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Environment - New Scientist

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The first Americans had pet dogs 1000 years earlier than thought

There were domestic dogs in North America 10,200 years ago, according to a re-examination of an ancient dog skeleton that looks like a small English setter

The epic hunt for the place on Earth where life started

Darwin's warm little pond, the deep ocean and icy shores – all have been suggested as the birthplace of life. Now one location could have it all

Wild animals are turning nocturnal to keep away from humans

Dozens of species all around the world are abandoning the day and becoming more active at night, to avoid contact with humans

Alarm as ice loss from Antarctica triples in the past five years

The loss of Antarctica’s ice has been accelerating ominously since 2012, and could lead to big rises in sea level if the rate of loss keeps increasing

EU will limit the use of palm oil as car fuel but won’t stop it

The European Union will make only minor tweaks to “renewable” energy policies that are actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions and driving deforestation

Why tidal power won’t solve the world’s renewable energy needs

There are widespread calls for the UK government not to abandon a trailblazing tidal power project, but this energy source is no green panacea, says Hans van Haren

Finally we can power the planet on renewables alone – here’s how

Ditching fossil fuels to go 100 per cent renewable is a dream within reach – thanks to new tech that keep things humming even when wind and sun aren’t there

Britain’s hedgehog population has fallen 66 per cent in 20 years

Britain only has 58 wild mammal species to start with, and many have declined sharply in number since 1995 – with hedgehogs suffering a particularly severe fall

Africa’s 2000-year-old trees of life are suddenly dying off

In the past decade most of the oldest baobabs, many of them sprouted over two millennia ago, have died unexpectedly and few new ones are sprouting

A renewables revolution is afoot – but who will benefit?

Donald Trump's commitment to coal is short-sighted and wrong-headed. A 100 per cent renewable future is coming – and other countries will reap the rewards

Sperm whales are tracking fishing boats and stealing their fish

Fishing boats in the Gulf of Alaska are being stalked by enormous sperm whales, which charge in and rip huge volumes of fish from the lines

Why are there so many devastating volcanic eruptions right now?

High-profile volcanic eruptions in Hawaii and Guatemala are grabbing the headlines, but geophysics isn't responsible for connecting the two disasters

Europeans now burn more palm oil in their cars than they eat

Palm oil consumption in the EU jumped by 7 per cent in 2017 because it is increasingly used as a biofuel – driving the destruction of orangutans’ habitat

The most elusive whales reveal their secrets in their wakes

We know almost nothing about the enormous beaked whales because they spend so much time deep underwater, but a new DNA technique could unmask them

Zambia to kill 2000 hippos because they might spread anthrax

Over the next five years 2000 hippos are to be culled in Zambia, supposedly to stop them giving people anthrax, but the cull may inadvertently fuel the trade in hippo ivory

Guatemala volcano kills 75 as ash buries entire villages

The Fuego volcano in Guatemala has exploded and spewed out molten rock and ash, killing at least 75 people in the country's most violent eruption for over a century

Enjoy a season of science with our 2018 UK festival picks

Stumble into surprises all over the UK, from the physics of gin at WOMAD, to mind-reading at Green Man, to time deconstructed at New Scientist Live

H2Oh! 10 mysteries of water

Water has a host of unusual properties – many of which are essential for life. Here we round up ten of the most peculiar

H2Oh! Water is actually two liquids disguised as one

Earth's most precious liquid is weird, and if it wasn't we would die. Now experiments have uncovered its secret: it's not one liquid, it's two

Night fishing with light-up lures that can be seen from space

In this stunning photo snapped from the International Space Station, green LED fishing lures light up the night in the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman Sea

The Great Barrier Reef has died 5 times in the last 30,000 years

The Great Barrier Reef  has resurrected itself five times in the last 30,000 years after being wiped out by dramatic environmental shifts.

Burning Planet: Fire’s intriguing role throughout Earth history

We view fire as a hazard, but a thought-provoking book argues it wasn’t always so – and helps us revise our thinking by looking back over geological time

11 unmissable wonders of the natural world

Seven wonders of the world? Too few! We dial it up to 11 with this selection of nature’s greatest hits – unique environments all too often in trouble

The curious fate of the eighth wonder of the world

People travelled from far and wide to see New Zealand’s spectacular pink and white terraces. Then they were destroyed in a volcanic eruption – or were they?

