In the spotlight
‘Largest polar expedition in history’ to probe Arctic climate
A team of scientists from 19 countries will set off for the Arctic late Friday, aiming to freeze their ship into the polar ice for a year to research the changing climate. Aboard the massive icebreaker Polarstern, belonging to Germany’s Alfred Wegener polar and marine institute, researchers hope to glean new understanding of the Arctic as the planet heats up.
WMO urges drastic action as global average temperature set to rise again
The global average temperature is set to rise to at least 1.2 to 1.3 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels over the next five years, a World Meteorological Organization (WMO) official said on Monday, close to a limit adopted in a global treaty. The prediction comes as governments are due to meet in New York for the U.N. Climate Action Summit to build on their pledges from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to cap the global temperature rise at 1.5 degrees.
New AI app predicts climate change stress for farmers in Africa
A new artificial intelligence (AI) tool available for free in a smartphone app can predict near-term crop productivity for farmers in Africa and may help them protect their staple crops — such as maize, cassava and beans — in the face of climate warming, according to Penn State researchers.
Landmark United in Science report informs Climate Action Summit
“It highlights the urgent need for the development of concrete actions that halt the worst effects of climate change.” The Science Advisory Group is co-chaired by WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and Leena Srivastava, former Vice Chancellor of TERI School of Advanced Studies.
The tiny algae at ground zero of Greenland’s melting glaciers
Behind the remote research huts of Sermilik ice station, a vast sheet of ice stretches north for 1,480 miles, spanning an area three times the size of France. It is holding 10% of the world’s freshwater , water that has been frozen solid for millions of years.
World’s poorest people getting less than a cent per day in international aid to battle climate change
The world’s poorest people, increasingly buffeted by storms, floods and droughts, have been getting less than 1 U.S. cent (¥1.1) a day each in international help to protect them from wild weather and rising seas as the Earth heats up.
Agriculture & Environment
Jellyfish thrive in the man-made disruption of the oceans
PARIS – Thousands of them plague our beaches to the horror of holidaymakers who dread their sting, but thanks to man’s disruption of the oceans, jellyfish are thriving. Jellyfish have been on Earth longer than we have — they are believed to have roamed the oceans for nearly 600 million years.
Can French wine survive the climate change fiasco?
Winegrowers in the south of France felt the full effect of climate change this June when record 46°C temperatures scorched their vines, cutting their crop by half. Growers in the Languedoc region are working with the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA) to find ways to adapt to a hotter, drier, more unpredictable climate in order to survive.
The Future of Wine: Very, Very Dry
To study innovations in winemaking, Dr. Fait works with several Negev wineries, as well as European researchers like Enrico Peterlunger , a professor of viticulture at the University of Udine in northern Italy. The effort started in 2014 with the Israeli irrigation company Netafim and support from the Italian and Israeli governments.
EU farmers urge new Commission to lift barriers for innovative tools
The European Commission is in an important position to enable EU farmers to use modern technologies in the fight against climate change, Pekka Pesonen, Secretary-General of the EU farmers and cooperatives’ association (Copa-Cogeca), told EURACTIV.com.
Transport & Energy
Low-carbon heating in Scotland gets £30m fund
Up to 50% of capital costs will be covered by the fund. A £30m fund intended to support low-carbon heating has been opened to applications. Businesses and organisations working on “innovative” solutions to heating buildings can apply to the Up to 50% of the capital cost of a new project will be available.
Vaclav Smil: ‘Growth must end. Our economist friends don’t seem to realise that’
Vaclav Smilis a distinguished professor emeritus in the faculty of environment at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Over more than 40 years, his books on the environment, population, food and energy have steadily grown in influence. He is now seen as one of the world’s foremost thinkers on development history and a master of statistical analysis.
Speed Bumps On German Road To Fight Climate Change
Germany was an early pioneer in renewable energy and has massively boosted wind and solar power, so why is it bound to miss its self-imposed climate goals for next year? The “Energiewende”, or clean energy transition, sometimes described as the biggest national project since reunification three decades ago, has hit a number of speed bumps.
Scientific report finds more fossil fuels being used every year
Climate action summit to hear global emissions will be at least as high in 2019 as in 2018. Melting glaciers are a clear sign of climat change and global warming. The rise in global energy consumption each year is still larger than new supplies of green energy. More fossil fuels are being used every year, despite all of the efforts to increase renewable energy supplies, a major report to be presented to the United Nations summit will say today.
