Stories

There’s more cropland in protected areas than we might think

There’s more cropland in protected areas than we might think

A study finds that crops occur in every category of protected habitat on the planet, making up 6% of all conserved land read more

Researchers used Covid lockdown to show how tourism can protect vulnerable seabirds

Researchers used Covid lockdown to show how tourism can protect vulnerable seabirds

After a Sweden company shut down tourist traffic to a bird watching island, an influx of eagles wreaked havoc on the murre breeding season read more

On a mere 1% of farmland, solar panels could provide 20% of US electricity

On a mere 1% of farmland, solar panels could provide 20% of US electricity

Agrivoltaics could also provide jobs and boost rural livelihoods, while cutting carbon emissions read more

How do renewable energy sources hold up in a warming world?

How do renewable energy sources hold up in a warming world?

Pretty well overall. A new study shows that the impact climate change will have on the supply of wind, hydro, solar, and other renewable energy sources is modest. read more

A drastic revolution in the way we eat and farm could limit habitat lost to agriculture to a mere 1%

A drastic revolution in the way we eat and farm could limit habitat lost to agriculture to a mere 1%

Alternatively, researchers found, if we don’t change our food systems, habitat losses will affect tens of thousands of species by 2050 read more

Nearly a century after being extirpated, blue whales are moving back to South Georgia Island

Nearly a century after being extirpated, blue whales are moving back to South Georgia Island

Now that whaling has been outlawed for decades, populations are beginning to heal—but they face new threats. read more

Study ties amphibian collapses with increased malaria outbreaks

Study ties amphibian collapses with increased malaria outbreaks

If you remove frogs and other "mosquito-reducers" from the landscape, what happens to malaria rates? read more

Researchers have hit on a widely available solution for decarbonizing fertilizer production

Researchers have hit on a widely available solution for decarbonizing fertilizer production

On multiple environmental measures, “peecycling” almost always comes out ahead read more

A new carbon capture method that actually makes energy sense

A new carbon capture method that actually makes energy sense

Simple, high-efficiency electrolysis process produces commercially valuable products—and could run on renewable energy read more

Using satellite imagery, researchers have built an automatic habitat loss detector

Using satellite imagery, researchers have built an automatic habitat loss detector

They then trained image change detection algorithms on “before and after” images of places that have recently been cleared, built on, or even covered in solar panels. read more

Surprisingly small tweaks to carbon pricing could balance cost with fairness

Surprisingly small tweaks to carbon pricing could balance cost with fairness

Researchers believe they found a way to resolve the tradeoff between too many different carbon prices and the need for big cash transfers between countries read more

How many fish are in the sea?

How many fish are in the sea?

Researchers are getting closer to an answer—and improved management—by identifying the DNA traces that fish leave behind in seawater read more

This material can store the sun’s energy for months, maybe even years

This material can store the sun’s energy for months, maybe even years

Thin coatings of the material could soak up sun in summer months and provide heat to buildings in winter, all without using fuel or electricity read more

United States may be well positioned to power down fossil fuel plants

United States may be well positioned to power down fossil fuel plants

Lots of U.S. fossil fuel electricity infrastructure is already relatively old and closer to its typical lifespan than is the case in other countries. read more

Clean air policies are for the birds

Clean air policies are for the birds

According to a new estimate, reducing ozone pollution has saved 1.5 billion birds over the past 40 years. read more

Letting the big fish get away could be an unexpected climate solution

Letting the big fish get away could be an unexpected climate solution

Big fish sinking to the bottom of the sea could sequester millions of tons of carbon read more

Q. Are vertebrate populations declining? A. Depends on how you look at the data

Q. Are vertebrate populations declining? A. Depends on how you look at the data

A new analysis complicates a popular metric of biodiversity decline. read more

In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers found that greener farming methods don’t compromise yields

In the most comprehensive study to date, researchers found that greener farming methods don’t compromise yields

In 63% of cases, they found that eco-friendly farming boosted biodiversity without any cost to yields. In several cases, yields actually increased read more

Can blimps help save sharks?

Can blimps help save sharks?

Sharks attack very few people—but current mitigation efforts kill a lot of sharks. Is blimp-based surveillance a better option? read more

The rise of the carbon-negative building

The rise of the carbon-negative building

Wooden structures that store more carbon than is emitted in their construction point to a flaw in green building schemes read more

Can industrial aquaculture grow vegetarian fish?

Can industrial aquaculture grow vegetarian fish?