More lava flows reach the coast as volcano threatens Hawaii

Lava is entering the ocean off Hawaii from a third flow, marking the third week of a volcanic eruption that has opened up nearly two dozen vents,

In big cities even the fish are always rushing around the place

Two common US fish have evolved different body shapes to help them survive in the fast-moving streams in built-up areas

Asteroid that killed the dinosaurs caused massive global warming

The asteroid that struck Earth 66 million years ago caused dramatic climate change, which could mean we are underestimating how much the planet will warm in the coming centuries

Fixing planet plastic: How we’ll really solve our waste problem

From bag bans to bacterial mulchers, many solutions are touted for the plastic waste crisis. Find out which work – and which don't – in our definitive guide

Mystery ozone-destroying gases linked to badly recycled fridges

Last week we learned a chemical that harms the ozone layer is being emitted in Asia – and now it seems sloppy recycling might be partly to blame

Why the UK’s plan to tackle air pollution is mostly hot air

A ban on using polluting wet wood isn’t nearly enough to halt the rise in dangerous particulates from trendy wood burners

Salvaged plastics imitate bizarre and beautiful sea life

This deceptive artwork was created by photographing just a few of the 5 trillion bits of plastic that pollute our oceans and shorelines

Half of life on Earth has vanished since we arrived on the scene

The biomass of living organisms on the planet has halved since human civilisation began, and humans now outweigh all wild mammals tenfold

Chinese giant salamanders may already be virtually extinct

Researchers spent four years looking for Chinese giant salamanders and only found 24 – and that’s not even the worst bit of news

The volcanic eruption on Hawaii is now making an acidic fog

As lava from Kilauea plunges into the Pacific Ocean, clouds of hot acidic steam are being blasted off – and the eruption shows no signs of slowing down

Plastic waste is a problem – but some solutions are even worse

Plastics have done wonders for hygiene and human health. We need to fix the waste problem – but don’t throw out the baby with the bath tub

A third of ‘protected’ nature zones are quietly being ruined

The world’s nations have set up 200,000 protected areas in which nature is supposed to flourish, but in many cases the protection is pretty much theoretical

Someone is wrecking the ozone layer again. They must be stopped

For the health of our planet, and ourselves, we must find and foil those who breach crucial environmental treaties, says Lesley Evans Ogden

Worst-case climate change scenario is even worse than we thought

A possible future that climatologists treat as the worst of the worst, because it would produce huge greenhouse gas emissions, might lead to even more emissions than believed

Harsh: Europe’s cannabis died just as the first farmers arrived

Cannabis – the source of the drug marijuana – virtually disappeared from Europe just as farmers arrived, so they didn’t get the chance to grow it for another 4500 years

Drones plus AI help to spot sick trees and plants in time

Drones fitted with multispectral cameras are scanning forests for beetle attack, and orchards and vineyards for signs of disease before it’s too late

Lizards keep evolving toxic green blood and we don’t know why

All the green-blooded lizards in the world live in New Guinea, but it turns out the trait has evolved there independently at least four times

Biodegradable plastic: Waste that eats itself

Plastics that degrade on disposal already exist, and are getting better. But they won't solve the plastic trash problem on their own – and here's why

Fertiliser feeds us but trashes the climate – now there’s a fix

The way we make ammonia for fertilizer was developed a century ago and produces more than 1 per cent of all carbon emissions. Now we may have a replacement

Hawaii’s erupting volcano may blast out ‘10-tonne cannonballs’

As Kilauea continues erupting, lava is mixing with water, creating steam that could trigger massive explosions and throw large rocks up to a kilometre away

The tides are getting stronger thanks to the shifting continents

The ocean tides are the strongest they have been for millions of years, and they will get stronger for several million years to come – because of the position of the continents

Rich nations restore their own forests but trash those elsewhere

As countries get richer, they start replanting their forests – but this is not a big environmental gain because they “export” the deforestation to poor countries

We messed up our figures on how much carbon dioxide is too much

Climatologists have tried to set a “carbon budget” that tells us how much greenhouse gas we can emit and stay below 2°C, but their efforts have only caused confusion

It is worth valuing trees, but all deserve our respect

The benefits trees bring to our lives are now being quantified by a band of treeconomists, an approach that could help us give trees the respect they deserve

Towing icebergs to Cape Town is a poor way to halt water crisis

Hauling chunks of polar ice to dry regions to provide fresh water sounds tempting but there are many reasons to reject it, says Olive Heffernan

Treeconomics: How to put a fair price tag on urban forests

We can now calculate the exact value of a tree, from shade to beauty. Doing so could be the best way to protect them – and plan the forests of the future

