The Power of the Waves

Understanding how oceans move is key to understanding life on Earth. BY RICHARD HAMBLYN Sea waves are among the world’s most misunderstood phenomena. When an incoming wave breaks on the shoreline, it appears as though the water has come to the end of a long journey, but in fact the water itself has hardly moved. Most surface sea waves transmit energy, not water, and the turbulence at the surf zone is the result of that moving energy encountering a solid obstruction—usually the shelving sea floor—against which it noisily dissipates. It is at that point that the wave transforms, from an … Continue reading The Power of the Waves

Cities that grow themselves

They are spreading like branching plants across the globe. Should we rein cities in or embrace their biomorphic potential? Josh Berson is an anthropologist and the author, among other things, of The Human Scaffold: How Not to Design Your Way Out of a Climate Crisis (2021) and The Meat Question: Animals, Humans, and the Deep History of Food (2019). Edited by Sam Haselby In 1996, one in three inhabitants of China lived in an urban setting. In 2021, the figure was close to two in three. In the United States, in comparison, the figure is four in five. The construction boom in China tracks … Continue reading Cities that grow themselves

The posthuman dog

If humans were to disappear from the face of the Earth, what might dogs become? And would they be better off without us? by Jessica Pierce is a bioethicist and writer. She is a faculty affiliate with the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Her books include A Dog’s World (2021) and Unleashing Your Dog (2019), with Marc Bekoff, and Run, Spot, Run (2016). She also writes the blog All Dogs Go to Heaven for Psychology Today. She lives in Colorado. Edited by Pam Weintraub If you share your home with a dog, you may have found yourself rolling your eyes … Continue reading The posthuman dog

My 3 Greatest Revelations

The author on writing her new book, “The Other Dark Matter.” BY LINA ZELDOVICH TOLD TO KEVIN BERGER 1 We Are Smothering the Planet with Our Poop The next time you go grocery shopping, look at where your food comes from. Most of it isn’t local. Strawberries come from California or Florida, asparagus from Mexico or Chile, bananas from Brazil or Ecuador. Most of the food gets shipped to us, trucked, flown, helicoptered, or whatever. We eat it and excrete it—in the same place, over and over. And that’s a problem. Before humans settled and started farming, we were nomadic, … Continue reading My 3 Greatest Revelations

Beware the ‘Climate-Stupid Agriculture’ of Bill Gates and His Allies

Bill Gates is just plain wrong when he says the only way to grow food is with synthetic fertilizers. by TIMOTHY A. WISE As world leaders wrap up the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow, new scientific research shows that there is still a great deal of magical thinking about the contribution of fertilizer to global warming. Philanthropist Bill Gates fed the retreat from science in his book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster earlier this year. “To me fertilizer is magical,” he confesses, nitrogen fertilizer in particular. Under a photo of a beaming Gates in a Yara fertilizer distribution warehouse in Tanzania, he … Continue reading Beware the ‘Climate-Stupid Agriculture’ of Bill Gates and His Allies

Heritage at sea

Must we simply accept the loss of beloved buildings and cities to the floods and rising seas of the climate crisis? Thijs Weststeijn is professor in the Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, where he chairs the research project ‘Histories of Global Netherlandish Art, 1550-1750’. His latest book is Foreign Devils and Philosophers: Cultural Encounters between the Chinese, the Dutch, and Other Europeans, 1590-1800 (2020). Edited byMarina Benjamin As an Amsterdam-born art historian, for the past three decades I’ve enjoyed guiding students and other visitors along the concentric canals that cup the city’s 17th-century historic centre … Continue reading Heritage at sea

Will Natural Resilience Leave Humans Behind On The Escalator To Extinction?

The Glasgow climate summit will tell. BY NATHAN GARDELS – Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine. While our species, unique in its capacity to envision a future and plan its behavior, stumbles toward climate action in the misty precincts of Scotland this week, the rest of nature can’t wait. It is moving on in evolutionary resilience, one organism at a time, flexibly adapting to human-induced planetary warming. This capacity to conjoin “urgency” with “agency,” biologist Thor Hanson writes in Noema, is a lesson humankind needs to learn sooner rather than later if it is going to either avoid the tipping point … Continue reading Will Natural Resilience Leave Humans Behind On The Escalator To Extinction?

The Scientists Are Terrified

A survey of the world’s top climate researchers shows a stark finding: Most expect catastrophic levels of heating and damage soon—vey soon. ByBrian Kahn A new Nature survey shows a majority of the world’s leading climate scientists expect “catastrophic” impacts in their lifetimes driven by rising greenhouse gas emissions. Brilliant researchers, they’re just like you and me—but with more data, which actually makes the new survey even more unnerving. The feature from Nature, published on Monday, involved querying Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change researchers. These are the same folks who put out a major report earlier this year warning that this is essentially the most consequential … Continue reading The Scientists Are Terrified

Against longtermism

It started as a fringe philosophical theory about humanity’s future. It’s now richly funded and increasingly dangerous Phil Torres is a PhD candidate in philosophy at Leibniz Universität Hannover in Germany. His writing has appeared in Philosophy Now, Nautilus, Motherboard and the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, among others. He is the author of The End: What Science and Religion Tell Us About the Apocalypse (2016), Morality, Foresight, and Human Flourishing… Edited bySam Dresser There seems to be a growing recognition that humanity might be approaching the ‘end times’. Dire predictions of catastrophe clutter the news. Social media videos of hellish wildfires, devastating floods and hospitals … Continue reading Against longtermism

The Canary Islands and the Tsunami Threat

The Canary Islands and the Tsunami Threat I. G. Kenyon The Canary Islands comprise 7 volcanic islands that rise 6 to 8 km from the seafloor Eruptions occur on average every 30 years Landslide History of the Canary Islands 1 At least 14 large landslides have been mapped offshore from the Canary Islands Most of these landslides have been dated within the last 1 million years Landslide History of the Canary Islands 2 Recurrence interval is 100, 000 years for all islands and around 300, 000 years for individual islands Landslides comprise 50 to 500 km³ of debris avalanches spread … Continue reading The Canary Islands and the Tsunami Threat