Wild Predators Are Relying More on Our Food—and Pets

Some of North America’s big predators—wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, and the like— are now getting nearly half their food from people. It’s a big shift away from eating foods found in nature and could put them in conflict with one another, or lead to more human-carnivore encounters on running trails or suburban backyards. A new […]

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See Earth Transform Like You’re a Time-Traveling Astronaut

Those lucky enough to have spent time aboard the International Space Station report a singular feeling while watching the Earth rush by below: It’s called the overview effect. It’s a kind of awe and newfound appreciation for the interconnectedness of planetary systems and the human species. But if you’re like me and have never been […]

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AI Is Throwing Battery Development Into Overdrive

Inside a lab at Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, there are a half dozen refrigerator-sized cabinets designed to kill batteries as fast as they can. Each holds around 100 lithium-ion cells secured in trays that can charge and discharge the batteries dozens of times per day. Ordinarily, the batteries that go into these electrochemical […]

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Covid is Strengthening the Push for Indigenous Data Control

This story originally appeared on High Country News and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. As US government scientists work to understand how Covid-19 affects the human body, tribal nations are still struggling with the impacts of the federal government’s inadequate response to the pandemic. Now, through a National Institutes of Health program called […]

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The Most Sway-Prone Buildings in LA Aren’t Where You Expect

The researchers then used the data from the school sensors to figure out how much sway to expect from LA buildings during future earthquakes. Kohler says that a quake similar in magnitude to Ridgecrest could cause high-rise buildings in West LA and the valley to experience shaking four times greater than a building located in […]

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Could Biden Rebuild the Economy by Funding Green Energy?

Overall, energy experts say that the nation’s focus has to be on shifting funding to renewables, rather than sustaining coal and petroleum with taxpayer handouts. “When we’re talking about stimulus, we should be talking about clean energy,” says Leah Stokes, a political scientist who studies climate and energy policy at the University of California, Santa […]

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Australia’s Koalas Are ‘Sliding Towards Extinction’

This story originally appeared in The Guardian and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The koala is being considered for official listing as endangered after the summer’s bushfire disaster and ongoing habitat destruction on the east coast forced the government to reconsider its threat status. The iconic species, which is currently listed as vulnerable […]

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Why Some Ecologists Worry About Rooftop Honey Bee Programs

Early morning sunlight and strong cooling winds hit the roof of a 52-story Chicago high-rise, where three wooden structures that, in another setting, might look like unfinished filing cabinets sit in a row. They are tucked up against an overhang that buffers them from lake breezes in the winter. But inside of these structures, you […]

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The Debate Was a Disaster. But Hey, Climate Change Came Up

Near the end of last night’s catastrophic “presidential” debate, moderator Chris Wallace lobbed a surprising question at Donald Trump: “What do you believe about the science of climate change? And what will you do in the next four years to confront it?” It was surprising because, for one thing, it wasn’t on the list of […]

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In an Odd Twist, Cleaner Air in China May Mean a Warmer Earth

Over the past 15 years, Chinese officials saved the lives of an estimated more than 200,000 residents by reducing the air pollution from coal-fired power plants. But this public health campaign has an unfortunate side effect: The drop in pollutants is helping warm the planet. In fact, China’s push to continue cleaning up its air […]

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The West’s Infernos Are Melting Our Sense of How Fire Works

Even as Knapp cranked the spigot, the swirling smoke he’d seen was fast accelerating, transforming much of the Carr Fire’s enormous lower plume into the biggest fire tornado ever observed, a whirling vortex of flame 17,000 feet tall and rotating at 143 mph with the destructive force of an EF-3 tornado, the kind that erases […]

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Fish Form Social Networks—and They’re Actually Good

Characterizing such subtle dynamics is a departure from how ecologists typically model ecosystems, tending to write off in-the-moment decision-making as inconsequential to long timescales. “Under this convention, we tend to treat wild animals as kind of dumb,” Gil says. “We’re really kind of bucking tradition. And we found that this convention could be way off.” […]

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Some Cities Are Plotting a ‘Green Recovery’ After Covid-19

This story originally appeared on The Guardian and is part of the Climate Desk collaboration. The cars that typically throng the huge highways weaving through Los Angeles are such an established part of the city’s fabric that when the coronavirus pandemic hit, their sudden absence felt bizarre to locals even eerie. But many Angelenos have […]

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How the Pandemic Transformed This Songbird’s Call

When the cat’s away the mice will play, or so the saying goes. But what happens when humanity’s away, locked inside to slow the Covid-19 pandemic? It turns out that birds will play—a sexier song, that is. Writing today in the journal Science, researchers report that male white-crowned sparrows around the San Francisco Bay Area […]

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A Trump-Biden Debate Without Climate Change Is Inexcusable

A brief sample of recent climate news: record-setting heat waves, including a 121-degree day in Los Angeles; apocalyptic wildfires up and down the West Coast, killing dozens and draping much of the continent in smoke; an August derecho that laid waste to much of the state of Iowa; five tropical cyclones forming at once in […]

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Where Was the Battery at Tesla’s Battery Day?

“Large format reduces all the ‘inactive’ materials, like packaging. So pack-level energy density will improve and cost will come down,” says Shirley Meng, a materials scientist who runs the Laboratory for Energy Storage & Conversion at the University of California, San Diego. It’s exactly the sort of beefy power supply that Tesla will need for […]

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Does a Millipede Have a Penis? Well … Define ‘Penis’

This story is adapted from Phallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis, by Emily Willingham. For humans and other vertebrates, the literal response to the question of what makes a penis is that it consists, to varying degrees, of connective tissue, spongy swellable tissue, muscles, and a blood supply. And it’s pretty straightforward to see […]

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How to Watch Tesla’s Battery Day Event—and What to Expect

On Tuesday afternoon, Elon Musk will hold court at Tesla’s manufacturing facility in Fremont, California, for the company’s much-hyped Battery Day. Details of what Musk will announce are scarce, but earlier this month the outspoken CEO tweeted that “many exciting things will be unveiled” and that the event “will be very insane.” Musk also promised […]

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Mathematicians May Have Figured Out How ‘Stone Forests’ Form

There are many wondrous geologic formations in nature, from Giant’s Causeway in Ireland to Castleton Tower in Utah, and the various processes by which such structures form is of longstanding interest for scientists. A team of applied mathematicians from New York University has turned its attention to the so-called “stone forests” common in certain regions […]

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