A recent study of global cropland expansion highlights several trends that are ripe with environmental news stories. One finding: New farm fields have taken over an area the size of Texas and California combined since the start of the century, an expansion primarily affecting biodiversity-rich natural ecosystems, with Africa leading the cropland boom. Freelancer Gabriel Popkin explores the latest data and the reporting possibilities.
Environmental writer Allison Cobb, in “Plastic: An Autobiography,” tells the story of the ubiquitous material through a series of interwoven narratives that range from her own experiences with it (including a discarded plastic car bumper), to the corporate origins of its spread and the way it’s now dangerously carpeting nature and damaging human communities. Contributor Nano Riley has a review in our new BookShelf.
"China started building 33 gigawatts of new coal-fired power generation capacity last year, the most since 2016, research published on Thursday showed, a sign the country is falling back on fossil fuels as economic worries mount."
The climate-security nexus has drawn attention from the Biden administration, but less so elsewhere, even as security experts worry about climate change as a threat multiplier that can exacerbate other causes of conflict. Our new Backgrounder explores these concerns, with a look at how the issue has played out in recent U.S. politics. Plus, seven global regions where climate change may worsen ongoing conflict.
Cynthia Barnett’s deeply researched and engagingly written new book, “The Sound of the Sea: Seashells and the Fate of the Oceans,” brilliantly weaves together mollusk anecdotes, ocean science and human history as it takes a deep dive into the nature of seashells and the story of their connection to us. Read Tom Henry’s review in the new BookShelf.
"Barren hillsides broken up by thin strips of white snow are a familiar sight for regular visitors to ski resorts near Beijing. The 2022 Winter Olympics host, which is under 150 miles from the rapidly expanding Gobi Desert, is famous for cold and dry winters."
"Conservationists and veterinarians are warning that plastic waste in an open landfill in eastern Sri Lanka is killing elephants in the region, after two more were found dead over the weekend."
"China’s coal production reached record levels last year as the state encouraged miners to ramp up their fossil fuel output to safeguard the country’s energy supplies through the winter gas crisis."
"Fed by rain and snowmelt from mountains, this valley nestled among northwestern Afghanistan’s jagged peaks was once fertile. But the climate has changed in the last few decades, locals say, leaving the earth barren and its people struggling to survive."