Anthropocene

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.

Smithsonian Voices

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.

New Research

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.

New Research

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.

New Research

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).

New Research

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

New Research

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

New Research

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.

New Research

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

New Research

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

In the 20th century, humans exterminated the gray wolf population of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, the largest island on the west coast of North America. The animals repopulated the island by the end of the century, and now live side by side with people.

Future of Conservation

No One’s Afraid of the Big, Bad Wolf—And That’s a Problem

On Vancouver Island, habituation to humans has made wolves aggressive, fearless and more prone to clashes with people

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

One in Six Global Deaths Linked to Pollution

A new report suggests that pollution led to the deaths of nine million people in 2015

A juvenile Western chimpanzee in the Bossou Forest of Mont Nimba, Guinea.

New Research

Western Chimpanzees Have Declined By 80 Percent Over The Past 25 Years

The largest population of these animals—the only critically endangered chimp subspecies—sits in a region riddled with bauxite mines

Adams worked with artist Emma Segal to create illustrations that represent the new energy terms. The English translation of the words on this image is: Solar Panels, a flat piece resembling a window/mirror placed on top of a building to collect electricity from the sun to power the house.

Inventing a Vocabulary to Help Inuit People Talk About Climate Change

One team is working with Inuvialuit elders to come up with a renewable energy terminology—and maybe revive a dying language

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