. Read More

3) Food and Banking Giants Are Asking for Action on Climate Change

So here’s the thing. At the end of this year, delegates from nearly 200 countries will meet in Paris to decide on an international policy for combating climate change. Green groups are hoping they’ll come away with strong, binding regulations for reducing global carbon emissions. Others are being a bit more realistic. Yet the biggest motivating factor will be – as it always is – money. Nothing will get decided in Paris unless Big Business jumps on board. Now, several major businesses have done just that.

General Mills breakfast cereals. (Photo Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

General Mills breakfast cereals. (Photo Credit: Mike Mozart / Flickr)

Six of the world’s biggest banks issued an open letter asking for the opportunity “to build a more sustainable, low-carbon economy” in the interest of fighting climate change. Not long after, nearly a dozen of the world’s largest food companies pledged that they will accelerate their efforts to fight global warming. They also urged US and world leaders to do the same (hint, hint).

2) The Obama Administration Is Done With Arctic Drilling

As the article will attest, we’re a bit baffled at how this story developed, but we can’t complain about how it ended. Just weeks after Shell Oil announced it was exiting Alaska’s Chukchi Sea “for the forseeable future,” the Obama administration announced that it is suspending the sale of offshore drilling leases in Alaska and will not allow extensions of current leases in the region.

Shell's Polar Pioneer drilling rig in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. (Photo Credit: Shell Oil Company)

Shell’s Polar Pioneer drilling rig in the Chukchi Sea off Alaska. (Photo Credit: Shell Oil Company)

This is a story we’ve been following closely for a long time, and to have the White House flip, flop and then flip again on this issue is not something we’re happy about…but maybe it was all part of a much savvier game of petroleum politics than we realized? Read More

1) SeaWorld’s Killer Whale Shows Might Soon Be Over

Ever since the release of Blackfish, a documentary on the psychological damage captivity does to orcas, SeaWorld’s attendance has been in decline. Since the film’s premiere, in fact, California’s legislature has been considering a bill to end the park’s killer whale shows. This month, the California Coastal Commission may have done the legislators’ job for them.

An orca, or killer whale, in a SeaWorld tank. (Photo Credit: PETA)

An orca, or killer whale, in a SeaWorld tank. (Photo Credit: PETA)

In a controversial decision, the CCC approved SeaWorld San Diego’s application to build a bigger facility to house its orcas, but on the condition that SeaWorld stops breeding captive orcas and halts the transport of orcas in and out of the park. With no means of getting new orcas, this decision would effectively end the park’s famous killer whale shows. Read More

For more of the top stories of October 2015, check out these lists:

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