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The 11 cities most likely to run out of drinking water – like Cape Town


Cape Town faces the unenviable situation of being the first major city in the modern era to run out of drinking water. However, the plight of the drought-hit South African city is just one extreme example of a problem that experts have long been warning about – water scarcity. Despite covering about 70% of the […]

No glaciers, no water?

No glaciers, no water? thumbnail

The world’s largest rivers begin in glaciated mountain regions. However, climate change may cause many glaciers to disappear. Will water become scarce? There are around 200,000 glaciers worldwide. They play a central role in the water cycle, particularly in the middle and low latitudes, by offsetting runoff fluctuations. Rivers are lifelines on which billions of […]

Cape Town’s Water Crisis Should Be a Warning to the World


Cape Town residents line up to refill water bottles at Newlands Brewery Spring Water Point on January 30, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa.Photo: Morgana Wingard/Getty Images Cape Town, South Africa, a city of 4 million people, is just weeks away from becoming the world’s first major city to run entirely out of water — […]

The Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Shifting, Poles May Flip: “This Could Get Bad”


“The shield that protects the Earth from solar radiation is under attack from within. We can’t prevent it, but we ought to prepare…” is the ominous sub-headline of a worrisome new report that shows scientists around the world fearing that the earth’s magnetic field is shifting, with potentially disastrous consequences for mankind. “When next the […]

How Big a Disaster Can Climate Change Be?


    Above, you can see an image from the paper by Marsicek et al., just appeared on Nature. It shows a reconstruction from pollen records of the temperatures of the past 10,000 year or so, the “Holocene,” for North America and Europe. Note the black squares, showing how fast temperatures have been growing during […]

Sanchi Oil Spill Has Already Caused ‘Serious Ecological Injury’

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By Andy Rowell The Sanchi oil spill in the East China Sea could potentially be one of the worst tanker spills in decades, experts are warning, even though the spill has now largely disappeared from news reports. Work by scientists from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC) and the University of Southampton, who have plotted where […]

Will Our Cities Survive the 21st Century?


Goodbye, Miami, American Atlantis. The city is sinking. Yes, in the literal sense, swaths of the metropolis—built on flat, permeable limestone—will be swallowed by seas expected to rise 4–8 feet globally by the century’s end. That includes the $50 million waterfront condos still being developed on Miami Beach. The working-class stucco homes miles from the […]

Who will drink the last glass of water in Cape Town?


Because Cape Town sits between picturesque beaches and mountains, it is a favored travel destination. And, its weather during the summer is described as “almost too perfect.” That’s in part because it rains very little in the summer in this second most populous city in South Africa. Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to […]

Yarrow’s Spiderweb


“We are, like spiders, carbon creations that have learned to use carbon as tools. “     At the farmhouse kitchen sink, looking out a window at the front yard, I saw suspended, hanging in air, a long, thin twig and slender leaf. Slight, intermittent breezes moved the dangling tree debris about, made it obvious […]

How to convince the public of the danger of anthropogenic global warming


Last year, the vagaries of life led me to chair a commission charged with examining the candidates for the admission to the Italian Chemists Association. It was a rather formal exam that was supposed to provide the successful applicants with the legal status necessary, for instance, for certifying chemical analyses. Overall, the applicants did poorly, […]

China’s birthrate dropped despite allowing 2-child families

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The birthrate in China fell last year despite the country easing its family planning policies and allowing all couples to have two children, a result parents say of the stresses of urban life. There were 17.2 million births in the country last year, down from 17.9 million in 2016, the National Bureau of Statistics reported […]

New York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies

New York City Will Divest Pension Funds from Fossil Fuel Companies thumbnail

Today New York Mayor Bill De Blasio announced a goal to divest New York City’s pension funds from fossil fuel reserve owners within five years. This makes New York the first major American city to announce such a move. According to a statement, the city’s five pension funds have approximately $5 billion invested in over 190 […]

A Unifying Theory of Energy

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A unifying theory of energy is the second installment of an energy trilogy beginning with The Energy/Environment Algorithm. Investopedia describes a ‘Tragedy of The Commons’ as an economic problem in which every individual tries to reap the greatest benefit from a given resource. As demand exceeds supply consumers directly harm others who are no longer […]

To save our oceans, we must halt human population growth

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As a lifelong surfer who has never lived more than a mile from the ocean, I heartily agree with every claim they make about the perils of overfishing and the destruction of coral reefs. I am afraid my young grandson will inherit oceans that are vast wastelands and never know the joys I experienced in […]

Malthus was Real


“Must we not go with either a bang or a whimper, but in an orgy of mutual self-gratification, and congratulations?“   What good is it to escape the climate gallows if, as we walk out the jail door into the sunlight, we are greeted in the courtyard by Malthus, bearing a sythe? On the sythe […]

Build a global Earth observatory


An enclosure for measuring gas exchange between plants and the atmosphere at a station in Finland.Credit: Juho Aalto Climate change. Water and food security. Urban air pollution. These environmental grand challenges are all linked, yet each is studied separately. Interactions between Earth’s surface and the atmosphere influence climate, air quality and water cycles. Changes in […]

