The myths that hint at past disaster

10th May 2021Myths and fables passed down over thousands of years are full of fantastic creatures and warring gods. But they also might contain evidence of environmental disasters of the past. By Mark Piesing For those affected, it could seem like the end of the world. Residents of Stinson Beach, a popular tourist destination near San Francisco, are coming to terms with studies that show large parts of their neighbourhood will be under a foot of water in less than 20 years. The affluent are able to build homes on raised foundations and afford expensive sea defences that will hold the … Continue reading The myths that hint at past disaster

Between Science and Magic: How Hummingbirds Hover at the Edge of the Possible

How a tiny creature faster than the Space Shuttle balances the impossible equation of extreme fragility and superhuman strength. BY MARIA POPOVA Frida Kahlo painted a hummingbird into her fiercest self-portrait. Technology historian Steven Johnson drew on hummingbirds as the perfect metaphor for revolutionary innovation. Walt Whitman found great joy and solace in watching a hummingbird “coming and going, daintily balancing and shimmering about,” as he was learning anew how to balance a body coming and going in the world after his paralytic stroke. For poet and gardener Ross Gay, “the hummingbird hovering there with its green-gold breast shimmering, slipping its needle nose … Continue reading Between Science and Magic: How Hummingbirds Hover at the Edge of the Possible

The Woman Who Saved the Hawks: Redeeming an Overlooked Pioneer of Conservation

The story of the countercultural courage and persistence that shaped the modern ecological conscience. BY MARIA POPOVA It is 1928 and you are walking in Central Park, saxophone and wren song in the April air, when you spot her beneath the colossal leafing elm with her binoculars. You mistake her for another pearled Upper East Side lady who has taken to birding in the privileged boredom of her middle age. And who could blame you? In some obvious ways — polished and traveled, born into a wealthy New York family to a British father whose first cousin was Charles Dickens … Continue reading The Woman Who Saved the Hawks: Redeeming an Overlooked Pioneer of Conservation

Experts Say Humanity Faces a Grim and “Ghastly Future” – State of Planet Is Much Worse Than Most People Understand

By FLINDERS The global population could reach 10 billion by 2050; explosive population growth is contributing to a broad array of other challenges for the planet. The state of the planet is much worse than most people understand and that humans face a grim and “ghastly future” unless extraordinary action is taken soon. A loss of biodiversity and accelerating climate change in the coming decades coupled with ignorance and inaction is threatening the survival of all species, including our very own, according to the experts from institutions including Stanford University, UCLA, and Flinders University. The researchers state that world leaders need a … Continue reading Experts Say Humanity Faces a Grim and “Ghastly Future” – State of Planet Is Much Worse Than Most People Understand

The Mother of All Accidents

Odds are, if an asteroid hadn’t crashed into Earth, we wouldn’t be here. BY SEAN B. CARROLL In 2001, Seth MacFarlane was the 27-year-old executive producer and creator of the not-yet-hit animated show Family Guy. Having broken into the entertainment big leagues at such a young age, MacFarlane was invited back in September to address his alma mater, the Rhode Island School of Design. After giving a talk, he went out for what turned out to be a late night of drinking with some professors.  The next morning, September 11, MacFarlane raced to catch an 8:15 a.m. flight out of Boston … Continue reading The Mother of All Accidents

Millions of tons of nuclear wastewater from Fukushima will be dumped into the sea

By Brandon Specktor The water contains more radioactive material than the plant’s managers previously stated. Japan’s government announced on Tuesday (April 13) that it will dump more than a million tons of contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean, beginning in two years. Roughly 1.25 million tons (1.13 million metric tons) of water have accumulated around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan since 2011, after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the region. The twin disasters killed nearly 20,000 people, according to NPR, and caused meltdowns in three of the plant’s six reactors, triggering the worst nuclear disaster … Continue reading Millions of tons of nuclear wastewater from Fukushima will be dumped into the sea

Gaia, the Scientist

What if the first woman scientist was simply the first woman? BY HOPE JAHREN There exists a social hierarchy within science that strikes people who are not mixed up in it as ridiculous. It goes like this: Mathematicians are superior to Physicists, who are, in turn, superior to Chemists, who are of course, superior to Biologists. There’s also a pecking order within each of these disciplines. Take biology, for example: Geneticists are superior to Biochemists, who are superior to Ecologists. The system breaks down when we come to sociology, psychology, and anthropology and devolves into a debate as to whether the social … Continue reading Gaia, the Scientist

France is banning any short flight that can be replaced by a train trip

If you can get there within 180 minutes on the train, you won’t be able to fly. BY ADELE PETERS It takes around two hours to take a train from Paris to the city of Lyon. That train ride has a far smaller carbon footprint than flying between the cities—and now the French government plans to ban the flights, along with other short routes that take 2.5 hours or less by train, to shrink the country’s transportation emissions. Another proposal would have ditched all flights shorter than four hours than could have been replaced by train rides, but politicians compromised after … Continue reading France is banning any short flight that can be replaced by a train trip

The global future is looking dark and stormy

A new 20-year-forecast for the world: increasingly fragmented and turbulent. by Bryan Walsh, author of Future The big picture: A major report put out this week by the National Intelligence Council reflects a present rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. How the next two decades will unfold depends largely on whether new technologies will ultimately unite us — or continue to divide us. Driving the news: Many, if not most, of those trends identified in the new report from the U.S. government are trending negative. “Shared global challenges — including climate change, disease, financial crises, and technology disruptions — are likely to manifest more frequently and … Continue reading The global future is looking dark and stormy

NASA just released the first direct evidence that humans are causing climate change

It was clear humans were warming the planet for some time — now we have official confirmation.  by Tibi Puiu By now it should be no surprise to learn that the planet is warming very rapidly. The vast majority of this warming is not natural, over 99% of scientists say, but rather the result of heat-trapping greenhouse gases released by human activity such as burning fossil fuels. Yet with all the thousands of studies about climate change and its connection with human activity, it was only recently that researchers at NASA have provided direct observations of the driving force of climate change. … Continue reading NASA just released the first direct evidence that humans are causing climate change