Environment + Energy

In a time of social and environmental crisis, Aldo Leopold's call for a 'land ethic' is still relevant
2021 Jan 05
Jan. 11 marks the birthday of conservationist Aldo Leopold (1887-1948), who called for thinking about land as a living community to protect, not a resource to exploit.
How curators transferred Sequoia and King's Canyon National Parks' archives to escape wildfires
2020 Dec 23
The curator at UC Merced describes the evacuation and shows a selection of photographs from the 110-year history of the park.
Magnetic induction cooking can cut your kitchen's carbon footprint
2020 Dec 23
Shifting from fossil fuels to electricity is climate-friendly, but serious cooks don't think much of electric stoves. Will induction cooking finally catch on as an alternative?
Thousands of ocean fishing boats could be using forced labor – we used AI and satellite data to find them
2020 Dec 21
Forced labor is a widespread problem in fisheries on the high seas. Between 2012 and 2018, an estimated 100,000 people may have been victims of forced labor on thousands of different boats.
Why do different countries have different electric outlet plugs?
2020 Dec 21
There are 15 different kinds of electrical outlets around the world. One standard would be more convenient, but no one wants to change theirs.
Llamas are having a moment in the US, but they've been icons in South America for millennia
2020 Dec 18
Llama toys, therapy lamas, petting zoo llamas: llamas are hot in the US, surpassing unicorns in popularity, but their relationship with South American people stretches over 7,000 years.
Wildfire smoke changes dramatically as it ages, and that matters for downwind air quality – here's what we learned flying through smoke plumes
2020 Dec 17
Thousands of chemical compounds in wildfire smoke are interacting with each other and sunlight as the smoke travels. For people downwind, it can become more toxic over time.
Taking fish out of fish feed can make aquaculture a more sustainable food source
2020 Dec 14
Fish farms feed millions of people around the world, but they also consume a lot of fish that are dried or ground up to make aquafeed. Researchers are developing more sustainable alternatives.
It takes a lot of energy for machines to learn – here's why AI is so power-hungry
2020 Dec 14
Training neural networks burns through a lot of energy. As the AI field grows, it's working to keep its carbon foot print from growing with it.
Plastic pipes are polluting drinking water systems after wildfires – it's a risk in urban fires, too
2020 Dec 14
A new study shows how toxic chemicals like benzene are leaching into water systems after nearby fires. The pipes don't have to burn – they just have to heat up.
A few heavy storms cause a big chunk of nitrogen pollution from Midwest farms
2020 Nov 02
New research shows that one-third of yearly nitrogen runoff from Midwest farms to the Gulf of Mexico occurs during a few heavy rainstorms. New fertilizing schedules could reduce nitrogen pollution.
Farmers are depleting the Ogallala Aquifer because the government pays them to do it
2020 Nov 09
An invisible crisis is brewing in US farm country as the overpumped Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer drains. The key drivers are federal farm subsidies and the tax code.
A skin-eating fungus from Europe could decimate Appalachia's salamanders – but researchers are working to prevent an outbreak
2020 Nov 06
The Bsal fungus is not yet here in North America, or any place in the Western Hemisphere, but there is concern that the pet trade is the most likely route for introduction here.
Delinquent electric bills from the pandemic are coming due – who will pay them?
2020 Nov 06
Many Americans have been unable to pay their electric bills during the COVID-19 pandemic, racking up billions of dollars in delinquent bills. Where will the money come from?
We’ll see more fire seasons like 2020 - here’s a strategy for managing our nation’s flammable landscapes
2020 Nov 12
A fire scientist offers a six-point strategy for preventing wildfires and living safely in flammable landscapes.
Biden's climate change plans can quickly raise the bar, but can they be transformative?
2020 Nov 10
After four years of the US government undoing climate change policies and partnerships, a Biden administration has a chance to rebuild that leadership. But success will require more than quick wins.
Oil field operations likely triggered earthquakes in California a few miles from the San Andreas Fault
2020 Nov 10
California was thought to be an exception, a place where oil field operations and tectonic faults apparently coexisted without much problem. Not any more.
Secondhand clothing sales are booming – and may help solve the sustainability crisis in the fashion industry
2020 Nov 16
Fast fashion is far from green. But the rapid expansion of online clothing resale platforms could help shrink the garment industry's negative impact on the environment.
