The island of Borneo is changing rapidly. Infrastructure development and palm oil production are hastening deforestation on the island, which is occurring at alarming rates. Widespread deforestation has many consequences for biodiversity, including habitat loss and decreased habitat connectivity. Even more ominously, changes in land use and tree cover are shifting precipitation levels across the island.
The way leaves reflect and absorb light can drive the climate of the entire planet. Darker leaves absorb more light, trapping heat and subsequently warming surrounding ecosystems. A recent study shows that climate change may be changing leaf properties, making them darker.
Although some say that nuclear power is a low cost, low-carbon energy source, nuclear waste may harm future generations. New research has shown that the true costs of nuclear power are far greater than many previous studies have indicated.
Protecting livelihoods while simultaneously protecting forests can be a difficult task. However, recent research suggests that investing in innovating social programs is an effective way to improve livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, without putting pressure on the environment.
Civil war in Syria. The Central American caravan. Legal restrictions on refugees in Europe and the U.S. Countries around the world are being confronted by questions of immigration and refugees—and new research says that in some cases, climate change might be to blame.
A shift towards plant-based diets could bring health and environmental benefits to the world. However, strong beliefs and psychological attachments to meat complicate this shift. Are we really willing to eat less meat?
Amanda Lynch is a mathematician, meteorologist, climate modeler, political scientist, philosopher, and the Director of the Institute at Brown for Environment and Society. Her career, which has spanned continents and disciplines, is reflected in her new book, co-authored with Dr. Siri Veland, called Urgency in the Anthropocene. It reimagines our global climate crisis not only as the sum of disasters, but also as a human philosophical crisis.
Suicides already account for more deaths globally than all other forms of violence combined. A recent study links increase in temperatures to rising number of suicides—not in poor farming communities—but in more developed parts of the world as well. These findings add another layer of urgency as scientists predict an increasingly warming world.
Scientists studied the effects of changing soil moisture on plants over the twenty-first century. They found that with the increase of droughts, plants are losing their power to take in carbon dioxide, even when dry years are followed by years of heavy rainfall.
Wildlife-protected areas may not be large enough to support large mammals. Learning more about the space these animals occupy, can help researchers to accurately expand protected areas to enhance their survival.
Luggage? Check. Passports? Check. Memorable vacations require a lot of preparation. Amidst all this planning, few people consider the environmental impact of their travel. A new study breaks down the carbon footprint of global tourism.
Conservation efforts often focus on protecting public land from development, but most of the world’s land is privately owned. A recent study in Brazil showed that ocelots, a small species of spotted cat, often inhabit forests on private land that are protected by the country’s New Forest Code. Regulations like these to protect forests on private land can be just as important for wildlife conservation as preserving public land. When these regulations come under threat, wildlife species like the ocelot will suffer the consequences.
Can recalling environmentally friendly behavior stimulate you to buy low-carbon emission supermarket products? Recent research analyzes strategies to decrease the carbon footprint of supermarket shopping, revealing that both remembering pro-environmental actions and carbon taxation policies stimulate sustainable consumption choices.
There is a growing island in the North Pacific Ocean - one that consists solely of trash. A comprehensive new report presents the shocking reality of the magnitude and composition of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
In the San Joaquin Valley of California, approximately 1 million people rely on groundwater for drinking. This high reliance on groundwater has resulted in overpumping of this resource, which leads to subsidence, or massive compression of the ground and arsenic contamination of the water. Arsenic is deadly to human health; therefore, it is imperative that California water agencies and individual water-users pump less groundwater and closely monitor arsenic levels.
California has emerged as the undisputed leader in climate change action in the United States, committing to ambitious emissions targets and 100% carbon-free electricity by 2045. Despite this progress, new research has found that California’s signature climate program, cap-and-trade, exacerbated historical environmental injustices in its first years of operation.
Similar to humans and other intelligent animals, dolphins and whales sometimes show interest in and attend to their dead. Recent research suggests that such behavior is common in species with larger brains, and may have been evolved to assist the survival of their kin. The animals might understand death, and be affected emotionally by it.
Meat consumption in China is on the rise. This trend carries significant environmental implications. Despite environmental concerns, Chinese consumers continue to seek out meat. To keep the increase in meat demand from threatening global sustainability, the country will need to manage its livestock feed sourcing and manure in creative new ways.
Humans are changing the environment in ways that are causing extreme loss of amphibian species. Amphibians thrive in forests, but when those forests are cut down, amphibians can disappear on a massive scale. New research also shows that when forests change, amphibians that are unique on an evolutionary level are more likely to become locally extinct. Losing these distinct amphibian species could have devastating effects on future forest ecosystems.
Despite scientific evidence on the catastrophic impacts of climate change, public opinion is still not strong enough to force the bold policy actions necessary to counter it. A new role-playing game, “World Climate”, could be more effective than traditional science communication strategies and help encourage more people—and policymakers—to act on climate change.
The Clean Water Act protects only some of our nation’s waterbodies. In a new rule by the Trump Administration, these already limited federal protections are being cut back even further. Many valuable wetlands will no longer be protected by the Clean Water Act—but, states can step in and fill the gaps.
What does it mean to live a “good life”? Does it require health, leisure, and prosperity? New research shows that sustaining a “good life”, as we know it, means exhausting the planet - unless we drastically change our idea of it.
The current design of Bitcoin system requires more electricity than is needed to power Denmark. Given its expanding condition, the rise of Bitcoin mining may pose a threat to the environment. Recent research explores how to promote the environmentally sustainable applications of Blockchain while not hindering the industry’s growth and finds that international cooperation is the key to reducing the colossal energy use of the cryptocurrency.
Tropical forest conservation for climate change mitigation is commonly thought to automatically benefit biodiversity as well. New research finds that optimizing for forest carbon sequestration may not always promote biodiversity. However, by co-managing for both, it is possible to achieve large biodiversity gains with only small decreases in carbon storage.
The Chinese plastic industry is responsible for 25 percent of global plastic production. Despite the versatility and prevalence of plastics around the world, plastics have significant environmental drawbacks — a single plastic bottle produces three pounds of carbon dioxide and takes 450 years to decompose. How might China reduce these adverse environmental effects? One option the country is exploring is plastic waste recovery.
How long before it is too late to reduce fossil fuel emissions and meet the 2 degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement? A new study provides clues to how policymakers might plan to address climate change and carbon emissions, and how long they have to do so. By arming leaders with an understanding of how policy, risk, and temperature targets are related, the study puts a timeline to humanity’s Point of No Return.
How can farming adapt to a changing climate? A new study explores gaps in traditional thinking about farmers’ adaptations and proposes a new way to assess a farm’s vulnerability to climate change. This new framework is a first step toward preparing agriculture for an uncertain future.
Remember those first trips you took to the science museum? Remember feeling wonder and awe learning about how things function on our planet? Were the hands-on exhibits your favorite? These kinds of questions may be difficult to answer if you grew up a racial minority in a poor community. Why? Because our society designs science museums–and all science learning and communication activities–for a narrow audience. A new study explores how we got here and suggests more inclusive ways to communicate science to a broad public.