The ‘Lost Forty’: how a mapping error preserved an old-growth forest

A 19th-century surveying mistake kept lumberjacks away from what is now Minnesota's largest patch of old-growth trees.

Credit: U.S. Forest Service via Dan Alosso on Substack and licensed under CC-BY-SA
  • In 1882, Josias R. King made a mess of mapping Coddington Lake, making it larger than it actually is.
  • For decades, Minnesota loggers left the local trees alone, thinking they were under water.
  • Today, the area is one of the last remaining patches of old-growth forest in the state.
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Noise pollution is threatening life in the 'Anthropocene ocean'

A new paper explores how noise from human activities pollutes the oceans, and what we can do to fix it.

Credit: GreenOak via Adobe Stock
  • The new paper notes three major factors that have changed the ocean soundscape: human activity, climate change, and "massive declines in the abundance of sound-producing animals."
  • Noise pollution threatens marine animals because many rely on sound to communicate with each other and sense predators and prey.
  • The paper noted several solutions for decreasing human-caused noise pollution, including floating wind turbines and quieter boat propellers.
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2020 ties for hottest year on record, says NASA and NOAA

In a joint briefing at the 101st American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, NASA and NOAA revealed 2020's scorching climate data.

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  • 2020 is tied with 2016 for being globally the hottest year on record.
  • The year's hotspot included the Arctic, which is warming at three times the global mean.
  • The United States endured a record-breaking year for billion-dollar natural disasters.
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    A Chinese plant has evolved to hide from humans

    Researchers document the first example of evolutionary changes in a plant in response to humans.

    Credit: MEDIAIMAG/Adobe Stock
    • A plant coveted in China for its medicinal properties has developed camouflage that makes it less likely to be spotted and pulled up from the ground.
    • In areas where the plant isn't often picked, it's bright green. In harvested areas, it's now a gray that blends into its rocky surroundings.
    • Herbalists in China have been picking the Fritillaria dealvayi plant for 2,000 years.
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    'A world with no ice': Confronting the horrors of climate change

    The complacent majority needs to step up and call for action on climate change.

    • Climate change is often framed as a debate that has split society down the middle and that requires more evidence before we can act. In reality, 97 percent of scientists agree that it is real and only 3 percent are skeptical. A sticking point for some is the estimated timeline, but as Columbia University professor Philip Kitcher points out, a 4-5 Celsius temperature increase that makes the planet uninhabitable is a disaster no matter when it happens.
    • In this video, 9 experts (including professors, astronomers, authors, and historians) explain what climate change looks like, how humans have already and are continuing to contribute to it, how and why it has become politicized, and what needs to happen moving forward for real progress to be made.
    • David Wallace-Wells, journalist and New America Foundation National Fellow, says that the main goal of climate action is not to win over the skeptical minority, but to "make those people who are concerned but still fundamentally complacent about the issue to be really engaged in a way that they prioritize climate change in their politics and their voting and make sure that our leaders think of climate change as a first-order political priority."
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