Connecting to nature is good for kids – but they may need help coping with a planet in peril
2020 Nov 16
Here are four ways adults can help kids work through their worries about the environment.
On environmental protection, Biden's election will mean a 180-degree turn from Trump policies
2020 Nov 12
The Trump administration has used executive orders, deregulation and delays to reduce environmental regulation. Biden administration officials will use many of the same tools to undo their work.
Coronavirus relief funds could easily pay to stop the worst of climate change while rebooting economies
2020 Nov 17
Over US$12 trillion of COVID-19 relief has been promised. If a small portion was put toward economy-boosting green investments, the world could get on track to avoid the worst of climate change.
How Biden and Kerry could rebuild America's global climate leadership
2020 Nov 24
Choosing former Secretary of State John Kerry as climate envoy is the first step. To regain trust, the U.S. will also have to take concrete actions to cut its own greenhouse gas emissions.
Biden's ambitious energy plan faces headwinds, but can move the US forward
2020 Nov 23
Joe Biden has sweeping plans for a clean energy revolution. Congress will be a big speed bump, but it can't block everything.
Returning the 'three sisters' – corn, beans and squash – to Native American farms nourishes people, land and cultures
2020 Nov 20
For centuries Native Americans intercropped corn, beans and squash because the plants thrived together. A new initiative is measuring health and social benefits from reuniting the "three sisters."
Fences have big effects on land and wildlife around the world that are rarely measured
2020 Nov 30
Millions of miles of fences crisscross the Earth's surface. They divide ecosystems and affect wild species in ways that often are harmful, but are virtually unstudied.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was a record-breaker, and it's raising more concerns about climate change
2020 Nov 30
There were so many tropical storms in 2020, forecasters exhausted the list of names and started using Greek letters. And that's only one reason 2020 was extreme.
Testing sewage can give school districts, campuses and businesses a heads-up on the spread of COVID-19
2020 Nov 24
As the world waits for vaccines against COVID-19, testing wastewater can give communities and smaller locales, such as school districts, valuable signals about infections trends.
Tiny treetop flowers foster incredible beetle biodiversity
2020 Dec 03
In the Amazon, beetles and flowering trees have developed a tight bond. Hundreds of beetle species thrive off of and pollinate blossoms, helping to maintain some of the highest biodiversity on Earth.
What makes the world's biggest surfable waves?
2020 Dec 03
Some beaches in the world tend to consistently produce huge waves. Places like Nazaré Canyon in Portugal and Mavericks in California are famous for their waves because of the shape of the seafloor.
The Atlantic: The driving force behind ocean circulation and our taste for cod
2020 Dec 06
The Atlantic Ocean is still growing physically, but humans are over-harvesting its rich fisheries. The most famous one – North Atlantic cod – has become a textbook example of harmful overfishing.
How a flu virus shut down the US economy in 1872 – by infecting horses
2020 Dec 03
A fast-moving equine flu cratered the US economy in the fall of 1872, showing all too clearly that horses were essential and deserved better treatment.
Bitter battles between stinkbugs and carnivorous mice could hold clues for controlling human pain
2020 Dec 09
Animals that regularly dine on toxic food may hold clues for designing new drugs to treat persistent pain in humans.
Peatlands keep a lot of carbon out of Earth's atmosphere, but that could end with warming and development
2020 Dec 07
Peat beds around the world hold huge quantities of carbon and keep it from warming the planet. But rising temperatures and over-use could turn them from a brake on climate change into an accelerant.
The Marshall Islands could be wiped out by climate change – and their colonial history limits their ability to save themselves
2020 Dec 11
Climate change is a true existential threat for small island nations, but the US has done little to help the Marshall Islands, which it administered for decades.
5 years after Paris: How countries’ climate policies match up to their promises, and who's aiming for net zero emissions
2020 Dec 10
Bold visions for slowing global warming have emerged from all over the world. What's not clear is how countries will meet them.
Earthquake forecast for Puerto Rico: Dozens more large aftershocks are likely
2020 Jan 14
Puerto Rico's January earthquakes came after many foreshocks and have been followed by numerous aftershocks. Scientists are studying these sequences to improve earthquake forecasting.
