Today’s extinction rates are sky-high. But is that enough to conclude we’re in another mass extinction event?
Some of my favorites…
European lawsuits allege that climate inaction is causing psychological harm — and violating human rights.
Warming, wildfires and unpredictable weather are disrupting the delicate processes that underlie treasured wines.
Mounting archaeological evidence is revealing that modern lions may have roamed free in Southeastern Europe—overturning long-held assumptions about art and […]
Hedgerows were historically planted as barriers between fields, but in a human-dominated world, they are critical havens, corridors and connectors […]
Bushland around northern Lake Malawi in Africa might be the legacy of people burning forests tens of thousands of years […]
More than 100 constitutions across the world have adopted a human right to a healthy environment, often serving as a […]
The pandemic has transformed huge parts of the U.S. seafood system—from what consumers want to eat to the way fish […]
For those who grew up marvelling at snowflakes or hurtling downhill on a sledge, how do you adapt to a […]
As some conservationists and researchers begin to return large carnivores to areas where they once roamed, scientists intensify efforts to […]
The fear that action to combat climate change has been too slow has led some scientists to test unconventional methods […]
A decade ago, United Nations members crafted an agreement to curb the loss of biodiversity. We’ve failed miserably, but all […]
BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION
- Are we in the midst of a sixth mass extinction? The Scientist, Jul 2022. Today’s extinction rates are sky-high. But scientists debate if that’s sufficient evidence to conclude that Earth is undergoing a mass extinction event—or whether that’s even a helpful designation.
- Scientists can’t agree about Chernobyl’s impact on wildlife. Knowable Magazine (republished by Inverse), Feb 2022. Is Chernobyl a radioactive wasteland reeling from chronic radiation, or a post-nuclear paradise with thriving populations of animals and other life forms? Studies don’t always agree about levels of mutations and other ill effects.
- The last wild lions of Europe. Sapiens (republished by The Atlantic, Atlas Obscura), Jan 2022. Mounting archaeological evidence is revealing that modern lions may have roamed free in Southeastern Europe—overturning long-held assumptions about art and mythology in the process.
- What the world can learn from Britain’s humble hedge. Knowable Magazine (republished by The Atlantic, BBC Future), Nov 2021. Hedgerows were historically planted as barriers between fields, but in a human-dominated world, they are critical havens, corridors and connectors for wildlife
- A healthy environment as a human right. Knowable Magazine (republished by Scientific American), Apr 2021. UN recognition could strengthen legal arguments for preserving nature.
- The human right that benefits nature. BBC Future, Mar 2021. More than 100 constitutions across the world have adopted a human right to a healthy environment, often serving as a powerful tool to protect the natural world.
- Seventeen “extinct” European plant species found alive. The Scientist, Mar 2021. Plant species officially reported to be lost are in fact persevering in the wild, in seed banks or botanical gardens, or as other species now recognized to be taxonomic synonyms.
- The unintended environmental benefit of Cuba’s isolation. National Geographic, Feb 2021. Cuba harbors surprisingly few of the invasive plant species ravaging other Caribbean islands. Experts think its isolation has helped.
- Can rewilding predators regenerate ecosystems? The Scientist, Nov 2020. As some conservationists and researchers begin to return large carnivores to areas where they once roamed, scientists intensify efforts to study the ecological roles of predators.
- The world missed a critical deadline to safeguard biodiversity, UN report says. National Geographic, Sep 2020. A decade ago, United Nations members crafted an agreement to curb the loss of biodiversity. We’ve failed miserably, but all hope is not lost.
- Fly through the caves. BATS Magazine, Mar 2020. How LIDAR imaging technology helps scientists protect bats.
- Amidst UK pollinator declines, migrant hoverflies are doing well. The Scientist, Jun 2019. A decade-long study tallies the numbers of pest-eating, flower-pollinating hoverflies that travel to the UK every year, and illustrates their important ecological roles in southern Britain.
- 660 species of bees live in newly shrunk national monument. National Geographic, Dec 2018. Scientists have found a striking diversity of bees, in the most extensive study of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to date.
- Canary in the coal mine. Blue Ridge Outdoors, Aug 2018. Scientists are starting to observe some concerning impacts of fracking on local wildlife in Appalachia.
- Rise in tailless whale sightings has scientists concerned. National Geographic, May 2018. Experts say that entanglement in fishing gear or other objects is a likely cause for the gruesome injuries.
- The world’s loneliest frog seeks a mate to save his species. Roaring Earth, Feb 2018.
- Fish poop a big player in ocean carbon sequestration. The Scientist, Oct 2021. A modeling study estimates that by drastically reducing fish biomass over the past century, industrial fishing may be affecting ocean chemistry, nutrient fluxes, and carbon cycling as much as climate change.
- The pandemic could change the US fishing industry forever. Will it be for better or for worse? The Counter, Feb 2021. The pandemic has transformed huge parts of the U.S. seafood system—from what consumers want to eat to the way fish reaches their plates—providing valuable lessons in what works and what doesn’t.
- Does protecting the sea harm fishermen? It’s complicated. The Counter, Apr 2020. President Obama created some of the world’s largest protected marine reserves, a decision long protested by the fishing industry. Yet some are hopeful that these no-fishing zones may actually help fishermen in the long run.
