Environment

environment

Voices: Redefining humanity through energy use

What is it, exactly, that distinguishes us from other species? The definition of humankind has perplexed scientists, philosophers and theorists for centuries. DNA composition differentiates species in a technical sense, but that definition is hardly satisfying. Certainly there must be something more ethereal that separates us from “lower” forms of creatures. Over the centuries, several definitions have emerged — from using tools to speaking — but have then been proven insufficient in some heuristic way. So I propose another option: manipulating energy.

24 Mar 2010

Reclaiming Alberta's oil sands mines

Forest, wetlands and a lake suggest a boreal ecosystem can be rebuilt

22 Feb 2010

Termites and climate change: Here, there and everywhere?

Will climate change allow termite populations in North America to spread?

16 Feb 2010

Voices: Natural gas can lead the way

Much of the debate concerning energy, climate and the economy involves how to manage the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable energy sources. In this context, it may seem ironic to promote one fossil fuel over another, but natural gas is an inexpensive, abundant and relatively clean fuel that can lead the transition away from coal and oil, while achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants over the next two decades. In short, increased use of domestic sources of natural gas needs to be an essential component of U.S. energy policy.

01 Feb 2010

Testing methane's potential on the North Slope

Buried beneath the gigantic swath of desolate tundra that forms Alaska’s North Slope are some of the nation’s biggest hydrocarbon resources. For decades, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline has supplied about 20 percent of the nation’s oil. But below the permafrost of the Last Frontier lies another huge fossil fuel resource — and this one is a lot harder to tap.

26 Jan 2010

Extinction-era coal linked to Chinese cancer epidemic

At the close of the Permian, 252 million years ago, conditions on Earth took a turn for the worse, nearly wiping out life on land and at sea in the planet’s most severe extinction event. Now, eons later, geologists are implicating a coal seam that dates to the “Great Dying” at the Permian-Triassic boundary in one of the modern world’s worst cancer epidemics.

14 Jan 2010

Thirsty Cities: Water management in a changing environment

On a clear day in November 2007, the governor of Georgia held an unusual public vigil. Before the doors of his state capitol, Gov. Sonny Perdue bowed his head, took his wife’s hand and prayed for rain.

Some called it a stunt. Others admired the gesture. Above all, one thing was clear: Northern Georgia was facing its worst drought in 100 years, and there was no easy fix. It would take unprecedented statewide efforts to save Georgia from ruin.

31 Dec 2009

Sunlight mobilizes mercury in wetlands

Elemental mercury — whether produced naturally by volcanoes or forest fires, or released from industrial sources such as power plants — is easily volatilized into the atmosphere; from there, it can settle in aquatic settings and enter the food chain.

22 Dec 2009

Blogging on EARTH: "Climategate" scientist tells his side

SAN FRANCISCO: In November, hackers broke into the e-mail server of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit and stole thousands of e-mails dating back to 1996 written by and to climate scientists. The e-mails, which were then leaked to the public, contained the typical stuff of science (and of e-mails, for that matter): amid discussions of data and theory, there was debate, confusion, flippancy, dark humor and questioning.

17 Dec 2009

Crystal Ball EARTH: Agriculture: The future will have a different face than the past

Tomorrow’s agriculture is facing an immense challenge. By 2050, the world’s population will reach somewhere between 9 billion and 10 billion people, and a greater proportion of those people will be enjoying a richer diet than today’s population. That means farmers will have to grow twice as much food. The world has already witnessed a preview of what might happen if large populations don’t receive an adequate supply of food: They do not accept their fates passively.

04 Dec 2009

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