A world in a bottle of water

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

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega • knowable
Aug. 2, 2019 ~14 min

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.

Sharon Levy • knowable
June 21, 2019 ~16 min

Toward greener plastics

Researchers and companies are working on new kinds of biodegradable packaging, bottles and other products that break down like compost.

Marcus Woo • knowable
May 24, 2019 ~9 min

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

Rodrigo Pérez Ortega • knowable
May 17, 2019 ~13 min

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

Natasha Gilbert • knowable
May 10, 2019 ~21 min

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.

Rachel Ehrenberg • knowable
May 9, 2019 ~15 min

A blizzard of “sustainability” labels

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

Jyoti Madhusoodanan • knowable
May 7, 2019 ~16 min

Firenadoes and drifting embers: The secrets of extreme wildfires

Researchers probe the weather-like physics of deadly infernos

Alexandra Witze • knowable
March 14, 2019 ~21 min

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.

Bob Holmes • knowable
March 5, 2019 ~12 min

A deeper understanding of the Grand Canyon

After 100 years as a national park and eons as a geological wonder, the American icon continues to reveal layers of its past and of the landscape ahead

Alexandra Witze • knowable
Feb. 26, 2019 ~11 min