A Quarter of the World’s Population Could be Living in a Desert If Paris Agreement Isn’t Met


Buzz60 is designed for the way we live now. Short, quirky video snacks that are a little sassy, and always smart. Buzz 60 — and the Buzz60 channel on YouTube – produces all kinds of news video clips for web viewers who want more than just repurposed content. Our team is a diverse group of […]

The Book That Incited a Worldwide Fear of Overpopulation

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As 1968 began, Paul Ehrlich was an entomologist at Stanford University, known to his peers for his groundbreaking studies of the co-evolution of flowering plants and butterflies but almost unknown to the average person. That was about to change. In May, Ehrlich released a quickly written, cheaply bound paperback, The Population Bomb. Initially it was […]

What’s killing the world’s bees? New study claims a surprising culprit

What’s killing the world’s bees? New study claims a surprising culprit thumbnail

Scientists have found what they believe to be the strongest factor leading to the worryingly steep decline of bumblebees… fungicides. The discovery has now been added to the growing list of threats that could potentially lead to the extinction of the essential pollinators. The revelation that common fungicides are having the strongest impact on the […]

Half the world’s population reaching below replacement fertility

Half the world’s population reaching below replacement fertility thumbnail

According to the most recent UN estimates (United Nations 2017), almost one half of the world’s population lives in countries with below replacement fertility (BRF), i.e. with a total fertility rate (TFR) below 2.1 births per woman. Of these, one quarter have TFRs close to the replacement level, i.e. between 1.8 and 2.1; the other […]

What’s the Ideal Number of Humans on Earth?


Earth might be looking a little worse for wear, after the last four-hundred years of reckless wide-scale resource extraction, but to its credit it hasn’t collapsed entirely. Despite our best efforts, it continues to gamely welcome our rapidly expanding population, barring the occasional earthquake. Whether the planet might be a little better off with fewer […]

The Bananapocalypse Is Nigh

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The bananapocalypse is coming. That’s the likelihood that sometime in the next decade, bananas may disappear, victims of a fungal pathogen known as Panama Disease. The disease is on the march throughout the world, threatening the future of the world’s most popular fruit. Panama Disease may be the cause of this disaster, but it’s also […]

What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?


Fifteen thousand scientists have issued a dire warning to humanity about impending collapse but virtually no-one takes notice. Ultimately, our global systems, which are designed for perpetual growth, need to be fundamentally restructured to avoid the worst-case outcome. For a moment, the most important news in the entire world flashed across the media like a […]

A Matter of Degree


“Did we really imagine people would feel threatened by the number 2?“ USAnians are a very strange lot, as Alexis de Tocqueville observed on his road trip with Gustave de Baumont in 1831. The Bible-thumping, coon-skinned, populist utopians fascinated him. Tocqueville blithely compared the young country’s despotic democratic government, then hip-deep in the ethnic cleansing […]

Exxon To Disclose The Real Risk Of Climate Change


According to a new filing by Exxon to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Exxon said that its board “has reconsidered the proposal requesting a report on impacts of climate change policies” by major shareholders at its annual meeting earlier this year. The company will disclose more information regarding “energy demand sensitivities, implications of two degree […]

How the oil industry set out to undercut clean air


On sunny days, when his classmates run out to play, Gabriel Rosales heads to the school nurse for a dose of Albuterol. The fine mist opens his airways, relaxing the muscles in his chest. Without it, recess could leave the nine-year-old gasping for breath. He gets a second dose at the end of the day […]

The Last Great Exploration On Earth Is To Survive On Earth

The Last Great Exploration On Earth Is To Survive On Earth thumbnail

Evoking images of calving icebergs, and endless white icescapes, Antarctica has been described as a “silence deep with a breath like sleep”. Some say that its profound beauty haunts you for the rest of your days. And, one man who understands this better than most is Robert Swan OBE. In 1986, he made the longest […]

The Unreal Effects of Ozone Layer Depletion


Ozone layer depletion is probably at the top of the list of events that have the potential to wipe humanity out from the earth’s surface. It is the prime cause of increasing global temperature – which at this rate does not augur well for humankind. But, thankfully, concerted efforts over the years from scientists, researchers, […]

How Greed, Fear, And Our Own Biases Blind Us To The Reality Of Climate Change


The Climate Science Special Report that the Trump administration released last Friday is straightforward and relentlessly sobering. Scientists from 13 government agencies agree that the long-term global warming trend is “unambiguous” and that human activity is responsible. There is, they tell us, “no convincing alternative explanation.” Meanwhile, the president whose administration released the report maintains that climate change is […]

Ice Apocalypse


Eric Holthaus at Grist has a look at Antarctica’s melting glaciers – Ice Apocalypse. In a remote region of Antarctica known as Pine Island Bay, 2,500 miles from the tip of South America, two glaciers hold human civilization hostage.Stretching across a frozen plain more than 150 miles long, these glaciers, named Pine Island and Thwaites, […]

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