Information Technology Powers (Almost) All Innovation
In the early 1990s I was living in Boston and reflecting on the relative progress of information technology and the life sciences. It appeared to me then that IT was sputtering a bit; the Internet hadn’t yet transformed commerce, and AI was in one of its winters.
Wearable brain-machine interface could control a wheelchair, vehicle or computer
Credit: Courtesy Woon-Hong Yeo. Combining new classes of nanomembrane electrodes with flexible electronics and a deep learning algorithm could help disabled people wirelessly control an electric wheelchair, interact with a computer or operate a small robotic vehicle without donning a bulky hair-electrode cap or contending with wires.
How To Move Beyond Blockchain’s ‘Trilemma’
Mainstream interest in blockchain technology has lately surged on the back of announcements from JP Morgan, Facebook, and others. In light of these promising developments, renewed emphasis is being placed on the technology’s underlying scalability “trilemma.
Food & Health
Meatballs could cancel out anti-cancer benefits of tomato sauce, study finds
Tomatoes contain some anti-cancer benefits thanks to a compound called lycopene. Not only does it protect against cell damage, but it also gives tomatoes their color. But the lycopene could disappear when eaten with foods that have lots of iron. That’s why researchers from Ohio State University conducted a study, published in the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal, to investigate further.
Meet the DNA detectives fighting to stop the next Horsegate
Seven years on from the horse meat scandal, the number of food fraud cases keep going up. But now a phalanx of food inspectors armed with next-generation DNA tests hope they can fight back against doctored fish, herbs and health foods.
Big Meat And The Switch To Soy
Plant-based meat alternatives are having a moment. The stock for Beyond Meat, the first plant-based meat company to go public, has increased more than 500% since its May IPO to a current market cap of $9.4 billion.
Innovative model created for NASA to predict vitamin levels in spaceflight food
A team of food scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has developed a groundbreaking, user-friendly mathematical model for NASA to help ensure that astronauts’ food remains rich in nutrients during extended missions in space. The new research, published in the journal Food Chemistry, gives NASA a time-saving shortcut to predict the degradation of vitamins in spaceflight food over time and more accurately and efficiently schedule resupplying trips.
Science policy & Communication
Digital threats multiply ahead of 2020 US elections
WASHINGTON: It could be a manipulated video embarrassing a candidate. Or a computer voting system locked by ransomware. Or doubts about electronic voting machines with no paper backups. As Americans prepare for 2020 elections, digital threats to election security are multiplying, stoking fears of a tainted outcome.
The digitization of media – a challenge for democracy
The digitization of media – a challenge for democracy. In the age of digital communication, Media and Information Literacy (MIL) is more urgent than ever. In her new book, Ulla Carlsson, UNESCO Chair on Freedom of Expression, Media Development and Global Policy at University of Gothenburg, calls for new solutions as a part of a democracy strategy.
Research Headlines – Growing importance of making plants drought-resistant
Drought is a major cause of crop losses worldwide. The main underlying mechanism of plant response to drought stress is already known, and drought-resistance genes have been engineered into crop plants. However, since these drought-resistant crops have low yields, there is an urgent need for novel approaches to producing high-yielding, drought-resistant crops.
Horizon Impact Award 2019: 10 finalists short-listed
The European Commission has announced the 10 projects to reach the final stages of the first Horizon Impact Award – a prize dedicated to EU-funded projects whose results have created societal impact across Europe and beyond. The prize acknowledges and rewards the most influential and impactful project results under Horizon 2020, the EU research and innovation programme, and its predecessor, the 7th Framework programme (FP7, 2007-2013).
Intense Drought Exposes 4,000-Year-Old ‘Stonehenge’ in Spain
For decades, an ancient circle of stones has lain just out of sight beneath the waters of Spain’s Valdecañas Reservoir, its tallest pillars occasionally breaking the surface like the fingers of a drowning swimmer. Months of intense drought have now caused the reservoir’s waters to fall – enough to reveal the structure in its entirety.
Salgado’s Amazonia photos beamed on Assisi basilica to warn of threat
Hundreds of people braved driving rain on Sunday night to see pictures of Amazonia by famed Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado beamed onto the Basilica of St. Francis and to hear him talk of the danger facing the area.
Virtual Reality to Connect People with New Food Technology
“I can see science in real action!” says a Cambridge university student, “You can do extraordinary things with already existing technology.” adds another. The students are not describing the last action videogame that was released on the market, but reacting to the experience of the new Virtual Reality video series on the latest food technologies.