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Environment - New Scientist

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The great polar mystery: closing in on the truth

What happened when all 129 men in John Franklin’s Arctic expedition vanished in the late 1840s? We’re finally putting the pieces together

Throwaway culture: The truth about recycling

We take it for granted that recycling is the best way to dispose of waste. But is that just greenwash? New Scientist sorts through the trash so that you can make up your mind

California climate case turns up the heat on fossil fuel giants

Coastal communities in the US state are suing oil, gas and coal giants for the cost of dealing with sea level rise. Expect more of this, says Sophie Marjanac

Earth’s underwater dunes help explain Venus’s weird surface

Some of the properties of wind and dust on Venus may be similar to those of water and sediment at the bottom of our oceans

Tanzanian volcano blast could destroy ancient hominin footprints

If Ol Doinyo Lengai erupts, iconic prints at Laetoli and another set at Engare Sero are at risk

Use waste rather than crops for biofuels, says UK report

Liquid biofuels can help reduce carbon emissions, but the focus should be on making them from wastes such as cooking oil, says major review

A massive iceberg just broke off Antarctica’s Larsen C ice shelf

A 5,800-square-kilometre iceberg weighing more than a trillion tonnes is one of the largest known, and will change the face of Antarctica forever

Uninhabitable Earth? In fact, it’s really hard to fry the planet

A controversial article says we’re heading for the worst-case warming scenarios. But while we can’t rule out extreme warming, it’s not our most likely future

Invisibility cloak makes solar panels work more efficiently

A new material that hides the metal grid on top of solar panels make them 9 per cent more efficient in lab tests

Melting ice may be making mountains collapse in Greenland

The collapse of the mountain which triggered a tsunami that destroyed an Arctic village last month may have been caused by climate change – and more may follow

It’s time we all burst our carbon bubbles

Distant financial elites aren't the only ones with investments in the fossil fuel industry – most people with a private pension or savings account do too

The ethics issue: Should we geoengineer the planet?

We only have one Earth. How far should we go in our attempts to save it from ourselves?

France plans to ban all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040

The country’s environment minister has pledged to phase out coal by 2022, and end sales of new petrol and diesel cars by 204  

How Aboriginal knowledge can help the world combat wildfires

Wildfires are on the increase across the globe as the climate changes. To gain control, we should learn how people in Australia have traditionally tamed them

Dams can lead the way to a better relationship with nature

We cannot restore the environment to a pristine state, but we can be better stewards of change. Making dams work for us and for nature is a good start

Demise of dinosaurs opened the doors to the age of tree frogs

Frogs leaped to take advantage of the global catastrophe that killed off the dinosaurs 66 million years ago

Why Morocco loves its meteorites

Why have more space rocks been recovered in Morocco than in other countries of a similar size? It’s a great question for the world’s Asteroid Day  

Fighting climate change could trigger a massive financial crash

The risks of global warming go far beyond the physical. If we don’t start preparing for the transition to a low-carbon economy we’re in for an incredibly bumpy ride

Wildfires’ ‘killer haze’ tracked with Twitter as it spreads

The Indonesian government is using a tool that mines social media chatter to track deadly smog and monitor the evacuation of local people

Open the floodgates: Designer deluges could save dammed rivers

Dams provide vital green power but destroy precious river ecosystems. Could unleashing artificial floods give us the best of both worlds?

Nature and human nature intersect in a crowdsourced exhibition

At the Wellcome Collection's mischievous exhibition of "modern nature", author Boyd Tonkin detects an abiding respect for the non-human world

Ozone layer recovery will be delayed by chemical leaks

Leaks of a common chemical used in paints and for manufacturing are harming the ozone layer and could delay recovery of the ozone hole until 2095

The death of King Coal hints we are at a climate turning point

Coal use is dying out and wind and solar energy are booming. This means the world is changing around you despite inaction by backward-looking politicians

More killer hail coming unless we curb global warming

Extreme hail storms can be a threat to life and property. If we carry on polluting the planet we'll have to face more of them, warns physicist Raymond Pierrehumbert

Living with climate change: Convincing the sceptics

Global warming is real, and global warming is here. Whether old-school conservative or free-market radical, here's how to convince the doubters of the facts

Living with climate change: You can make a difference

With climate change, individual behaviour does matter. Here's how to influence the future through how you travel, where you get your electricity and what you eat

