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Environment - New Scientist

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Trump to let Americans import ivory and hunting trophies again

Donald Trump's administration is reversing a ban on the imports of elephant trophies—including ivory—from Zimbabwe and Zambia

If we only ate organic it would be an environmental disaster

Organic food production requires more land, but a study claims cutting meat eating and food waste will solve this problem. It won’t

Camera spots hidden oil spills and may find missing planes

For the first time, a polarising infrared camera – never before used on Earth – has been made small and light enough to detect concealed oil spills

Big aftershocks could well hit Iran and Iraq in next 48 hours

The magnitude 7.3 quake that struck Iran and Iraq on Monday has already killed 400 and injured thousands, and more tremors could be on the way

Climate change blamed for Arabian Sea’s unexpected hurricanes

A flurry of hurricane-strength storms struck the Arabian Sea in 2014 and 2015, and climate change seems to have played a role

Bad news: Carbon emissions have suddenly started rising again

Emissions of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel are on the rise again. We desperately need more action to stop climate change, and that means putting a price on carbon

Human arrivals wiped out the Caribbean’s giant ground sloths

Many giant mammals in the Americas have died out but it has been hard to say whether humans or natural events were responsible. Now, in the Caribbean at least, we know

The unseen puppet masters that control life in the oceans

Trace elements have the power to give life and snuff it out. For the first time, we are getting to grips with where they come from and how they act

When it comes to climate, Donald Trump is in a club by himself

With pariah state Syria now backing the UN pact to curb global warming, the US stands against the other 195 nations of the world. What a disgrace, says Owen Gaffney

What we’re doing now will make the ocean completely unliveable

Climate change could reduce oxygen levels in the oceans by 40 per cent over the next 8000 years, leading to dramatic changes in marine life

Planting trees could mop up ten years’ worth of greenhouse gases

The planet is still warming inexorably, with 2017 set to be one of the three hottest years on record, but a major programme of tree-planting could help cool the world

China’s dreadful air pollution seems to have got a bit better

While China’s capital Beijing is once again suffering a severe smog, a new study suggests that nationally pollution has fallen 21 per cent over two years

Old Scientist: Why aren’t there more British Nobels?

Why did a maverick British astronomer never get the gong? New Scientists of Novembers past reveal it’s a perennial worry

Europe and the US were most responsible for deadly heatwave

A lethal heatwave that struck Argentina in 2013 was made more likely by climate change – and greenhouse gases from Europe and the US played the biggest role

The latest science reads remind us why we really do need experts

Mary Halton reflects on how books on forecasting, rock-reading and the grisly world of Victorian medicine highlight how we have always relied on those in the know

A third of animals are vanishing as roads spread through forests

The world’s forests are being criss-crossed by roads and clearings, and as a result many backboned animals are becoming less abundant

Rivers and forests need the same legal rights we grant to people

Environmental campaigners want the Colorado river to get the right to sue in US courts. It's not as crazy as it sounds, says Richard Schiffman

Freeloading mites are squatting on spider webs and stealing food

A newly-discovered species of mite sets up home on a spider’s web and nibbles away at any insects the spider catches – and the spider doesn’t seem to mind

Climate change will kill millions but you knew that already

It’s no surprise, but an analysis has predicted deadly heatwaves, more deaths from starvation, and a boom in mosquito-borne diseases thanks to climate change

We have four years fewer to slash carbon emissions than thought

Soils in cold regions may release far more carbon than expected as world warms, and that means our carbon budget is smaller than we thought it is

Ban on weedkiller glyphosate won’t save anyone from cancer

Unfounded health fears mean Europe is on the brink of banning the herbicide, risking greater soil damage and higher carbon emissions

Cataclysms: A life spent chasing planetary catastrophe

Evidence of asteroid impacts and other extreme events on Earth can prove elusive. Michael Rampino reveals what he's found in his latest book

We all get poorer every time a climate disaster strikes

Long-term economic effects of global warming could be far greater than thought, making many countries poorer and hurting even those of us spared direct impacts

La Niña forecast may mean even worse Atlantic hurricanes in 2018

The Pacific Ocean is likely to enter a La Niña state in the next few months, which could mean a more active Atlantic hurricane season next year

UN climate events are a wasted opportunity for public engagement

Even in green Germany, the UN Paris climate conference failed to catalyse greater concern among citizens. Smarter strategies are required, says Adam Corner

