John Akomfrah at his London studio, 2016

Artist John Akomfrah Is Having a Moment

The works of the recently knighted filmmaker address contemporary issues in two different Smithsonian museums

Aerial view of Crawford Lake

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

With evidence of fossil fuels, nuclear weapons and a warming climate buried in its sediment, Crawford Lake represents the Anthropocene, scientists say

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

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

Some Tiger Sharks Are Migrating Farther North Due to Climate Change

The predator’s movements in the Atlantic Ocean could scramble ecosystems and endanger the sharks by sending them outside marine protected areas

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.

Climate Change Is Transforming the Bodies of Amazonian Birds

A 40-year study found 77 species of rainforest birds weigh less on average, and many have longer wings, than they used to

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

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

The molecules offer insights on ancient farming practices near the Chehrabad salt mine in Iran

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

The Sad Truths Behind These Unsettling Works of Art

A new exhibition reflects on the haunting aesthetics of human impact on the planet

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.

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

Understanding people’s past land use strategies could help us better conserve global biodiversity now.

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

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

People produce 30 billion tons of material annually, making our built environment heavier than the planet's biomass

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

World Methane Emissions Hit New High

Agriculture and fossil fuels drive a surge in global emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas

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

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

Geologists say the stage began 4,200 years ago, when a global mega-drought devastated agricultural societies

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

Fear of Humans Is Forcing Daytime Animals Into Night Mode

The stress is pushing some animals to adjust their schedules—but not all will be quick enough to adapt

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

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

Researchers looked at the little-studied danger of dust and worsening air quality in the American Southwest

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

Rat Bones Reveal How Humans Transformed Their Island Environments

Rodent remains prove an ideal tool for investigating changes on three Polynesian island chains

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

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

A review of data from 5,010 ROV dives reveals and abundance of single-use plastics littering the seas

Jökulsárlón, Iceland

Climate Change Can Also Transform Language

As our world warms, warps and melts, metaphors of the past take on new meaning

Debris recovered from the Garbage Patch

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Much Larger and Chunkier Than We Thought

A new study shows the patch is not just microplastics. Fishing gear and large pieces make up 92 percent of the trash

An urban coyote makes itself at home in a vacant lot on Chicago's near North Side.

Foxes and Coyotes are Natural Enemies. Or Are They?

Urban environments change the behavior of predator species—and that might have big implications for humans

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

What's Behind Cape Town's Water Woes?

As climate change intensifies droughts, the city's crisis may signify a new normal

A coral polyp chowing down on a flake of white plastic

Corals Seem to Like the "Taste" of Plastic

Corals are attracted to the material not for its coloring, but for one of its many chemicals

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