Living with climate change: How to cope in a warmer world

Feeding and housing a growing human population when seas are rising and extreme weather hits will be hard – but manageable if we take the right decisions now

Trump’s wise monkey environment plan: See no evil, hear no evil

If you don't measure the bad stuff, you don't have to do anything about it. That looks like the Trump philosophy, say Gretchen Goldman and Andrew Rosenberg

Italy’s drying lakes imperil rare shrimp species found only here

The survival of ancient and unique species thriving in mountain lakes in central Italy have been threatened by a double whammy of a quake and climate change

Living with climate change: Turning the corner

In 2016 for the third year greenhouse gas emissions were almost static, while the world's economy grew – showing it is possible to go green and prosper

Oil-exploration airguns punch 2-kilometre-wide holes in plankton

The seismic airguns used to look for undersea oil don’t just disrupt marine mammals, their shock waves also kill and disperse the plankton population

Living with climate change: Can we limit global warming to 2°C?

Current commitments from the world's nations mean we will overshoot the 2°C target agreed in Paris. More radical strategies are needed – and we need to work on them now

Living with climate change: What’s the worst that can happen?

If Earth reaches dangerous tipping points like the Antarctic glaciers melting, we'll have to engineer our way out of the crisis. It's difficult to gauge how far we are from either of those things

Bizarre new deep-sea creatures discovered off Australian coast

Faceless fish, giant sea spiders, and other strange species have been found 4-km-deep off the east coast of Australia

Living with climate change: Welcome to the new normal

The greenhouse gases we've been pumping into the atmosphere are already changing Earth's weather, ecosystems and even its tilt. Here's how

Sweden commits to becoming carbon neutral by 2045 with new law

A climate plan backed by an overwhelming majority in parliament makes Sweden the first country to significantly upgrade its target since the Paris agreement

Satellite’s eye view reveals retreating glaciers in the Andes

In Patagonia, the largest icefields in the southern hemisphere outside Antarctica are rapidly shrinking

World’s largest annual wildlife drowning boosts river ecosystem

Thousands of wildebeest drown as they cross the Mara river in Kenya on their yearly migration – creating a boon for the river’s ecosystem

Strange ice lolly icicles seen floating in clouds above the UK

Tiny icicles shaped like lollipops can form and exist in clouds – and may even affect the weather

UK’s hunger for prawns is killing thousands of turtles a year  

Up to 29,000 marine turtles are being killed by nets used to catch tropical prawns for sale in the EU, predominantly in the UK, a report suggests  

Billion-dollar dams are making water shortages, not solving them

Dams are mitigating climate change impacts for certain populations, but the overall effect of such interventions may be increased drought

Cool retreats are needed to save giant panda from warmer weather

Chinese mountains where pandas live are become too warm for these animals to live in happily, and a network of new chill-out zones may be their only chance

Science and climate face uncertain future in post-election UK

Michael Gove's promotion and the need to rely on the DUP could make tackling global warming and listening to scientific advice low priorities for the UK’s new government

Ocean plastics from Haiti’s beaches turned into laptop packaging

Laptop packaging is an unlikely new destination for plastic otherwise destined for oceans – but will it make a difference to the clean-up efforts?

Five things you need to know about DUP politicians and science

Democratic Unionist Party politicians have voiced controversial views on climate change, HIV and creationism. Here’s what they’ve said on some key issues  

Extreme plants thrive at 72°C in New Zealand’s hot volcanic soil

Mosses and liverworts have been found growing in hot geothermal fields in the highly active Taupo Volcanic Zone in New Zealand

Bird caught in amber 100 million years ago is best ever found

A hatchling exquisitely preserved in amber is giving us the best glimpse yet of what an extinct group of birds was like  

The mystery xenon in Earth’s atmosphere came from icy comets

The moon is younger than we thought according to data from the Rosetta spacecraft that shows 22 per cent of our atmospheric xenon came from comets

There’s as much water in Earth’s mantle as in all the oceans

The zone of mantle rock that sits 400 to 600 kilometres below our feet seems to be saturated with water

Accelerating Antarctic crack will hasten calving of huge iceberg

Kink turns 200-kilometre fissure towards the sea and will seal fate of a future iceberg that is one quarter the area of Wales, possibly within weeks

