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Sustainability

What makes food ‘local’?

More people are choosing what to eat based on where it was grown, made or created. An anthropologist looks at the myriad ways we link food to place — and whether it really could make a difference.

Out of Antarctica, churnings of climate change

The interplay of carbon dioxide, winds and Southern Ocean waters could be reaching an environmental tipping point

Why green energy finally makes economic sense

Solar and wind generators have suddenly become just as cheap as other ways to produce electric power

The iron ocean

Through dust, not rust, the metal plays a complex, controversial role in Earth’s climate

As coral die, protected areas aren’t enough

COMIC: The reef-builders face larger threats, scientists say. Chief among these is warming seas.

An amphibious rescue mission

On the edge of extinction, rare frogs and toads need more than a little love to reproduce. High-tech help, from IVF to hormone therapy, may save them.

The next omics? Tracking a lifetime of exposures to better understand disease

Of the millions of substances people encounter daily, health researchers have focused on only a few hundred. Those in the emerging field of exposomics want to change that.

From tiger scat to DNA to — hopefully — survival

Researchers dig out the elusive cats’ genetic material where they can, to guide efforts at conservation and diversity

On whose green Earth?

Are we supposed to take care of the planet or should it take care of us? Willis Jenkins explains how religion shapes the conflicting views over climate change and other environmental issues.

Predicting biological invaders

Complex mathematical tools are aiding the battle to identify invasive species before they get a foothold in the environment. But bureaucracy can blunt the techniques.

A world in a bottle of water

Revolutionary techniques using traces of environmental DNA are analyzing entire ecosystems “from microbes to whales”

The hidden strengths of freshwater mussels

The humble bivalves can clean polluted water and bump up diversity — but in dammed rivers and fouled watersheds, many species face extinction. With help, maybe they can save themselves.

As climate changes, so does life in the planet’s soils

To understand what might be lost, ecologist Janet K. Jansson taps molecular methods to explore Earth’s underground microbes, from the permafrost to the grasslands

A middle path to sustainable farming

Agricultural economists are homing in on hybrid, low-input methods that will both safeguard the environment and feed the future billions

Will the food of the future be genetically engineered or organic? How about both?

Feeding the planet — now and tomorrow — is no small task. Plant biologist Pamela Ronald says sustainability means using every tool in the toolbox.

A blizzard of “sustainability” labels

Earth-friendly certifications and standards abound for products like coffee, chocolate and palm oil. But do the programs work?

Firenadoes and drifting embers: The secrets of extreme wildfires

Researchers probe the weather-like physics of deadly infernos

Looking for economic prosperity without growth

The only way for humanity to solve its environmental problems may be to abandon our quest for continual economic expansion. It’s time to study what a future of degrowth might look like, some researchers say.