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Environment + Energy – Articles, Analysis, Opinion

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The use of coal for electric power has been declining fast in the U.S. AP Photo/J. David Ake

What’s really driving coal power’s demise?

Contrary to popular belief, falling natural gas prices didn't significantly accelerate coal power plant retirements. Here's what did.
Nearly 1,000 workers at this Smithfield Foods pork-processing plant in South Dakota contracted COVID-19 between mid-March and mid-April 2020. Kerem Yucel / AFP via Getty Images

Meatpacking plants have been deadly COVID-19 hot spots – but policies that encourage workers to show up sick are legal

Thousands of workers at meat- and poultry-processing plants have contracted COVID-19, and hundreds have died. A legal scholar recommends ways to make their jobs safer.
U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland speaks in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Oct. 1, 2018. Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

‘Indian Country’ is excited about the first Native American secretary of the interior – and the promise she has for addressing issues of importance to all Americans

If confirmed, US Rep. Deb Haaland of New Mexico would be the first Native American to run the agency that interacts with tribal nations. But her agenda extends far beyond Indian Country.
Bendable concrete created at the University of Michigan allows for thinner structures with less need for steel reinforcement. Joseph Xu/University of Michigan College of Engineering

Bendable concrete and other CO2-infused cement mixes could dramatically cut global emissions

Researchers are developing ways to lock captured CO2 into cement. It could help rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure and deal with climate change at the same time.
The polar vortex influences the jet stream, which can bring cold winter weather to the U.S. and Europe. AP Photo/Bill Sikes

What exactly is the polar vortex?

The media often call unusually cold, snowy storms a 'polar vortex.' The real polar vortex isn't coming down to visit the lower 48, but changes to the polar vortex can influence winter weather.
Volunteers prepare boxes at the Greater Boston Food Bank on Oct. 1, 2020. Iaritza Menjivar, The Washington Post via Getty Images

Corporate concentration in the US food system makes food more expensive and less accessible for many Americans

Food production in the US is heavily concentrated in the hands of a small number of large agribusiness companies. That's been good for shareholders, but not for consumers.
A volunteer looks for waterbirds at Point Reyes National Seashore in California during the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. Kerry W/Flickr

Citizen scientists are filling research gaps created by the pandemic

COVID-19 kept many scientists from doing field research in 2020, which means that important records will have data gaps. But volunteers are helping to plug some of those holes.
Permafrost is thawing across the Arctic, releasing microbes and organic materials that have been trapped in the frozen ground for thousands of years. NOAA via Wikimedia Commons

Thawing permafrost is full of ice-forming particles that could get into atmosphere

New research shows that permafrost contains huge amounts of particles that make it easier for cloud moisture to freeze. Thawing permafrost is releasing these ice-nucleating particles.
Through the Paris Agreement, the world’s countries agreed to work to keep global warming well under 2 degrees Celsius. Saeed Khan/AFP via Getty Images

Why the US rejoining the Paris climate accord matters at home and abroad — 5 scholars explain

The US is formally back in the Paris climate agreement as of today. As one of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters, it has a lot of work to do, with food security, health and safety at stake.