People, planet, and the path ahead

How the West is adapting for a drier future

In this edition: Climate change prompts adaptation in the Colorado River basin; how a map and an app might help bees; can science be unifying?

What we're writing

Lake Powell stretches across the Utah-Arizona border. Known for its house boat tourism, the reservoir also retains water for states in the Upper Colorado River Basin that would otherwise flow through the river and into Lake Mead, which serves more densely populated states in the lower basin. Due to a long drought in recent years the lake, shown here in June 2013, has shrunk far below its traditional levels.
Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News/AP
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The West's challenge is still water scarcity, wet winter or not

With climate change affecting water supplies that are already strained by urban growth, states in the Colorado River basin are being forced to innovate and adapt. First in a series on solutions to the West's water challenge. // Zack Colman

Fracking led to 6,000 spills in 10 years, study finds

A new study looks at fracking sites in four states, finding 6,648 spills between 2005 and 2014. The research highlights the opportunity for a data-driven conversation about hydraulic fracturing – and could help prevent future incidents. // Ellen Powell

US 'bee map' charts a decline – but aims to help

The map shows a dearth of the pollinators in some key farming areas, revealing where conservation efforts are needed. One scientist is also developing an app to help farmers attract and keep more wild bees on their properties. // Charlie Wood

In time of division, can science find a way to unite?

In the current divisive political atmosphere, many Americans appear to be aligning themselves as if ready for battle. But at an annual gathering of the science community, some talked about how to arm themselves for conversation rather than a fight. // Eva Botkin-Kowacki

What we're reading

Changing carbon from waste into gold

Inside the race to make carbon a profitable commodity for industrial use. // Marketplace

Reality check on climate-friendlier air conditioners

A global deal calls for reducing the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). One study finds replacement chemicals so far have problems like flammability. // InsideClimate News

Urban heat islands: how to cool things down

It's not easy, but some of the best options include trees, 'green roads,' and fewer cars. // The Guardian

What's trending

Amid big drought, African famine and response

“The funding system for humanitarian aid is broken. We are stuck in a Kafka-esque situation where humanitarians can see a crisis coming but they cannot mobilize significant funding." // Debbie Hillier, adviser to Oxfam, quoted in The Christian Science Monitor

China suspends all coal imports from North Korea

"Coal has accounted for 34 percent to 40 percent of North Korean exports in the past several years, and almost all of it was shipped to China, according to South Korean government estimates." // Choe Sang-Hun, writing in The New York Times

What's up with warm February weather in most of US?

"The absence of a wandering polar vortex may partly explain the early spring-like weather. In past years the Arctic's polar vortex - a low-pressure system that spins frigid air counterclockwise around the North Pole - has ventured beyond its northerly home into the United States, lowering temperatures." // Laura Geggel writing in Live Science