How Fast Are We Really Losing Soil?

| There are many ways to measure erosion, and these can sometimes vary depending on what we’re trying to achieve. A few years ago, a professor of agronomy at Iowa State University made the news with an estimate that topsoil loss in that state—by his reckoning, up to 12 times the government’s estimate of 5.4 tons ... READ MORE

An Erie Future

| The National Climate Assessment released on November 23 includes not only predictions of what will happen on a global and national level, but also detailed regional information. The news for the Great Lakes isn’t good, and as this article points out, it’s especially bleak for Lake Erie. The lake faces several threats, but one of ... READ MORE

The Bull’s-Eye Effect

| We’ve all seen the images of Paradise, the town that was virtually destroyed by the latest round of wildfires in California. As this article and others have pointed out, many photos of the burned areas often show something surprising: “The buildings are gone, but most of the trees are still standing—many with their leaves or ... READ MORE

Look at What We’ve Built

| How much of the stuff in the world is yours? In other words, if you added together the weight of all the objects humanity has created—the bridges and buildings and statues and airplanes and park benches and bulldozers and all the rest of it—and divided it by the world’s population, what would be the total ... READ MORE

Earthquakes, Eruptions, and Evacuation

| In the US, we are accustomed to hearing news of—or even experiencing—the damage of natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires. Most of us, however, will never have to worry about a volcano erupting nearby—but residents of Hawaii’s Big Island are currently facing that reality. Over 1,700 people living near Leilani Estates ... READ MORE

Fighting It Out Below Ground

| There can scarcely be a more loaded subject in the arid Southwest these days than water: who has it, who needs it, and who gets to take it from someone else. The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has just published an analysis of the situation in that state. Although it’s specific to Arizona and the ... READ MORE

Another Dam Argument About Water

| What do you do when federal and state goals are at odds over a project within that state? What if the project itself is on federal land, but the work would affect large areas outside federal jurisdiction? Those are questions California and federal officials are arguing now in relation to expansion of the Shasta Dam. ... READ MORE

Into the Woods

| How much time do you spend in the forest? According to an organization that dedicates a lot of effort to studying these things, the average American visits a wooded area—and this can include an urban forest—110 days each year. Recreation is only a small part of what forests provide, though, even for those who visit ... READ MORE

What to Do With the Mud From Montecito

| As you might have seen or read in the past week, the community of Montecito, CA, has experienced catastrophic mudslides following the Thomas Fire. As I write this, 20 people are known to have died, several others are missing, dozens of homes have been completely destroyed, and hundreds more have been damaged. Montecito is a ... READ MORE

Trouble Down Below

| As if Florida and other coastal states didn’t have enough problems, what with frequent hurricanes, tropical storms, coastal erosion, and flooding, some of them are also being undermined from below.  Earlier this year, a sinkhole caused the evacuation of a Florida neighborhood, a result of the collapse of the underlying limestone. Any place with karst ... READ MORE