The first step in managing plastic waste is measuring it – here's how we did it for one Caribbean country
2020 Jan 17
To manage plastic wastes, nations first need to know what they have and where it's coming from. A case study from Trinidad and Tobago shows how this approach can help identify solutions.
Why do onions make you cry?
2020 Jan 16
Like many plants, onions have defenses to ward off creatures that may want to eat them. Their secret weapon is a kind of natural tear gas.
Iceland didn't hunt any whales in 2019 – and public appetite for whale meat is fading
2020 Jan 21
Icelandic whalers have killed more than 1,700 whales since a global ban was adopted in 1986 – up to 2019, when no hunts took place. Is Iceland quietly getting out of the business?
Stoneflies and mayflies, canaries of our streams
2020 Jan 22
Mayflies and stone flies are extremely vulnerable to water pollution, which has implications for the larger food chain.
The dramatic dismissal of a landmark youth climate lawsuit might not close the book on that case
2020 Jan 23
Both opinions the three-judge panel handed down warned of a potential climate catastrophe. Only one judge said the courts have an active role to play in making the government change course.
200 years of exploring Antarctica – the world's coldest, most forbidding and most peaceful continent
2020 Jan 24
Two centuries after it was first sighted by Russian explorers, Antarctica is a key site for studying the future of Earth's climate – and for global scientific cooperation.
Why California is banning chlorpyrifos, a widely-used pesticide: 5 questions answered
2020 Jan 23
Starting Feb. 6, 2020, California farmers will be barred from using chlorpyrifos on their crops. The Trump administration says more study is needed, but other states are also moving ahead.
Atmospheric river storms can drive costly flooding – and climate change is making them stronger
2020 Jan 27
Earth's biggest rivers are streams of warm water vapor in the atmosphere that can cause huge rain and snowfall over land. Climate change is making them longer, wetter and stronger.
Young California ranchers are finding new ways to raise livestock and improve the land
2020 Jan 28
A new generation of ranchers is exploring sustainable ways to raise cattle, sheep and goats in California. Some are grazing herds on fire-prone lands, reducing wildfire risks and improving soils.
Modern tomatoes are very different from their wild ancestors – and we found missing links in their evolution
2020 Jan 30
Through genetic detective work, scientists have identified missing links in the tomato’s evolution from a wild blueberry-sized fruit in South America to the larger modern tomato of today.
Soil carbon is a valuable resource, but all soil carbon is not created equal
2020 Feb 06
Storing more carbon in soil helps slow climate change and makes croplands more productive. But there are two kinds of soil carbon that are both important, but function very differently.
'Sea-level rise won't affect my house' – even flood maps don't sway Florida coastal residents
2020 Feb 07
Can maps of people's flooded properties convince them that rising sea level is a threat?
The Philippines has rated 'Golden Rice' safe, but farmers might not plant it
2020 Feb 07
Golden Rice – a controversial genetically modified product designed to combat malnutrition – has been approved as safe in the Philippines. But key questions remain unanswered.
The secondhand smoke you're breathing may have come from another state
2020 Feb 12
According to a new study, about four in 10 air pollution deaths in the US are due to emissions crossing state lines.
Climate change impacts in Bangladesh show how geography, wealth and culture affect vulnerability
2020 Feb 11
Bangladesh is on the front lines of climate change, but factors including money, gender and religion make some Bangladeshis much more vulnerable than others. Can it find inclusive ways to cope?
A military perspective on climate change could bridge the gap between believers and doubters
2020 Feb 18
US military leaders have to plan for operations all over the world, so they can't afford to ignore climate change or debate its causes.
Animals large and small once covered North America's prairies – and in some places, they could again
2020 Feb 19
North America's prairies once were home to millions of wild animals. Today, most of that land is farmed or developed, but some grasslands have never been plowed and could be rewilded.
Is your city making you fat? How urban planning can address the obesity epidemic
2020 Feb 20
Four out of 5 Americans live in cities, so urban planning can make a big difference in our lifestyles – especially if it promotes healthy diets and physical activity.
