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Pan-fried periodical cicadas are coated in hot sauce on June 4, 2021 in Hyattsville, Maryland. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

By Matan Shelomi

What is the life of a cricket worth?

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The downtown skyline along Canal Street is largely shrouded in darkness as the electricity throughout Orleans Parish has failed, damaged by Hurricane Ida on August 29, 2021 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Michael Robinson Chavez / The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Theodore J. Kury

The good news when Hurricane Ida churned into Louisiana on Aug. 29, 2021 was that levees held up – especially those that were strengthened after Hurricane Katrina flooded New Orleans in 2005. The bad news: In many places, power systems failed. Nearly five days later, more than 80% of New Orleans customers were still in the dark, in sweltering heat.

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Elmar Gubisch / EyeEm / Getty Images

Installing solar panels is a great option for homeowners who want to reduce their power bills, and the payback period can be just a handful of years with favorable conditions. However, renters and apartment owners cannot use a typical solar power system due to the lack of space, and renters in particular must also negotiate with their landlords. A miniature solar system that is portable and easy to install can be a better option in these cases.

Rooftop solar systems can greatly reduce your electric bills, and you can add solar batteries to store solar energy for use at night. However, because most systems are tied to the power local grid, you must meet many technical requirements and get a permit to put solar on your property. The initial investment and paperwork are not a problem when installing solar panels in a home you own, but they're a limiting factor for renters.

If you don't own your home or apartment, you may have little incentive to invest in improving someone else's property. Even if your landlord gives you permission to install solar panels, the decision only makes sense financially if you plan to rent for a very long time — longer than the solar payback period. Also, consider the following factors:

  • When your lease ends, your landlord may not be willing to purchase the solar panels you installed.
  • Moving rooftop solar panels to another home is difficult, and you will need a professional installation and another permit for the new property.

There are many types of miniature solar systems that can be installed without the complex requirements and permitting procedures of more permanent structures. These systems are an excellent option for renters, since taking them to another property is as simple as relocating your TV.

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People wait in long lines at a grocery store in Austin, Texas on Feb. 17, 2021 as millions of Texans were without water and electricity during winter storms. Montinique Monroe / Getty Images

By Mathew Barlow and Judah Cohen

In February 2021, in the midst of rapidly warming global temperatures, an exceptionally severe cold wave hit large parts of North America, from Canada to Northern Mexico. It left 10 million people without power. The impact was particularly severe in Texas, which alone had more than 125 deaths associated with the event.

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A tree trunk killed by emerald ash borers showing missing bark and tracks of the larvae worm in the wood. catnap72 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Kristine Grayson

The emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is a deceptively attractive metallic-green adult beetle with a red abdomen. But few people ever actually see the insect itself – just the trail of destruction it leaves behind under the bark of ash trees.

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A car charging at an electric vehicle charging station in Atlanta, Georgia. Raymond Boyd / Getty Images

By Paul N. Edwards

Most of America's 107,000 gas stations can fill several cars every five or 10 minutes at multiple pumps. Not so for electric vehicle chargers – at least not yet.

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Organic vegetables at the Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, Goleta, California. Citizen of the Planet / Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

By Kathleen Merrigan

Organic food once was viewed as a niche category for health nuts and hippies, but today it's a routine choice for millions of Americans. For years following passage of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which established national organic standards, consumers had to seek out organic products at food co-ops and farmers markets. Today over half of organic sales are in conventional grocery store chains, club stores and supercenters; Walmart, Costco, Kroger, Target and Safeway are the top five organic retailers.

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McAfee Knob in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains, one of the Appalachian Trail's most scenic vistas. Ben Townsend/Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Charles C. Chester

The Appalachian Trail, North America's most famous hiking route, stretches over 2,189 mountainous miles (3,520 kilometers) from Georgia to Maine. In any given year, some 3 million people hike on it, including more than 3,000 “thru-hikers" who go the entire distance, either in one stretch or in segments over multiple years.

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A digital sign displays a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit as a heat wave continues to bake the Southwest United States on June 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ethan Miller / Getty Images

By Scott Denning

Summer isn't even half over, and we've seen heat waves in the Pacific Northwest and Canada with temperatures that would be hot for Death Valley, enormous fires that have sent smoke across North America, and lethal floods of biblical proportions in Germany and China. Scientists have warned for over 50 years about increases in extreme events arising from subtle changes in average climate, but many people have been shocked by the ferocity of recent weather disasters.

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Miami and Miami Beach were built right up to the waterfront, with little room for nature. Shobeir Ansari / Getty Images

By Landolf Rhode-Barbarigos and Brian Haus

Miami is all about the water and living life outdoors. Walking paths and parks line large stretches of downtown waterfront with a stunning bay view.

This downtown core is where the Army Corps of Engineers plans to build a US$6 billion sea wall, 20 feet high in places, through downtown neighborhoods and right between the Brickell district's high-rises and the bay.

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In seven years, the lanternfly has spread from Berks County, northwest of Philadelphia, to large areas of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and both south and north. arlutz73 / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Frank A. Hale

The spotted lanternfly was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2014 and has since spread to 26 counties in that state and at least six other eastern states. It's moving into southern New England, Ohio and Indiana. This approximately 1-inch-long species from Asia has attractive polka-dotted front wings but can infest and kill trees and plants. We recently caught up with Professor Frank Hale, an entomologist who is tracking this species.

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A mother and son looking at the missing road at Vero Beach damaged by Hurricane Jeanne. Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group / Getty Images

By Bryan Keogh and Stacy Morford

Congress appears close to a trillion-dollar infrastructure deal that recognizes the risks of climate change and the need to make America's coasts more resilient.

On July 28, a bipartisan group of senators who have been working on the package for weeks announced an agreement on "major issues" of the plan. The Senate later that evening voted 67 to 32 to move it forward in a procedural vote; it still faces major hurdles.

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Two-time WSL Champion John John Florence of Hawaii on Dec. 20, 2020 in Oahu, Hawaii. Tony Heff / World Surf League via Getty Images

By Sally Warner

For the first time, surfing is on the Olympic stage.

The surfing event will last for three days and has to run within the dates from July 25 to August 1. The reason for this window? Not all waves are created equal, and organizers and surfers will wait for the best day full of the best waves to hold the competition.

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