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Stanford Earth Matters

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Firefighter monitors prescribed burn

Setting fires to avoid fires

Despite having proven effective at reducing wildfire risks, prescribed burns have been stymied by perceived and real risks, regulations and resource shortages. A new analysis highlights ways of overcoming those barriers, offering solutions for wildfire-ravaged landscapes.

Man in flood

Pathways to changing the minds of climate deniers

By reviewing the psychology behind climate change rejection, a Stanford researcher suggests four approaches that can sway climate deniers and help overcome obstacles to implementing solutions.

Styrofoam cup

Can mealworms help solve our plastic problem?

Mealworms are not only able to eat various forms of plastic, as previous research has shown, they can consume potentially toxic plastic additives in Styrofoam with no ill effects, a new study shows. The worms can then be used as a safe, protein-rich feed supplement.

2019 text

Editor's picks: Top 10 Stanford Earth Matters stories of 2019

In a roundup that spans energy, geology, geophysics and Earth systems, here are some of the most interesting, high-impact and popular research stories from 2019.

smoke from power plant

Tracking power plant emissions in real time

Stanford scientists have developed a precise way to measure U.S. power plant emissions 24/7. The new tool will enable grid operators and big electricity consumers to reduce their carbon footprint in real time.

Kayak in water

How can citizens become agents of environmental change?

Some programs work better than others when it comes to involving citizens in preserving the environment. After reviewing those that worked, Stanford researchers propose a blueprint for how others can educate people to maximize their impact.

Smoke stack

Study casts doubt on carbon capture

Current approaches to carbon capture can increase air pollution and are not efficient at reducing carbon in the atmosphere, according to research from Mark Z. Jacobson.

Abstract of colorful smoke

New catalyst can turn carbon dioxide into fuels

A new process shows promise in turning the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide back into usable fuels, and yields four times as much fuel as previous approaches.

Children walk across deforested area.

Malaria in the Amazon

A study shows deforestation in the Amazon significantly increases transmission of malaria by mosquitoes.

Satellite view of the Earth

Could machine learning put impoverished communities back on the map?

By discerning patterns in satellite imagery, researchers hope to help national leaders and international agencies assist poverty-stricken regions.

Bahamas pier

Research suggests ecosystem investments to minimize storm damage

A new Stanford-led study provides information on how to invest in natural coastal ecosystems that the Bahamian government, community leaders and development banks are applying in post-disaster recovery and future storm preparation in the Bahamas. 

Nightime skyline

Transnational corporations increasingly align business models to support stable planet

Some of the world’s largest transnational corporations are changing their business models to acknowledge their impact on climate and biodiversity. A new analysis indicates a significant shift in corporate values. 

Green belt near buildings

A practical guide to planning and achieving green growth

Economic development plans often overlook a crucial detail – ecosystems that provide essential services to people. Stanford experts discuss a new sustainable development approach that balances the needs of people and nature.

View from a satellite of smoke caused by a fire in Borneo

Satellite data can reveal fire susceptibility in peatlands

Fires in Southeast Asian peatlands release huge amounts of carbon, along with deadly smoke. Now, new satellite measurements of soil moisture may offer a promising approach to reducing those fires and their widespread haze.

Sengal river with people

Investigating obstacles to disease eradication

The realities of subsistence living in a region of Senegal hard hit by schistosomiasis make reinfection likely, despite mass drug administration. Stanford researchers find that engaging communities in the design of disease control programs could help.

Ocean

The case for managed retreat

Katharine Mach and Miyuki Hino make the case for managed retreat for vulnerable communities in the face of climate change.

water drop

Stanford researchers find smart faucets could aid in water conservation

An experiment with a water-saving “smart” faucet shows potential for reducing water use. The catch? Unbeknownst to study participants, the faucet’s smarts came from its human controller.

Cigarette smoke

Cigarettes with pro-environment marketing perceived as less harmful, Stanford study finds

A survey of adult former smokers, current smokers and people who have never smoked found that people perceived cigarettes marketed as being environmentally friendly as less harmful to health and the environment.

Nanocrystal illustration

Scientists create artificial catalysts inspired by living enzymes

Stanford researchers have made a significant advance in the development of artificial catalysts for making cleaner chemicals and fuels at an industrial scale.

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