Air pollution still remains one of the key environmental issues in the United States. Although it has seen incredible improvement since the 1970s, more than 4 in 10 Americans are still estimated to live in counties with poor air quality. Every year, air pollution kills more than 6 million people worldwide from heart attacks, stroke and diabetes. So just how clean is the air we breathe in the U.S.?
NASA Earth science studies our planet all day, every day. By tracking the movement of our natural systems – and the effect of human activity on them – we can understand the patterns, causes and results of climate change on the elemental activities that sustain us.
On Earth Day, April 22, we take time to celebrate this wondrous planet with special discussions, events (virtual) and activities. Like our satellites, however, NASA’s Earth science goes on year-round, and we continuously create videos, activities, news and more to tell the story of what’s happening on and with our planet – and all always offered free and open to the public.
For the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day in 2020, NASA created a special package of materials designed to mark Earth Day at Home. This included activities, videos, special programs and other materials in English and Spanish. You can find them all archived here.
Thilafushi, an island of floating rubbish island in the Maldives, grows by a square meter a day. But diving instructor Shaahina Ali is trying to slow that growth by recycling and using floating barriers to hold back the rising seas.
For decades, the Maldives simply dumped the trash the tourists and the island country’s 400 thousand residents generated. Yet Shaahina Ali says that has to stop. Almost every day, the diving instructor and her allies go from island to island in the Indian Ocean. Working with an environmental organization, they have obtained trash compactors that make plastic waste transportable, allowing it to be shipped abroad for recycling. Ali also advocates avoiding disposable plastic. She gives lectures, advises hotel managers and even bends the ear of the Maldives’ president himself.
When she has time, Shaahina Ali goes scuba diving. Beneath the waves she sees environmental degradation – dying corals and fish caught up in plastic waste. She says, “We can’t afford to address just one problem. We’ve got to take care of everything at once because everything is connected to the sea.” But the island paradise is not only threatened by rubbish. Climate change is also causing the sea levels to rise, and the Maldives are at risk of sinking beneath the water.
That’s why conservationists are using floating barriers made of recycled plastic to help prevent flooding. In addition to the environmental group “Parley for the Oceans,” Ali has also won politicians to her cause. Last year saw a democratic change of government in the Maldives. “The new government no longer views environmentalists as annoying troublemakers. They see us as partners instead,” Ali says. But those trying to save the island are in a race against time. “If we don’t succeed,” says Shaahina Ali, “far more than a vacation paradise will be lost. We will lose our homeland.”
Deep in the frozen north of Russia’s Sakha Republic lies a place where time is being reversed and a once extinct environment is being brought back to life. How is something like this possible and what impact could it have on our world?
Science Senior Correspondent Daniel Clery regales host Sarah Crespi with tales about the most important work to come from 57 years of research at the now-defunct Arecibo Observatory and plans for the future of the site.
Sarah also talks with Toman Barsbai, an associate professor in the school of economics at the University of Bristol, about the influence of ecology on human behavior—can we figure out how many of our behaviors are related to the different environments where we live? Barsbai and colleagues took on this question by comparing behaviors around finding food, reproduction, and social hierarchy in three groups of animals living in the same places: foraging humans, nonhuman mammals, and birds.
When Covid-19 sparked lockdowns around the world, emissions of one of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, atmospheric carbon dioxide, plummeted. But is this record drop a short-term effect of the 2020 pandemic or a ‘new normal’? BBC Weather’s Ben Rich explores the impact of coronavirus on the global climate.
Motion graphics by Jacqueline Galvin
Produced by Soraya Auer
Despite overwhelming scientific evidence, some American politicians continue to deny that climate change exists, while others question the severity of its impact. But public opinion is shifting, and today even oil and gas companies publicly admit that climate change demands action. So why does climate denialism continue to influence U.S. politics? Here’s a look into who is funding the movement, and why denial is mainly a U.S. problem.
A Perfect Planet is an awe-inspiring exploration of Earth’s power and fragility.
Planet Earth is perfect. It orbits at the perfect distance from the sun; it tilts at just the right angle and has a decent sized moon to hold it in place. On top of that, the day-to-day workings of the planet naturally serve to nurture animals and plants.
This five part series will show how the forces of nature – weather, ocean currents, solar energy and volcanoes – drive, shape and support Earth’s great diversity of life. In doing so, it will reveal how animals are perfectly adapted to whatever the environment throws at them.
With a lack of restrictions on water use, owners of some large-scale farms in the United States are drying up underground water tables. All they have to do is buy the land to have access to as much free water as they want. In Arizona, farm owners and ranchers are digging ever deeper to irrigate their land, leaving other residents with low water reserves. Meanwhile, parts of the land have caved in, collapsing as the water is pumped up from beneath. Our France 2 colleagues report, with FRANCE 24’s James Vasina.
Alan Watson Featherstone, ecologist and founder of “Trees for Life,” describes the moment he realized he needed to help in the effort to rewild Scotland, resulting in the founding of his charity “Trees for Life” to achieve this. Tune in or stream “The Age of Nature” Wednesdays, October 14-28, 2020 at 10/9c.