11 Things We Learned This Week

This week, we learned …

… the concentration of atmospheric carbon has risen to its highest level in 800,000 years.

The concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere reached 405 parts per million (ppm) last year, a level not seen in 800,000 years.
Image courtesy NASA/NOAA/GSFC/Suomi NPP/VIIRS/Norman Kuring

How does atmospheric carbon inform climate change? Use our activity to find out.



… the Chesapeake Bay, once the poster child for environmental degradation, is now the poster child for successful, large-scale restoration.

This map was created by the Environmental Protection Agency to delineate the Chesapeake Bay and the land cover that can be found in this area.
Map by EPA

Chart progress with downloadable resources from our Chesapeake Bay map gallery.



… how to trace the legacy of ALS through the deep roots of the Cumberland Gap. Read of the week!

Living history interpreters at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park bring the stories of early European pioneers to life.
Photograph by Harold Jerrell, National Park Service

Use our short introduction to get a glimpse of why the Cumberland Gap was the original “gateway to the West.”



… spicy peppers may help save imperiled prairies.

The amazing grasslands of the Midwest are threatened by hungry field mice. A powder made from ghost peppers is repelling them.
Photograph by Dykinga Photography LLC, courtesy National Geographic

What are prairies?



… insects speak in different dialects.

Different fruit flies species can learn each other’s language to warn against parasitic wasps.
Photograph by Paulomelo.adv, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-4.0

What other species can learn each others’ dialects?



… a court decision has strengthened Native American rights to aquifers in the wild west.

Map by Philip Womble, courtesy Stanford University

What is an aquifer?



… Vikings cornered the market on Greenlandic ivory in the early Middle Ages.

CLICK TO ENLARGE! The Viking influence stretched across much of the Northern Hemisphere.
Map by Fernando G. Baptista, National Geographic

How did the Vikings get to Greenland?



… a tiny Caribbean island is planning on banning single-use plastic.

Nicknamed “Nature Island,” Dominica plans to fully ban all common plastic and styrofoam single-use food containers by the end of the year.
Photograph by Hans Hillewaert, courtesy Wikimedia. CC-BY-SA-4.0

Take the plastic pledge, and print your own map of Dominica here—leave a lot of areas to color green.



… rich nations benefit from global fishing much more than poor ones.

Where are the world’s fisheries? Why do you think wealthy nations are better able to exploit ocean resources outside their own territorial boundaries?
Map courtesy Global Fishing Watch

Use our activity to help students better understand global fisheries.



… the strange story and fraught future of the most famous toxic body of water in the U.S.

The Berkley Pit is a former copper mine near Butte, Montana. The pit itself is the deep blue basin in this photo, while the aqua area is the mine’s tailings pond. The water in the Berkeley Pit has high levels of copper, cadmium, cobalt, iron, manganese, and zinc, along with concentrations of arsenic.
Photograph by NASA

Take a look at the environmental impact of mines around the world with our satellite image gallery.



… how levees can actually increase flooding, for some communities.

What is a levee?

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