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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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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.

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.

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.

SARS-CoV-2

Understanding spread of COVID-19

Much remains unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads through the environment. Environmental engineers describe potential transmission pathways and their implications.

Illustration of corona virus on a world map

COVID-19 in a world made ripe for pandemics

Emerging infectious diseases have become more likely – and more likely to be consequential – partly as a result of how people move around the planet and relate to the natural world.

Cascade of yellow light illustration

Machine learning could speed the arrival of ultra-fast-charging electric cars

Using artificial intelligence, a Stanford-led research team has slashed battery testing times – a key barrier to longer-lasting, faster-charging batteries for electric vehicles – by nearly fifteenfold.

Rusty iron rebar

Rust offers a cheap way to filter arsenic-poisoned water

In regions that lack the resources to treat the contaminated water, it can lead to disease, cancer and even death.

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.

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.

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