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Climate Change

The hornet has landed: Scientists combat new honeybee killer in US

An invasive yellow-legged wasp has been decimating beehives in Europe — and bedeviling Georgia since last summer. Researchers are working nest by nest to limit the threat while developing better eradication methods.

Geothermal power heats up

Long confined to regions with volcanic activity, geothermal promises to become a much more versatile energy source thanks to new technologies

Why are there so many beetle species?

Diet played a key role in the evolution of the vast beetle family tree

Nuclear’s role in a net-zero world

Is nuclear power a necessary part of the energy transition away from fossil fuels? As the debate rages on, new technologies and smaller reactors may be shifting the balance.

How to overcome political polarization on climate change

Conversations — in real life — can help bridge the partisan divide, but the trick is to have some structure to the discussion, says a human ecologist

Hunting sky islands for genetic clues to climate resilience

OPINION: Isolated mountaintops are hotbeds of evolutionary adaptation and great places to study how climate change affects ecosystems

Moving trees north to save the forests

As the world warms, trees in forests such as those in Minnesota will no longer be adapted to their local climates. That’s where assisted migration comes in.

A big boost to Europe’s climate change goals

The bloc aims to become the first carbon-neutral continent. A new policy called CBAM will assist its ambitions — and may persuade other countries to follow in its footsteps.

Losing the connection between the Andes and the Amazon: A price of peace in Colombia

The South American country, where the biodiversity of the Andes meets that of the Amazon, is losing the great natural wealth of some 1,500 square kilometers of forest each year, mainly in areas formerly under guerrilla control

The hidden threat from rising coastal groundwater

OPINION: Sea level rise won’t hit just homes on shorefronts, but also the infrastructure beneath our feet

Indigenous languages are founts of environmental knowledge

Peoples who live close to nature have a rich lore of plants, animals and landscapes embedded in their mother tongues — which may hold vital clues to protecting biodiversity

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.

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.

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.

Pursuing fusion power

Scientists have been chasing the dream of harnessing the reactions that power the Sun since the dawn of the atomic era. Interest, and investment, in the carbon-free energy source is heating up.

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.

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.

How climate change could make fungal diseases worse

Disease-causing fungi are likely to thrive in a warmer, stormier world — and more of them might be poised to make the leap to infecting people

Dead trees around the world are shocking scientists

Forests once deemed resilient are suffering surprising die-offs. To predict the fate of the world’s woods in the face of climate change, researchers need to understand how trees die.

Abandon the idea of ‘great green walls’

OPINION: The notion of planting miles of trees to hold back encroaching deserts is misguided and damaging; we should promote programs that secure livelihoods and respect dryland ecologies instead

Conservation paleobiology: Eyeing the past to restore today’s ecosystems

Researchers use historic remnants like antlers, shells, teeth and pollen to learn how natural communities once worked. The clues serve as guides for restoration.

Can probiotics protect corals from problems like bleaching?

Lab experiments suggest that a dose of carefully selected microbes may boost the health of these reef-building creatures and their symbiotic algae

Why one deforestation solution has yet to stop massive tree loss

OPINION: Zero-deforestation supply-chain commitments aren’t protecting tropical forests as much as hoped. But they might, if the same standards were applied to domestic and export markets.

Is this ‘age of the delta’ coming to an end?

The wet landmasses, though inherently impermanent, have been essential to both people and wildlife for thousands of years. But recent shifts have brought on some rapid losses that worry scientists.

Our oceans’ future: Hot and troubled

OPINION: Ocean warming, acidification and deoxygenation due to climate change — as well as pollution and development — threaten our global waters, but disaster is far from inevitable

Scientists warned about climate change in 1965. Nothing was done.

PODCAST: A report to the US president sounded an alarm — humankind was ‘conducting a vast geophysical experiment’ by burning fossil fuels and filling the atmosphere with an ‘invisible pollutant.’ But a slick campaign by Big Oil led to confusion, politicization and dire consequences for the planet. (Season 3, Episode 1)

The challenges and promises of climate lawsuits

Lawsuits against emissions-spewing governments and fossil fuel companies have established themselves as a key tool in the battle against climate change, but they aren’t always successful

A warmer planet, less nutritious plants and … fewer grasshoppers?