A study found that a new algae-based fish feed formula not only cuts aquaculture’s environmental footprint, but also produces larger, healthier fish read more

Microwave magic can help provide clean hydrogen fuel

Microwave magic can help provide clean hydrogen fuel

Zapping catalysts with microwaves help them extract hydrogen from plastic waste and from water read more

Focus on freshwater conservation, and land gets swept along for the ride

Focus on freshwater conservation, and land gets swept along for the ride

Prioritizing terrestrial species leaves freshwater ones behind — but the opposite isn't true. read more

A new type of soil irrigates itself

A new type of soil irrigates itself

Adding super-moisture-absorbent gels to arid soils could liberate farming from expensive irrigation and power systems read more

Windows just keep getting smarter. These darken in the sun and generate electricity

Windows just keep getting smarter. These darken in the sun and generate electricity

Dynamic windows could do double duty in sustainable building design, cooling and powering at the same time. read more

There is still something to be said for human silence

There is still something to be said for human silence

Researchers experiment with increasing the acoustic carrying capacity of a park read more

When health care becomes a climate solution

When health care becomes a climate solution

A new analysis reveals how a rural clinic helped save more than 27 square kilometers of tropical Indonesian forest—equating to more than $65 million worth of avoided carbon emissions read more

Closing more of the ocean to fishing actually means there’ll be more fish to eat

Closing more of the ocean to fishing actually means there’ll be more fish to eat

Researchers calculate that protecting just 5% more of the ocean could boost fisheries by as much as 20%. read more

Using seawater for cooling could be a sustainable option

Using seawater for cooling could be a sustainable option

Researchers found that just one cubic meter of seawater has the same cooling energy as a solar farm the size of 68 football fields—or 21 wind turbines. read more

Swiss study shows that paying people to conserve biodiversity pays off

Swiss study shows that paying people to conserve biodiversity pays off

The government reimburses farmers for conserving country’s tremendous plant diversity. read more

Which European political parties have the most ambitious climate policies?

Which European political parties have the most ambitious climate policies?

Spoiler: They are surprisingly similar in ambition—but they also all share the same blind spot. read more

Loading soil with biochar allows farmers to cut way back on irrigation

Loading soil with biochar allows farmers to cut way back on irrigation

At high applications levels, researchers found that biochar can not only soak up a lot of carbon, but also reduce the need for irrigation by almost 40%. read more

Paper recycling isn’t necessarily good for the climate

Paper recycling isn’t necessarily good for the climate

Global paper consumption is rising, and recycling paper uses more fossil fuels than virgin paper. But a switch to renewable energy and better wastepaper disposal practices could drastically cut carbon emissions. read more

We’ve built enough fences to stretch to the sun—but still don’t understand their effects here on Earth

We’ve built enough fences to stretch to the sun—but still don’t understand their effects here on Earth

In a recent paper, researchers argue it's time for a new field: fence ecology. read more

Just 10% of Covid stimulus funds directed to green-energy would be enough to reach Paris goals

Just 10% of Covid stimulus funds directed to green-energy would be enough to reach Paris goals

A new study puts some numbers on what would constitute a climate-friendly recovery package read more

A vicious cycle of cows, disease, and climate change

A vicious cycle of cows, disease, and climate change

Livestock welfare will be key in helping us reign in emissions read more

When the smoke cleared in Australia, the frogs could still be heard

When the smoke cleared in Australia, the frogs could still be heard

Researchers recruited an army of citizen scientists to record and log frog calls before and after Australian wildfires read more

What’s the minimum amount of energy needed to provide a decent living—for everyone?

What’s the minimum amount of energy needed to provide a decent living—for everyone?

New research finds that global energy consumption in 2050 could be reduced to the levels of the 1960s, despite a population 3x larger. read more

The fertilizer solution has become a major climate problem

The fertilizer solution has become a major climate problem

Study reveals that anthropogenic N2O emissions have leapt by 30% over the past four decades read more

The immense potential of solar panels floating on dams

The immense potential of solar panels floating on dams

Putting solar farms on water has benefits, but coupling them with hydropower amps them up and could provide almost half of the world's electricity. read more

After spending time around humans, animals lose their fear of predators

After spending time around humans, animals lose their fear of predators

This has implications for a number of conservation initiatives from reintroductions to ecotourism. read more

Researchers get closer to the goal of flood-proof crops

Researchers get closer to the goal of flood-proof crops

Engineered enzymes could allow plants to tolerate low-oxygen conditions read more

Buy High, Sell Low

Buy High, Sell Low

Like it or not, retreat from the coasts has begun. The only question left is whether it will be managed or chaotic. read more

Maps of the New World

Maps of the New World

How do we think about our future place in a geographically altered world? A map is a good place to start. read more

A memo from the year 2050

A memo from the year 2050

Here's how we avoided the worst of zoonotic diseases read more

As the climate changes, what changes people’s minds?

