A Solar ‘Breakthrough’ Won’t Solve Cement’s Carbon Problem

Anyone who says there’s nothing new under the sun hasn’t made a recent trip to Lancaster, California. There, on the outskirts of the Mojave desert, 400 giant mirrors, each the size of a large flatscreen TV, twitch in the sunlight. Their reflective faces are turned toward a nearby tower that …

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Can Fake Horns Save the Rhino? That’s … Extremely Thorny

The economics of knockoffs is simple: The rich buy Prada bags, while the not so rich opt for fakes, which telegraph to the world they’re just as shallow as the rich, but on a budget. Prada doesn’t like knockoffs because they undercut both the bottom line as well as the …

The EPA’s Anti-Science ‘Transparency’ Rule Has a Long History

Sometimes a bad piece of legislation doesn’t die, it just returns in another form—call it a zombie bill. In this case, the zombie is a bill that morphed into a proposed rule that would upend how the federal government uses science in its decisionmaking. It would allow the US Environmental …

A Baby Fish Crisis, the Terrible Microsoft Surface Pro X, and More News

Fish are dying and Surface users are crying, but first: a cartoon about a modern-day death wish. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less. Want to receive this two-minute roundup as an email every weekday? Sign up here! Today’s Headlines Baby fish are feasting on …

Baby Fish Feast on Microplastics, and Then Get Eaten

Teeming off Hawaii’s famous beaches is a complex web of life—sharks, turtles, seabirds—that relies enormously on tiny larval fish, the food for many species. In their first few weeks of existence the larvae are at the mercy of currents, still too puny to get around on their own, gathering by …

Icelandic Walruses May Have Been Early Victims of Human-Driven Extinction

There are no walruses in Iceland, but, at one time, there were hundreds. The timing of the walruses’ disappearance suggests that the population’s loss may be one of the earliest known examples of humans driving a marine species to local extinction. The Ghost of Walruses Past Walruses used to be …

The Kids Suing to Save the World from Climate Change

Never before in human history have so many people been victimized by so few. The out-of-control burning of fossil fuels, driven by wanton capitalism, has enriched the upper crust while emperiling not just all of humanity, but life on Earth as we know it. Climate change is coming for us …

This Martini Wants to Kill Climate Change One Sip at a Time

Or you could just … not? Instead of messing around with fruit substrates and yeast, Sheehan and Constantine realized, all they really needed was a CO2 source—that could be hydrogen refining, the production of the antifreeze ingredient ethylene glycol, the production of plastic. Or even (and this was pretty slick) …

Aerial Scans Help Bust California’s Worst Methane Leakers

Small victories, to be sure, but they show some of the potential for more persistent, verifiable monitoring. “They looked at hundreds of thousands of these things. That’s the breakthrough. So now you have way better stats, and you’re not driving a truck around to wellpads and asking permission or whatever,” …

Trump Begins Paris Accord Exit, Devices Hacked With Lasers, and More News

Hackers are beaming and Trump is scheming, but first: a cartoon about slow internet. Here’s the news you need to know, in two minutes or less. Want to receive this two-minute roundup as an email every weekday? Sign up here! Today’s Headlines Trump begins withdrawal from the Paris accord After …

Trump Can Now Exit the Paris Accord. It’s Still a Bad Idea

When President Trump visited Pittsburgh last month, he complained about how the Paris climate treaty was unfair to the United States. “I withdrew the United States from the terrible, one-sided climate accord, it was a total disaster for our country,” Trump told a cheering crowd at a natural gas conference. …

Where Do Hippos Wander? An Aquatic Mystery, Solved

It’d be tough to mistake a hippo for a sensitive type. Weighing more than a Honda Accord and packing massive incisors, it’s one of the most dangerous animals on Earth. But in reality it’s far more vulnerable than it lets on: Habitat loss, climate change, and rampant water extraction are …

Ants Never Get Stuck in Traffic Jams. Here’s Why

Ants are notoriously much better than humans at organizing their collective traffic flow when foraging for food, but how they manage to do so isn’t fully understood. Even in dense, crowded conditions, ant colonies still manage to maintain a smooth and efficient traffic flow, primarily by adjusting their behavior to …

Shifting Winds and the Changing Shape of California Fires

Californians fight flames on multiple fronts during wildfire season, but the real enemy is the wind. In the southern part of the state they’re called Santa Anas; in the north, Diablos. Sometimes gusting as hard as a hurricane’s gale, the winds are what turn California’s desiccated autumns into pyrocenic months …

California’s Wildfires Are the Doom of Our Own Making

Every generation claims an event that defines it more than any other—winning a World War, or landing humans on the moon, or tearing down the Berlin Wall. But at this very moment, we have the dubious honor of living through an event whose impact will span generations: climate change. Never …

Ocean Cleanup’s New Plastic-Catcher … Kinda Already Exists?

Whereas Mr. Trash Wheel was purpose-built for Baltimore, The Ocean Cleanup designed its barge to be mass-producible. And it’s significantly higher tech: Baltimore’s barge uses a water wheel to power its conveyor belt, with solar power as backup, while The Interceptor is fully solar powered. Trash flows up its belt …

Trying to Plant a Trillion Trees Won’t Solve Anything

The same thing is happening with the Terraton Initiative. The company behind it, Indigo, is a startup trying to promulgate regenerative agriculture—methods like relying on perennials instead of annually replanted species, or cover crops to reduce the need for tilling. “We’re encouraging farmers to use less fertilizer, fewer chemicals, and …

Kincade Fire: The Age of Flames Is Consuming California  

Right on cue, Northern California has plunged back into wildfire hell. This time two years ago, the Tubbs Fire was ripping through Santa Rosa and other communities north of San Francisco, killing 22 and destroying 5,000 homes. And last year on November 8, the Camp Fire virtually obliterated the town …