Environmental Issues: Most Popular Articles
Here are 10 things you can do every day to reduce your energy costs and your use of fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming.
That oil spills are bad for the environment is a universal truth, but what makes them so bad? How do oil spills damage the environment, and how long do those damaging effects last?
Since chemicals used to make Teflon were linked to health hazards, consumers have wondered about the safety of their Teflon cookware. This article explores the safety and potential health risks of several types of cookware, from Teflon to Aluminum to Stainless Steel, and offers practical advice.
Reduce, reuse and recycle is the mantra of environmentalists everywhere, but reusing plastic bottles may do more harm than good by releasing toxic chemicals that can cause a host of serious health problems. Learn the dangers of reusing plastic bottles as well as some safe alternatives.
Drought can have serious health, social, economic and political impacts with far-reaching consequences. Learn more about the possible effects of drought and how they are interrelated.
Honeybee colonies are dying or disappearing in record numbers. What is causing the dramatic decline in honeybee populations in the U.S. and elsewhere, how is the honeybee loss affecting agriculture and food supplies, and what is being done to solve the problem?
Rising air and water temperatures worldwide are creating more frequent and severe hurricanes. While scientists debate what may be causing the temperature changes, there's no disagreement about the destructive force of the hurricanes those conditions create.
The confusion over what we can and cannot recycle continues to confound consumers. Plastics are especially troublesome, as different types of plastic require different processing to be reformulated and re-used as raw material. Some municipalities accept all types of plastic for recycling, while others only accept jugs, containers and bottles stamped with certain numbers. But what do the numbers really mean, and how can consumers learn the code?
A good explanation of the greenhouse effect and its relationship to global warming, plus dissenting opinions from some scientists and what is being done to address the problem.
Litter is more than an eyesore on city streets and alongside highways. Litter pollutes waterways and leaches toxic chemicals into soil and groundwater as it breaks down. Most litter begins with a careless or thoughtless act by a single person who tosses away a cigarette butt or an empty soda can, which means there is a lot you can do to prevent litter.
Will the Bush Administration's decision to withdraw the United States from the Kyoto Protocol weaken international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, or put the world on a better course?
May batteries be safely discarded along with other household trash, or must they be recycled? While newer batteries contain less mercury and other toxic substances than older versions, they do include trace amounts that could potentially harm the environment.
Most nations rely on fossil fuels for the majority of their energy, but clean renewable energy is becoming increasingly important as the world faces the threat of global warming and the realization that fossil fuels will eventually run out or become too expensive to retrieve.
Human activities are creating excess greenhouse gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and lead to global warming.
Nothing says summer like the smell of a backyard barbecue, but along with the aromas of meat and vegetables on the grill you may also be inhaling cancer-causing chemicals. Studies have shown that grilling over charcoal releases soot and other pollutants into the air and creates carcinogens in the smoke from the grill and the food itself.
If you feel you’re not doing enough for the environment by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with CFLs and composting your kitchen garbage, maybe you’re ready to make a deeper commitment to environmental stewardship. Some of these strategies may seem a little radical, but they are among the most valuable actions you can take to protect and preserve Earth’s environment.
Plastics recycling conserves natural resources, saves energy, and contributes to the U.S. economy. Recycled plastics is used in manufacturing many different products.
Americans throw away almost 100 billion plastic bags every year, and only 1 percent to 3 percent are ever recycled, leaving the rest to clog streams, foul landscapes, and kill birds and marine mammals. Learn how you can help the environment by reducing the number of plastic bags that are produced and discarded.
Paper recycling has many benefits, from saving energy to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Why recycle paper? Get the details.
Hurricane Katrina--learn the environmental impacts of Hurricane Katrine, including industrial waste, raw sewage and oil spills, and the lasting danger that Hurrican Katrina poses to public health.
The gray wolf, an iconic species of the American West, is an endangered species in most parts of the world where it still exists. The endangered listing, passionately defended by environmentalists, is controversial among ranchers, hunters and many lawmakers who believe gray wolves have recovered sufficiently to have those protections removed.
Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, poses serious risks to public health and the environment. Learn what causes smog.
What tsunamis are and how a tsunami is detected and tracked.