As the climate changes, what changes people’s minds?

How far has opinion moved from climate-change denial toward acceptance and, ultimately, action? read more

How to Plant the Forests of the Future

How to Plant the Forests of the Future

In the past, forest restoration could be informed by what once was. Now we have to make hard decisions about what we’re working toward. read more

Rent, Don’t buy

Rent, Don’t buy

It's time to design conservation policies that are as dynamic as nature is. read more

It’s an unsinkable idea

It’s an unsinkable idea

The concept of settling the high seas is back—this time as a sustainable answer to sea-level rise, with an impressive team and UN support. read more

Greening the last mile of e-commerce

Greening the last mile of e-commerce

Could hubs, nudges, and EV night deliveries crack this surprisingly tough puzzle? read more

The human population curve is on the move

The human population curve is on the move

Demography teaches an important lesson about population explosions: they are always temporary read more

The race is on to build an AC unit that doesn’t cook the planet

The race is on to build an AC unit that doesn’t cook the planet

There's a $1 million prize for anyone that can design a room air conditioner that costs no more than twice what a standard one costs and produces five times less greenhouse gas read more

Bottling Sunshine without Batteries

Bottling Sunshine without Batteries

Turning sunlight into liquid fuels or hydrogen gas could address solar power’s biggest limitations read more

This Is How Blockchain Could Upend the Grid

This Is How Blockchain Could Upend the Grid

by allowing people to buy and sell energy in small increments from, and to, their neighbors read more

The Anthropocene Nightstand

The Anthropocene Nightstand

Bookmarks for a Human Age read more

How to Die in The Anthropocene

How to Die in The Anthropocene

Death is inevitable, but its environmental toll may not have to be. read more

These Buildings Generate More Energy Than They Use

These Buildings Generate More Energy Than They Use

Norway ushers in an era of energy-positive architecture read more

Saltwater Aquaculture Moves Inland

Saltwater Aquaculture Moves Inland

Improved technology could give fish farms a sustainable foothold far from the ocean read more

The Problem with Making Nature Pay for Itself

The Problem with Making Nature Pay for Itself

Trying to make nature valuable has had a disappointing track record. read more

A Symbol for The Anthropocene

A Symbol for The Anthropocene

There could be more than 60 billion of them on the planet read more

Picturing a Way Forward

Picturing a Way Forward

An interview with Kim Stanley Robinson: Climate change, science fiction, and our collective failure of imagination read more

Hacking Nature

Hacking Nature

For decades, humans have modeled technology on observations of the natural world. But new discoveries about nature—and tools for manipulating it—have opened up novel approaches potentially more powerful than mere imitation to solving Human Age problems. read more

Blurring Life’s Boundaries

Blurring Life’s Boundaries

Darwinian theory is based on the idea that heredity flows vertically, parent to offspring, and that life’s history has branched like a tree. Now we know otherwise: that the ‘tree' of life isn’t that simple. read more

How different are we after all?

How different are we after all?

The question “What makes us human?” is typically answered in terms of differences. The traits proposed to define us—tool use, language, empathy, and so on—assume that humanity’s essence resides in what sets us apart from other beings. read more

Do plastic bag bans make a difference?

Do plastic bag bans make a difference?

Do Plastic Bag Bans Make A Difference? Like so many life-cycle assessments, it’s never that simple. The environmental impact of ... read more

A View from Everywhere  All the Time

A View from Everywhere  All the Time

Tech companies are rapidly networking the environment in ways that will transform our perception of nature—just as social media reshaped our relationships with each other. What could possibly go wrong? read more

The Curated Wild

The Curated Wild

Welcome to the brave new world of artificial intelligence for conservation read more

The Climate Change Apocalypse Problem

The Climate Change Apocalypse Problem

Thinking about apocalypse, like thinking about one’s own death, is not something that most of us have much enthusiasm for read more

Water-Harvesting and Arid-Adapted Agrobiodiversity

Water-Harvesting and Arid-Adapted Agrobiodiversity

A revival of rainwater harvesting is occurring around the world, as desert communities restore traditional systems known as rain gardens, ak-chin agriculture, floodwater farming, gavias, karez, qanats and fogarras. read more

If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em.

If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em.

A photo essay on the rise of edible packaging read more

Benign by Design

Benign by Design

The search for biodegradable drugs read more

Amphibious Architecture

Amphibious Architecture

Amphibious structures are not static; they respond to floods like ships to a rising tide, floating on the water’s surface. read more

The Race to Reinvent Cement

The Race to Reinvent Cement

The material that built the modern world is due for an upgrade. What if we could transform cement from a climate wrecker into a carbon sponge? read more

Does driving an electric car help decarbonize the economy?

