Environment

Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year – it’s time to protect them

Coral reefs provide flood protection worth $1.8 billion every year – it’s time to protect them

The news is grim: According to a report compiled by hundreds of scientists from 50 countries, Earth is losing species faster than at any other time in human history. Thanks to climate change, coastal development and the impacts of activities such as logging, farming and fishing, roughly 1 million plants and animals are facing extinction.

How Earth’s continents became twisted and contorted over millions of years

How Earth’s continents became twisted and contorted over millions of years

We are pretty sure the continental parts of plates are not uniform, nor are they rigid. The giant forces that slowly move continents across the viscous mantle layer underneath, like biscuits gliding over a warm toffee ocean, stress the continents, and twist and contort the crust. This is a process that has taken place over millions of years.

Methane-consuming bacteria could be the future of fuel

Methane-consuming bacteria could be the future of fuel

By oxidizing methane and converting it to methanol, methanotrophic bacteria (or “methanotrophs”) can pack a one-two punch. Not only are they removing a harmful greenhouse gas from the environment, they are also generating a readily usable, sustainable fuel for automobiles, electricity and more.

Don’t write off abandoned buildings – they can be an important resource for the community

Don’t write off abandoned buildings – they can be an important resource for the community

You need only look to the UK’s high streets to see myriad buildings in decline. Walk through any city or town and witness the empty shops, vacant office blocks and derelict housing. A recent report from the Royal Society for Public Health revealed that one in 10 high street shops in the UK is empty.

Should we turn the Sahara Desert into a huge solar farm?

Should we turn the Sahara Desert into a huge solar farm?

Whenever I visit the Sahara I am struck by how sunny and hot it is and how clear the sky can be. Aside from a few oases there is little vegetation, and most of the world’s largest desert is covered with rocks, sand and sand dunes. The Saharan sun is powerful enough to provide Earth with significant solar energy.

NASA's Greenland Mission Still Surprises in Year Four

NASA's Greenland Mission Still Surprises in Year Four

Only seven months after NASA's Oceans Melting Greenland (OMG) mission wrapped its last field campaign on the world's largest island, an OMG crew is back in Greenland to collect more data. With two or three field projects a year since 2016, no wonder OMG has made the most comprehensive measurements yet of how ocean water lapping at the undersides of Greenland's melting glaciers affects them. All that data has answered a lot of existing questions — and it's raised plenty of new ones.

Salt doesn’t melt ice – here’s how it actually makes winter streets safe

 Salt doesn’t melt ice – here’s how it actually makes winter streets safe

Brrr … it’s cold out there! Children are flocking to the television in hopes of hearing there will be a snow day; the bread and milk aisles at grocery stores are empty because of an impending snow storm; and utility trucks are out spraying salt or salt water on the roads.

Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay

Huge Cavity in Antarctic Glacier Signals Rapid Decay

A gigantic cavity — two-thirds the area of Manhattan and almost 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall — growing at the bottom of Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is one of several disturbing discoveries reported in a new NASA-led study of the disintegrating glacier. The findings highlight the need for detailed observations of Antarctic glaciers' undersides in calculating how fast global sea levels will rise in response to climate change.

Can genetic engineering save disappearing forests?

Can genetic engineering save disappearing forests?

Compared to gene-edited babies in China and ambitious projects to rescue woolly mammoths from extinction, biotech trees might sound pretty tame. But releasing genetically engineered trees into forests to counter threats to forest health represents a new frontier in biotechnology.

Coffee: 60% of wild species are at risk of extinction due to climate change

Coffee: 60% of wild species are at risk of extinction due to climate change

Is your morning coffee an espresso or a skinny latte? Is it from a darkly roasted French or Italian blend? If it’s a high quality brew, it’s almost certainly made with beans from the Arabica species (Coffea arabica), which is known for its finer flavours. Examples would be Javan coffees, Ethiopian sidamo, and the expensive Jamaican blue mountain.

How to feed a growing population healthy food without ruining the planet

How to feed a growing population healthy food without ruining the planet

If we’re serious about feeding the world’s growing population healthy food, and not ruining the planet, we need to get used to a new style of eating. This includes cutting our Western meat and sugar intakes by around 50%, and doubling the amount of nuts, fruits, vegetables and legumes we consume.