Climate explained: why Mars is cold despite an atmosphere of mostly carbon dioxide

Paulo de Souza, Griffith University Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

Humanity’s birthplace: why everyone alive today can call northern Botswana home

Vanessa Hayes, University of Sydney Where was the evolutionary birthplace of modern humans? The East African Great Rift Valley has long been the favoured contender – until today. Our new research has used DNA to trace humanity’s earliest footsteps to a prehistoric wetland called Makgadikgadi-Okavango, south of the Great Zambezi River. Our analysis, published in […]

Evolution tells us we might be the only intelligent life in the universe

Nick Longrich, University of Bath Are we alone in the universe? It comes down to whether intelligence is a probable outcome of natural selection or an improbable fluke. By definition, probable events occur frequently, improbable events occur rarely – or once. Our evolutionary history shows that many key adaptations – not just intelligence, but complex […]

Animals are disappearing from forests, with grave consequences for the fight against climate breakdown – new research

Charlie Gardner, University of Kent; Jake Bicknell, University of Kent; Matthew Struebig, University of Kent, and Zoe Davies, University of Kent It’s tempting to think that our forests would be fine if we could simply stop trees being felled or burnt. But forests – particularly tropical ones – are more than just trees. They’re also […]

Wandering Earth: rocket scientist explains how we could move our planet

Matteo Ceriotti, University of Glasgow In the Chinese science fiction film The Wandering Earth, recently released on Netflix, humanity attempts to change the Earth’s orbit using enormous thrusters in order to escape the expanding sun – and prevent a collision with Jupiter. The scenario may one day come true. In five billion years, the sun […]

What Earth’s changing climate can teach us about altering the surface of Mars

Gareth Dorrian, University of Birmingham and Ian Whittaker, Nottingham Trent University In a rare instance of environmental success, the United Nations has just announced it believes the damage to the Earth’s protective ozone layer will be fully restored by the year 2050. This stands in stark contrast to the increasing alarm over the climate emergency, […]

Five climate change science misconceptions – debunked

Mark Maslin, UCL The science of climate change is more than 150 years old and it is probably the most tested area of modern science. However, the energy industry, political lobbyists and others have spent the last 30 years sowing doubt about the science where none really exists. The latest estimate is that the world’s […]

How we detected water on a potentially habitable exoplanet for the first time

Angelos Tsiaras, UCL With more than 4,000 exoplanets – planets orbiting stars other than our sun – discovered so far, it may seem like we are on the cusp of finding out whether we are alone in the universe. Sadly though, we don’t know much about these planets – in most cases just their mass […]

Amazon fires explained: what are they, why are they so damaging, and how can we stop them?

Jos Barlow, Lancaster University and Alexander C. Lees, Manchester Metropolitan University Imagine a rainforest at dawn – the tall canopy laden with dripping ferns and orchids, tree trunks covered in spongy mosses and lichens, and the morning mist only slowly burning away as the sun rises. While there is fuel everywhere, it seems unimaginable that […]