Air pollution kills thousands of Americans every year – here's a low-cost strategy to reduce the toll
2020 Feb 21
A new study takes an innovative approach to reducing fine particle air pollution and spotlights key sources: factories that burn coal and oil, petrochemical plants and burning wood for home heating.
Mine waste dams threaten the environment, even when they don't fail
2020 Feb 24
Dams built to hold enormous quantities of toxic mining waste have a long history of spills. Decisions in the Pacific Northwest threaten three free-flowing rivers there.
Better rat control in cities starts by changing human behavior
2020 Feb 25
Climate change, globalization and concerns about rat poison soon could drive rat infestations to levels not seen in centuries. One way to curb them is getting humans to stop wasting food.
Indigenous people may be the Amazon's last hope
2020 Feb 27
Native Brazilians are among the Amazon's most effective defenders against logging and mining, because they're fighting not just for the environment but for their people's very survival.
It's OK to feed wild birds – here are some tips for doing it the right way
2020 Mar 02
Millions of Americans feed wild birds, especially in winter and spring. Studies show that this can influence birds' health and behavior in surprising ways.
Spring is arriving earlier across the US, and that's not always good news
2020 Mar 04
Climate change has advanced the arrival of spring by as much as several weeks in some parts of the US. This can mean major crop losses and disconnects between species that need each other to thrive.
How your diet contributes to nutrient pollution and dead zones in lakes and bays
2019 Jul 19
Scientists are predicting major algae blooms in Lake Erie and large dead zones in the Chesapeake Bay and Gulf of Mexico this summer. Nutrient pollution from industrial corn farming is a major driver.
Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future
2019 Jul 19
Western states adopted a 7-year plan in May 2019 to manage low water levels in the Colorado River. Now they need to look farther ahead and accept that there will be less water far into the future.
At least 2% of US public water systems are like Flint's – Americans just don't hear about them
2019 Jul 19
Flint's highest recorded lead levels were typical for water systems that report problems. What's more, a number of cities haven't reported their lead issues.
Climate change is affecting crop yields and reducing global food supplies
2019 Jul 19
As climate change alters temperature and rainfall patterns, yields of some crops are increasing while others decline. The net result: less food, especially where it's most needed.
High-value opportunities exist to restore tropical rainforests around the world – here's how we mapped them
2019 Jul 19
Restoring tropical rainforests is good for the climate, wild species and humans. But where to start? A new study pinpoints locations that will maximize benefits and minimize negative impacts.
US agriculture needs a 21st-century New Deal
2019 Jul 19
Three scholars argue that agriculture is failing to sustain either the land or American farmers. They propose a modern version of the New Deal that centers on ecology and economic fairness.
It takes years to fully recover from big storms like Sandy
2019 Jul 19
Getting everyone whose lives were thrown off-track back takes a lot of personal effort, paired with work done by a constantly shifting mix of nonprofits and governmental agencies over many years.
Controlling weeds on playing fields, parks and lawns without herbicides
2019 Jul 19
Weeds are serious problems on sports fields, parks and other sites covered with turfgrass. A new strategy uses mechanical force to kill them instead of chemical herbicides.
Visiting national parks could change your thinking about patriotism
2019 Jul 19
Patriotism means pride in country, but what are we proud of? A former national park ranger suggests that visiting historic sites can remind Americans of the heritage, good and bad, that they share.
Biodiversity helps coral reefs thrive – and could be part of strategies to save them
2019 Jul 19
In a study that cultivated coral 'gardens' with varying numbers of species, plots with more species were healthier. This finding could inform strategies to help coral reefs survive climate change.
Is burning trash a good way to handle it? Waste incineration in 5 charts
2019 Jul 19
Every year the US burns more than 34 million tons of garbage in incinerators. These plants are major pollution sources, and most are clustered in disadvantaged communities.
Women are rising in the conservation movement, but still face #MeToo challenges
2019 Jul 19
Major US environmental organizations have promised to diversify their staffs and boards for more than 20 years, but moved slowly. Will workplace scandals make a difference?
The Supreme Court's Virginia uranium ruling hints at the limits of federal power
2019 Jul 19
The 6-3 ruling challenges some common political assumptions about conservatives and liberals.
