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Which of one of the following sentences is correct?

Last week I read a news article that mentions how human activities are causing global warming.

Last week I read a news article that mentioned how human activities are causing global warming.

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Great question! Either is correct, but mentioned is more idiomatic.

If you were talking about a past conversation you had with a person, rather than reading an article, then it would be clear that the mentioning took place in the past:

Last week I talked to Jim, and he mentioned how human activities are causing global warming.

It's not so clear-cut when you're talking about reading an article; either is correct, but seeing as we use the past tense in other cases (like the above), we're more likely to use it here as well. Still, mentions is okay, because even though you read the article in the past, the article still exists, and so would still be mentioning that fact to anyone who picked it up. A similar example:

Yesterday I saw a documentary that talks about life in New York.

You can use talks here, just as you can use mentions in your original sentence. The documentary still exists, and is still talking about New York to anyone who watches it. But you're more likely to hear a native speaker using talked because they're thinking of the time in the past when they watched it. So I'd stick with mentioned in your case:

Last week I read a news article that mentioned how human activities are causing global warming.

(Though you might also note that mentioned that reads a bit better than mentioned how.)

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    I find that I use mentions in contexts where I'm contemplating a future use. For example if I'm telling my friend about the article so that he might go read it i.e. it's still relevant in the present, and I'll use the past tense mentioned when I am just relaying information about having read it but no future use is contemplated. Thus: I read an article that mentions how a flux capacitor works- you should go read it. But: I once read an article that mentioned how a flux capacitor works, but it was a load of crap. – Jim Oct 12 '13 at 5:11
  • Some native speakers favor the present tense in this context. (Some native speakers is me!) This blog post does a good job of explaining why: grammarphobia.com/blog/2013/01/literary-present.html – snailplane Oct 12 '13 at 9:03

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