Our Planet

Could this innovation provide a solution to one of our era’s biggest scourges?

Scientists Have Created Synthetic Sponges That Soak Up Microplastics

Made from starch and gelatin, the biodegradable sponges remove as much as 90 percent of microplastics in tap water and seawater

Consumer products made from carbon capture can't undo the damage we’ve done to our planet—but each of them exists thanks to innovations that could. 

Little Luxuries Made With Captured Pollution Hint at Big Frontiers in Climate Science

Entrepreneurs are using jewelry, fragrances and clothing to demonstrate what’s possible with repurposed carbon—and environmentalists have questions

A pod of ancient Nacional cacao offers hope for reforesting Ecuador’s Pacific coast, which by some estimates has lost 98 percent of its original forest cover over the past century.

Planet Positive

The Quest to Save the World’s Most Coveted Chocolate

For these ambitious scientists in the rainforests of Ecuador, helping the environment has never tasted so sweet

Across the United States, around 70 percent of coal travels by rail.

Using A.I. to Track Air Pollution From Open-Top Coal Trains

Scientists in California are working with communities—and a suite of tools—to better monitor air quality

A mule deer crosses a road near Aspen, Colorado.

How Roads Have Transformed the Natural World

A brief history of road ecology, the scientific discipline that is helping us understand our impact on the environment and how to diminish it

The Crystal Palace Dinosaurs are the world’s first attempt to model prehistoric animals at full scale.

How a Victorian Dinosaur Park Became a Time Capsule of Early Paleontology

A new sculpture and an upcoming restoration are breathing life into the Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, one of 19th-century Britain’s most curious creations

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Deep-Sea Tourism or Deep-Sea Science?

Two chroniclers of explorers, including one who profiled OceanGate’s Stockton Rush, reflect on what visiting the depths of the ocean can—and can’t—teach us

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Hear What’s Happening to the Colorado River From a Photojournalist Who Has Spent His Entire Life Alongside It

In the latest episode of “There’s More to That,” learn about the Western waterway that affects the lives of everyone in the United States

Kakadu peaches, like these harvested in Murdudjurl country in Kakadu National Park, are earthy with botanical notes.

The Next Superfoods May Come From Australia

But Indigenous people—who stand to benefit the most from the commercialization of “bush tucker”—represent only 1 percent of the industry

“Only among the hills with hare and kestrel will you observe what once this land was like before we made it fat for human use.” — “The Colony” by John Hewitt

These Surfers Want to Restore Temperate Rainforests to Ireland

In the rainy mountains along the country’s west coast, a movement has begun to bring back an ecosystem that has been gone for centuries

Vertical farming can produce as much as traditional farming while using less water and less energy—if executed correctly.

Empty Office Buildings Are Being Turned Into Vertical Farms

With office usage hovering near 50 percent of pre-pandemic levels, cities are putting the underutilized space to new use growing food

Plastics typically contain chemical additives like metals and dyes, which can leach out and affect organisms nearby.

Microplastic Exposure Makes Microbes More Virulent

Laboratory research shows that someway, somehow, PVC plastic breeds antimicrobial resistance

Apparatus for administering nitrous oxide and other anesthetic gases

These Objects Tell the Story of Human-Driven Climate Change

Smithsonian curators dig into the collections to find artifacts that illustrate how we arrived at this moment

A bandicoot uses its nose to sniff out subterranean insects, leaving behind shallow holes known as “snout pokes.”

The Unlikely Survival Story of Australia's Bandicoots

The defenseless marsupial was nearly wiped out by invasive species. Now rescuers are pinning hopes on a remnant island population

Crowds gather for the summer solstice at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

Nine Ways People Celebrate the Summer Solstice Around the World

Across the Northern Hemisphere, worshippers of the longest day of the year build bonfires, plunge into the ocean and visit prehistoric monuments

Mount Etna erupts in July 2021.

Secrets Still Smolder at One of the World's Most Active Volcanoes

A century after one of Mount Etna's many notable eruptions, scientists are more eager than ever to study the peak's frequent bursts of fiery fury

An observation point at Meteor Crater in Arizona

Seven Ways to Explore Space Without Leaving Earth

From astronaut training sites to working spaceports, these spots across the United States put a terrestrial spin on space travel

Cleanup crews pressure-wash crude oil off the shoreline after the Exxon Valdez spilled more than ten million gallons into Alaska’s Prince William Sound in 1989. U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists began taking annual photos the following year to document the intertidal zone’s recovery.

Why Have Alaskans Been Photographing This Volkswagen Beetle-Sized Boulder for 33 Years?

A scientist began taking shots after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and volunteers have since taken over

Bush fires rage through Canberra, Australia, on January 18, 2003.

The World’s First Wildfire Tornado Blazed a Path of Destruction Through Australia

A warming atmosphere due to climate change is increasing the chances similar natural disasters will occur again

Sassafras leaves begin to grow. Both 19th-century Ohio farmer Thomas Mikesell and current Ohio State University ecologist Kellen Calinger-Yoak recorded important details about the plant.

What a 19th-Century Farmer’s Forgotten Notes Reveal About Growing Seasons

The documents provide evidence of climate change's effect on hardwood trees in Ohio

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