Higher levels of carbon dioxide are changing micronutrients in grasses, trees and even kelp. What does that mean for animals higher up the food chain?

As glaciers retreat, new streams for salmon

Ecologist Sandy Milner has traveled to Alaska for decades to study the development of streams flowing from melting glaciers. He’s seen insects move in, alders and willows spring up, and spawning fish arrive in thousands.

Not enough fish in the sea

The scientist who found a way to tally up global catches is an ocean advocate and a vocal critic of industrial fisheries. Now we have a treaty for the high seas — but does it go far enough?

Controlled burns won’t save all of California from wildfire

There are two types of wildfire in the state, and they’re on the rise for different reasons. Each needs a distinct management approach, a researcher says.

The rise of green hydrogen in Latin America

In anticipation of future demand, several projects are underway in the region to produce this clean energy source

AI for better crops

The technology could transform how growers protect their harvests, by detecting plant diseases very early on. But the challenge is to develop tools that are as affordable as they are effective.

How heat pumps of the 1800s are becoming the technology of the future

Innovative thinking has done away with problems that long dogged the electric devices — and both scientists and environmentalists are excited about the possibilities

Mistletoes in a warming world

Can the famous parasitic plants help animals to survive climate change, or will they be killed off by extreme weather?

Edith’s checkerspot butterfly: Checkered past, uncertain future

How do animal populations respond to climate change? After studying the same butterfly and its habitats for decades, two biologists explain that it’s complicated — but endlessly intriguing.

The obscure calculation transforming climate policy

After long debate, economists and philosophers are reaching consensus on how to value future generations

As the Arctic warms, beavers move in

Scientists are just beginning to study the impacts of beaver dams on the tundra

A new history for the tropical forests of the Americas

Fossilized leaves and pollen are revealing the evolutionary past of New World tropical forests. The findings are helping to reshape predictions of what might happen to these ecosystems as the climate changes.

Beyond COP27: Who will pay for climate solutions?

VIDEO: Economic issues were front and center at the most recent global climate summit. Join Tobias Adrian of the International Monetary Fund and Shuang Liu of the World Resources Institute to take stock of the investments needed to prevent future climate disasters.

The road to low-carbon concrete

For thousands of years, humanity has had a love affair with cement and concrete. But now, industry groups and researchers are seeking solutions to the huge amounts of carbon dioxide that cement-making generates.

How to make corn more like cactus

It’s an agricultural moonshot: Scientists hope to increase plant yields by hacking photosynthesis, the process that powers life on Earth

Europe should shape the clean fuel market now

OPINION: For the world to hit its climate goals, the European Union needs to take the lead, ditch coal and write the rule book for green hydrogen

What can cities do to survive extreme heat?

Urban heat waves are getting worse, but better data and timely government action could make them less deadly

Rethinking cities in the face of extreme heat

VIDEO: Cities have recently experienced extreme heat waves, causing preventable illness and death. How can we protect people from dangerous heat while also reducing carbon emissions?

How green are biofuels? Scientists are at loggerheads

Replacing gasoline with ethanol has changed landscapes across the globe as grasslands and forests give way to cornfields. Researchers are deeply divided over what this means for the planet. Here’s the science behind the conflict.

Rethinking insurance for floods, wildfires and other catastrophes

The industry is in crisis just when disaster coverage is most needed

What will it take to recycle millions of worn-out EV batteries?

In Nevada and other US states, entrepreneurs are anticipating the coming boom in retired lithium-ion batteries from electric cars and hoping to create a market for recycled minerals

Insuring our uncertain future

VIDEO: Is the disaster insurance industry hurtling toward a climate crisis? Learn how we can shore up programs that buffer the financial devastation that follows floods, fires and hurricanes — and help individuals and communities strengthen their climate resilience.

How much meat can we eat — sustainably?

Scientists find that a small amount of animal products could have a place in our diets without wreaking environmental havoc. But it’s far less than what we consume today, and only if farmed in just the right way.