A plague from South Korea is killing frogs and toads worldwide

The world’s amphibians are dying in swathes because of the lethal chytrid fungus, and it seems the epidemic had its origins on the Korean peninsula

Captain Cook: The farmer’s son who re-drew the map of the world

The achievements of the eighteenth-century explorer stand up surprisingly well to modern scrutiny, finds Boyd Tonkin

The world’s tallest tree costs more than a private island

We valued 7 of the world's most famous trees, from strangler figs draping ancient ruins to a 9000-year-old spruce. The most pricey comes in at £11 million

Tourism is four times worse for the climate than we thought

Tourism is being blamed for 8 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, and it emits more every year – making it harder to stop dangerous climate change

China is building a huge weather-control machine – will it work?

Water shortages are a huge problem for Chinese agriculture, so the country has just begun the world's largest ever weather control experiment

Moon’s weird pull could help predict deadly volcanic eruptions

The strange influence of the lunar cycle on Earth could warn us when volcanoes are about to blow and might even help us spot impending earthquakes

Colombia’s peace deal unwittingly unleashed hell on the Amazon

Ever since Colombia signed a historic peace deal with the FARC guerrillas, farmers and criminal gangs have been burning its portion of the Amazon rainforest

The birds of South Georgia are finally safe from marauding rats

Invasive rats have cut a swathe through the birds living on the island of South Georgia, but a decade-long project has now eradicated every last rat

Hawaii volcano is causing havoc and will spew lava for days

The Kilauea volcano is unlikely to erupt explosively, but it will probably keep pumping out devastating lava for many days to come

The real palm oil problem: it’s not just in your food

Soaring demand for palm oil is being driven by its use as biofuel, which is increasing carbon emissions as well as destroying forests and biodiversity

Magical regrowth: Kew Gardens opens revamped Temperate House

Restoring the world’s largest Victorian glasshouse to its former architectural glory at the UK’s famous gardens has also reinvented it for the 21st century

Are we deluding ourselves when we shop for eco-friendly stuff?

A highly critical new report questions the worth of the sustainability logos that appear on many products. Are they still a force for good, wonders Fred Pearce

Ancient humans in Philippines may have given rise to ‘hobbits’

A butchered rhino found on the island of Luzon shows early humans were living in the Philippines 709,000 years ago, which may explain the origins of the diminutive Homo floresiensis

Giant sea spiders sit and wait for prey to knock themselves out

Huge sea spiders move excruciatingly slowly, but they can still catch prey animals that move much faster than them – because their prey sometimes crash into the seafloor

Join NASA’s Operation IceBridge on its icy polar mission

This photoset is a glimpse into life as an ice watcher – flying long missions over frozen polar terrain to keep tabs on the warming world

A mix-up means US air pollution is way worse than thought

Levels of nitrogen oxides in the air are still falling across the US, but satellite measurements show the reduction has slowed down unexpectedly since 2011

Acid bath: The new threat to lakes and rivers

Freshwater acidification was supposed to be a thing of the past, but it’s back and it could be even worse this time

Acid lakes may be a false alarm but we can’t afford complacency

Freshwater acidification might turn out to be a trivial problem but we don’t know how much danger aquatic life is in unless we can track down more data

How can India clean up when all of its waste has an afterlife?

Waste has a complicated cultural significance in India. A new book looks at how that affects the country's efforts to get clean

The European Union has decided to ban bee-killing pesticides

European Union member states have voted to ban the outdoor use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been linked to declines in pollinating insects

Cute but dim quolls have been taught to stop eating toxic toads

Northern quolls are an endangered species thanks to an epidemic of poisonous cane toads in Australia, but now some of them have been trained to steer clear

Humans may be to blame for a big earthquake in South Korea

An earthquake that struck South Korea in 2017 was caused by a geothermal energy project that injected water underground – and risk assessments missed it

Why the US is wrong to say burning wood is carbon neutral

The US’s decision to regard wood as carbon neutral flies in the face of the evidence and will lead to increased emissions

Almost 1500 bird species face extinction and we’re to blame

One-eighth of the world’s 11,000 bird species are now threatened, and in most cases farming is the biggest threat thanks to our increasingly meat-rich diets

Ants build a medieval ‘torture rack’ to catch grasshoppers

A species of tropical ant builds traps on tree trunks that allow them to catch prey almost fifty times their size, by biting their legs and spread-eagling them on the tree surface

