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Food & Environment

Forests are under attack from invasive species

OPINION: International commerce and travel bring ecological destruction to the world’s most cherished natural places. We need to do more to stop the assault.

How shade coffee lends conservation a hand

When managed in the right way, the farms that provide our morning brew can be a refuge for plant and animal biodiversity

How gut bacteria connect to Parkinson’s disease

Growing evidence suggests a link between the debilitating neurological illness and the microbes that live in our intestines. The vagus nerve may be a pathway.

The growing link between microbes, mood and mental health

New research suggests that to maintain a healthy brain, we should tend our gut microbiome. The best way to do that right now is not through pills and supplements, but better food.

Top science stories of 2023

Twelve standout news events and trends in a tumultuous year

Why scientists are making transparent wood

Stronger than plastic and tougher than glass, the resin-filled material is being exploited for smartphone screens, insulated windows and more

New Zealand’s quest to save its rotund, flightless parrots

DNA sequencing, GPS tracking and tailored diets are slowly restoring the endangered kākāpō

Green shipping picks up speed

An international treaty aims to bring the shipping industry to net-zero emissions by around 2050. Can novel fuels, wind power and coordination on a global scale get it there?

The race to understand polar ice sheets

As glacial cliffs break off and destabilize frozen landscapes, glaciologist Richard Alley focuses on the fractures. The work could improve predictions about future sea-level rise.

In the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, new marine ecosystems are flourishing

Sea life, stuck to plastic bottles and other human trash, has journeyed far from coastal habitats — and may threaten local species

How wind turbines could coexist peacefully with bats and birds

As wind power grows around the world, so does the threat the turbines pose to wildlife. From simple fixes to high-tech solutions, new approaches can help.

As the climate changes, plants must shift their ranges. But can they?

Lots of them depend on fruit-eating birds and mammals to spread their seeds. But it’s debatable whether the animals — many in trouble themselves — can disperse seeds far and fast enough to keep pace with a warming world.

Everyone should start counting spiders

Our collective arachnid aversion could be causing us to overlook something even scarier: Spiders may be disappearing.

The quest to understand tornadoes

Scientists are still grappling with how and why violent twisters form. Will new technology and computing power help?

Leaning into Indigenous knowledge on climate change

Native peoples attuned to the natural world have long collected detailed environmental information. Now scientists are cataloging these observations and learning how they’re affecting Indigenous communities globally.

Does it work to pay people not to cut the forest?

Evidence that the approach helps to save trees, preserve ecosystems and reduce carbon emissions is often hard to come by. But it can succeed if it’s done right, says an economist.

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