Energy security is possible without nuclear power or fracked gas

There is a mantra that nuclear and natural gas power stations are essential to keep the lights on in the UK. It's a myth, says Keith Barnham

Huge ice age methane blowout is ill omen for glacier retreat

Glacier retreat at the end of the last ice age 12,000 years ago released huge bubbles of trapped methane, a potent global warming gas

Of presidents and planets: Neil deGrasse Tyson looks ahead

Donald Trump’s election alarmed many scientists. Neil deGrasse Tyson takes a cosmic perspective, reflects on Obama’s legacy and considers the road to Mars

Simple equation shows how human activity is trashing the planet

The impact of industrialised societies on Earth has been described in a mathematical formula that should scare us all, says Owen Gaffney

Trump ditching Paris climate deal isn’t the end of the world

The US president has decided to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, but the rest of us, including US states and cities, can come together to work around him and save the planet

A year on thin ice: Four seasons in a radically changed Arctic

The ice that was once rock-solid is now rotten and see-through in places, weakened by a winter of freak heatwaves. Discover the new normal at the North Pole

Festivals 2017: Feel at one with the universe

The universe is the word at Europe’s festivals this year, with no shortage of ways to explore the night sky – and plenty of other science to pursue

Geoengineering fears make scrutiny of ocean seeding test vital

Talk of dumping iron into the ocean off Chile to boost plankton is a return of a controversial idea that warrants questions, says Olive Heffernan

Take a 360-degree virtual tour of a scientific research vessel

Step into the wet lab, peek inside the chief scientist’s cabin and commandeer the bridge in a unique behind-the-scenes glimpse of Ireland's Celtic Explorer

UK government to be taken back to court again over air pollution

Environmental lawyers ClientEarth have said they are taking the government back to court once again over its inadequate plans to tackle illegal air pollution

Trump looks set to take US out of Paris climate agreement

US president Donald Trump is expected to announce this week that he will take the country out of the international climate agreement    

Hot, sleepless nights will get more common with climate change

People in the US stand to lose sleep as the climate warms – and those in hotter countries will be harder hit

Governments sued over climate change, with banks and firms next

Almost 900 climate change cases have now been filed in 24 countries, and the Paris climate agreement could provide a further boost to litigation efforts

Newly-evolved microbes may be breaking down ocean plastics

There is less plastic in our oceans than expected because life is evolving the ability to biodegrade it, one team is claiming  

Nowcasting may help forecast big earthquakes in 53 major cities

Records of small quakes can help us gauge how close we are to really big ones, using a technique borrowed from economics and finance

Trump’s budget jettisons ‘irreplaceable’ marine mammals agency

The US Marine Mammal Commission, charged with restoring oceans’ mammal populations, is set for the chop in president Donald Trump’s budget proposal

Unimpeachable logic says Trump shouldn’t quit Paris climate pact

President Donald Trump should keep the US in the Paris Agreement on climate and embrace it as a great deal for his nation's economy, says Owen Gaffney

EU nations set to wipe out forests and not account for emissions

The drive for biofuels that international treaties wrongly consider to be emissions-free is driving plans to boost tree harvests in Europe, forgetting about associated emissions

Rising seas could double the number of severe coastal floods

An increase in sea level of between just 5 and 10 centimetres could make devastating weather events come every 25 years rather than every 50 years

Narwhals could help us measure melting glaciers underwater

A project off Greenland will tag whales with sensors to measure sea temperatures and ice melt in hard-to-reach places, improving predictions of sea-level rise

Remote Pacific island found buried under tonnes of plastic waste

A tiny, otherwise pristine island is smothered by our blast from the past: vast amounts of decades-old plastic from around the world

Unshackled, big auto will keep choking the world on diesel fumes

We now know diesel vehicles pollute more than they should to deadly effect everywhere, but the real scandal is government foot-dragging, says Olive Heffernan

The day Mount St Helens erupted and I should have died

But for a chance decision, Don Swanson would have been killed in the Mount St Helens eruption of 1980. That day changed his life, and volcanology, forever

Driest ten months in 100 years recorded in southern England

The last 10 months were the driest July to April for southern England in records stretching back more than 100 years, figures reveal  

Where the wind blows: Mapping our wildest gusts

A new wind atlas will help turbines avoid the doldrums – and solve some of wind's enduring mysteries