One in a series of frequently asked questions about global warming and greenhouse gas emissions.
Wind power: what is wind power, how does wind power work and what are the pros and cons of wind power?
Tropical rainforest plants have produced thousands of lifesaving drugs, yet the potential of rainforest medicinals has only barely been tapped. Rainforest lands are disappearing at an alarming rate, due to development and deforestation, but preserving rainforests may be a life and death issue for untold numbers of people--now and in the future.
Can you recycle plastic lids and bottle caps along with their containers? Plastic lids and bottle caps can jam recycling equipment, contaminate recycled plastics, and endanger workers at recycling centers. So what should you do with those plastic lids and bottle caps?
Deforestation is a growing global problem with far-reaching environmental and economic consequences, including some that may not be fully understood until it is too late to prevent them. But what is deforestation, and why is it such a serious problem?
From a human perspective, ozone is both helpful and harmful, both good and bad. In the upper atmosphere, ozone protects all life on Earth. At ground level, ozone is toxic and corrosive, a threat to human health, ecosystems, plants and marine life.
Recycling aluminum saves energy, is good for the environment, and provides funds for many community programs and projects. Learn about the other benefits of aluminum recycling.
Groundwater depletion has become a serious problem in India, and villagers blame Coca-Cola for aggravating the groundwater problem. Learn what India's government and citizens are doing, and how Coca-Cola is responding to the groundwater and pollution charges.
Learn about the use and environmental effects of road salt, particularly on water, plants and animals
Smart Cars are small and easy to park and maneuver in and out of city traffic, but just how safe and economical are they? Find out about Smart Cars' safety and fuel efficiency.
The corn-based plastic PLA has many uses and is often proposed as a green alternative to petroleum-based plastics. Although PLA is carbon neutral and emits no toxic fumes when incinerated, it has other problems that may limit its use as a replacement for traditional plastics.
The sun is a virtually endless source of clean, renewable energy, which should make solar power a logical alternative to finite fossil fuels.
Metal recycling conserves natural resources, saves energy, contributes to the U.S. economy and bolsters U.S. trade balances. Recycled metal from the United States is used for industrial manufacturing worldwide.
Population growth is placing tremendous stress on Earth's resources and the natural environment, creating a scarcity of food and water and leading to problems such as deforestation and increased global warming. Learn what can be done to achieve a sustainable balance between human population and available resources.
What is the true definition of drought?
These four significant disasters of 2014 were illustrative of current environmental problems, but were largely ignored by the press.
Ethanol may be good for the environment, and the economy, and provide a high-octane alternative to gasoline, but how easy is it to find fueling stations that sell ethanol or ethanol blends?
Chlorine in tap water destroys many disease-causing bacteria that threaten human health, but it may lead to other health problems. Learn how you can benefit from chlorine while avoiding its potentially harmful effects.
Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel offer a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. Derived from plants, biofuels are renewable and more environmentally friendly than petroleum products, but many environmental experts question whether producing biofuels requires too much energy and agricultural land to make biofuels viable.
Ethanol is a relatively low-cost alternative fuel, but what are the benefits of using ethanol or an ethanol blend in place of unblended gasoline?
Worldwide, approximately 10,000 people are killed by lightning every year and 100,000 are injured. What makes lightning so dangerous and how does it compare to other weather hazards?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a series of reports in 2007 that set forth conclusions about the causes and effects of global warming as well as the costs and benefits of solving the problem. The reports are intended to help policymakers make informed decisions and develop effective strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and control global warming.
Bottled water companies would have you believe that tap water is unsafe to drink, but many experts say that most tap water is actually pretty safe--especially compared to the alternatives. How safe is tap water?
What is air pollution? Defining air pollution is not as simple as it seems, because air pollution can take many forms, derive from many sources, and include many different pollutants and toxins.
We heard that there is a gigantic floating island of trash far out in the Pacific Ocean. What really is out there, and what environmental impacts does it have?
Few things in nature are more tragic than the sight of a pod of whales—some of the most magnificent and intelligent creatures on Earth—lying helpless and dying on the beach. Mass whale strandings occur in many parts of the world, and we don't know why. Scientists are still searching for the answers that will unlock this mystery.