The Defense Department is worried about climate change – and also a huge carbon emitter
2019 Jul 19
Many current and former US military leaders call climate change a serious national security threat, but few of them mention the Defense Department's big carbon footprint.
Climate change alters what's possible in restoring Florida's Everglades
2019 Jul 19
Federal and state agencies are carrying out a 35-year, multi-billion-dollar plan to restore Florida's Everglades, but have not factored sea level rise or other climate change impacts into their plans.
As more developing countries reject plastic waste exports, wealthy nations seek solutions at home
2019 Jul 19
A year after China stopped accepting most scrap material exports, other Asian countries are following Beijing's lead, forcing wealthy nations to find domestic solutions for managing their wastes.
Climate change is driving rapid shifts between high and low water levels on the Great Lakes
2019 Jul 19
Over the past 20 years, Great Lakes water levels have gone from sustained multiyear lows to multiyear highs. Climate change is accelerating the transition between dry phases and wet phases.
Environmental reporting can help protect citizens in emerging democracies
2019 Jul 19
How does reporting on the environment promote democracy? A US journalism professor describes conditions in the republic of Georgia, where the media isn't equipped to cover issues like pollution.
A radical idea to get a high-renewable electric grid: Build way more solar and wind than needed
2019 Jul 19
Solar and wind can't deliver power on demand. But overbuilding solar and wind, and simply dumping unneeded energy, would go a long way to smoothing out those bumps, study finds.
The US drinking water supply is mostly safe, but that's not good enough
2019 Jul 19
A grade of 92 is an A at most schools, but for tap water it means that millions of Americans drink water that fails to met federal standards.
High-tech fishing gear could help save critically endangered right whales
2019 Jul 19
North Atlantic right whales are headed toward a traumatic extinction, but could rebound if humans can get out of their way.
Lemurs are the world's most endangered mammals, but planting trees can help save them
2019 Dec 29
New research shows that slowing deforestation is the most essential step for saving Madagascar's lemurs, and can help protect them against the longer-term threat of climate change.
Statistic of the decade: The massive deforestation of the Amazon
2019 Dec 29
About 24,000 square miles of Amazon rainforest have been deforested over the last decade.
Finding opportunity in crisis: 3 essential reads about environmental solutions
2019 Dec 29
2019 was a big year for dire warnings about the state of the planet, but crises can spur solutions.
Where does beach sand come from?
2019 Dec 29
Sand may seem abundant when your toes are buried in it, but it's becoming scarce along many coastlines around the world.
The Madrid climate conference's real failure was not getting a broad deal on global carbon markets
2019 Dec 29
Activists wanted nations to make bigger climate commitments at the Madrid COP-25 meeting, but the meeting's real goal was agreeing on rules for pricing carbon pollution.
The Earth needs multiple methods for removing CO2 from the air to avert worst of climate change
2019 Dec 29
Countries are not on track to meet Paris Agreement goals. A climate researcher argues that a range of technologies that take CO2 out of the air are needed.
Why are whales big, but not bigger?
2019 Dec 29
How did whales that feed on tiny prey evolve into the largest creatures on Earth? And why don't they get even bigger?
Winter is coming: 5 essential reads about snow and ice
2019 Dec 29
Love it or hate it, winter means snow and ice for much of the US. In many places, though, snow is becoming a scarce resource.
We calculated emissions due to electricity loss on the power grid – globally, it's a lot
2019 Dec 29
Due to inefficiencies in global energy systems, energy falls short of even making it to the consumer, often lost in the form of waste heat.
'Robotic blacksmithing': A technology that could revive US manufacturing
2019 Dec 29
A manufacturing engineer describes the concept for a technology that could lead to more efficient production – and perhaps a tool to revive US manufacturing.
Millions of burnt trees and rusted cars: Post-disaster cleanup is expensive, time-consuming and wasteful
2019 Dec 29
Government agencies have detailed plans for responding to disasters, but one piece doesn't get enough attention: cleaning up the mess that's left behind.
Risk rooted in colonial era weighs on Bahamas' efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Dorian
2019 Dec 29
It's now officially the end of hurricane season, but the rebuilding of the Bahamas continues, slowed by the risks imposed by a history of colonialism and class division.
