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There are plenty of things you can do every day to help reduce greenhouse gases and your carbon footprint to make a less harmful impact on the environment. ipopba / Getty Images

By Katie Lambert and Sarah Gleim

The United Nations suggests that climate change is not just the defining issue of our time, but we are also at a defining moment in history. Weather patterns are changing and will threaten food production, and sea levels are rising and could cause catastrophic flooding across the globe. Countries must make drastic actions to avoid a future with irreversible damage to major ecosystems and planetary climate.

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A young monk seal underwater in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. NOAA / PIFSC / HMSRP

By Tara Lohan

The Sargasso Sea, an area of the Atlantic Ocean between the Caribbean and Bermuda, has bedeviled sailors for centuries. Its namesake — sargassum, a type of free-floating seaweed — and notoriously calm winds have "trapped" countless mariners, including the crew of Christopher Columbus's Santa Maria.

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Biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems – is declining globally, faster than at any other time in human history. Csondy / Getty Images

By Marie Quinney

Biodiversity is critically important – to your health, to your safety and, probably, to your business or livelihood.

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A rescued coral from Key West settles in for a feeding at an intermediate holding facility before being shipped to a long-term aquarium. Tiffany Duong / Ocean Rebels

Six years ago, during a global coral bleaching event and after the Port of Miami was dredged, endangered corals on Florida's coral reef began rapidly wasting away and dying. Their "mystery killer," whose exact pathogen still remains unidentified, is referred to as the "Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease" (SCTLD).

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A biologist looks at microplastics found in sea species at the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research near Athens, Greece on Nov. 26, 2019. LOUISA GOULIAMAKI / AFP via Getty Images

New research suggests there may be far more microplastics in the ocean than initially estimated.

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Sandy reached its initial peak intensity as a Category 3 hurricane over Cuba on Oct. 25, 2012. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA Center for Climate Simulation. NASA / GSFC / William Putman

The devastation caused by hurricanes in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, North Carolina and Houston over the last few years is a direct effect of the climate crisis, which is making tropical storms stronger and wetter, according to a new study from the University of Wisconsin and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as CNN reported.

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Avantium, a biochemical company in the Netherlands, is fundraising for a new project that will turn sustainably grown crops into a plant-based plastic. Avantium

While some are trying to clean up the plastic pollution in the oceans, and others are removing it from beaches, one company is looking to end the need for plastic bottles that last hundreds of years and are rarely recycled. A Dutch company is looking to fight the plastic crisis with a plant-based alternative that degrades in one year, as The Guardian reported.

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An unstable slope above Barry Glacier in Barry Arm, Alaska, could trigger a landslide and major tsunami. Christian Zimmerman / USGS

As the climate crisis takes hold, the effects are noticed most conspicuously at the extremes like the poles and the desert, where the harsh environments are drastically altered by a changing climate.

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Once carbon dioxide concentrations became low enough (around 300 parts per million) between two and three million years ago, the current ice age cycle began. sodar99 / Getty Images

By James Renwick

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Earth had several periods of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and high temperatures over the last several million years. Can you explain what caused these periods, given that there was no burning of fossil fuels or other sources of human created carbon dioxide release during those times?

Burning fossil fuels or vegetation is one way to put carbon dioxide into the air – and it is something we have become very good at. Humans are generating nearly 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide every year, mostly by burning fossil fuels.

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NASA ScienceCasts: Keeping an Eye on Earth

For much of human history, it's been hard for scientists to learn about remote areas of the Earth that they cannot observe directly.

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The beach of Mimiza in France where researchers measured microplastics on the sea breeze. NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP via Getty Images

Around eight million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the world's oceans every year, but researchers still don't know where it all ends up.

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