Lower emissions owing to coronavirus

Global carbon emissions are likely to see their steepest fall this year since the second world war, according to researchers who say coronavirus lockdown measures have already cut them by nearly a fifth. But the team warns that the dramatic drop won’t slow climate change. The first peer-reviewed analysis of the pandemic’s impact on emissions …

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Tropical storms

Hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in 2017, killing 68 people and costing $125 billion in damages. 100 high-resolution simulations of how tropical cyclones behave in three types of conditions have been conducted – those between 1950 and 2000, those similar to the present and also various future scenarios. Conclusion: as the world warms, there are …

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Polititicization of science

The politicization of science in the name of religion and political partisanship is not new to the United States, but transformation of traditional geographically and economically based political parties into religiously oriented ideological coalitions marks the beginning of a new era for science policy.” (Jon Miller and colleagues, Michigan State University in “Science” magazine) My comment: …

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Couples sleep better together

It is well established that people in stable relationships tend to have better mental and physical health than singletons. Now, scientists have discovered a possible explanation for this: it seems that sharing a bed promotes good sleep. Humans sleep in cycles, shifting between rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep – during which vivid dreams occur – and non-REM …

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Bumble bees

Information collected by a University of Ottawa team using data collected over a 115 year period and covering 66 bumblebee species, show that bumblebees are in drastic decline across Western Europe and North America, owing to higher and more extreme variations in temperature. The likelihood of the bee population surviving has declined by 30% in …

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Giving up US citizenship

A record number of people are giving up their US citizenship, according to analysis by a New York accountancy firm.  More than 5,800 Americans renounced their citizenship in the first six months of 2020, Bambridge Accountants reports, a 1,210% increase on the six months to December 2019.  The US’s global tax reporting requirements are a …

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Artificial intelligence: not so intelligent after all?

To The Economist Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Intelligence is an attribute of living things, and can best be defined as the use of information to further survival and reproduction. When a computer resists being switched off, or a robot worries about the future for its children, then, and only then, may intelligence flow. I …

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Meanwhile, the world temperatures are rising…….

Verkhoyansk, Russia The highest temperature ever seen in the Arctic circle – 38°C – has been recorded in a town in Siberia. Scientists had previously predicted that the Arctic circle would not experience temperatures like that until 2100. A small town with a population of 1,000, some 3,000 miles east of Moscow, Verkhoyansk is known …

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A weird question to the New Scientist, plus two answers

“If I wanted to be buried so that I was eventually fossilised, for possible discovery in the far future, where would be the best location on Earth to do this?”  (Jonathan Wallace, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK) If your aim is to be fossilised after you die, I would suggest that you ask your relatives to sink …

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Can planting trees save civilization?

Recently, the World Economic Forum launched 1t.org, a plan to plant a trillion trees. Even Donald Trump, who has withdrawn the US from the Paris agreement, has backed the initiative. But can trees store enough carbon to buy us time to act on climate change? A recent paper said 0.9 billion hectares could lock up …

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