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Exploding stars could have kick-started our ancestors’ evolution

Posted on 9 Oct 2017 in Environment, Featured, Human Origins, Journalism

Was the rise of humankind written in the stars? A nearby star exploding 8 million years ago might have triggered more frequent lightning on Earth. Wildfires ignited by that lightning could help explain the rise of east African savannahs – which many researchers think provided a vital backdrop for the early evolution of hominins. Image: USFWS/Southeast

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Why cities are unleashing birds of prey into their skies

Posted on 4 Oct 2016 in Animal Behaviour, Environment, Journalism

While political hawks and doves clash inside the Palace of Westminster, real hawks patrol the skies above the famous buildings to control the population of feral pigeons – which, despite the name, are actually a kind of dove. Falconry is a hugely popular pest control measure. But is it effective? Image: left-hand

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Some of the earliest plants took root by growing up, not down

Posted on 8 Aug 2016 in Earth Science, Environment, Evolution, Journalism

It was one of the first examples of geoengineering: when plants began to colonise the land they stabilised sediments, generated soils and greened the planet. Now we have a window on the process, thanks to a spectacular rock formation in South China. Image: Jinzhuang Xue

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The Chernobyl exclusion zone is arguably a nature reserve

Posted on 22 Apr 2016 in Environment, Featured, Journalism

In the early hours of 26 April 1986, an experiment at Chernobyl designed to investigate the safety of the nuclear reactor went badly wrong. Radiation spilled into the environment and the population was evacuated. Thirty years on, though, wildlife is thriving. But is this really a sign that the environment can cope with nuclear disaster? Image: skpy

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Will snow become a thing of the past as the climate warms?

Posted on 27 Jan 2016 in Environment, Journalism

Given that the world is getting steadily warmer as a result of man-made climate change, snowmageddon events strike many people as pretty weird. Surely we should not be seeing so many extreme snowstorms if the world is getting warmer? Image: jmd41280

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When global warming made our world super-hot

Posted on 16 Sep 2015 in Earth Science, Environment, Journalism, Life

In the late 1980s, as the world’s governments were waking up to the problem of climate change, the mud at the bottom of the ocean near Antarctica revealed a surprise. Earth had lived through rapid global warming before. Image: tauntingpanda

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