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Climate
A spruce-fir forest in New Hampshire on March 26, 2018. cappi thompson / CC BY 2.0

Climate Change Is Shrinking Winter Snowpack and Harming Northeast Forests Year-Round

By Andrew Reinmann and Pamela Templer

Climate change often conjures up images of heat, drought and hurricanes. But according to the latest U.S. National Climate Assessment, released on Nov. 23, 2018, winters have warmed three times faster than summers in the Northeast in recent years. These changes are also producing significant effects.

Historically, more than 50 percent of the northern hemisphere has had snow cover in winter. Now warmer temperatures are reducing the depth and duration of winter snow cover. Many people assume that winter is a dormant time for organisms in cold climates, but decades of research now shows that winter climate conditions—particularly snowpack—are important regulators of the health of forest ecosystems and organisms that live in them.

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Food
Experimental field of a salt-tolerant rice variety in Bangladesh. IRRI Photos, CC BY-NC-SA

Climate Change Makes Soils Saltier, Forcing Farmers to Find New Livelihoods

By Joyce J. Chen and Valerie Mueller

Salt is essential for cooking, but too much salt in soil can ruin crops and render fields useless. According to legend, Roman general Scipio Aemilianus Africanus sowed the soils of Carthage with salt after conquering the city during the Punic Wars. And after defeating the Italian town of Palestrina in 1298, Pope Boniface VIII is said to have plowed its lands with salt "so that nothing, neither man nor beast be called by that name."

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Energy
Port of Longview, Washington. Sam Beebe / Ecotrust, CC BY-SA 3.0

Fossil Fuel Companies Blocked From West Coast Ports Keep Pushing to Bypass Local Governments

By Shawn Olson-Hazboun and Hilary Boudet

A year after Washington state denied key permits for a coal-export terminal in the port city of Longview, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would proceed with its review—essentially ignoring the state's decision.

This dispute pits federal authorities against local and state governments. It's also part of a larger and long-running battle over fossil fuel shipments to foreign countries that stretches up the entire American West Coast.

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Popular

DuKai Photographer / Moment / Getty Images

Why Aren’t There Electric Airplanes Yet?

By Venkat Viswanathan, Shashank Sripad and William Leif Fredericks

As electric cars and trucks appear increasingly on U.S. highways, it raises the question: When will commercially viable electric vehicles take to the skies? There are a number of ambitious efforts to build electric-powered airplanes, including regional jets and planes that can cover longer distances. Electrification is starting to enable a type of air travel that many have been hoping for, but haven't seen yet—a flying car.

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Food
Do vegans have more fun? gilaxia / Getty Images

Why People Become Vegans: The History, Sex and Science of a Meatless Existence

By Joshua T. Beck

At the age of 14, a young Donald Watson watched as a terrified pig was slaughtered on his family farm. In the British boy's eyes, the screaming pig was being murdered. Watson stopped eating meat and eventually gave up dairy as well.

Later, as an adult in 1944, Watson realized that other people shared his interest in a plant-only diet. And thus veganism—a term he coined—was born.

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Food
Foxys_forest_manufacture / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Awareness of Food Waste Can Help Us Appreciate Holiday Meals

By Bryce Hannibal

Americans celebrate the winter holidays in many ways, which typically include an abundance of food, drinks, desserts—and waste. Food waste is receiving increasing attention from managers, activists, policymakers and scholars, who call it a global social problem. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, wealthy nations waste nearly as much food every year as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa.

Efforts to reduce food waste tend to focus on consumption practices, with less attention to the production and distribution side. But according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a large proportion of food loss and waste in the U.S. occurs at the farm-to-retail level, with about 133 billion pounds of food available at retailers going uneaten.

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Animals
A pod of narwhals (Monodon monoceros) in central Baffin Bay. Narwhals are the most vulnerable animals to increased ship traffic in the Arctic Ocean. Kristin Laidre / University of Washington, CC BY-ND

Arctic Ship Traffic Threatens Narwhals and Other Extraordinary Animals

By Donna Hauser, Harry Stern and Kristin Laidre

Americans often associate fall with football and raking leaves, but in the Arctic this season is about ice. Every year, floating sea ice in the Arctic thins and melts in spring and summer, then thickens and expands in fall and winter.

As climate change warms the Arctic, its sea ice cover is declining. This year scientists estimate that the Arctic sea ice minimum in late September covered 1.77 million square miles, tying the sixth lowest summertime minimum on record.

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Pexels

Which Country Is Best to Live In? (Hint: It Isn't Norway)

By Warren Sanderson, Sergei Scherbov and Simone Ghislandi

Every year, the United Nations releases the Human Development Index (HDI).

The HDI is like a country's report card. In a single number, it tells policymakers and citizens how well a country is doing. This year, Norway was at the top of the class, while Niger finished last.

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Politics
Pixabay

Marijuana Expands Into 3 More States, But Nationwide Legalization Still Unlikely

By Daniel J. Mallinson and Lee Hannah

The midterm elections have further loosened marijuana restrictions in the U.S. Voters in three of four states with ballot proposals on marijuana approved those initiatives.

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