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Pictures: Inside Scandinavia’s Biggest Icebreaker

Take a look inside the Oden, the 351-foot (107-meter) Swedish vessel that pulverizes ice and helps polar scientists do their jobs.

Federal Appeals Court Upholds EPA Mercury Rule

A federal appeals court upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) requiring power plants install technology to cut emissions of mercury and other air pollutants. MATS was challenged by industry and several states that argued the EPA should have considered costs when determining whether it was “appropriate and necessary” to go forward with the standards. The…

Report: Current Efforts to Slow Global Warming Not Sufficient

Days before world leaders meet in Warsaw, Poland, for the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference, a new report warns that the opportunity to limit global temperature increases to 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels is diminishing. The “Emissions Gap Report 2013,” compiled yearly by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), looks at how each nation is meeting its…

Proposed Rules to Limit Power Plant Emissions Expected This Week

In a move initiated by the Obama administration to address global changes in climate, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected this week to release a proposal for regulations to reduce carbon emissions from new power plants. Although details about the regulations remain confidential, the New York Times reports the proposal could contain standards different for coal…

Fracking’s Threats to Drinking Water Call for a Precautionary Approach

At least one aspect of fracking’s risks to drinking water became a little clearer this week. A study led by Rob Jackson of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that drinking water wells located within 1 kilometer of a shale gas well…

December 23, 2012: Whispering Dogs’ Secrets, Saving Cheetahs with Donkeys, and More

This week on National Geographic Weekend, join host Boyd Matson as we whisper dogs’ secrets to their owners, trade guns for climbing gear in Rio, paint endangered animals onto a barn, teach donkeys to protect cows from cheetahs in Namibia, save the world from a Mayan apocalypse, tunnel deep under Gaza to deliver groceries, sacrifice our fingertips to bee stings in Turkey, and take in hot air from shale rock across the United States.

Deep-Sea Methane, Wind that Could Power World?

The U.S. Energy Department announced plans to spend more than $5 million researching the potential to produce natural gas from deep-sea methane hydrates—ice-like formations that contain natural gas and are stable at depths of more than 300 feet. The Energy Department calls them “the world’s largest untapped fossil energy resource”—some estimate they are twice as abundant as all remaining…

Giant Butter Sculpture Powers Farm for Three Days

The Penn­syl­va­nia Farm Show is host to a thousand-pound butter sculpture. All that butter will not go to waste after the show ends. Steve Rein­ford is the lucky dairy farmer who will take cus­tody of the sculp­ture. And, far from a tragic end, the sculpture, with a little help from a methane digester, will power Reinford’s home and farm for about three days.

Fight Over Tar Sands Pipeline May Lead to Cancellation, “Huge” Consequences

In November, the Obama administration decided to delay a decision on whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline to bring tar sands from Canada to the United States. But in December, Republicans attached a provision to a tax bill, which President Obama signed, that urges the administration to decide on the pipeline within 60 days,…

Oregano Moves Cows Toward Climate Neutral

A dash of oregano does more than make pizza taste delicious: it also can reduce the amount of methane in cow burps, new research shows. Scientists have been trying to decrease methane from livestock for years; methane is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) as a greenhouse gas, and cows in the…

Springtime for Phoenix, Summer on Triton

Update: Even as I was typing this, the HiRISE team was posting a brand-new picture of a Martian avalanche! Check it out below … Spring is in bloom on Earth’s Northern Hemisphere, melting snows, coaxing out budding leaves on trees, and otherwise making its mark on the landscape. On northern Mars, spring has been revving…

Grant Helps Explorers Turn Garbage Into Fuel

Though public attention has focused on oil reserves beneath Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal aren’t the northern state’s only energy resources. Now, two National Geographic Emerging Explorers will receive a grant to see if microscopic life forms from the Alaskan tundra could help turn garbage into fuel in…

Moon Crash to Put All Eyes on Cabeus A

On October 9, 2009, a piece of launch rocket still attached to an orbiting spacecraft will finally let go so it can take a dive into the moon. The event is the end goal of NASA’s LCROSS mission, which aims to study material kicked up by the impact to find out whether the lunar surface…

A Sustainable World: Inspiring People to Act

Thomas Culhane, Katey Walter, and Jon Waterman share their insights on co-existing with the planet at the National Geographic Explorers Symposium. Urban planner and National Geographic Emerging Explorer Thomas Culhane‘s nongovernmental organization Solar CITIES trains residents of Cairo’s poorest neighborhoods to build rooftop solar water heaters and other renewable energy, water, and waste management systems.…

Saturn’s Moon Titan, ANWR of the Future

There’s so many reasons Titan is just darn cool. Discovered in 1655, the Saturn moon is the second biggest moon in our solar system (beat out only by Jupiter‘s Ganymede). It’s also the only moon known to have a planet-like atmosphere, complete with clouds, a cool fact that unfortunately meant its surface long remained a…