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Dominion Resources' coal-fired power plant located in central Virginia beside the James River. Edbrown05 / CC BY-SA 2.5

Corporations that flouted environmental regulations and spewed pollutants into the air and dumped them into waterways will not be required to pay the fines they agreed to during the pandemic, according to The Guardian.

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Harmful algal blooms, seen here at Ferril Lake in Denver, Colorado on June 30, 2016, are increasing in lakes and rivers across the U.S. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.

But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

At first sight, it seems more CO₂ can only be beneficial to plants, but things are a lot more complex than that. sarayut Thaneerat / Getty Images

By Sebastian Leuzinger

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

If carbon dioxide levels were to double, how much increase in plant growth would this cause? How much of the world's deserts would disappear due to plants' increased drought tolerance in a high carbon dioxide environment?

Compared to pre-industrial levels, the concentration of carbon dioxide (CO₂) in the atmosphere will have doubled in about 20 to 30 years, depending on how much CO₂ we emit over the coming years. More CO₂ generally leads to higher rates of photosynthesis and less water consumption in plants.

At first sight, it seems more CO₂ can only be beneficial to plants, but things are a lot more complex than that.

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More than 700 New Yorkers marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on April 18, 2019 to demand Governor Andrew Cuomo block the controversial Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) Pipeline, which would carry fracked gas through New York Harbor. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket via Getty Images

New York state has rejected the controversial Williams pipeline that would have carried fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey, running beneath New York Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean before connecting to an existing pipeline system off Long Island.

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California, along with eight other states, sued the EPA for suspending enforcement of air and water pollution monitoring and reporting from places like the Shell refinery in Martinez, CA, seen here on April 1, 2004. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

On Wednesday, nine states sued the Trump administration over the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) decision to temporarily relax various environmental regulations during the coronavirus pandemic.

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With the water level of the Missouri River at an all-time low and falling on June 30, 2002, a bait and dock manager at Standing Rock Indian Reservation near Mobridge, South Dakota points out the dry, cracked mud where boat launching river water used to stand. MARLIN LEVISON / Star Tribune via Getty Images

For the first decade of the 2000s, the Missouri River, the nation's longest river, was drier than it's been in more than 1,200 years. The culprit is the climate crisis, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, or PNAS.

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Gnats hover near a barn equipped with solar panels and a wind turbine on Oct. 11, 2014 in Polk, Nebraska. The barn was built directly in the path of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline by Bold Nebraska, an organization opposed to the pipeline. Andrew Burton / Getty Images

A federal judge upheld his April 15 ruling Monday, tossing a key permit required by the Keystone XL and other pipeline projects to cross streams and wetlands.

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A cave at the Mediterranean Sea in Sicily. ClaraNila / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Not even underground ecosystems are safe from human pollution.

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A large school of fish swim in a fish farm. wildestanimal / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

President Donald Trump issued an executive order late Thursday that environmentalists warned will accelerate the corporate exploitation of oceans by relaxing regulations on and streamlining the construction of industrial offshore aquaculture facilities, which critics deride as "floating factory farms" that pump pollution and diseases into public waters.

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An oil pipeline stretches across the landscape outside Prudhoe Bay in North Slope Borough, Alaska on May 25, 2019. This photo was featured prominently in The Washington Post's Pulitzer prize-winning series 2°C: Beyond the Limit. Bonnie Jo Mount / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Environment and climate stories made strong showings in this year's Pulitzer Prize winners and finalists, which were announced Monday.

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Beaver ponds can help prevent erosion and reduce flooding after heavy precipitation. NPS / Kent Miller


Beavers often get a bad rap for cutting down trees and building unwanted ponds on private property.

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