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Many boundaries between geologic eras are marked by physical golden spikes. This one, in South Australia, marks the end of the Ediacaran period, 635 million years ago.

SCIENCE

Where in the World is the Anthropocene?

Some geologists believe we’ve entered a new era. Now they have to search for the rocks that prove it

Air

A man in Seattle wears a mask as wildfire smoke descends on the city in September of 2020.

SCIENCE

Four Ways to Protect Yourself From Harmful Air Pollution Caused by Wildfires

A large dust storm, or haboob, sweeps across downtown Phoenix on July 21, 2012.

SCIENCE

How Climate Changed-Fueled “Mega Droughts” Could Harm Human Health

Smog and other types of pollution were linked to nine million deaths in 2015 by a new report

SMART NEWS

One in Six Global Deaths Linked to Pollution

"I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris," President Trump said during his announcement that the United States would be leaving the Paris agreement. Pictured: a steel mill in the Monongahela Valley of East Pittsburgh in the early 1970's.

SMART NEWS

How America Stacks Up When It Comes to Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Emissions from steel production in eastern China are fertilizing nearby oceans.

SCIENCE

Human Pollution May Be Fertilizing The Oceans. That’s Not a Good Thing

Health

Smog and other types of pollution were linked to nine million deaths in 2015 by a new report

SMART NEWS

One in Six Global Deaths Linked to Pollution

SMART NEWS

Yes, Sperm Counts Have Been Steadily Declining—But Don’t Freeze Your Sperm Yet

SCIENCE

Video: Why Should Humans Care About Preserving the Diversity of Life on Earth?

Water

A brown trout caught in Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

SMART NEWS

Meth Pollution in Waterways Turns Trout Into Addicts

Plastic Whale organizes boat tours along Amsterdam's canals to collect garbage--in particular plastic--which it then recycles and uses the repurposed material to build boats.

TRAVEL

Fishing for Plastic Is the Latest Way to Clean Up Amsterdam’s Canals

Residents queue to fill containers with water from a source of natural spring water in Cape Town, South Africa, Friday, Feb. 2, 2018.

SCIENCE

What's Behind Cape Town's Water Woes?

Smog and other types of pollution were linked to nine million deaths in 2015 by a new report

SMART NEWS

One in Six Global Deaths Linked to Pollution

Intrepid Swiss scientists sampling wastewater at a treatment plant in Zürich

SMART NEWS

Stinking Rich: Swiss Sewage Contains $1.8 Million in Gold

Culture

The Algodón River flows through a forest of the Amazon Basin in the remote northeastern corner of Peru. Scientists collected and analyzed a series of ten roughly 3-foot-long soil cores from three sites, each located at least a half-mile away from river courses and floodplains.

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

In a Remote Amazon Region, Study Shows Indigenous Peoples Have Practiced Forest Conservation for Millennia

While looters discard bones, they are invaluable to archaeologists’ research.

HISTORY

As Mongolia Melts, Looters Close In On Priceless Artifacts

English Bulldogs illustrate the dramatic turn dog evolution has taken at the hands of humans.

SCIENCE

The Evolution of Petface

This celestial chart from 1687 is one of many illustrations from books, charts, and maps showing artists’ imaginings of polar bears.

SCIENCE

How Polar Bears Became the Dragons of the North

From the Batpod to the Batcomputer, the Caped Crusader's gadgets use up a whole lot of energy and spew a whole lot of carbon. But when it comes to carbon footprints, Gotham's techiest hero has nothing on some of pop culture's other saviors.

SCIENCE

Which of Your Favorite Superheroes Is Destroying the Earth?

Food

The bear was only a few years old and had become comfortable around humans.

SMART NEWS

A Young Black Bear Was Put Down After Humans Fed It, Took Selfies

Since commercial harvesting of sea cucumbers began in British Columbia, indigenous people have grown more worried about the long-term sustainability of catching them.

SCIENCE

Is the Mysterious Sea Cucumber Slipping Out of Our Grasp?

Humans overwhelmingly rely on only a few crops like wheat, making our food supplies vulnerable to climate change

SMART NEWS

Just a Few Species Make Up Most of Earth's Food Supply. And That's a Problem

Americans have started feeding their pets an abundance of high-quality meats, suitable for human consumption. But fido doesn't need filet mignon.

SMART NEWS

America's Fancy Pet Food Addiction Is a Big Problem for the Environment

Cookie Dough was among 10 flavors found to contain low levels of glyphosate

SMART NEWS

Trace Amounts of Pesticide Found in Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream

Shelter

Albina Yard, a 16,000-square-foot office building in Portland, uses wood, not steel and concrete, as its structural support.

