Earth Talk

Plant Blindness

Dear EarthTalk: What on Earth is “plant blindness?”                      – Betsy Carlucci. New York, NY Botanists James Wandersee and Elizabeth Schussler coined the term “plant blindness” in 1998 to describe “the inability to see or notice the plants in one’s own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere […]

Wild Animal Rights

Dear EarthTalk: Do wild animals have any rights under the law in the U.S. (or other countries) the way human citizens do?                                                                             — John Hamilton, Raleigh, NC Winnie the Pooh said it best: “Some people talk to animals. Not many listen though. That’s the problem.” While attention to animal rights has increased over the […]

Solar Storms

Dear EarthTalk: Are there any environmental or health risks associated with the solar storms that have been hitting the Earth recently?                                                                — Betsy R., Suwanee, GA Solar storms have been in the news lately, but the truth is these naturally occurring solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) from the Sun happen all the […]

Desalinating Ocean Water

Dear EarthTalk: If the world is running out of fresh water, why aren’t we desalinating more ocean water?                                                                                                                       — H. Smith, Providence, RI The protagonist of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1798 lyrical ballad The Rime of the Ancient Mariner proclaims: “Water water everywhere / nor any drop to drink” as his ship drifts through Antarctic […]

School Buses & Pollution

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that school buses cause a lot of pollution, especially for the kids riding inside. Is anyone making greener school buses yet?                   — Jake McConnell, Philadelphia, PA Now that school is back in session, those big yellow diesel-fueled school buses are all over the roads again. While they’re relatively safe—and definitely old […]

Coastal Cities & Major Storms

Dear EarthTalk: What have we learned from storms like Katrina, Sandy and Harvey about protecting our coastal cities better from the warming-intensified major storms hitting them? – Mitch Wyndam, Burlington, VT Major storms like Katrina, Sandy and Harvey were devastating to local populations and reformed the landscapes of the regions where they made landfall. They […]

Elon Musk & His Satellites

Dear EarthTalk: Elon Musk plans to put thousands of new satellites into space to blanket Earth with high speed Internet. What are the environmental implications of this?     — M. C., Atlanta. GA Putting satellites up into the ionosphere—the layer of our atmosphere extending from 50-600 miles above the surface where a high concentration of ions […]

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