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(Warning: This article contains a graphic image of a slaughtered elephant.)

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. Here’s where we confront the ugly side of environmental news – the stories that pissed us off and made us question humanity’s worth over a long and lackluster lunchbreak.

We’ve shared the five best environmental stories of the month, the four scariest, the four coolest and our two favorite, so now it’s time to slog through the Five Worst Environmental Stories of October 2015.

5) We’re Not Pissed Off Enough

vwIn this scathing piece from Planet Expert Peter Banner, our all-around energy guru, two major corporate lies are examined and rightfully torn apart. In recent months, both Volkswagen and Exxon have admitted to lying to the world in order to protect their profits, and both have done significant damage. In the case of VW, the better part of a decade has been spent covering up the massive pollution their diesel cars really emit; with Exxon, it’s a whole other level of deceit. Back in the 1970s, the company’s scientists realized that oil development and carbon emissions will cause global warming and disastrous climate change. Exxon’s answer was to begin a misinformation campaign that cost the world decades in climate action. As Peter says, “Maybe a little outrage would be appropriate.” Read More

4) Coral Reefs Are Dying

Take a look at the coral below. Notice its lack of color? As if its very essence has been sucked out of it, like one of those muppets in The Dark Crystal?

Bleached staghorn coral. (Photo Credit: Matt Kieffer / Flickr)

Bleached staghorn coral. (Photo Credit: Matt Kieffer / Flickr)

What you’re seeing is called “coral bleaching,” and it’s not good. It happens when the ocean’s temperature experiences a significant shift (either up or down) and shocks the algae out of a coral. It weakens and often kills the coral, and this is happening across the oceans. In early October, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an official “coral bleaching event” for the planet. Why’s that bad? Because coral support 25 percent of all marine life. Read More

3) Nestlé Has Been Sucking Water Out of California Without a Permit for 27 Years

Nestle Pure LifePlanet Experts is based in Los Angeles, so this is an issue we’re keenly aware of, but to enlighten those of our readers who hail from elsewhere: We’re in the midst of a drought. It’s a bad drought, it’s an expensive drought, it’s a record-breaking drought. So when we learned that Nestlé has been sucking water out of the state with a permit that expired almost three decades ago, we were a little miffed. Then the head of the company said he’d like to take even more water, and we sued. Read More

2) 40 Elephants Were Poisoned in Zimbabwe

In the span of three weeks, 40 elephants were poisoned in Zimbabwe. They were poisoned with salt licks and oranges laced with cyanide, and the reason is because their tusks sell for thousands of dollars on the black market.

An elephant believed to have been killed for its ivory tusks. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that as many as 35,000 elephants were killed by poachers. (Image Credit: Nelly / Flickr)

An elephant believed to have been killed for its ivory tusks. In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that as many as 35,000 elephants were killed by poachers. (Image Credit: Nelly / Flickr)

Tens of thousands are poached every year, and for the most part African governments are incapable of policing every national park. At the rate that elephants are being slaughtered across the continent, one expert has predicted that individual groups will begin to go extinct in 2020. Read More

1) The Planet’s Getting Hotter. A Lot Hotter. How Is This Not Clear Yet?

Maybe it’s because our writing staff is a little smaller than we’d like, but hot damn are we tired of reporting on this topic. Look, people, global warming is real. Over 97 percent of scientists (people who spent way more money and years at college than most of us) have been shouting this for the last few decades. Fourteen of the last 15 years have been the hottest in recorded history, and seven of the last ten months have broken temperatures records around the world.

noaa1

How much more proof do Republicans need before they’re willing to break their ties with the fossil fuel industry and stop pretending the data is unclear? Unless an asteroid-sized snowball hits the planet between now and December, 2015 will rank as the hottest year on record. Read More

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

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