Why the hockey stick graph will always be climate science’s icon

Two decades after it was first published, the chart linking carbon emissions and global warming is as relevant as ever, says Olive Heffernan

Oxygen may have helped complex life arise a billion years early

Earth’s air suddenly got a lot more oxygen around 1.6 billion years ago and that could have triggered the evolution of large multicellular organisms

Worst mass extinctions may have been caused by rising mountains

A pair of mass extinctions struck in quick succession just before the dinosaur era, and the birth of a mountain range in South Africa may have been partly to blame

Plants love carbon dioxide, but too much could be bad for them

Most plants were expected to grow more as CO2 levels rise, but a 20-year experiment suggests that the extra CO2 is somehow stunting plant growth, which could make climate change worse

Why climate engineers are targeting Earth’s last pristine spots

Some of the last great wildernesses are being considered as likely candidates for geoengineering. It's a sad reflection of climate failings, says Olive Heffernan

Most UK plants will flower at once in short ‘condensed spring’

Plants in the UK are set to blaze into flower virtually simultaneously, because flowering has been delayed two weeks by the unusually cold weather

World’s biggest bird feeder will use 500 tonnes of shellfish

A crucial feeding ground for migrating birds has been almost destroyed by pollution and a bad winter, but help is at hand in the form of an all-you-can-eat buffet

A melting ice shelf can cause rapid ice loss 900 kilometres away

If one part of an ice shelf starts to thin, it can trigger rapid ice losses in other regions as much as 900 kilometres away – contributing to sea level rise

Carbon-free shipping is possible, so why aren’t we doing it?

New UN-agreed limits on carbon emissions from shipping don’t go far or fast enough, especially as we already have the tech to make shipping carbon-free

The Antarctic is melting even in the middle of subzero winter

Warm mountain winds are causing extensive winter melting on the surface of the Larsen C ice shelf, which could contribute to its breakup

What to expect from this Saturday’s March for Science

The March for Science on 14 April will involve rallies in more than 200 cities, as a sequel to last year’s inaugural march in protest of president Donald Trump

Hawaii tops the list of beach destinations at risk of tsunami

The world’s first ranking of tsunami risks for major tourist beaches shows popular spots like Hawaii and Bali are most in danger

2017 was the year of the biggest fire storms ever seen

The record-breaking 2017 wildfires in the US generated massive thunderstorms that pumped as much smoke into the stratosphere as a volcanic eruption

The Nile river is at least 30 million years old

Sediment deposits reveal when the longest river in the world started flowing from Ethiopia to the Mediterranean

Antarctica still losing ice despite big rise in snowfall

A 10 per cent rise in snowfall in Antarctica is adding more ice to the continent each year, but the ice sheets are still shrinking because it's being lost faster too

Ancient finger bone may reveal humanity’s path out of Africa

A single bone found in the Saudi Arabian desert is at least 85,000 years old, and may shed light on the route early humans took out of Africa

David Attenborough: It’s time we humans came to our senses

From the plastic age, to the tripling of our population and the destruction of the natural world, David Attenborough has seen it all, and issues a call to arms

A simple mathematical rule shapes the behaviour of Arctic ponds

Understanding Arctic ponds can help us predict how fast the ice is melting. Their formation is governed by the simple maths of drawing overlapping circles

Spending on renewables in rich countries has halved in six years

Spending on renewables in developed countries has halved since 2011, with investment levels in Europe falling back below the 2006 level

Congestion charge can cut childhood asthma attacks by half

A congestion charge in Stockholm not only cut levels of air pollution, it halved the number of children admitted to hospital with asthma attacks

Virtuoso bowhead whales constantly make up new songs

Bowhead whales are such talented singers they can make two sounds simultaneously, and they invent new songs every year

Just half a degree less global warming would avert food shortage

Governments are dithering over whether to limit climate change to 1.5°C or 2°C, but it seems the stricter target would avoid food shortages and major economic losses

Refusing to accept GM food is safe is like climate change denial

Environmentalist Mark Lynas, who once destroyed GM crops and then made headlines by ending his opposition, is stepping up his call for reason to triumph  

Shrimp and lobster are as bad for the climate as eating beef

Fish and seafood are normally fairly environmentally friendly, but it takes so much fuel to catch some species that their carbon footprint is as big as that of red meat

Real colour of money: business wants profit and green cred

A strange alliance of corporates and environmental groups thinks profits and green credentials can be aligned. But there's some angry pushback