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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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About Stanford Earth Matters

Wind turbines at sunset

The science behind decarbonization

A collection of research and insights from Stanford experts who are predicting the consequences of future emission pathways, mapping out viable climate solutions, enabling better carbon accounting and revealing the stakes of ambitious emission targets.

Homes with rooftop solar panels

How to close the clean-energy divide

An engineer and clean-energy entrepreneur discusses the troubling socio-economic gap in access to sustainable energy and the things we can do now to narrow and, perhaps, close it.

Farmland at sunset

Climate change has hurt farm productivity

New research shows climate change has wiped out seven years of improvements in agricultural productivity over the past 60 years.

Jordan desert with video play button

Jordan's worsening water crisis a warning for the world

Prolonged and potentially destabilizing water shortages will become commonplace in Jordan by 2100, new research finds, unless the nation implements comprehensive reform, from fixing leaky pipes to desalinating seawater. Jordan’s water crisis is emblematic of challenges looming around the world as a result of climate change and rapid population growth. 

Protestors holding sign that reads clean water is a human right

Q&A: Environmental policies for all Americans?

Stanford researchers weigh in on how the Biden administration can address environmental justice and social issues that have been generations in the making.

Nuclear plant

Breaking U.S. nuclear waste stalemate could be key to Biden’s climate goals

Stanford University experts are cautiously optimistic that the Biden administration can change the U.S. trajectory on nuclear waste, and they offer their thoughts on how it can be done.

Mackerel school

Aquaculture’s promise and peril

Twenty years ago, a Stanford-led analysis sparked controversy by highlighting fish farming’s damage to ocean fisheries. Now a follow-up study takes stock of the industry’s progress and points to opportunities for sustainable growth.

Environmental issues collage

Understanding Biden's environmental challenges and actions

The Biden administration’s ambitious plans for environmental progress face complex obstacles. The findings, expertise and policy experience of Stanford researchers working across multiple fields could help contribute to sustainable, cost-effective solutions. Dig deeper: Environmental justiceNuclear waste | Wildfire solutions | The warming Arctic | U.S. drinking water

Melting iceberg

Research and policy in a changing Arctic

Stanford University scholars discuss the Biden administration’s early actions on environmental issues in the Arctic and how the U.S. government can address threats to ecosystems, people and infrastructure in the fastest-warming place on Earth.

Fukushima damage

Lessons from the Fukushima disaster 10 years later

A decade after a powerful earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown in Japan, Stanford experts discuss revelations about radiation from the disaster, advances in earthquake science related to the event and how its devastating impact has influenced strategies for tsunami defense and local warning systems.

Aerial view of pollution rising from a coal fired power plant in Gansu Province

Global carbon emissions need to shrink 10 times faster

Among the dozens of countries that reduced their emissions 2016-2019, carbon dioxide emissions fell at roughly one tenth the rate needed worldwide to hold global warming well below 2°C relative to preindustrial levels, a new study finds.

Katse Dam in Lesotho, South Africa

How much do humans influence Earth’s water levels?

A new study provides the first global accounting of fluctuations in lake and reservoir water levels. The research shows 57 percent of the variability occurs in dammed reservoirs and other bodies of water managed by people, highlighting the dominant role humans now play in Earth’s water cycle.

Family in front of an industrial harbor

Air pollution puts children at higher risk of disease in adulthood

First of its kind study reveals evidence that early exposure to dirty air alters genes in a way that could lead to adult heart disease, among other ailments. The findings could change the way medical experts and parents think about the air children breathe and inform clinical interventions.

Covid social distancing

How behaviors complicate epidemic outcomes

A new model of disease spread describes how competing economic and health incentives influence social contact – and vice versa. The result is a complex and dynamic epidemic trajectory.

Fish swimming in plastic debris

Plastic ingestion by fish is a growing problem

A new research review finds the rate of plastic consumption in fish has doubled in the past decade and continues to increase. Fish higher up on the food chain are at the greatest risk.

Cattle grazing at sunset in Brazil

Landscape disruptions threaten Paris climate agreement goals

A new study finds emissions from deforestation, conversion of wild landscapes to agriculture, and other changes in land use worldwide contributed 25 percent of all human-caused emissions between 2001 and 2017.

Hadza moving between camps

Men and women on the move

Research based on the daily movements of people living in a contemporary hunter-gatherer society provides new evidence for links between the gendered division of labor in human societies over the past 2.5 million years and differences in the way men and women think about space.

Bright triangle pattern

Squeezing a rock-star material could make it stable enough for solar cells

A promising lead halide perovskite is great at converting sunlight to electricity, but it breaks down at room temperature. Now scientists have discovered how to stabilize it with pressure from a diamond anvil cell.

Contaminated soil

Pervasive health threats of unregulated battery recycling

A new study in Bangladesh finds that a relatively affordable remediation process can almost entirely remove lead left behind by unregulated battery recycling – and raises troubling questions about how to effectively eliminate the poison from children’s bodies.

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