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The Best of Cool Green Science 2016: Celebrating Nature Near You

December 28, 2016

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Portrait of a monarch butterfly gathering nectar from flowering goldenrod, Massachusetts. Photo © Cheryl Rose

When we began Cool Green Science four years ago, one of our goals was to share cool science and information about the natural world around you.

You don’t have to go on a far-flung safari to experience incredible nature experiences. There is plenty of drama going on right in your neighborhood. The stories about “nature near you” are always among our most popular.

Here’s a selection of some favorites from the past year. And join us for more backyard natural history, cool sightings and conservation tips in the year ahead.

  1. Baby Skunk. Photo © Paul Berquist

    You’re driving to work on a warm September day and catch a familiar whiff. It’s not just you: you really are smelling more skunks this week. Here’s why.

  2. Monarch butterfly. © becky-r/Flickr through a Creative Commons license

    Monarch butterflies are in the media a lot lately, and it’s not good news. How bad is the situation? Will monarchs go extinct? Our blogger breaks down the issue, including what you can do.

  3. Opiliones, Eupnoi, F Sclerosomatidae, Leiobunum aldrichi, male. Note that the fang-like appendages near the mouth are the chelicerae, used for catching prey. Photo © Marshal Hedin / Flickr through a Creative Commons license
    Opiliones, Eupnoi, F Sclerosomatidae, Leiobunum aldrichi, male. Note that the fang-like appendages near the mouth are the chelicerae, in the Opiliones these are adapted with small pincers for grasping prey. Photo © Marshal Hedin / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

    You no doubt first heard about the venomous power of daddy longlegs on the school playground. You have nothing to fear: but the real daddy longlegs has even bigger surprises.

  4. American goldfinches on a sunflower. Photo © plant4wildlife

    Our easy tips will have you transforming your yard or other outdoor space into prime wildlife habitat in no time.

  5. Crows (Corvus brachyrhynchos). Photo © (OvO) / Flickr through a Creative Commons license

    No matter where you live, there’s a good chance there is a crow nearby. What you might not notice is the crow family drama going on all around you. Take an entertaining look at this smart and social bird.

  6. Following a few simple steps can help improve the health of your backyard garden soil – and your vegetable harvests. Photo © Nick Hall

    Your garden is home to its own biodiversity: nematodes, fungi, bacteria, microscopic insects, and more. As a gardener, you’re likely in it for the heavenly tomatoes, but it’s your job to nurture the life you can’t see, too: the soil microbiome.

  7. Fender's Blue (Icaricia icarioides fenderi) is an endangered subspecies of butterfly found only in the Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon. Fender's Blue butterflies are completely dependent upon the threatened plant species, Kincaid's lupine (Lupinus sulphureus kincaidii). Photo © Matthew Benotsch/TNC

    Becoming a Master Naturalist is easier than you think. You don’t have to enroll in years of coursework or explore the world a la Darwin. In fact, there may well be a comprehensive naturalist class near you.

  8. Kids love exploring and the more rickety the bridge, the better. © The Nature Conservancy (Cara Byington)

    Many of us heard about Pokémon GO and instinctively let out an “Ugh.” But our blogger has come around, and offers tips on enjoying nature and the latest app.

  9. Pet pythons released to the wild have become a well-known threat to Florida's Everglades. Photo © Karine Aigner and Ken Geiger

    From running shoes to artificial Christmas trees, adaptable invasive species are spreading. Here’s what you can do to make sure your daily activities aren’t helping them move.

  10. Snow rollers. Photo © Sunny Healey/TNC

    Giant snowballs suddenly appear in a field. No one saw them form. No one appears to have rolled them. What’s going on? A look at this unusual meteorological phenomenon.

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