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A Root of Change

Bracing for Impact The harvest of wild American ginseng root has been a part of North American culture for 300 years, but this tradition is in peril. Is it possible to save both a species and a pastime? An aged photograph, archived in the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, shows the memorabilia once on display at the Sundial Tavern, near Naoma, W.Va. Photos of babies, teenaged girls in prom dresses and a boy in football uniform adorn the wall. Propped on a ledge is a snapshot of Dolly Parton, dressed in fire red and sequins. At the … Read more…

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Dust Bowl Unrivaled

Nature Atmospheric conditions and human actions combined to drive the 1930s megadrought Farms failed and livestock starved in the central United States during the Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s. The event was not just the region’s worst dry spell in modern memory — it was the worst in North America over the past millennium, researchers report in Geophysical Research Letters.

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Caribou genetics reveal shadow of climate change

Nature Ancient ice ages that shaped modern caribou populations may foretell animals’ fate in a warmer world. When ice sheets marched across North America 20,000 years ago during the Last Glacial Maximum, they devoured liveable areas for caribou and isolated them from their Eurasian relatives for thousands of years. Now researchers have evidence that such climatic events have sculpted the genetics of North American caribou, which may make the animals unable to adapt to future climate change. “Although the past is not a guarantee for the future, it makes me pessimistic about the future of the species,” says Glenn Yannic, … Read more…

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Ozone-hole treaty slowed global warming

Montreal Protocol helped to curb climate change and so did world wars and the Great Depression. Human actions that were not intended to limit the greenhouse effect have had large effects on slowing climate change. The two world wars, the Great Depression and a 1987 international treaty on ozone-depleting chemicals put a surprising dent in the rate at which the planet warmed, says research published today in Nature Geoscience1. Francisco Estrada, an ecological economist at the Free University in Amsterdam, and his colleagues analysed annual temperature data collected from 1850 to 2010, as well as trends in emissions of greenhouse gases … Read more…