How sustainable are fake meats?

Marketed to meat lovers, plant-based burgers like Impossible and Beyond claim to taste like the real thing and to have far lighter environmental footprints. Here’s what the numbers have to say.

Climate change is altering the chemistry of wine

Warming, wildfires and unpredictable weather threaten to disrupt the delicate processes that underlie treasured wines. Researchers and producers are innovating to keep ahead.

How cities can fight climate change

Urban activities — think construction, transportation, heating, cooling and more — are major sources of greenhouse-gas emissions. Today, a growing number of cities are striving to slash their emission to net zero — here’s what they need to do.

How smart windows save energy

Specialized glass that keeps heat in during winter and lets it out during summer could make buildings much more efficient — if costs and complexities don’t get in the way

Make electric vehicles affordable for the rest of us

OPINION: EV subsidies are poorly designed and mostly benefit the rich. Some simple changes could make them more effective and equitable.

A lifetime of climate change

Researcher Arun Agrawal has lived three decades on either side of a watershed: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed 30 years ago this June. His 60 years are a window into how far we have come, and how far there is to go.

The race against radon

Scientists are working to map out the risks of the permafrost thaw, which could expose millions of people to the invisible cancer-causing gas

Mining museums’ genomic treasures

The world’s natural history collections hold billions of biological specimens, many of which still contain DNA. Scientists exploring these genetic repositories are gaining new, historical perspectives on how animals evolve.

Rethinking air conditioning amid climate change

ACs and refrigerators help keep people safe — but they also further warm the planet. Scientists are working on eco-friendlier solutions as global demand for cooling grows.

Bear hibernation: More than a winter’s nap

The creatures’ annual protracted snoozes have much to tell us about the biology of mammals, ourselves included. Now scientists are watching to see how bears will tweak their habits as the climate warms.

Urban evolution: How species adapt to survive in cities

Plants and animals are evolving in cities around the world — offering ways to study longstanding scientific questions and clues to where climate change is taking us

A rise in US flooding — and a rethink

“Gray” infrastructure throws up walls against the coastal flooding affecting many cities. But salvation may lie in leaning in toward green controls like wetlands and mangroves — and heeding the experience of the Dutch.

The history of climate change offers clues to Earth’s future

PODCAST: Digging — quite literally — into our planet’s past to study its paleoclimate has shed light on bygone ice ages and hints at trouble ahead for our now-warming world (Season 2/Episode 4)

Can a fire-ravaged forest of Joshua trees be restored?

VIDEO: In August 2020, the Dome Fire burned more than 40,000 acres of the iconic species’ range in the Mojave Desert, leaving a graveyard of blackened trees. A massive replanting effort now underway hopes to return life to the fragile ecosystem by boosting numbers of the climate-threatened plant.

Lyme and other tick-borne diseases are on the rise. But why?

The complex interplay of ticks, their habitats and hosts — along with changes in land use and climate — may be enabling the spread of the pathogens they carry

How to short-circuit short-term thinking

OPINION: Human behavior is fueling major social dilemmas — from climate change to the Covid pandemic to the spread of misinformation. But that means it’s also the solution, if only we can harness psychology for the common good.

Why there’s no such thing as pristine nature

A growing body of research shows that people have been shaping the planet for millennia — muddying the very idea of wilderness and prompting calls for a revolution in ecology and conservation

Will glow-in-the-dark materials someday light our cities?

Substances that persistently luminesce are already used in some bike lanes, and in the future could be applied to sidewalks, streets and buildings — saving energy and reducing urban heat

Now is the time to prepare for the economic shocks of battling climate change

Shedding reliance on fossil fuels is key to making the leap from a carbon-intensive present to a greener future. Experts say that smart planning and transparent policymaking can ease the transition — and balance the worst financial risks.

How to handle climate anxiety

Worry over the planet’s future is taking a toll on emotional well-being, researchers say. Here’s how to cope so we don’t lose hope for our planet and for ourselves.