New York should prepare for 15-metre storm surges by 2300

Due to rapidly rising seas, floods that once struck New York City every 500 years will soon hit every five years

Dimming the sun could save corals from bleaching and hurricanes

Climate change will harm corals by overheating them and unleashing more violent hurricanes, but cooling the planet by geoengineering could reverse those effects

Steep decline of wasps and other flying nasties is a bad sign

Aphids, midges and wasps are being added to the list of rapidly vanishing insects. It’s another alarming sign of a sixth mass extinction, says Olive Heffernan

The mass extinction that might never have happened

An ecological catastrophe 201 million years ago supposedly paved the way for the rise of giant dinosaurs, but it may not have happened that way after all

A tech-destroying solar flare could hit Earth within 100 years

If the sun spews “superflares” as often as other stars, one could take down power systems, damage the ozone layer and destroy satellites in the next century

How to clean up the dirty water Puerto Ricans are drinking

Nearly a month after Hurricane Maria, many people on Puerto Rico are still without clean drinking water and have resorted to wells on a contaminated site

Ophelia shows many hurricanes could reach Europe in the future

Tropical cyclones often get to Europe but normally they have weakened by the time they get there. Not any more, thanks to climate change

The next supercontinent: Four ways Earth could reshape itself

Plate tectonics is a slow-grind drama with some dramatic plot twists – these scenarios show how Earth might look in 250 million AD

It looks like an oxymoron, but Earth optimism is worth a try

Decades of environmental doom-mongering have fallen on deaf ears. Maybe a new environmental campaign with a message of hope is just what we need

It’s time artists woke up to the power at their fingertips

The recent Lofoten Islands biennale and The New We, a group show now on in Norway, both get artists to engage with nature – but they don't seem keen to commit

Is positive thinking the way to save the planet?

Move over doom and gloom, there is a new environmental movement in town. Earth optimists say focusing on small successes is the way forward

Air pollution blamed for 500,000 early deaths in Europe in 2014

The biggest source of harm was particulate matter from domestic stoves, but nitrogen dioxide from cars is also linked to many premature deaths

California’s wildfires powered by perfect storm of fire hazards

Low humidity, parched vegetation and warm winds have led to fires that have killed at least 17, left over 150 people missing and destroyed over 2000 homes

I want to show the courts who’s to blame for climate change

Climate modelling allows us to link extreme weather, climate change and emissions so we can use the law to hit big oil where it hurts, says Myles Allen

Cold climate may have driven ancient humans’ move out of Africa

East Africa became colder and drier around 75,000 years ago, just when modern humans were apparently migrating out of Africa

We just found nineteen new species of gecko in one tiny area

The discovery of so many closely-related vertebrate species within such a small area is unprecedented

Grass-fed beef is bad for the planet and causes climate change

Supporters like Prince Charles say raising cattle on pastures can be good for the environment, but the sums have been done and their claims don’t add up

Early farmers may have polluted the sea 4000 years ago

Heavy metals including cadmium and lead are unusually common in sediments from the South China Sea, hinting that run-off from farms was spilling into the ocean 4000 years ago

Kids suing nations over climate change wildfire links are right

A group of children is aiming to take 47 nations to court over links between climate change and forest fires. Science is on their side, says Richard Schiffman

Why Puerto Rico still has no electrical power and how to fix it

Hurricane Maria is long gone but almost all of Puerto Rico has been left without a power supply, and restarting the national grid from scratch will be very difficult

Energy from evaporating water could rival wind and solar

Water evaporating from lakes and reservoirs could provide a huge amount of electricity, but scaling up the technology will be tricky

A few cold drops falling through a cloud could create a downpour

One raindrop that is less than 4°C cooler than the surrounding cloud can trigger a rapid burst of microdroplets, which can spawn a sudden rainstorm

Mexico City quake: A few seconds’ warning can still save lives

The recent earthquake in Mexico City shows even the best tremor alarms sometimes only go off seconds before – but clever planning can mean those few seconds save many people

Super-Earths draw asteroids to other worlds, which may seed life

Asteroid collisions can be destructive – just ask the dinosaurs – but they also bring key ingredients for life. Super-Earths can draw them to nearby worlds

What a surprise – the end of the world has been delayed, again

The planet Nibiru was meant to wipe us out on Saturday. Undeterred by a no-show, doomsday theorists are already peddling more nonsense, warns Geraint Lewis

Huge space rocks could have helped start Earth’s plate tectonics

Nobody knows how or why plate tectonics got started on Earth. But new evidence suggest collisions with space rocks millions of years ago may have something to do with it

The hurricane hunter who got up close and personal with Irma

While most people flee the world’s mightiest storms, meteorologist Jason Dunion buckles up and flies straight into them

The nuclear stalemate is crumbling – what are our options?