Plastic bags are hard on the environment--littering the landscape, contaminating soil and water, killing hundreds of thousands of marine mammals, and using millions of gallons of oil annually--and paper bags aren't much better. Learn about better options you can start using right away.
Earth Day is the name given to annual observances intended to raise awareness about a range of environmental issues and to inspire people to take action.
Most scientists agree that planting trees is a good way to help reduce global warming and to keep the planet healthy, but which types of trees are best and what makes some trees better than others? Learn more about the best trees to plant to offset global warming.
As ocean desalination plants are being built, environmentalists are expressing concerns about the long-term envionmental effects of desalination. Learn why desalination may not be the best solution to our water shortage.
What are the 6 top issues threatening our environment?
A detailed profile of the Chernobyl accident, the worst nuclear accident in history, which occurred on April 26, 1986, at the Chernobyl power plant in Ukraine.
Junk mail is more than an annoyance. It clogs landfills as well as your mailbox, and costs millions of trees and millions of tax dollars every year. Learn how you can reduce the amount of junk mail you receive by 90 percent.
What are the raw materials and processes used to produce ethanol?
More than 10 million people in eight different countries are at serious risk for cancer, respiratory diseases, and premature death because they live in the 10 most polluted places on Earth, according to a report by the Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit organization that works to identify and solve specific environmental problems worldwide.
When you consider the benefits of recycling vs. the cost, is recycling worth the expense? After trying it both ways, here's what New York City discovered about the benefits of recycling.
Flying or Driving? Does flying or driving generate more greenhouse-gas emissions and contribute more to global warming? Learn whether air travel or car travel is best for the environment in terms of fuel efficiency, cost effectiveness and reducing your carbon footprint.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use less energy, last longer and cost less to use than standard incandescent bulbs--and they are good for the environment. Learn how changing just one light bulb could help change the world for the better.
Using public transportation instead of driving alone in your car is good for the planet and good for your budget. So why don’t more Americans use it?
The Deepwater Horizon spill may be front-page news, but some parts of the story have been overlooked or underreported by the media. Here are 10 things you really need to know about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
American dogs and cats produce 10 million tons of animal waste every year, and most of it ends up in landfills or ends up in the water table. San Francisco and several other cities in the Bay Area have set a goal to end their use of landfills by 2020, so they have started looking at the feasibility of turning pet feces into power instead of pollution.
Smog, also known as ground-level ozone, poses serious risks to public health and the environment. Learn more about the effects of smog.
The basics you need to know about water pollution: definition, causes, examples, and solutions.
Global warming explained in 9 simple points.
Is it better for the environment to use synthetic or conventional motor oil in your car's engine? Learn the pros and cons of both types of oil, and find out about promising research into plant-based alternatives.
Glass recycling is both simple and beneficial. Glass recycling saves energy, conserves natural resources, and is good for the environment. Recycled glass can be used to create new glass containers and a host of other glass products.
Microplastics, and among them microbeads, are increasingly abundant in aquatic ecosystems. Find out what they are, and what the associated environmental consequences are.
How does global warming affect wildlife? Most researchers agree that even small temperature changes can send hundreds of already struggling species into extinctionun less we stem the tide of global warming. Learn how global warming affects wildlife around the world.
When did the environmental movement begin in the United States? Can it be traced to a single moment or event, or was it a widespread grassroots movement that grew organically, like many of the crops it now champions? When did the U.S. environmental movement begin?
Alternative fuels such as ethanol, natural gas, propane, electricity, hydrogen, biodiesel, methanol and P-Series fuels provide alternatives to fossil fuels that are better for the environment and often better for the economy and your budget.
Cell phone radiation may have serious health effects, according to a growing number of research studies. You can protect yourself from cell phone radiation by the way you use your cell phone. Learn how to lower your exposure and protect yourself from cell phone radiation.
What is the alternative fuel ethanol and how is it used?
The majority of garbage that goes into landfills is biodegradable, but most landfills are too tightly packed for biodegradation to occur and biodegradable items to break down. Learn what can be done to make landfills more effective.
