What Was the Most Significant Environmental Catastrophe of All Time?

Donald Worster, environmental historian

The worst environmental catastrophe in Earth’s history occurred 66 million years ago, when an asteroid struck, killing an estimated 70 percent of all species. Nothing humans have done compares. But the 1930s Dust Bowl was the worst catastrophe in America’s history, and such a phenomenon may become global as the world’s climate changes.


John McNeill, history professor, Georgetown

The deliberate rupture of the dikes on China’s Yellow River in 1938, by Chinese troops trying to halt a Japanese advance. It killed half a million Chinese, displaced millions more, and led to a decade of flooding.


Graham Roumieu

David Yarnold, president and CEO, National Audubon Society

DDT was a human-made environmental disaster that caused the shells of bird eggs to thin, which crushed … Read the rest

Puppy Love

Neutering your pet isn’t exactly an aesthetic decision. But if for some reason you find Buddy’s postprocedural appearance disconcerting, you have options—like Neuticles, a set of testicular implants that promises to give your pet a more “natural” look. The manufacturer claims to have sold more than 500,000 implants, prompting a question: Just how big is the pet economy?

According to the American Pet Products Association, pet spending has risen every year since 1994, even during the Great Recession, and is estimated to have reached almost $63 billion last year. Some of us contribute more to that total than others, however. For example, people who have attended college are more likely than those who didn’t to make “specialty purchases” for their dogs. [1]

In general, the less … Read the rest

A Terminator in space? That’s about as likely as a Russian Moon landing

Enlarge (credit: Dmitry Rogozin/Twitter)

The reports this weekend were breathless. Mashable said Russia was sending a “death dealing” robot with the power to shoot guns to the International Space Station. Pravda reported that the Russian cyborg, Fyodor, had frightened the West. It was like the Terminator, only in space, and only for reals.

In reality, probably not. The stories were written after the Russian deputy prime minister overseeing military and space activities, Dmitry Rogozin, posted on Facebook and Twitter about the country’s humanoid robot, Fyodor. Rogozin was proud that the robot had demonstrated the ability to shoot from both hands. “Fine motor skills and decision-making algorithms are still being improved,” he tweeted. But maybe we shouldn’t call upon Arnold Schwarzenegger to save us just

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