Hundreds of newly-discovered plants may yield new crops or drugs

Even as we discover promising new wild relatives of key crops and medicinal plants, some of them are already endangered by pests and climate change  

Beaver dams keeps streams cool and protect sensitive fish

We used to think that beaver dams warmed up stream waters as felling trees to build them reduces shade. Now it seems the opposite might be true

Odds on: Five scientific theories decided by wager

From the existence of black holes to the reality of climate change, over the years some big questions have been the subject of bets,  finds Michael Brooks

Diesel fumes lead to thousands more deaths than thought

Cars, lorries and buses that drive on diesel churn out far more air pollution than standard testing procedures suggest, even without any emissions cheating devices

Early Earth was covered in a global ocean and had no mountains

Some 4.4 billion years ago, soon after its formation, Earth was a much quieter and duller place than it is today, according to analysis of minerals from that time

We are on track to pass 1.5°C warming in less than 10 years

Business as usual would cause the planet to warm above the aspirational 1.5°C limit agreed at the UN Paris meeting as early as 2026

Increased cancer rate in US linked to bad environment

Around 39 in 100,000 cancer deaths could be avoided if US counties improved environment quality – a target that could be hampered by Trump's new legislation

Snowball Earth melting led to freshwater ocean 2 kilometres deep

A freshwater layer up to 2 kilometres deep floated on our planet’s oceans for some 50,000 years after the end of an extreme ice age

Industry experts may replace dismissed EPA advisory scientists

The Trump administration has dismissed several scientists from the advisory board of the US Environmental Protection Agency and may replace them with people from industry

Pink mountains light up in otherworldly view of fjord

These peaks are part of the Tracy Arm, a 43-kilometre-long fjord near Juneau, Alaska, and photographed with an infrared, ultraviolet, and visible light camera

Cutting through the smog: What to do to fight air pollution

Tackling our air problems starts with traffic control, but individual action to reduce energy use and intensive farming would also help clean our air

UK government subsidises coal sector with £356 million a year

Despite pledges to phase out coal, UK and several other EU countries still provide various tax benefits to the coal sector, according to a new report

The UK government’s attitude to air pollution stinks

Despite debate over how many "deaths" air pollution causes, it is clear bad air damages our health, so attempts to delay rules on reducing it must be resisted

UK’s plan to clean up its air is still inadequate, critics say

The government has published long-awaited plans to cut illegal pollution but critics have warned they are too weak to improve the UK's dirty air  

Cutting through the smog: How air pollution shortens your life

Don’t take alarming death toll numbers at face value – the noxious gases in the air won’t kill you outright, but they will cut your time on Earth

Cutting through the smog: 5 ways to slash your pollution intake

From cycling rather than driving to being savvy about where you walk, here are the key things that will minimise the risk pollution poses to you

Strange mantle plume under Iceland helps keep Scotland afloat

Most plumes of hot rock have a circular outline, but the plume beneath Iceland has a splatter of horizontal fingers hundreds of kilometres long below Earth’s crust

Cutting through the smog: Is pollution getting worse?

The quality of air varies from country to country and in some places pea-soupers are becoming more frequent, in others, the air is getting ever cleaner

Arctic oil and gas must remain off limits for good, Trump

The US president's executive order seeking to overturn a ban on fossil fuel exploration in Arctic waters is unsafe and irresponsible, says Owen Gaffney

Map of the underworld may let us play plate tectonics in reverse

An atlas of the ancient continents swallowed up long ago is the first to show the whereabouts of almost 100 tectonic plates that have sunk

Seabed seismic sensors would have cut 2011 Japan tsunami toll

An earthquake warning system now being installed at the source of the Tohoku quake would have alerted people much faster if it had existed in 2011

Plan to regrow receding Swiss glacier by blowing artificial snow

An ambitious plan to save a melting glacier in the Swiss Alps with showers of artificial snow will be tested this summer

Ancient carvings show comet hit Earth and triggered mini ice age

Headless human and animal symbols carved into stone in Turkey tell the story of a devastating comet impact that triggered a mini ice age more than 13,000 years ago

UK loses another court case over failure to tackle air pollution

Government must unveil revised plans on 9 May and cannot wait until after the general election as it wanted to

Seabed images show the scars icebergs carve into polar sea floor

A new atlas shows scars gouged into polar sea floors by glaciers and icebergs in unprecedented detail, which could help our understanding of how they behave