Trump's border wall threatens an Arizona oasis with a long, diverse history
2019 Dec 29
Border wall construction through Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in Arizona is encroaching on a site where people from many cultures have interacted for thousands of years.
Invasive grasses are fueling wildfires across the US
2019 Dec 29
Along with climate change and drought, invasive grasses are promoting wildfires across the US, even in areas that don't normally burn.
Christmas tree shopping is harder than ever, thanks to climate change and demographics
2019 Dec 29
If you're craving that freshly-cut tree smell, shop early and don't be too choosy.
Why a measured transition to electric vehicles would benefit the US
2019 Dec 29
Democratic candidates are keen to burnish their climate credentials by calling for grand electric vehicle plans. But there are both economic and political reasons for going slowly.
What can you learn from studying an animal's scat?
2019 Dec 29
An animal's poop may seem like something to avoid, but it's full of information about the creature that left it there.
Fight or switch? How the low-carbon transition is disrupting fossil fuel politics
2019 Dec 29
As the effects of climate change become clearer and more ominous, fossil fuel companies face a choice: Defy warnings of catastrophic climate change, or envision their roles in a post-carbon world.
Nail salon workers suffer chemical exposures that can be like working at a garage or a refinery
2019 Dec 29
The technician who gave you that shiny manicure may be inhaling dangerous levels of toxic chemicals on the job.
How to boost recycling: Reward consumers with discounts, deals and social connections
2019 Dec 29
Americans recycle only about one-third of the solid waste we generate. A behavioral scientist argues that with the right motivators, we could do more.
Data science could help Californians battle future wildfires
2019 Dec 29
Researchers like myself are finding transformative new ways to help planners, leaders and first responders tackle disasters from afar.
Can the Paris Agreement on climate change succeed without the US? 4 questions answered
2019 Dec 29
President Trump has confirmed that the US will leave the Paris Agreement on climate change on the earliest allowable date: Nov. 4, 2020. Will this hobble efforts to slow global warming?
E-bikes are coming to federally owned trails: 4 questions answered
2019 Dec 29
The Trump administration has moved to allow electric bikes on all federally owned trails where normal bikes are allowed. A public lands scholar weighs in on the issues this could cause.
Emperor Penguins could march to extinction if nations fail to halt climate change
2019 Dec 29
Emperor Penguins thrive in harsh conditions, but a new study shows that their fate depends on human action to slow global warming and associated loss of sea ice.
How do we know when a species at risk has recovered? It's not just a matter of numbers
2019 Dec 29
Scientists have tracked endangered species for years. Now they're figuring out how to highlight animals and plants that have recovered – but what does that mean?
Adapting cities to a hotter world: 3 essential reads
2019 Jul 19
Hot weather kills more Americans yearly on average than floods, tornadoes or hurricanes. Three scholars explain how cities can prepare and help residents stay cool.
Can protecting land promote employment? In New England, the answer is yes
2019 Jul 19
Protecting land from being developed intuitively may seem like a drag on local economies, but research in New England finds that it has the opposite effect.
As flood risks increase across the US, it's time to recognize the limits of levees
2019 Jul 19
At a time when storms are becoming more frequent and severe, relying on levees for flood control can create as many problems as it solves.
How rural areas like Florida's Panhandle can become more hurricane-ready
2019 May 22
An engineering professor explains why rural areas are especially vulnerable to hurricanes, and what they can do to ensure that no one is left without help.
Getting ready for hurricane season: 4 essential reads
2019 May 22
For the start of Atlantic hurricane season on June 1, scholars explain weather forecasting, evacuation orders, inland flooding risks and how social ties influence decisions to stay or flee.
Misreading the story of climate change and the Maya
2019 May 22
Many people think climate change caused Classic Maya civilization to collapse abruptly around 900 A.D. An archaeologist says that view is too simplistic and misses the bigger point.
Hydropower dams can harm coastal areas far downstream
2019 May 22
Thousands of hydropower dams are under construction around the world. New research shows that by cutting off sediment flow, these dams can have big ecological effects on far-off bays and deltas.
Populist alliances of 'cowboys and Indians' are protecting rural lands
2019 May 22
By appealing to the hearts and minds of their white neighbors, Native Americans are carving out common ground. Together, these different groups are building unity through diversity.
