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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

Plastics break down over time into micro- and nanosized particles that litter our water and air.

SCIENCE

One Liter of Bottled Water May Contain 240,000 Tiny Plastic Fragments

Even at thresholds of sodium chloride that were considered safe at 230 milligrams of chloride per liter of water in the U.S. to 120 milligrams of chloride per liter in Canada, researchers found a significant loss of zooplankton populations an increase in algae.
 

SMART NEWS

Road Salt Pollution Levels Deemed Safe in U.S. and Canada May Not Protect Freshwater Ecosystems Enough

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?

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

A mule deer crosses a road near Aspen, Colorado.

SCIENCE

How Roads Have Transformed the Natural World

A magpie nest in Antwerp, Belgium, made with anti-bird spikes

SMART NEWS

Crows and Magpies Snatch Anti-Bird Spikes to Build Their Nests

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?

Latest Anthropocene Stories

In a photo illustration, a hawk moth lands on a flower with an exhaust pipe polluting the interaction.

SMART NEWS

Air Pollution Makes Flowers Smell Less Appealing to Pollinators, Study Suggests

Greenhouse gas emissions that result from burning fossil fuels drive climate change.

SCIENCE

Six Big Ways Climate Change Could Impact the United States by 2100

A hermit crab wears the top of a broken bottle as a shell.

SMART NEWS

Hermit Crabs Are Using Trash as Shells Across the World, Scientists Find

John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016

AT THE SMITHSONIAN

Artist John Akomfrah Is Having a Moment

Aerial view of Crawford Lake

SMART NEWS

This Canadian Lake Could Mark the Start of an Epoch Altered By Humans

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.

SCIENCE

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

A tiger shark swims in the Bahamas. Over the past several decades, the predators ventured farther north in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean.

SCIENCE

Some Tiger Sharks Are Migrating Farther North Due to Climate Change

A researcher holds a golden-crowned spadebill in Brazil. Seventy-seven rainforest bird species in the country showed a decrease in body weight over the last four decades.

SCIENCE

Climate Change Is Transforming the Bodies of Amazonian Birds

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

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