Rejoining the Paris Agreement is just the first step toward U.S. green global leadership

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Illustration by Kelsey King

By Clare Fieseler for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @ClareFieseler

A U.S. president announced America’s distancing from the most significant climate treaty in history. Sixteen years later, President Donald Trump followed suit. In other words, whiplash is not new to U.S. environmental politics — and, for decades, it has been at the center of our treaty-making.

Trump took a page out of President George W. Bush’s playbook when he announced in 2017 he was ditching the Paris climate deal. Bush had taken similar action when he refused to move forward with the Kyoto Protocol, the 1990s precursor to the Paris Agreement…


Regenerative agriculture practices can sequester carbon in soil, but for companies with complex supply chains, the logistics of moving to such practices can be complicated.

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Photo courtesy of Meg Wilcox

By Meg Wilcox for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @WilcoxMeg

Jason Johnson, Stonyfield Organic’s farmer relationship manager, fires up the AgriCORE soil sampling tool in a pasture with sweeping views of central Maine’s rolling hillsides at Dostie Farm, an organic dairy. The auger bit whirrs as it slices through clover and grass, spiraling downward into the earth to retrieve a sample from the 650-acre (263-hectare) farm on a blustery October day.

It takes Johnson three tries to get it right, and the auger emerges from the ground, encased in a thin layer of dark soil. Leah Puro, agricultural research coordinator at…


Entrepreneurs from low- and middle-income countries face many obstacles. These programs help their breakthrough ideas see the light of day.

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Photo courtesy of ClimateLaunchpad

By Fanni Daniella Szakal for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @FanniDaniella

Smoke rises between houses from fuels being burned for cooking, threatening both the environment and human health through carbon dioxide emissions and indoor air pollution. Meanwhile, diapers that have not been properly disposed of are polluting waterways and sewage systems and become a potential source of disease. What do these two seemingly distinct problems have to do with one another? For starters, they are two of many hazards that the residents of Kibera — an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, and one of the largest such settlements in Africa —…


Disinfecting drinking water against pathogens is necessary, but by-products from the process are a ubiquitous — and likely growing — problem across the U.S. Solutions exist, though.

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Photo courtesy of Kevin Maillefer/Unsplash.com

By Lynne Peeples for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @lynnepeeps

Editor’s note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here.

In late September 2020, officials in Wrangell, Alaska, warned residents who were elderly, pregnant or had health problems to avoid drinking the city’s tap water — unless they could filter it on their own.

More than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) away, the people of Scituate, Massachusetts, received a letter that same month cautioning…


Wherever in the world you go looking for “wild and pristine spaces,” you encounter evidence of humanity

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Illustration by Kelsey King

By Philip Loring by Ensia | @ensiamedia | @ConserveChange

Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from Finding Our Niche: Toward a Restorative Human Ecology, published by Fernwood Publishing, a book that is an outgrowth of essays the author previously published at Ensia.

Author’s note: Throughout this book I will use the proper name “Turtle Island” to refer to North America. Turtle Island is the name given to this continent by several Indigenous societies. I do this to represent the fact that my stories are settler stories, stories that unfold on stolen land. …


Multi-stakeholder partnerships that include displaced people in the process show promise for helping overwhelmed communities deal with an influx of climate migrants from rural areas.

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Photo © iStockphoto.com | ssadikgulec

By Ambika Chawla for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @AmbikaChawla3

When the rains never arrived in the East African nation of Somalia in 2016, nor in 2017, hundreds of thousands of rural residents were forced to abandon their lands and livelihoods due to one of the most severe droughts in decades. Then, in 2019, from September to December, heavy rains led to severe flooding there, displacing hundreds of thousands of people from their homes in rural areas and towns in the districts of Belet Weyne, Baardheere and Berdale.

These climate migrants traversed barren and dusty landscapes, or traveled through torrential rains…


Removing “forever” chemicals from drinking water is not an easy task

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Public Domain. Courtesy of SRA Jeremy Smith, USAF/Combined Military Service Digital Photographic Files

By Ismail Turay Jr. for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @IsmailTurayJr

Editor’s note: This piece was expanded and updated from an original report in the Dayton [Ohio] Daily News published in June 2020. This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here.

A group of manmade substances that can cause serious health problems in humans and animals is increasingly threatening U.S. drinking water systems, experts say. …


Wherever you are in the U.S., there’s a good chance you can find harmful PFAS compounds in water near you.

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Photo courtesy of James Willamor from Wikimedia, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

By Lynne Peeples for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @lynnepeeps

Editor’s note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here.

Tom Kennedy learned about the long-term contamination of his family’s drinking water about two months after he was told that his breast cancer had metastasized to his brain and was terminal.

The troubles tainting his tap: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a broad category of chemicals invented in the mid-1900s to add desirable…


Widespread immunity eventually will end the Covid-19 crisis. But it won’t end wildlife-related pandemics. What can we do now to reduce future risk?

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Photo © iStockphoto.com | Charoenchai Tothaisong

By Debora MacKenzie for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @debmackenzie1

This feature, part of a collection of stories around reducing the threat of wildlife-transmitted disease, is supported by funding from the Solutions Journalism Network.

I recently wrote a book about Covid-19 in six weeks. I could do that partly because I have, in a way, been covering this pandemic since the 1990s — when scientists started predicting this would happen.

It started with warnings that population growth, economic expansion and habitat destruction were rubbing humans up against wild animals with dangerous viruses, while mushrooming cities and global air travel meant any…


North Dakota’s water supplies are at risk from contaminants from fracking wastewater, but residents are fighting back

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Photo © Alamy / ZUMA Press, Inc.

By Elena Bruess for Ensia | @ensiamedia | @ellevarela

Editor’s note: This story is part of a nine-month investigation of drinking water contamination across the U.S. The series is supported by funding from the Park Foundation and Water Foundation. Read the launch story, “Thirsting for Solutions,” here.

Lisa Finley-DeVille started drinking bottled water around the same time her friend’s horses began to get sick and die. A half decade ago on the Fort Berthold Reservation in western North Dakota, Deville drove up to see her friend in the New Town area. The horses looked dehydrated and brittle, just skin and…

Ensia

Ensia is a solutions-focused nonprofit media outlet reporting on our changing planet.

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