Environment

Buildings in downtown Houston reflect the light of the setting sun.

Street Grids May Make Cities Hotter

By comparing buildings to water molecules, researchers found that the form of a city can intensify the urban heat island effect.

A heavy layer of smog over Paris

How Much Are You 'Smoking' by Breathing Urban Air?

A new app can tell you (and it’s not pretty).  

Made from plant fibers and water, Bio-lutions' packaging biodegrades in a matter of months.

Making Products With Crop Waste Could Improve India's Air and Water

A company that makes packaging out of plant fibers hopes to address two problems at once: air pollution from the burning of crop stubble, and landfills and waterways clogged with plastic.

London's Latest Exhibit: Horrendous Pollution

An exhibit invites the public to experience the air from five cities around the world.

A teacher and students during an earthquake drill in Los Angeles in 2015

The U.S. Is Finally Getting a System to Warn When an Earthquake Is Coming

But will its alerts come in enough time to make a difference?

Naked cyclists ride down Lombard Street in San Francisco.

The Weirdest Ways That U.S. Cities Are Celebrating Earth Day

From group oyster-shell bagging to a naked bike ride, some Earth Day events are more colorful than the standard festivals and tree plantings.

Bexaida Torres stands in the door of what is left of her home after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Is Hit by a Total Blackout

Almost seven months after Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is experiencing a complete power outage. The island’s electricity provider said it will take from 24 to 36 hours to bring power back across the U.S. territory.

New 'Mutant Enzymes' Could Solve Earth's Plastics Problem

Scientists accidentally created an enzyme that can break down plastic. But is it any better than recycling?

A man plants seedlings at the Sitie Ecological Park in Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro.

Greening the Favela

In the dense favelas of Rio de Janeiro, residents are turning scarce empty space into community gardens.  

A green roof in Springfield, Ill.

Can We Make Green Roofs More Biodiverse?

A study of decades-old German green roofs found that they don’t support a wide range of animal and plant life. But researchers and designers are trying to change that.

Residents use boats to evacuate flood waters from Tropical Storm Harvey in Houston, August 28, 2017.

Gigantic Water Tunnels Won't Save Houston From the Next Harvey

Houston can plan for the long term, or it can fight the sky. So far, the city seems to be choosing the second option.

Why One Chicago Neighborhood Has to Keep Fighting Off Polluters

In 2012, Little Village’s Hispanic residents helped shut down a coal plant. Now, a redevelopment company plans to build a distribution center—and a lot of truck traffic—into the neighborhood.

Seattle Sounders FC fans brave the rain at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.

Seattle Thinks It Knows Rain. Climate Change Begs to Differ.

A city known for precipitation may be unprepared for the flooding that climate change has in store.

Tourists walk on raised platforms during a period of seasonal high water in Venice in February 2015.

Will a Huge New Flood Barrier Save Venice?

Finally, construction is finishing on the delayed barrier to protect the city from high tides. But how well will it actually work?

A man lights a cigarette in Old Delhi, India.

Where Smoking Kills, and Why

The Tobacco Atlas shows how even non-smokers feel the public health impacts of the industry.

A New Tool to Fight Disaster Insurance Fraud: Satellites

Hi-res images taken from orbit can more accurately track damage from extreme weather events.

Plastic waste lies among other debris washed ashore on a beach in Sri Lanka.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Growing

And it was already enormous.

A girl plays with her chickens in St. Joseph, Missouri.

Have Backyard Chickens Gone Too Free-Range?

Urban-poultry laws need to be stricter about public health and animal welfare, according to one expert.

Abandoned homes in East Cleveland, where a land conservancy has been working to acquire vacant properties.

Land Conservancies Enter Unfamiliar Territory: the City

Some eco-minded groups that traditionally focus on rural conservation are turning their attention to urban areas, in an effort to combat inequality and sprawl.

Pakistan Navy special forces conduct a counter-terrorism exercise in Karachi in 2013.

The Cities at Risk of Climate-Driven Conflict

The evidence is mounting that climate-related droughts, floods, and other events lead to political instability and human conflict. Some cities are especially vulnerable to the “threat multiplier” of climate change.