Naming the worst oil spills in history is a challenge, because there are many ways to measure the severity of oil spills—from the volume spilled to the extent of environmental damage to the cost of clean-up and recovery. This list describes the worst oil spills in history, judged by the amount of oil released into the environment.
Studies have found links between bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in many everyday plastic products, and higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, and child development. Learn how to lessen your exposure to BPA and reduce your potential health risks.
Foods grown locally make a lot of sense for those who want more control over what they put into their bodies.
Most Americans believe global warming is a serious threat, to themselves and to future generations, and the majority support government mandates to help develop renewable energy and reduce global warming, according to a TIME magazine/ABC News/Stanford University poll.
What is the best way to wash your car and keep the environment clean at the same time? Is it better to break out the bucket and sponge at home or drive through a commercial car wash? Learn the pros and cons of commercial car washes versus scrubbing your car in your driveway.
Water covers 70 percent of the Earth's surface, yet billions of people lack access to clean water. Population growth in many water-stressed countries, plus excess water use in developed countries, is shrinking water resources worldwide and raising fears about water scarcity. Learn what you can do to help.
What was the worst environmental disaster ever to occur in the United States? The Dust Bowl of the 1930s, created by a combination of drought and erosion caused by poor farming practices, is considered by most experts to be the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.
Want to fight global warming? These 10 simple actions will help you fight global warming by using energy wisely.
The Obama administration's Clean Power Plan aims to set goals for states to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by tightening fossil fuel burning. A recent study estimated the health benefits of reducing our reliance on coal-fired power stations.
Hydraulic fracturing is more commonly called fracking or hydrofracking. The term has been popularized due to controversies surrounding its use.
Ethanol and other biofuels are often promoted as clean and relatively low-cost alternatives to gasoline, but what are the challenges inherent in the widespread adoption of ethanol and other biofuels?
How scientists identify tsunamis; scientific methods for detecting a tsunami.
Along with burgers, tacos and french fries, fast food restaurants serve up a mountain of paper, plastic and Styrofoam waste every day. Fast food waste is a growing problem, as fast food chains expand and open new restaurants around the world. Some fast food companies have taken voluntary steps to reduce, reuse or recycle their waste, but is that enough? Do we need stronger regulations to govern fast food waste?
The potential health risks of long-term cell-phone use are starting to worry an increasing number of scientists and public officials.
Tesla is now building more than cars. Will their new household battery facilitate the use of home-scale renewable energy systems like solar, wind, or micro-hydro?
Autumn is here again, and the trees will soon be shedding their leaves in preparation for winter. Burning fallen leaves, which used to be as much a part of autumn as Halloween or Thanksgiving, pollutes the air and can cause serious health problems for many people. Learn how skipping the leaf fire this fall may actually give you a nicer lawn and garden next spring.
California's ongoing drought is entering year four; what are the environmental consequences?
The 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill fouled the waters of Prince William Sound in Alaska. The Exxon Valdez oil spill coated more than a thousand miles of pristine coastline and killed hundreds of thousands of birds, fish and animals. The Exxon Valdez oil spill has become a symbol of human-caused environmental disasters.
The United Nations Environment Programme is coordinating a worldwide campaign to encourage people and organizations to plant at least a billion trees in a single year. Even that is only a small start on the work that must be done to restore the forests we have lost over the past decade alone. Find out how you can help.
Hydrogen burns clean and nearly everyone agrees that running vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells instead of oil would be a great step forward for the environment. So what prevents hydrogen from replacing oil as the fuel of choice for most vehicles?
Ticks are small insects that can cause big problems, such as Lyme Disease. But the commercial products designed to kill or repel ticks are as dangerous as the ticks themselves, containing chemicals that can damage the nervous systems of pets and people and lead to cancer and other diseases. Find out how you can avoid ticks without dousing your house and yard with toxic chemicals.
Sugar is many products we consume every day, yet we rarely give a second thought to how and where it is produced and what toll it may take on the environment. Find out why sugar may be creating a bitter environmental legacy.
A sponge is a sponge, right? Well, no. Some sponges are living organisms that have been harvested for centuries and used in the ways we know them best. Others are artificial replicas, made from wood pulp and other ingredients. Which is better for the environment?
