Earth news stories
Lake Baikal, in Siberia, is a natural wonder of exceptional value to evolutionary science meriting a listing as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. It holds one-fifth of the world’s unfrozen fresh water, and its high biodiversity includes over 3,600 plant and animal species, most of which are endemic to the lake. But over the past several years, the lake has been crippled by a series of detrimental phenomena, some of which remain a mystery to scientists.
Researchers from Utrecht University created an ‘atlas’ spanning 300 million years of Earth’s history, revealing how different geological processes changed the face of our planet. The atlas compiles 94 ancient tectonic plates, known as slabs, in the mantle under Earth’s surface, some of which have sunk more than a thousand miles beneath Earth’s surface over time.
Turquoise is an icon of the desert Southwest with enduring cultural significance especially for Native American communities. Yet, relatively little is known about the early history of turquoise procurement and exchange in the region. University of Arizona researchers are starting to change that by blending archaeology and geochemistry to get a more complete picture of the mineral’s mining and distribution in the region prior to the 16th century arrival of the Spanish.
The Karoo in South Africa tells a 100 million year long story of the supercontinent Gondwana, and the ancient transcontinental Gondwanides mountain range. Reading this rock record reveals the story of the life and death of the animals it supported.
Researchers have long sought control over the weather, but have yet to find a realistic way to master it. Smithsonian takes a look at the film Geostorm to separate fact from science fiction.
If no action is taken to curb pollution, there will be more plastic than fish (by weight) in the ocean by 2050. It’s an apt time to reflect on the strides we’ve taken to tackle this challenge, what we can do in the future, and the impact our plastic pollution is already having. From the toll on our physical and mental health, to the work being done at the grassroots and governmental level, here are 17 stories from around the globe displayed in a user-friendly clickable infographic from Hakai Magazine.
In the 1990’s the legalization of marijuana was still a literal pipe dream. The American consensus at the time categorized weed as drugs. The world wasn’t ready to admit it liked drugs, so we were told to drink booze, and coffee, and smoke cigarettes (obviously all drugs). Things have changed, some people have passed away, and society is at least a bit more reasonable about drug policies.
When you live on the shore and the land can’t provide, you turn to the sea. Coastal dwellers know this well, and some have even brought the sea into their built environment. Whether due to a lack of terrestrial timber or an abundance of building blocks beneath the waves, humans from around the world have learned to make ingenious, reliable dwellings from surprising marine materials. Here are five coastal building materials that would not be, but for the sea.
In a paper published in Nature Communications, researchers show that explosive volcanic eruptions in high northern latitudes of the globe can impact the Nile watershed, causing the flow of one of the world’s mightiest rivers to slow. This in turn could keep the lower Nile from flooding in the late summer months — a regular occurrence on which Ancient Egyptians relied to irrigate their crops.
One team is working with Inuvialuit elders to come up with a renewable energy terminology—and maybe revive a dying language in the process.
There’s clearly some magic woven into the stone sculptures and spirals at North Carolina’s own version of Stonehenge, nestled in a small green grove in Chapel Hill. Hartleyhenge circles a central vortex boulder in a Fibonacci spiral. A metal engraving marks each of the compass directions with sets of animal prints: Paws, hooves, claws, and talons symbolizing Coyote, White Buffalo, Bear, and Eagle.
Almost 400 mysterious stone structures dating back thousands of years have been discovered in Saudi Arabia, with a few of these wall-like formations draping across old lava domes, archaeologists report. Many of the stone walls, which archaeologists call gates because they resemble field gates from above, were found in clusters in a region called Harrat Khaybar.
In the plant world, the botanical equivalent of discovering a living dinosaur has actually been made. A species of the Wollemi Pine tree, Wollemia nobilis, was discovered still living in a wilderness area west of Sydney, Australia. The tree is a member of a genus that first evolved over 200 million years ago. It is now in the process of being revived through the worldwide cultivation of the plant for gardening purposes.
For tree poachers, sometimes known as midnight burlers, ancient giant redwood trees can present a lucrative opportunity for theft. To track down timber thieves, researchers are turning to new technology and tried-and-true criminal justice techniques.
There is a piece of common knowledge about the Middle Ages we have heard repeated over and over again: that medieval people thought the earth was flat. The transition from the ancient world to the medieval one is often blamed for a loss of knowledge, a move backward, but the belief that the world was a globe is evident in writers from across the period.
While today psychedelics have largely been stigmatized, they have been an integral part of multiple civilizations. Article explores five indigenous cultures around the world that use psychedelics for ritual healing.