- California crab fishermen are testing “ropeless” gear to save whales – and themselves. The Counter, Sep 2019. Following a lawsuit over the entanglement of endangered whales in fishing gear, fishermen in California are testing new ways to keep their industry alive.
- One of the most important jobs at sea may get more difficult and dangerous. Oceans Deeply, Dec 2017. Independent fisheries observers are crucial for fisheries management, but their job is often threatened.
- Seafood processed by forced labor is illegal. So why is it still on our shelves? The New Food Economy, Oct 2017. North Korean forced laborers filet some salmon steaks sold at Walmart. That shouldn’t happen. Here’s why it does.
- Ghost poachers are still at large after the biggest shark-smuggling bust in Galapagos history. Quartz, Aug 2017. A 3,000-ton ship waltzed right through one of the world’s most heavily protected marine reserves with a haul-load of illegally caught hammerhead sharks. But despite 20 arrests, the poachers are still at large.
- How seafood’s ‘dark web’ obscures fraud, fish laundering, and slavery on the high seas. The New Food Economy, Aug 2017. Ships routinely transfer fish on the open ocean. Most of the time, no one’s watching.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
- The next climate battle in the courts is over mental health. Grist, Jul 2022. European lawsuits allege that climate inaction is causing psychological harm — and violating human rights.
- Climate change is altering the chemistry of wine. Knowable Magazine (republished by The Atlantic, Ars Technica), Jun 2022. Warming, wildfires and unpredictable weather threaten to disrupt the delicate processes that underlie treasured wines. Researchers and producers are innovating to keep ahead.
- Paleoclimate data raise alarm on historic nature of climate emergency. Scientific American, Aug 2021. The new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report uses data from our planet’s distant past to better understand current warming.
- How unseasonal winters affect our minds. BBC Climate Emotions, Feb 2021. For those who grew up marveling at snowflakes or hurtling downhill on a sledge, how do you adapt to a world where these joys are growing increasingly few and far between?
- The daring plan to save the Arctic with glass. BBC Future Planet, Sep 2020. The fear that action to combat climate change has been too slow has led some scientists to test unconventional methods to stem the loss of Arctic sea ice.
- Green energy’s dirty side effects. Foreign Policy, Jun 2020. The global transition to renewables could lead to human rights abuses and risks exacerbating inequalities between the West and the developing world.
- Climate change is coming for your powder stash. Outside Magazine, Feb 2020. As the temperatures warm, heavier snow is likely to become the new normal.
- Could geoengineering projects help tackle climate change? Deutsche Welle, Jan 2020. A range of technologies — loosely defined as ‘geoengineering’ — are being explored as responses to climate change. Yet their effectiveness, and whether they should be implemented at all, is debated among scientists.
- Air pollution is choking solar energy around the world. Popular Science, Dec 2018. To capitalize on the sun’s rays, countries like China need to part the smog.
- A tale of two ballot measures. Grist, Nov 2018. Why Nevada upped its renewable energy standards (and Arizona didn’t)
- Warming seas kill coral – but some are beginning to resist the heat. New Scientist, Aug 2018. Repeating an experiment 47 years after it was originally carried out has revealed some rare good news about coral reefs – some species appear to have become significantly better at surviving temperature increases.
- Southern discomfort. Grist, Aug 2018. Solar panels could flood sunny Alabama with cheap, clean power. What stands in the way?
- Babcock Ranch aims to be America’s greenest city—and an inspiration. NBC News MACH, Mar 2018. The development near Fort Myers, Florida is being built for sustainability from the ground up.
- Many mangrove restorations fail. Is there a better way? Knowable Magazine (republished by Hakai Magazine and Inverse), Aug 2021. These carbon-hoarding, coastline-protecting forests are sponges for greenhouse gases. Doing plantings right and involving local communities are key to saving them.
- People may have used fire to clear forests more than 80,000 years ago. Scientific American, May 2021. The bushland around northern Lake Malawi in Africa might be the legacy of people burning forests tens of thousands of years earlier.
- Deforestation is leading to more infectious disease in humans. National Geographic, Nov 2019. As more and more forest is cleared around the world, scientists fear that the next deadly pandemic could emerge from what lives within them.
- Researchers find flaws in high-profile study on trees and climate. The Scientist, Oct 2019. Four independent groups say the work overestimates the carbon-absorbing benefits of global forest restoration, but the authors insist their original estimates are accurate.
- Why the Amazon doesn’t really produce 20% of the world’s oxygen. National Geographic, Aug 2019. Of the many important reasons to worry about the thousands of fires raging in the world’s largest rainforest, oxygen supply is not one of them.
- Deforestation tied to changes in disease dynamics. The Scientist, Jan 2019. Numerous studies link habitat destruction to malaria and other vector-borne diseases, but the relationship isn’t always clear.
- Soil and satellites are telling a new story about ancient civilizations in the Amazon. Atlas Obscura, Mar 2018. With new technologies, scientists are looking for clues in manmade ‘terra preta.’
- These tiny ‘guardians’ are helping protect the world’s forests. NBC News MACH, May 2018. Illegal logging accounts for up to 90 percent of deforestation, and there’s never a good way to stop it.