The two-party game theory of the cold war doesn't work any more – time for a new approach

Our terrifying energy future leaves us with uncertainties

We could outrun environmental disaster by ditching fossil fuels for safer options, but will we? Three new books paint a scary picture by refusing to commit

There is no way to spot big earthquakes ahead of time

Large earthquakes look just like small ones when they start out, so early warning systems have no clues to help figure out if a quake is going to be huge

Lightning storms triggered by exhaust from cargo ships

The world's busiest shipping lanes have twice as many bolts of lightning as nearby areas, and ships pumping soot into the air seem to be responsible

Another lost tribe feared massacred – how can we save the rest?

Should we leave uncontacted tribes alone or try to usher them into the modern world to protect them from violence and disease, wonders Curtis Abraham

Hurricane Maria confirms dire warnings for 2017 hurricane season

As Hurricane Maria continues to cause destruction, predictions that 2017 could be the worst hurricane season since 2010 are being borne out

Handheld scanner divines how nutritious your food really is

Climate change and soil degradation are depleting the nutrients in crops, but now a scanner can analyse grain to help farmers mitigate problems as it grows

Mexico hit by second huge quake caused by same tectonic strain

The country has been struck by its second big earthquake in less than two weeks, causing dozens of buildings to collapse

Stunning shots capture how we interact with our natural world

These evocative pictures by photographer Lucas Foglia catalogue his quest to capture our turbulent relationship with nature

Secrets of butterfly wing patterns revealed by gene hacking

Butterflies' wings have extraordinary patterns and colours, and it turns out they are controlled by a single "master gene" that performs many roles

Thousands likely to be killed by Hurricane Irma’s deadly legacy

Toxic chemicals released by floodwaters, stress, infection and dangerous working conditions will all contribute to hurricane death toll years after winds die

Could we store carbon dioxide as liquid lakes under the sea?

We need to get carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere to slow down climate change, and perhaps deep-sea trenches would be a good place to put it

No, climate science isn’t wrong, and yes, global warming is real

A study suggests we can emit three times more carbon than we thought and still avoid 1.5°C of global warming - but the results are not as straightforward as they seem

Fear and trembling, from The Great Quake to Quakeland

Detail or range? Two new books offer very different approaches to the fascinating and violent world of earthquake science

A rushed response to Hurricane Irma could cause bigger disasters

We must prepare for the bigger storms to come,  but if planners get it wrong, their efforts to protect people could make future mega-disasters even worse

Christmas Island’s only echolocating bat has gone extinct

The Christmas Island pipistrelle is no more, and the world's largest antelope is at risk, according to the latest update to the Red List of Threatened Species

Mysterious lights in the sky seen after Mexico’s huge earthquake

Magnitude isn’t the only demonstration of an earthquake’s power. For centuries, mysterious lights have popped up in the wake of strong quakes

The hottest place ever recorded on Earth’s surface was 2370°C

When a rock from space crashed to ground 38 million years ago, it briefly heated the impact zone to 2370°C, the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth’s crust

Air pollution changes what bugs colonise our airways

Higher levels of pollutants in the air correlate with reduced diversity of bacteria in our nose, hinting at a possible mechanism for why pollution causes disease

Extreme wildfires in the US could lead to long-term lung damage

This year’s exceptional wildfire season could drag on until December, and the resulting air pollution poses a serious risk to people’s health

The Caribbean will be recovering from Hurricane Irma for years

Florida escaped the worst of hurricane Irma, but islands like Puerto Rico and Cuba were hit hard – and they face a hard road back to prosperity

Stripy ponds in the Utah desert help green the bone-dry land

Multicoloured patchwork ponds in this desert play a key part in tapping sources of potassium chloride, a vital fertiliser

Florida suffers coast-to-coast battering by Hurricane Irma

After striking the Caribbean islands and leaving several close to uninhabitable, Hurricane Irma has made landfall in Florida and caused untold damage

