The school day had just ended at Isaac Dickson Elementary School in Asheville, North Carolina. Most students had left, and the ones in the school's "supervised homework help" program were inside the campus. Fifth-grade teacher Betsie Stockslager Emry was also heading home when she noticed two playful black bears entering the empty playground. What happened next will bring a smile to your face.
The Sequoia National Park in California's southern Sierra Nevada mountains is best known for its namesake giant sequoias. The park boasts 40 groves of the massive trees, which occur naturally only on its western slopes. But the most beloved is the Giant Forest, a collection of 2000 trees that includes half of the Earth's largest and longest-living trees. This past weekend, the ancient wonders came dangerously close to being scorched by the KNP Complex Fire. But thanks to quick-thinking firefighters, the precious grove has been saved.
After years of intense public pushback, the now-shuttered Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus finally announced the retirement of their Asian elephant performers in 2016. While the decision was a resounding victory for animal lovers and activists, it raised a new issue. The mighty pachyderms were raised in captivity and lacked the skills to survive in the wild. Now, thanks to Florida-based White Oak Conservation, the animals have a new home — one where they can roam freely.
The western false asphodel — an herb-like plant found in abundance along North America's West Coast — has been known to science since 1879. But it is only recently that researchers from the University of British Columbia discovered the innocent-looking plant's penchant for insects. The finding is particularly exciting given that this is the first new predatory plant to be discovered in 20 years.
The Henan Province in central China is a treasure trove of dinosaur eggs. However, the odd-looking black orb with a blue tint, presented to Fenglu Han and Haishui Jiang by a farmer in 2018, was unlike any dinosaur egg the experts had encountered before. The paleontologists from the China University of Geosciences initially thought the egg might belong to a new species of the prehistoric giants.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane season began with a bang for the residents of Louisiana. On August 29, 2021, the Gulf Coast state was battered by Hurricane Ida, a powerful Category 4 storm that officials believe was the strongest to hit the area in 165 years. To make matters worse, Ida arrived on the sixteenth anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Katrina and made landfall twice.
Clothing made from synthetic materials, such as polyester and nylon, has many positive attributes. It is cheap to produce, lasts for a long time, and is comfortable to wear. However, the fabric, made from petroleum, has one major downside. The tiny polymer strands — or what we call lint — that shed from the textiles during each laundry cycle are big contributors to plastic pollution. Now, some scientists from Lithuania have found a way to recycle the textile waste into clean energy.
On August 8, 2021, the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its first assessment of climate science since 2013. The news was not good. The report stated that this past decade was the hottest in 125,000 years and that the atmospheric carbon levels are the highest in at least 2 million years. Glaciers are melting faster than any time in over 2,000 years, and ocean levels are rising at twice the rate since 2006.