The year 2019 was a real bummer for old Planet Earth. Here are JSTOR Daily, we reflected on the fires in the Amazon and wondered how climate change might threaten our favorite wines. But we also tried to find lessons in the past and to honor those who believe that we still can shape our future. Here are our 15 of our most popular sustainability stories of the year, as always, backed by scholarship and research to which our readers have free access.


Two people gathering seeds

Can Crops’ Wild Relatives Save Troubled Agriculture?

Cultivating a limited number of crops reduced the genetic diversity of plants, endangering harvests. Seed collectors hope to fix it by finding the plants’ wild cousins.
John Tyndall's setup for measuring radiant heat absorption by gases

How 19th Century Scientists Predicted Global Warming

Today’s headlines make climate change seem like a recent discovery. But Eunice Newton Foote and others have been piecing it together for centuries.
A tree in a native forest planted by Afforestt

The Miyawaki Method: A Better Way to Build Forests?

India’s forest production company is following the tenets of the master Japanese botanist, restoring biodiversity in resource-depleted communities.
A network server

How Much Carbon Will It Cost to Read This Story?

Just how significant is the internet’s carbon footprint?
A pile of manure for fertilizing crops

A History of Human Waste as Fertilizer

In eighteenth century Japan, human excrement played a vital role in agriculture. Can similar solutions help manage waste today?
Several beers in a row

Did Humans Once Live by Beer Alone? An Oktoberfest Tale

Some scholars have suggested that humans first started growing domesticated grains in order to make not bread, but beer.
Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein: We Are Sleepwalking toward Apocalypse

Klein talks about her new book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, and the youth movement for climate action.
Grapes on a vine

Will There Be Wine After Climate Change?

Vintners may have to adjust their centuries-old traditions to keep the wines flowing
A carnival cruise ship

The High Environmental Costs of Cruise Ships

Cruise ships pose many environmental concerns, from waste disposal to toxic paint to the creation of noise that can harm marine life.
"Denver Steak" courtesy Porter Road Meats

How to Carve Up a Cow, Sustainably

The industrial method of meat harvesting wastes a lot of food. Eco-conscious butchers are changing that.
Central Arizona Project (CAP) Canal, Phoenix, AZ

What Desert Cities Can Teach Us about Water

Pushed by necessity, the country’s least sustainable region evolved to master its water use. As climate heats up, other cities may adopt similar tactics.

The Brewery Powered by a Wind Turbine

Inspired by the legendary Wright Brothers, local brewers on the Outer Banks of NC are harnessing wind power for their pints.
A woman's hands inspecting a cannabis plant

The Environmental Downside of Cannabis Cultivation

Wide-scale cannabis cultivation is causing environmental damage. Federal regulations could change this.
Rachel Carson Conducts Marine Biology Research with Bob Hines

Rachel Carson’s Critics Called Her a Witch

When Silent Spring was published, the response was overtly gendered. Rachel Carson's critics depicted her as hysterical, mystical, and witchy.
Raking rice paddies in China with an ox-drawn plough. Engraving by J. June after A. Heckel.

Chinese Peasants Taught the USDA to Farm Organically in 1909

A hundred years later, we are still learning.

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