An advertisement for Eagle Pencil Co's fine arts lead pencils, c. 1870-1900

Why You’ll Never Get Lead Poisoning from a Pencil

Some of the greatest moments in international pencil history involve discoveries of a different mineral.
Freeways in Los Angeles

The Permanent Crisis of Infrastructure

Ever since it entered public consciousness in the 1980s, infrastructure has been synonymous with decline.
Woman recycling glass, Wallingford neighborhood, Seattle, Washington, 1990

You’ll Never Believe Who Invented Curbside Recycling

Far from ushering in a zero-waste world, the switch from returnables to recycling provided cover for the creation of ever more packaging trash.
Two IAEA experts examine recovery work on top of Unit 4 of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

How to Clean Up After a Nuclear Disaster

Workers are still cleaning up after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant partial meltdown. There's a lot of contaminated material to contend with.

This Island Is Closed for Maintenance

The Faroe Islands owe their untouched nature to their remote location and stormy climate. And to a weekend closure.
Mary Agnes Chase collecting plants in Brazil in 1929.

The Woman Agrostologist Who Held the Earth Together

When government wouldn't fund female fieldwork, Agnes Chase pulled together her own resources.
A leaf dotted with water droplets

Editors’ Picks 2018: Sustainability and the Environment

Wildfires in California, floods in Venice, robot-bees, and cows that mitigate climate change.
tiny fur tree growing after forest fire

It’s the End of the World as We Know It. Is there Any Room for Optimism?

Climate scientists tend to be optimistic and have faith that humanity can engineer our way out of the climate change we’ve created.
European Starlings

What If We Had All the Birds from Shakespeare in Central Park?

According to birding lore, two of America's most invasive bird species were introduced by a misguided Shakespeare fan named Eugene Schieffelin.

Is Beef Really Worse for the Environment Than Driving?

What’s the single biggest action a person can take to reduce their personal impact on climate change? It would seem that the answer is to eat less beef.