SCIENCE

Move Over, Steel: The High Rises of Tomorrow Are ‘Plyscrapers’

Tokyo is the world's largest city...for now.

SMART NEWS

Five Things to Know About Megacities

Cubicles: Not just mind-numbing, but unhealthy too?

SCIENCE

How Climate Change Could Make Office Work Even Unhealthier

Germany, Hamburg, Speichrstadt and Hafencity district

SCIENCE

Coastal Cities Need to Radically Rethink How They Deal With Rising Waters

Zacharia Muinde of Map Kibera Trust shows teachers and students their school's page on Open Schools Kenya, a mapping project that helps residents find information on local schools.

SCIENCE

DIY Cartographers Are Putting Slums on the Literal Map

Economics

Municipal solid waste (aka garbage) being burned in an incinerator; this incinerator can handle 17 tons of trash an hour.

SCIENCE

Is Sustainable Trash-Burning a Load of Rubbish?

Learning about bugs at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio.

ARTICLES

Americans Think National Parks Are Worth Way More Than We Spend On Them

A male greater sage-grouse dances for a female.

SCIENCE

New Schemes Pay You to Save Species—But Will They Work?

Nature

The fuzz of the fingernail-sized rosy maple moth may remind you of a teddy bear.

SCIENCE

These Moths Are So Gorgeous They 'Put Butterflies to Shame'

The Chilean crocus, "Tecophilaea cyanocrocus," was thought to be extinct until it was rediscovered in 2001. It's been considered "critically endangered" under ICUN guidelines ever since.

SMART NEWS

Plant Species Have Been Disappearing 500 Times Faster Than Normal, Thanks to Humans

Recent research found that fully one third of humanity can't see the Milky Way because of light pollution

SMART NEWS

Is Light Pollution Really Pollution?

Torrance Coste of the Wilderness Committee illustrates the immensity of the missing Carmanah cedar in 2012.

SCIENCE

How Thousand-Year-Old Trees Became the New Ivory

SMART NEWS

Study Shows 84% of Wildfires Caused by Humans

Latest Anthropocene Stories

DNA from the skin of this mummified sheep leg allowed researchers to study sheep husbandry practices in ancient Iran.

SMART NEWS

Researchers Recover DNA From 1,600-Year-Old, Naturally Mummified Sheep Leg

Oil Spill #10, Oil Slick at Rip Tide, Gulf of Mexico, June 24, 2010 (detail) by Edward Burtynsky, 2010

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

The Sad Truths Behind These Unsettling Works of Art

Landscapes have been managed by humans for thousands of years – some sustainably, others less so. The Martu people of Australia burn the grasses in continent’s Western Desert. The practice yields food, but also increases biodiversity in the area.

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

New Study Pushes Origins of Human-Driven Global Change Back Thousands of Years

Concrete, a building block of our cities and towns, accounted for the most mass, followed by steel, gravel, brick and asphalt.

SMART NEWS

Human-Made Materials Now Weigh More Than All Life on Earth Combined

A visual representation of global methane from January 26, 2018. Red areas indicate higher concentrations of methane swirling in the atmosphere.

SMART NEWS

World Methane Emissions Hit New High

The Meghalayan Age’s “timestamp” is an isotopic shift found in a single stalagmite growing from the floor of the Mawmluh Cave in Meghalaya, India

SMART NEWS

Welcome to the Meghalayan Age, the Latest Stage in Earth’s 4.54-Billion-Year History

You'd expect to see a raccoon snuffling around at midnight. A sun bear, not so much.

SCIENCE

Fear of Humans Is Forcing Daytime Animals Into Night Mode

A large dust storm, or haboob, sweeps across downtown Phoenix on July 21, 2012.

SCIENCE

How Climate Changed-Fueled “Mega Droughts” Could Harm Human Health

Painting of four species of rat, including the Polynesian rat (right).

SCIENCE

Rat Bones Reveal How Humans Transformed Their Island Environments

Plastic ice bag found by a NOAA expedition to the Marianas in 2016

SMART NEWS

Even the Deepest Parts of the Ocean Are Polluted With Startling Amounts of Plastic

Inventions for Good

Researchers found that tadpole embryos were better able to fight off infection when their cells' natural electrical charge was manipulated.

INNOVATION

Tweaking the Tiny Electrical Charges Inside Cells Can Fight Infection

Albina Yard, a 16,000-square-foot office building in Portland, uses wood, not steel and concrete, as its structural support.

SCIENCE

Move Over, Steel: The High Rises of Tomorrow Are ‘Plyscrapers’

The casein film can either be used as wrappers, like this, or it can be sprayed onto food.

INNOVATION

Here's a Food Wrapper You Can Eat