Does driving an electric car help decarbonize the economy?

You would need to drive an electric car more than 50,000 km in Quebec and 150,000 km in Germany to outcompete a conventional car in terms of greenhouse gas emissions read more

The Resurgence of Solar Agriculture

The Resurgence of Solar Agriculture

Can farmers get the same food production under solar panels that they currently do growing lettuce for your dinner table the old-fashioned way—directly under the sun? There’s an increasing body of research suggesting that they can. read more

Are We Approaching Peak Stuff?

Are We Approaching Peak Stuff?

Almost imperceptibly, we are stepping off the consumption treadmill read more

All forests are not equal in the carbon count

All forests are not equal in the carbon count

To clean up our carbon mess, we don’t just need more forests, we need better forests in the right places read more

Astro-Ecology

Astro-Ecology

When stargazers look for animals read more

Shades of Green

Shades of Green

Bond markets are beginning to unlock climate finance read more

Eyes on the High Seas

Eyes on the High Seas

Illegal fishing is getting harder, thanks to public surveillance from space read more

One Man’s Trash . . .

One Man’s Trash . . .

Mining landfills for metals and energy read more

Milk Without the Cow. Eggs Without the Chicken.

Milk Without the Cow. Eggs Without the Chicken.

Yeast-derived “animal products” may soon be part of an environmentally balanced diet read more

On Wizardly Prophets and Prophetic Wizards

On Wizardly Prophets and Prophetic Wizards

Ted Nordhaus reviews The Wizard and The Prophet by Charles Mann read more

This Is Roquette Science

This Is Roquette Science

How computerized arugula (aka roquette) farms take over the world read more

The Circular Economy Made Real

The Circular Economy Made Real

In more and more pockets of the industrial landscape, the byproducts of one process are becoming the raw materials for another, trash is getting a useful second life, and waste is becoming a thing of the past. read more

Instead of Trump’s Wall, Let’s Build a Border of Solar Panels

Instead of Trump’s Wall, Let’s Build a Border of Solar Panels

A solar border would alleviate a range of binational problems. For one, it would have a civilizing effect. read more

Biophony

Biophony

Soundscape ecology plunges us into a wilder world beyond the mundane and merely visual read more

An Internet of Wings

An Internet of Wings

Researchers will track migratory animals from the International Space Station to predict the next pandemic read more

How Much Energy Will the World Need?

How Much Energy Will the World Need?

Any climate plan that doesn’t consider this question is bound to fail. read more

Artificial Intelligence and Decarbonization

Artificial Intelligence and Decarbonization

New experiments are pushing artificial intelligence and sensor networks into the grid—and into factories, data centers, and transit systems—in order to pull fossil fuels out. read more

Cutting Loose the Climate Future from the Carbon Past

Cutting Loose the Climate Future from the Carbon Past

Geoengineering demands a new way of looking at the world—one that can be troubling. read more

When You’re in a Carbon Hole Stop Digging

When You’re in a Carbon Hole Stop Digging

Here’s a coal retirement plan that doesn’t rely on uninvented technology or science-challenged leaders. read more

Human-Driven Evolution Is a Hallmark of the Anthropocene

Human-Driven Evolution Is a Hallmark of the Anthropocene

The Human Age will be shaped by the species we create and foster as well as the ones we kill off read more

The Great Decoupling

The Great Decoupling

The story of energy use, economic growth, and carbon emissions in four charts. read more

The Rise of the Wooden Skyscraper

The Rise of the Wooden Skyscraper

New, mass-timber engineering could transform the twenty-first-century city from a carbon source into a carbon sink read more

Is the grass greener on the other side?

Is the grass greener on the other side?

Drug legalization could both help and hurt the environment read more

Rerouting

Rerouting

Small changes to flight routes could deliver big climate savings read more

Energy subsidies and the G20

Energy subsidies and the G20

Energy subsidies and the G20: Do as I say, not as I do. read more

The Carnery

The Carnery

Imagine a culinary future with in vitro meat . . .The real thing may not be as far away as you think read more

The residential macrosystem

The residential macrosystem

Managed collectively, backyards could become more biodiverse landscapes read more

Nanosilver may cut down on odor, but does it make clothing “green”?

Nanosilver may cut down on odor, but does it make clothing “green”?

