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Stanford Earth Matters

Science and insights for people who care about Earth, its resources and its environment

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Delivery drone

Could drones deliver packages more efficiently by hopping on the bus?

A computer science PhD student describes how we might combine the flexibility of drones with the capacity of ground-based vehicles to make e-commerce more traffic-friendly.

Woman wearing mask near traffic

Links between COVID-19 and air pollution

A proposed change to federal regulations would give less consideration to the health benefits of air pollution rules. Mary Prunicki of Stanford’s Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research discusses likely outcomes for poor communities.

Forest

When planting trees threatens the forest

The first-of-its-kind study reveals that subsidies for the planting of commercially valuable tree plantations in Chile resulted in the loss of biologically valuable natural forests and little, if any, additional carbon sequestration.

Wind turbine and shadow

Simulating wind farm development

Engineers have devised a model to describe how, in the process of establishing wind farms, interactions between developers and landowners affect energy production costs.

Infrastructure

Understanding environmental rollback

In a Q&A, environmental law Professor Deborah Sivas discusses a recent executive order that empowers federal agencies to override legal requirements for environmental reviews and community feedback related to major infrastructure projects.

Pumpjack

Living near oil and gas wells may increase preterm birth risk

New research shows living near oil and gas development in California is a risk factor for preterm birth, the leading cause of infant death in the United States. About 2.1 million Californians live within one mile of an active oil or gas well.

Yangtze River

Accounting for nature in economies

Gross Domestic Product, the standard metric for measuring national economies, doesn’t account for the valuable services provided by nature. A new approach could help fill the gap.

Close-up of plants in soil

Human waste treatment helps solve climate change puzzle

New research shows composting human waste produces an effective fertilizer for agriculture while increasing safety, sustainability and jobs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste-borne illnesses.

Village

Using satellites and AI to help fight poverty in Africa

A new tool combines publicly accessible satellite imagery with AI to track poverty across African villages over time.

Fire

Tracking the tinderbox: Mapping dry wildfire fuels with AI and new satellite data

Researchers have developed a deep-learning model that maps fuel moisture levels in fine detail across 12 western states, opening a door for better fire predictions.

Bumblee bee

Staying off the murder hornet list

Experts from the Stanford-based Natural Capital Project explain the value of wild bees in our agricultural systems, especially in light of the increased risk murder hornets pose to domesticated honey bees.

Bike wheel

Environment and energy after COVID-19

Global carbon dioxide emissions are down dramatically in the wake of COVID-19. A new study pinpoints where energy demand has dropped the most, estimates the impact on annual emissions and points the way to a less polluted future.

Waterways

Less water could sustain more Californians if we make every drop count

As climate change and population growth make drinking water costlier, here are six strategies to quench the state’s thirst without busting its budget.

Tractor

COVID-19 could exacerbate food insecurity around the world

COVID-19 and other looming threats could make it much harder for people to access food. David Lobell, director of Stanford’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, outlines likely scenarios and possible solutions.

Concrete wall

Rethinking tsunami defense

Careful engineering of low, plant-covered hills along shorelines can mitigate tsunami risks with less disruption of coastal life and lower costs compared to seawalls.

Planet B

Q&A: Climate change politics in the high school classroom

A Stanford education scholar discusses how young people are affected by the politicization of climate change – and what science teachers can do to help bridge the divide.

Grey Glacier in Patagonia

Steve Graham looks back on the first Earth Day

Stanford Earth Dean Steve Graham joined one of the thousands of rallies held in celebration of the first Earth Day. Now he discusses the event and his own expanding thinking about the planet and its history.

Olive baboon

How forest loss leads to spread of disease

Viruses that jump from animals to people, like the one responsible for COVID-19, will likely become more common as people continue to transform natural habitats into agricultural land, a new study suggests.

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