Gel-like ice is the lightest form of water ever discovered

A type of simulated water ice has a molecular structure so sparse it’s like frozen candy floss, making it the lightest type of ice we’ve ever seen

Hurricane Irma tears across Caribbean leaving chaos in its wake

The tropical storm has left a trail of devastation across the region, reducing islands to wreckage and leaving at least 14 people dead

Mexico on tsunami alert after biggest earthquake in 85 years

The US Geological Survey reported the earthquake's magnitude as 8.1, making it the biggest earthquake in Mexico since 1932

Hurricane Irma’s epic size is being fuelled by global warming

The monster storm has the second strongest wind speeds ever recorded for an Atlantic hurricane, and its growth was fuelled by warming waters

Eight low-lying Pacific islands swallowed whole by rising seas

As sea levels have risen due to climate change, uninhabited islands in Micronesia have vanished beneath the waves - but some last longer than others

Europe’s last wildernesses are under threat – can we save them?

A glut of new dams and motorways in eastern and south-eastern Europe will bring prosperity, but could mean unique flora and fauna will soon be gone for good

Houston got rich on urban sprawl, and now it’s paying the price

Unfettered economic growth guaranteed Houston's vulnerability to a natural disaster that hit the poorest hardest, says analyst Owen Gaffney

Asteroid Florence buzzes Earth in closest fly-by since 1890

A 4.4-kilometre-wide space rock whizzed past Earth on its closest orbit in over a century. This asteroid won’t get this close again until after 2500

The cities in the firing line for the next Hurricane Harvey

Of five cities set to see the worst losses from flooding by 2050, three are in the US. Yet the country is unprepared for worsening weather brought by climate change

India floods: Apartment building collapses in Mumbai

A five-storey building has collapsed in the Indian city of Mumbai, following torrential monsoon rains that have also caused widespread floods

Explosions heard at flooded Texas chemical plant after hurricane

Two explosions and black smoke have been reported at the flooded Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, which has lost power and backup generators it needs to keep volatile chemicals refrigerated

‘Mother’ coral reefs are breathing life into their neighbours

Strong currents in the Red Sea are sweeping huge masses of larvae-rich sea water from one reef to the next

Brazil rejects bid to drill for oil near unique Amazon reef

Total has had its drilling licence turned down, with Brazil’s environment agency saying the French oil giant has failed to address the environmental risk of oil spills

Taking Earth’s pulse: How to predict eruptions from space

Our planet’s inner stirrings manifest as moving bulges on the surface. Now an eye in the sky is watching them to help predict disasters and save lives

The brothers who went missing on a glacier for almost 90 years

In March 1926, three brothers and a friend climbed up to a hut overlooking the Aletsch glacier in Switzerland. They were never seen again – until their bones were found in 2012

Texas may be just as vulnerable when next big hurricane hits

Houston is battling unprecedented floods from Hurricane Harvey – and yet Texas’s plans to protect itself from floods remain stalled

Large non-native species like donkeys can boost biodiversity

Many large animals are now living far outside of their native ranges, and that may actually be helping conservation

Secret lifestyle of the dodo revealed for the first time

A study of dodo bones has revealed how the legendary birds matured, bred and moulted, and explains discrepancies in sailors’ descriptions of them

We really can run the world on renewable energy – here’s how

Can the planet change over to 100 per cent clean and renewable energy fast enough to avoid extreme climate impacts? Yes it can, says Mark Jacobson

Wiping out a population of animals might help the species

Mass deaths might not be all bad, because local die-offs could help to ensure the survival of the species as a whole

The push for UK fracking may be 55 million years too late

Cuadrilla is pressing ahead with a project to drill for shale gas in Lancashire, but a geologist thinks plans for industrial-scale fracking may be doomed

Can a crowdsourced mega-forest offset Trump’s climate chaos?

It's an appealing idea, a vast forest to soak up the extra carbon released due to Trump's policies, but it may not be so easy in reality, says Olive Heffernan

Weird creatures are spreading polluting plastic through the sea

Plastic particles sink to the seabed after being eaten and excreted by animals called larvaceans, which could be why we see less floating plastic than expected

Back to the wild: How nature is reclaiming farmland

Farmland is shrinking for the first time on record thanks in part to consumer choices. What does this mean for the environment and the future of food?

There are almost 100 new volcanoes hiding under Antarctic ice

The 91 newly found volcanoes lurk beneath the vulnerable West Antarctic ice sheet and could accelerate its demise