Less frequent laundering may not offset the additional environmental impacts of using antimicrobial silver nanoparticles in textiles. read more

Why citizen science may shine, even in Trump’s world

Why citizen science may shine, even in Trump’s world

As we brace for fresh environmental onslaughts to be leveled by the incoming administration, a sleeper cell in the federal government itself may just provide resistance—and even resilience—in the face of it. read more

The Global Financial Establishment Is Waking up to Climate Risk

The Global Financial Establishment Is Waking up to Climate Risk

Regulators are beginning to rewrite the economic rules read more

Who’s Winning the Clean-tech Race?

Who’s Winning the Clean-tech Race?

You could be forgiven if you thought the European Union—historically a leader on low-carbon finance and policy efforts—would have a competitive edge in clean energy markets. But you would need to think again. read more

Habitat with Humanity

Habitat with Humanity

Making creative accommodations for the urban wild read more

Imagine There’s No Drivers

Imagine There’s No Drivers

And no traffic lights. And no parking lots. It isn’t hard to do. read more

Art That Delivers Clean Water & Power

Art That Delivers Clean Water & Power

An international competition challenges designers to show that clean energy production and dazzling public art can be one and the same read more

How We Think about E-Waste Is in Need of Repair

How We Think about E-Waste Is in Need of Repair

China and Ghana are looking less and less like electronic wastebaskets and more and more like leaders in a powerful, informal green economy read more

Can local food feed an urban world?

Can local food feed an urban world?

Researchers dig into the efficacy of urban agriculture read more

An Anthropocene Journey

An Anthropocene Journey

The word “anthropocene” has become the closest thing there is to common shorthand for this turbulent, momentous, unpredictable, hopeless, hopeful time—duration and scope still unknown read more

We should be measuring the footprint of supply chains

We should be measuring the footprint of supply chains

Attributing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions to countries rather than industrial sectors is a leading example of how the supply chain world warps geography. read more

Carbon-Negative Furniture

Carbon-Negative Furniture

And other things made from greenhouse gases read more

Habitecture

Habitecture

Tiny houses and great cathedrals, carbon-neutral skyscrapers and Airstream trailers: architecture is among the greatest of human crafts. Just imagine if the same ingenuity and vision were devoted to building homes for animals. read more

Ecology for Insiders

Ecology for Insiders

The indoor biome covers as much as six percent of the world’s landmass—and we know almost nothing about it. read more

Science Fiction in the Anthropocene

Science Fiction in the Anthropocene

The ultimate literature of the imagination calls upon us to do more than merely invent or imitate the apocalypse read more

The Strange Case of the Puerto Rican Frog

The Strange Case of the Puerto Rican Frog

offers a glimpse into the new wild read more

What’s the Fastest Way to an Energy Miracle?

What’s the Fastest Way to an Energy Miracle?

First amp up R&D then fade in a carbon tax read more

3D Printed Bricks

3D Printed Bricks

could be the building blocks of modern, sustainable architecture read more

Letting Biodiversity Get Under Our Skin

Letting Biodiversity Get Under Our Skin

Some aspects of dirty living can be healthy. A new study posits that the decline of plant and animal diversity in cities may be linked to the recent surge of allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases. read more

Visualizing Carbon

Visualizing Carbon

Pictures make a story come alive—and in the climate change story, one of the main characters is invisible. Carbon Visuals helps people “see” the carbon dioxide that’s trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere. read more

The Future Will Not Be Dry

The Future Will Not Be Dry

In a world of melting ice caps, storm surges, and tropical cyclones, the most resilient cities aren’t the ones that fight the water back—but the ones that absorb it. read more

What Food Should Go Nude?

What Food Should Go Nude?

As consumers, we should worry less about the Styrofoam and plastic wrap encasing the ground beef—and take a pass on the shrink-wrapped broccoli. read more

Reality Is Too Confining

Reality Is Too Confining

We know that nature experiences can change environmental behavior—but it turns out those experiences don’t have to be real. read more

Spies Like Us

Spies Like Us

Armed with low-cost surveillance technologies, nonprofits aided by “citizen spies” are tracking fracking in Pennsylvania, flaring in North Dakota, and rogue fishing around Easter Island read more

Butter Is Toast

Butter Is Toast

Margarine has a significantly lower environmental impact than butter in four important areas: global warming potential (i.e., carbon footprint), eutrophication potential, acidification potential, and land impact read more

Taming the Blue Frontier

Taming the Blue Frontier

Should the U.S. cultivate giant offshore fish farms in its piece of the sea or keep taking most of the fish we eat from foreign waters? read more

You Pay or We Drill

You Pay or We Drill

When Ecuador asked the world for $3.6 billion to not drill for oil, the world balked. But in terms of reining in carbon, Ecuador may be on to something. read more