Retired oil rigs off the California coast could find new lives as artificial reefs
2019 May 22
Californians love their coast and strongly oppose offshore drilling. Will they support converting old oil rigs to artificial reefs – a policy that benefits both marine life and oil companies?
How is climate change affecting fishes? There are clues inside their ears
2019 May 22
Tiny calcified formations inside fishes' ears can be used to trace a fish's life history – and potentially, how climate change has affected its growth and development.
Deep sea carbon reservoirs once superheated the Earth – could it happen again?
2019 May 22
Thousands of years ago, carbon gases trapped on the seafloor escaped, causing drastic warming that helped end the last ice age. A scientist says climate change could cause this process to repeat.
Trump's 'energy dominance' ambitions hit another snag on the West Coast
2019 May 22
The 'thin green line' of resistance against any new infrastructure for shipping oil, gas and coal abroad has won many battles.
Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year – it's time to protect them
2019 May 22
A new report shows that coral reefs reduce damage from floods across the United States and its trust territories by more than $1.8 billion every year – and pinpoints that value state by state.
Why reducing carbon emissions from cars and trucks will be so hard
2019 May 22
Only a small share of the vehicles Americans buy are electric. Even if all of them were, it would take until 2040 to phase out the fossil fuels used to power personal travel and road-bound freight.
Many electric utilities are struggling – will more go bankrupt?
2019 May 22
The electric utility is seeing rapid changes and threats that affect consumers, from more wind and solar to wildfires. How they react depends in large part on regulators.
Trump offshore drilling plan may be dead in the water, but there are better ways to lead on energy
2019 May 22
The Trump administration plan to expand offshore oil and gas production along US coastlines faces serious roadblocks. But there are smarter ways to pursue 'energy dominance.'
As air pollution increases in some US cities, the Trump administration is weakening clean air regulations
2019 May 22
Air quality in the US has improved greatly since 1990, but a new report finds progress stalling in some cities. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is rolling back air pollution controls.
Is an 'insect apocalypse' happening? How would we know?
2019 May 22
Alarm bells went off when several recent studies reported mass insect die-offs in different parts of the world. But reports of an 'insect apocalypse' have been greatly exaggerated.
The value of trees: 4 essential reads
2019 May 22
Trees clean urban air, store carbon, slow floodwaters and can be used to design safer streets. Scholars are starting to calculate what these services are worth – a fitting topic for Arbor Day.
Planned burns can reduce wildfire risks, but expanding use of 'good fire' isn't easy
2019 May 22
Decades of wildfire suppression have allowed flammable fuels to pile up in US forests. Scientists and managers say careful use of planned fires can reduce risks of large, out-of-control burns.
To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for Nature
2019 May 22
A new study lays out a road map for protecting and restoring 50% of Earth's surface, targeted to preserve biodiversity and maximize natural removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
Sea creatures store carbon in the ocean – could protecting them help slow climate change?
2019 May 22
Protecting forests and wetlands, which absorb and store carbon, is one way to slow climate change. Scientists are proposing similar treatment for marine animals that help store carbon in the oceans.
The dirt on soil loss from the Midwest floods
2019 May 22
Recent extreme rains and weather in the Midwest are causing a multitude of problems in the topsoil that much of the nation's food supply relies on.
Top EPA advisers challenge long-standing air pollution science, threatening Americans' health
2019 May 22
Are health risks from air pollution less serious than we think? Mainstream scientists call this a fringe view, but it's getting high-level attention at the Environmental Protection Agency.
This small Mexican border town prizes its human and environmental links with the US
2019 May 22
A scholar who travels regularly to the US-Mexico border finds ecological links and a community on the other side that welcomes American visitors.
Civic crowdfunding reduces the risk of 'bikelash'
2019 May 22
This collective fundraising technique helps defuse anti-cyclist sentiment before it dooms protected bike lanes and other new infrastructure.
Why the Great Plains has such epic weather
2019 May 22
What creates such dramatic storms across the US Great Plains? The key factors are topography and temperature differences.
When people downsize to tiny houses, they adopt more environmentally friendly lifestyles
2019 May 22
Research shows that moving from a larger dwelling to a tiny home can change behavior in surprising ways.