Farmers in many Great Plains states rely on the Ogallala Aquifer, but it’s being depleted at an unsustainable rate, threatening local communities. A group of scholars from Kansas researched the root causes of this alarming situation and discovered that federal policies are to blame. The group also offers some prescriptions for forestalling “Zero Day” – the day the wells run dry.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to spread across the country, a physician unpacks the multiple roles obesity plays in the disease. “Initially physicians believed that having obesity increased only your risk of getting sicker from COVID-19, not your chance of being infected in the first place. Now, newer analysis shows that not only does obesity increase your risk of being sicker and dying from COVID-19; obesity increases your risk of getting infected in the first place,” she writes.

The world got a welcome bit of good news this week when pharmaceutical giant Pfizer reported that its COVID-19 vaccine, now in Phase 3 trials, is 90% effective. A physician-scientist explains what we know and still need to know, and where the rest of the vaccine race stands.

Martin La Monica

Deputy Editor

A center-pivot sprinkler with precision application drop nozzles irrigates cotton in Texas. USDA NRCS/Wikipedia

Farmers are depleting the Ogallala Aquifer because the government pays them to do it

Matthew R Sanderson, Kansas State University; Burke Griggs, Washburn University; Jacob A. Miller, Kansas State University

An invisible crisis is brewing in US farm country as the overpumped Ogallala-High Plains Aquifer drains. The key drivers are federal farm subsidies and the tax code.

A COVID-19 patient is connected to life-sustaining devices at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital in Oceanside, New York on April 14, 2020. Jeffrey Basinger/Newsday via Getty Images

COVID-19 reveals how obesity harms the body in real time, not just over a lifetime

Cate Varney, University of Virginia

The long-term effects of obesity have been well documented, but immediate effects have not been as evident. The coronavirus is changing all that, as those with obesity seem particularly vulnerable.

Activity in the San Ardo oil field near Salinas, California, has been linked to earthquakes. Eugene Zelenko/Wikimedia

Oil field operations likely triggered earthquakes in California a few miles from the San Andreas Fault

Thomas H. Goebel, University of Memphis

California was thought to be an exception, a place where oil field operations and tectonic faults apparently coexisted without much problem. Not any more.