surprisedEach year at this time, Grist’s writers and editors walk, hats in hand, to the people who keep track of the traffic numbers here. Each year, we hope against hope that one of our stories has made the list of the top-10 most clicked stories on the site — maybe it’ll be that wonky piece about what the Census numbers tell us (and don’t) about the so-called “urban renaissance,” or the one about “discount rates” and climate change. Oh come on, we can hope, can’t we?

OK, no. We’ve had our fun over the past week hand-picking our favorite stories about bikes, genius kids, cities, and the likes. But this last list is drawn straight from the data, based solely on the number of “unique pageviews” each story received. And let’s just say it doesn’t always leave us feeling optimistic about the future of life on this rock.

Without further ado, the 10 most popular stories from Grist in 2012. If you need us, we’ll be huddled around a bottle of whiskey, resigning ourselves to running more stories about baby pandas and penguin sweaters in 2013 — and toasting Jess Zimmerman and her crack team of Grist List bloggers who keep the hordes stampeding to our url, despite our best efforts to drive them away.