Climate change, specifically global warming, has captured the attention of people worldwide and has inspired more debate and action—personal, political and corporate—than perhaps any other environmental issue in history. But all of that discussion, along with the mountains of data and conflicting points of view that go with it, sometimes make it hard to really know what’s going on. This guide will help you cut through the rhetoric and confusion and get to the facts.
To improve the health of U.S. schoolchildren, cafeteria food has become the target in programs designed to improve school lunches, making school lunches and cafeteria food healthier and more eco-friendly.
Sunscreen is supposed to let you get enough sunshine for good health while shielding you from harmful rays that can cause sunburn and skin cancer. Does your sunscreen offer the protection you need, or leave you exposed to UV radiation and harmful chemicals?
Why airport noise and airport pollution increase risk for coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other illness among people who live near airports.
Profile and biography of Steve Irwin, better known as
Are LED light bulbs really more energy-efficient than compact fluorescent lights (CFLs)? While most LED light bulbs are neither bright enough nor cheap enough to replace CFLs for every application, they are improving quickly.
Several companies now offer eco-friendly products or programs that enable you to recycle or reuse your toothbrush.
Preserving the Amazon rainforest in South America, as well as other rainforests worldwide, remains an important global environmental issue, even when the news media turns its attention elsewhere. Although they cover a relatively small percentage of the planet, rainforests are home to about half of the plant and animal species on Earth. Yet, according to the United Nations, at least 37.5 million acres of rainforests are lost every year. Find out more.
Global warming is causing rising sea levels--what is predicted for rising sea levels and how will that affect us? Is it too late to prevent rising sea levels?
Why recycle cell phones? That's easy. Recycling cell phones saves energy and conserves natural resources.
What is the true cost of using ethanol, or an ethanol blend, as an alternative fuel in place of gasoline?
A review of the environmental costs and benefits of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
The quality of a large proportion of the nation's rivers is compromised by water pollution. Three types of pollutants account for most of the water pollution problems.
Canada flushes some 200 billion liters of raw sewage directly into natural waterways every year, from the St. Lawrence River to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean. One of the worst offenders is the city of Victoria, the picturesque capital of British Columbia, the province that is preparing to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Why solar water heaters are good for the environment, and how solar water heaters can save consumers money.
One in a series of frequently asked questions about global warming and the emission of greenhouse gases.
Looking for a way to keep your drains unclogged without damaging the environment or your health? Learn about some of the best non-polluting, non-caustic options.
Tired of spending dozens of hours and hundreds of dollars mowing and maintaining your grass lawn? Low-cost, low-maintenance alternatives to grass lawns can free you from your lawn mower, save you money, and provide attractive green spaces without the need for toxic chemicals. Learn more about alternatives to grass lawns.
Scientific research indicates that exposure to cell phones and microwave radiation can cause health problems. Learn more about the health effects of cell phones and microwave radiation.
Online bill paying is gaining popularity and it's good for the environment. Here's how online bill paying reduces waste while saving you time and money.
Every year we long for the first day of spring, or vernal equinox, when the days start to get longer and the weather starts getting warmer. But there is much more to know about the first day of spring.
Consider this central paradox of U.S. environmentalism: In much of popular and political culture, the movement is dismissed as the pet cause of white, well-off Americans -- people who can afford to buy organic arugula, vacation in Lake Tahoe, and worry about the fate of the Pacific pocket mouse. And yet, the population most affected by environmental problems is the poor.
Learn about World Environment Day. How did World Environment Day start? What is the purpose and meaning of World Environment Day? When is World Environment Day celebrated? What can you do to make World Environment Day a day of action and education in your community?
Traditional carpet cleaning solution contains chemicals that can damage health and the environment. Learn where to find healthier professional and do-it-yourself carpet cleaning options.
We all should make environmentally conscious lifestyle decisions, but what about a fundamental one: do we have a greater impact living in the city or in a rural area?
World Water Day -- More than a billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Every day, 14,000 people die from diseases caused by this global water crisis, the majority of them children under 5 years old. World Water Day is an annual observance to raise public awareness about this critical global health issue and to inspire personal action. Read the interview with Gary White, executive director and co-founder of WaterPartners International, to learn how you can help.
