Editor's note

If American society today seems increasingly polarized and extreme, it could be because of how many people use social media, writes Robert Kozinets at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. The creator of the discipline of “netnography,” Kozinets says that it’s a sense of competition that drives online posting to extremes – whether it’s uploading a photo of a bigger hamburger than a friend just did, or taking a more passionate political stance.

For the past 12 days, President Donald Trump has been on a charm offensive through Asia. One foreign leader Trump wooed was the Philippine’s Rodrigo Duterte – a man who cursed at Barack Obama and threatened to break up with America. Jessica Trisko Darden of American University explains why a warmer relationship may be beneficial to the U.S. – and highlights the one key topic the leaders seem to have left undiscussed.

The city of Houston has suffered three 500-year storms in the past three years, including Hurricane Harvey. As climate change makes the potential damage from storms ever greater, three scholars of urban resilience argue that cities need to update their information systems to prepare for extreme weather.

Jeff Inglis

Science + Technology Editor

Top stories

Passionate feelings can lead to extreme divisions. pathdoc/Shutterstock.com

How social media fires people's passions – and builds extremist divisions

Robert Kozinets, University of Southern California

The way people use social media – and the algorithms inside those systems – increases passions, and drives people to polarizing extremes.

Donald Trump’s and Rodrigo Duterte’s mutual admiration could bring about a thaw in U.S.-Philippine relations. Reuters/Athit Perawongmetha

Did Trump's charm offensive work in the Philippines?

Jessica Trisko Darden, American University School of International Service

When Obama was president, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to break up with America. Is it time to make up?

The intensity of heavy downpours in Houston has increased dramatically since the 1950s, leading some people to argue the city’s disaster planning and infrastructure are not up-to-date. AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Can cities get smarter about extreme weather?

Clark Miller, Arizona State University; Thaddeus R. Miller, Arizona State University; Tischa Muñoz-Erickson, International Institute of Tropical Forestry

It's not just about rebuilding infrastructure after storms: Cities need to systematically rethink their knowledge systems which are at the heart of urban resilience.

Ethics + Religion

Politics + Society

  • Designing better ballots

    Michael Byrne, Rice University

    Have you ever struggled to understand exactly what to do inside a voting booth?

Economy + Business

Health + Medicine

Environment + Energy

  • Fossil fuel emissions hit record high after unexpected growth: Global Carbon Budget 2017

    Pep Canadell, CSIRO; Corinne Le Quéré, University of East Anglia; Glen Peters, Center for International Climate and Environment Research - Oslo; Robbie Andrew, Center for International Climate and Environment Research - Oslo; Rob Jackson, Stanford University; Vanessa Haverd, CSIRO

    After three years in which global carbon emissions scarcely rose, 2017 has seen them climb by 2%, as the long-anticipated peak in global emissions remains elusive.

Arts + Culture

From our international editions

Today’s quote

Execution by a lethal injection, even when it follows the standard protocol, is a surprisingly complicated procedure.


Why Nevada's new lethal injection is unethical

Austin Sarat

Amherst College

Austin Sarat