Environment

An illustration of the Memorial Day flood in Ellicott City, Maryland.

In a Town Shaped by Water, the River Is Winning

Storms supercharged by climate change pose a dire threat to river towns. After two catastrophic floods, tiny Ellicott City faces a critical decision: Rebuild, or retreat?

A photo of police officers sealing off trash bins prior to the Tokyo Marathon in Tokyo in 2015.

Carefully, Japan Reconsiders the Trash Can

The near-absence of public garbage bins in cities like Tokyo is both a security measure and a reflection of a cultural aversion to littering.

A sign tells passersby to "Go Green This Winter."

The Unintended Consequences of Green ‘Nudges’

When participants in a study had the option of approving a behavioral “nudge” to clean energy use, their support for a carbon tax dropped.

Paris Will Create the City's Largest Gardens Around the Eiffel Tower

The most famous space in the city is set to get a pedestrian-friendly redesign that will create the city’s largest garden by 2024.

A ruined ancient temple in dense forest.

How the Ancient Maya Adapted to Climate Change

Instead of focusing on the civilization’s final stages, looking at Mayan adaptations shows how their communities survived for as long as they did.

Flying Cars Are Realer, Cheaper, Greener Than You Think

They might even be greener than electric cars.

Two horses standing in a field with fences and a large white barn in the background.

America’s First Greenbelt May Be in Jeopardy

Adopted in the 1950s to protect the city’s iconic horse farms, the urban growth boundary of Lexington, Kentucky, no longer seems unassailable.

An illustration of a statue of Walt Disney between two nuclear cooling towers.

Disney World's Literal Nuclear Option, Explained

Florida politicians may expunge an old law that gives Disney World the right to build its own nuclear plant. But they probably don’t need to bother.

The coast of Vieques island off Puerto Rico.

Tesla’s Busted Solar Panels on Vieques Are a Cautionary Tale

After Hurricane María plunged the island off Puerto Rico into darkness, Tesla’s arrival heralded the dawn of a microgrid future. But it wasn’t that easy.

New Ideas for Paris's Outdated Infrastructure

After a criticized first installment, the city's design competition has a wider talent pool and a fairer distribution of commissions to redesign urban sites.

An orange-and-black monarch butterfly alights on an outstretched hand.

Designing the Butterfly-Friendly City

With the population of the distinctive species in decline, cities around the U.S. are trying to add monarch-friendly spaces.

a photo of U.S.-Mexico borderlands

Instead of a Border Wall, Why Not a ‘Clean Energy Corridor’?

Building solar panels and wind turbines along the U.S.-Mexico border, say scientists, could unite demands for a Green New Deal and stronger border security.

A map of environmental justice policies in the U.S.

Which Cities Have Concrete Strategies For Environmental Justice?

Historically, local zoning codes and land-use laws have enforced segregation. Now, cities are using the same tools to enact environmental justice.

The Urban Planning Vision of Leonardo da Vinci

Following a typical Renaissance trend, he began to work out an “ideal city” project, which, due to its excessive costs, would remain unfulfilled.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo speaks at a podium as people photograph him.

Why Indonesia Wants to Move Its Capital Out of Jakarta

Jakarta has 10 million people and is sinking faster than any other city in the world. But there are other factors involved in its relocation plan.

The Manhattan skyline at night.

Can New York Make Buildings Super-Efficient, Fast?

By 2030, the city’s large buildings must cut their carbon emissions by 40 percent. Here’s how that can happen.

A photo of a newly pedestrianized area of central Brussels in 2015.

In Car-Choked Brussels, the Pedestrians Are Winning

The Belgian capital is one of the most congested in Europe. But an ambitious suite of street makeovers is pushing traffic outside the central city.

The outside of a large apartment building, dotted with air conditioners.

What If Air Conditioning Could Help Stop Climate Change Instead of Causing It?

Using technology currently in development, AC units in skyscrapers and homes could get turned into machines that pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

A photo of Denver's skyline with mountains in the background.

The Town That Extended ‘Smart Growth’ to Its Water

As Western states grapple with drought, Westminster, Colorado, has become a model for its integration of water data into the planning process.

A photo of activist Linda Garcia standing in front of train tracks and an industrial facility.

How Linda Garcia Stopped an Oil Terminal From Coming to Her Neighborhood

The Vancouver, Washington, activist is among the six 2019 winners of the Goldman Environmental Prize.

The Enduring Beauty of the Hudson River

Even in the 1800s, painters were meditating on its natural beauty in the face of human exploitation.