Global pollution combined with population growth is leading to widespread malnutrition and making millions of people more susceptible to a range of infectious diseases--from measles and influenza to malaria--according to researchers at Cornell University. Malnutrition currently kills 6 million children annually, and affects 57 percent of the world's people.
Greenhouse gases explained in 9 easy points.
Keep cool with green alternatives to air conditioning. These cooling tips will help you keep cool.
By choosing green living and an earth-friendly lifestyle, you can do a lot every day to help protect the environment. Here are five simple things you can do—in 30 minutes or less—to help protect the environment and save Planet Earth.
The most valuable commodity in the world today is not oil, but water. Find out why many of the world’s leading investors are making big bets on water.
Chromium-6 is a human carcinogen when inhaled, and there is growing concern about the possible health effects of chromium-6 in drinking water.
If recycling is one of the three Rs of environmental preservation--reduce, reuse, and recycle--then why is recycling not mandatory everywhere in the United States and elsewhere? Should recycling be mandatory? What would have to change for recycling to become the law of the land?
What happens to your old cell phone after you upgrade to a new model? Do stores really recycle old cell phones, or refurbish them and give them to the poor, or do they just end up in landfills? Learn how you can ensure your old cell phone is recycled and put to good use instead of damaging the environment.
Cross-border pollution is a serious environmental problem that often frustrates national solutions. As pollution from one nation contaminates the air and water of another, it creates a dilemma for both and leaves local communities with few real options.
Public water supplies in 42 U.S. states--the tap water millions of Americans drink every day--are contaminated with 141 unregulated chemicals for which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has never established safety standards, according to an investigation by the Environmental Working Group.
Nowadays, opportunities for amateurs to contribute to science abound. Learn more about citizen science. (Photo: Black-throated Blue Warbler. USFWS)
Beach erosion is accelerating due to rising sea levels, severe storms, and other natural forces. Is the damage from beach erosion temporary and reversible, or are our disappearing beaches gone forever? Find out more about what causes beach erosion and what can be done to stop it.
The IPCC working group responsible for evaluating society's vulnerability to climate change has released its section of the Fifth Assessment Report. The
Learn why it's good to recycle your old phonebooks, plus useful tips on how to reuse your phonebooks if your recycler won't take your phonebooks.
Do volcano eruptions really cause more greenhouse gasses than human activity? Learn the truth about volcanoes and greenhouse gas emissions, and how volcanoes contribute to global warming.
Find out which ingredient in most plastic containers that makes it so hard to recycle them, and how corn plastic could be the eco-friendly answer.
Recycling used cell phones is good for the environment and can help bridge the digital divide in developing countries or raise money for charity. Learn how, why and where to recycle your used cell phones.
I suggested earlier than one of the top environmental issues is the way in which we use land. One of the resulting pattern is widespread landscape
Invasive species are viewed by some conservation scientists as a more immediate and severe threat to our environment than even global warming. The variety
Locavore is the name given to people who take part in the growing local food movement. But what is a locavore exactly, and what distinguishes locavores from other consumers who appreciate locally grown food?
Earth Day is celebrated every year in more than 180 nations worldwide, but who first had the idea for Earth Day and got the celebration started? Who invented Earth Day?
Is it better to drive an older, well-maintained car that gets about 25 miles per gallon, or to buy a new car that gets about 35 miles per gallon? What about hybrids or electric cars? Does driving a more fuel-efficient car always guarantee fewer emissions and a lower carbon footprint?
Half of the world’s population could face severe food shortages by the end of this century as rising temperatures shorten the growing season in the tropics and subtropics, increase the risk of drought, and reduce the harvests of dietary staples such as rice and maize by 20 percent to 40 percent, according to a study published in the journal Science.
Compact fluorescent lamps, which use far less energy than standard incandescent light bulbs, contain mercury that should be recycled to avoid creating risks to public health.
Single weather events can't be linked directly to climate change, but weather trends are a different story. Weather is becoming more extreme, and climate change is the reason. Learn more about the link between climate change and extreme weather.