Busting the Easter Island myth: there was no civilization collapse

For decades, researchers have proposed that climate change and human-caused environmental destruction led to demographic collapse on Easter Island. That's probably false, according to new research.

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  • Easter Island, whose native name is Rapa Nui, is a remote island in the Pacific Ocean about 2,300 miles west of Chile.
  • Researchers have proposed that deforestation and climatic changes led to societal collapse on the island, prior to European contact.
  • The results of a new study suggest that, despite these factors, the Rapa Nui people managed to adapt and sustain a stable society.
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New research finds that reforesting Europe would increase rainfall, fighting a drying trend

Trees store carbon dioxide, have a cooling effect in cities, and reduce flood risks.

Photo by Anna Atkins on Unsplash
“Plant more trees" is often the first idea that comes to mind when we think about how to prevent further climate change or at least adapt to its impacts. There are good reasons for this.
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Modular construction: Using Lego-like blocks to build structures of the future

Buildings don't have to be permanent — modular construction can make them modifiable and relocatable.

Freethink
  • Modular construction involves building the components of a habitable structure in a factory, and then assembling those components on-site.
  • The history of modular construction stretches back centuries, and it became briefly popular in the U.S. after World War II, but it's never quite caught on.
  • Construction firms like iMod Structures, which constructs buildings that can be modified and relocated, may soon change that.
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Humans aren’t overpopulated. We’re aging and shrinking

Too few babies — not overpopulation — is likely to be a major problem this century.

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  • A new study used demographic data to explore current and projected population changes around the world. Europe and Asia are shrinking, while Africa is still growing.
  • For the first time in history, people aged 65+ outnumber children younger than five.
  • Underpopulation will cause serious challenges for sustainability.
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Water recycling: "Toilet to tap" is future of clean drinking water

As droughts threaten water supplies across the planet, some municipalities aim to utilize an untapped resource: sewage water.

Am.p Photographer via Adobe Stock
  • Water recycling, or water reclamation, involves cleaning water with filters and chemicals to make it environmentally safe.
  • In Texas, El Paso's water utility is taking this a step further by building a closed-loop system that will directly convert sewage water into drinkable water.
  • Unsurprisingly, surveys show that most people don't like the idea of drinking recycled water, but public outreach programs seem able to change minds.
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