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As Long as Trees Exist, a Humongous Fungus Will Keep Growing

Deep in the loamy soil of forests around the world, there exists a fungus called the honey mushroom that makes its living on death. A parasite that preys on weak trees, it sucks its victims dry of nutrients, then feasts on their postmortem flesh. Orchards and vineyards have fallen to it; gardeners, farmers, and foresters spend their days fruitlessly...

Not Even a Single Republican Voted for the Climate Bill

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed by the House of Representatives today, is about to become the first comprehensive climate legislation in U.S. history. Compared with Congress’s desultory approach to the issue in the past, the numbers are striking: The legislation will spend roughly $374 billion on decarbonization and climate resilience over the next...

If a Clam Can Live to 500, Why Can’t We?

One day, out of the blue, I received a telephone call from two marine biologists in Wales. As I recall, they said something like “Hello there, Dr. Austad. We are marine biologists who study clams that live a very long time. Would you like to collaborate with us to investigate how they do it?”As a biologist of aging who is perhaps best known for making...

Don’t Feel Bad About Falling for the Viral Space Chorizo

Updated at 10:39 a.m. on August 11, 2022 Recently, a French physicist posted a picture online that he described as simply remarkable. The image, Étienne Klein said, was taken by the James Webb Space Telescope, the world's newest and most powerful space observatory. It showed Proxima Centauri, a star about 4.2 light-years from us, our sun’s closest...

America’s New Monkeypox Strategy Rests on a Single Study

Once again, the United States is messing up its approach to vaccines. Three months into its monkeypox outbreak, just 620,000 doses of the two-injection Jynneos shot—the nation’s current best immune defense against the virus—have been shipped to states, not nearly enough to immunize the 1.6 million to 1.7 million Americans that the CDC considers at highest...

Congress Just Passed a Big Climate Bill. No, Not That One.

Sign up for The Weekly Planet, Robinson Meyer’s newsletter about living through climate change, here.Updated at 12:25 p.m. ET on August 10, 2022Yesterday, President Joe Biden signed into law one of the most significant investments in fighting climate change ever undertaken by the United States. The new act will boost efforts to manufacture more zero-carbon...

Hibernation Could Prolong Life. Is It Worth It?

Today’s most elderly bats aren’t supposed to exist. Ounce for ounce and pound for pound, they are categorically teeny mammals; according to the evolutionary rules that hold across species, they should be short-lived, like other small-bodied creatures.And yet, many of Earth’s winged mammals buck this trend, sometimes blowing decades past their anticipated...

History’s Greatest Obstacle to Climate Progress Has Finally Fallen

Updated at 5:19 p.m. on August 7, 2022 Climate change was born as a modern political issue in the United States Senate. On a hot June day in 1988, a senior NASA scientist warned a Senate committee that global warming, which was previously mooted only as a hypothesis, was not only real but already under way. “It is time to stop waffling so much and...

Fish Oil Is Good! No, Bad! No, Good! No, Wait

At first, it was all very exciting. In 1971, a team of Danish researchers stationed on Greenland’s northwest coast found that a local Inuit community had remarkably low levels of diabetes and heart disease. The reason, the researchers surmised, was their high-marine-fat diet—in other words, fish oil. Incidence of heart disease, which once afflicted...

What Should Worry Most Americans About Our Monkeypox Response

Seventy-eight days and more than 7,000 documented cases into the United States’ 2022 outbreak of monkeypox, federal officials have declared the disease a nationwide public-health emergency. With COVID-19 (you know, the other ongoing viral public-health emergency) still very much raging, the U.S. is officially in the midst of two infectious-disease crises,...

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