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Myth: Treat It to Beat It (Water Pollution, That Is)

Nutrients Gone Wild

Worried about dipping your toe in your local swimming hole? Or even drinking your tap water? Join the club. Nitrogen and phosphorus overload is fouling up lakes, rivers, and streams across the country, creating plumes of pollution that are far more sinister than their deceptively benign algal blooms moniker.

These nutrient-rich blooms are a bust for health, environmental, and economic reasons alike. While ’tis true that N and P are critical for life on Earth, signs abound that we’ve got way too much of a good thing, from rampant beach closures and clogged water intakes, to urgent PSAs along the lines of, Don’t even think about drinking that water!

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Myth: Animals Don’t Say Much

Are Animals Saying More Than We Think?

Woot, whup, arrrrrp! To the untrained ear, this typical whale ditty may sound more like an unintelligible frat chant than a formal dinner invitation. And yet, a growing body of research indicates that whales—and many other of our non-human brethren—have far more to say than we realize.

While yelps, tweets, and hoots do often sound like “blah, blah, blah,” you can thank self-aggrandizing social media chatter, not wildlife, for that! From giraffes’ moonlit melodies to whales with accents, we’ve rounded up some ear-opening intel on what different grunts, clicks, and howls could actually mean—and how that knowledge can in turn be used to improve wildlife conservation as a whole.

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Myth: You Gotta Drive to Get to REAL Nature

Do You Need Four Wheels and an Engine to Get to Nature?

City is often pitted against nature: Concrete jungle vs. forest or prairie. Civilization vs. wilderness. Shops and museums vs. prairie. But are cities as disconnected from nature as they seem? Must city-dwellers with an itch to experience wilderness rely on four-wheeled motorized vehicles to reach it?

Though many of our urban areas were built to accommodate car culture (we’re looking at you, Los Angeles), open, natural space really can be just a walk, bike, or bus ride away in cities from Chicago to Bogotá.

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Myth: Hold Your Nose — Composting Stinks!

“Hold Your Nose!”—Said No Real-Life Composter We Talked To, Ever

Every nose has its own unique point of view, er, smell—but all are likely to turn themselves up at the smell of rotting trash. Why then would we assault our nasal passages by composting, aka, piling up a bunch of food and plant waste with the express goal of, gasp, purposefully letting it rot?

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Myth: Seeds Never Expire

Date Check: Do Seeds Last Forever?

— by Jessica B. Turner, PhD candidate, West Virginia University

It’s a classic blind date story…in the garden. You find a packet of mystery seeds in the back of a drawer, unmarked, no expiration, and you think, I’ll plant these next year, no problem! Come summertime, you’re swooning over fresh juicy tomatoes atop margarita pizza. Way to be immortal, seeds, you think. Even people without a “thing” for planting might assume seeds last forever, thanks to news like this about the crazy-old date seed from 1 CE (AD) that was still viable two thousand-plus years later.