Taxonomy term


The rising global interest in coal fires

In eastern India, north of the Damodar River, approximately 70 fires are burning in the Jharia coalfield, the largest coalmine fire complex in the world. The majority of fires in Jharia ignite when coal, exposed to air during mining operations, spontaneously combusts. Particulate matter and noxious gases emitted from the burning coal — including sulfur, carbon and nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons released at the surface from gas vents, ground fissures and the soil — have caused illnesses that range from stroke to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

01 Sep 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

Crystal Ball EARTH: Natural Hazards: Reducing society's risks

The global financial disaster of 2009 has many parallels with catastrophic natural hazards. It struck pretty much without warning, its impact was greatly exacerbated by an incredibly complex system of cascading consequences, and finally, mechanisms supposedly in place to mitigate the worse impacts (regulations, in the case of the financial system) failed. There was awareness that such a meltdown could theoretically occur, but it was considered such a low-probability event that it was evidently not worth planning for.

11 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

Report from Ground Zero

How geoscientists aid in the aftermath of environmental disasters

01 Oct 2009

Air pollutants from "megacities" a growing problem

Megacities — cities with populations equaling or greater than 10 million people — are producing an unprecedented amount of air pollution, according to scientists at the American Chemical Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

21 Aug 2009

'The Big Necessity' Reclaiming feces

In her new book, "The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters," freelance journalist Rose George argues that experts and citizens alike must overcome their aversion to all things fecal — or else face one of the most serious public health risks on the planet. If handled properly, George says, waste water can even be reclaimed as potable water. Recently, EARTH contributor Brian Fisher Johnson talked with George about her book, which was released on Oct. 14.

20 Oct 2008

West Virginia Coal: Dirty water, dirtier politics - but will there be a cleaner future?

Coal has always been king in West Virginia. For more than 250 years, the mining industry has ruled the Mountain State, sometimes running roughshod over worker’s rights, public safety and West Virginia’s mountain ecosystems in the push for higher yields. Coal mining is not without its benefits: West Virginia’s mines produce 15 percent of our country’s coal and half of our coal exports. And the industry provides 40,000 jobs and contributes $3.5 billion to the Mountain State’s economy. Now with U.S.

02 Sep 2008

Toxic tide

In the Gulf of Mexico lurk menacing masses of single-celled organisms known as red tides. Scientists have long known that the potent toxin they produce can kill fish and birds, wreak havoc on the human nervous system and cause wheezing, sneezing and asthma flare-ups. But new research suggests that it can also damage DNA, which could lead to more subtle, longer-term health consequences.

29 Aug 2008