The case for ocean optimism

With the health of the ocean under threat, a rallying cry for marine conservation goes global. Here are some of the good-news stories.

Many mangrove restorations fail. Is there a better way?

These carbon-hoarding, coastline-protecting forests are sponges for greenhouse gases. Doing plantings right and involving local communities are key to saving them.

Let’s keep meetings virtual after Covid

OPINION: We don’t want to go back to living on planes and out of suitcases. Virtual meetings are cheaper, more accessible and better for the planet.

Fighting climate change means taking laughing gas seriously

Agriculture researchers seek ways to reduce nitrous oxide’s impact on warming

A healthy environment as a human right

UN recognition would strengthen legal arguments for preserving nature

Growing a more resilient global food system

Covid-19 has been a stress test for the world’s food supply chains — and a preview of looming threats. That’s making efforts to improve the journey from farm to fork more urgent than ever.  

Baking resilience into the food system

VIDEO: Watch our conversation about the pandemic’s effect on global food supplies and distribution, and how we might prevent future crises arising from climate change

The dazzling history of solar power

PODCAST: Once fringe and futuristic, this renewable energy shines brightly today as a cheap and efficient source of energy. Still, it remains controversial ­— for much different reasons. (Season 1/Episode 3)

Rising to meet the tide

As the threat of coastal flooding grows, scientists are responding with an inundation of data. Faster and more accurate forecasts can save lives and property.

Rethinking recycling

VIDEO: Diverting recoverable materials helps keep trash from overwhelming landfills, but the industry still faces many challenges. Consumer education, innovative technologies and turning wastes to energy can help manage the rubbish problem.

Recycling meets reality

Modern industry has made great strides in turning trash into tomorrow’s new products, but the process is still a long way from perfect. New technologies can help. Plus, updates on chemical recycling, design for recycling and dirty recycling.

Why solar geoengineering should be part of the climate crisis solution

The controversial technology of reflecting sunlight away from the planet could help blunt the worst impacts of climate change

Quest to secure the world’s vanishing ice

Glaciologists dream of a cold-storage vault in Antarctica to preserve key samples of the paleoclimate

Pollution evolution: The little fish that could

Where other species succumbed, the killifish survived contaminated habitats. It’s a finding that could help researchers understand environmental risk factors for humans.

Out of Antarctica, churnings of climate change

The interplay of carbon dioxide, winds and Southern Ocean waters could be reaching an environmental tipping point

Why green energy finally makes economic sense

Solar and wind generators have suddenly become just as cheap as other ways to produce electric power

The iron ocean

Through dust, not rust, the metal plays a complex, controversial role in Earth’s climate

The tricky task of tallying carbon

To slow or stop global warming, the world agrees it must cut carbon dioxide emissions. But monitoring each nation’s output of greenhouse gases is not always straightforward.

What are fire whirls? | Things to Know

VIDEO: Researchers examine the behavior of these tornado-like fire columns

A world in a bottle of water

Revolutionary techniques using traces of environmental DNA are analyzing entire ecosystems “from microbes to whales”

Tiny, living stones of the sea

How limestone-covered algae sway global climate — and how their fate may shift as the oceans acidify

Toward greener plastics

Researchers and companies are working on new kinds of biodegradable packaging, bottles and other products that break down like compost.

As climate changes, so does life in the planet’s soils

To understand what might be lost, ecologist Janet K. Jansson taps molecular methods to explore Earth’s underground microbes, from the permafrost to the grasslands

Will the food of the future be genetically engineered or organic? How about both?

Feeding the planet — now and tomorrow — is no small task. Plant biologist Pamela Ronald says sustainability means using every tool in the toolbox.

Firenadoes and drifting embers: The secrets of extreme wildfires

Researchers probe the weather-like physics of deadly infernos

Looking for economic prosperity without growth

The only way for humanity to solve its environmental problems may be to abandon our quest for continual economic expansion. It’s time to study what a future of degrowth might look like, some researchers say.

A deeper understanding of the Grand Canyon

After 100 years as a national park and eons as a geological wonder, the American icon continues to reveal layers of its past and of the landscape ahead

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