In the spotlight
Climate summit enters decisive week, phase in negotiations
The UN Climate Change Summit prepares to enter a decisive week – the high-level phase – amid much uncertainty on the negotiating table and a focus on leaders who aren’t attending – but who still influence – the agreements discussed at the major conference.
FAO offers novel assessment of trees and forests in the world’s drylands
Geospatial data and global network of partnerships produces new insights on more than 40 percent of the earth’s surface. More than a quarter of the world’s forest area is located in drylands, and trees are present on almost a third of the world’s dryland regions.
New signposts for green finance
In finance, there are a great many environmental ratings systems, as each data and service provider has its own, which in most cases is a relatively opaque proprietary model. Comparative studies generally reveal no clear correlation between them, nor with environmental impacts.
Decade of ‘exceptional’ heat likely to be hottest on record, experts say
Pablo Gutiérrez Petteri Taalas, the WMO secretary general, said the impacts of rising concentrations of carbon in the atmosphere were becoming ever more harmful, as demonstrated in this year’s extreme weather events. “Heatwaves and floods which used to be once-in-a-century events are becoming more regular occurrences.”
Agriculture & Environment
Revealed: fires three times more common in Amazon beef farming zones
Fires were three times more common in beef-producing zones than in the rest of the Amazon this summer, according to a new analysis. The findings once again draw attention to the links between Brazil’s powerful beef industry and the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, just as the world debates climate change at COP25.
Agriculture and the environment
Better policies to improve the environmental performance of the agriculture sector A key challenge for the agriculture sector is to feed an increasing global population, while at the same time reducing the environmental impact and preserving natural resources for future generations. Agriculture can have significant impacts on the environment.
FAO launches 2020 as the UN’s International Year of Plant Health
Plants make up 80 percent of the food we eat, and produce 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe. Yet, they are under constant and increasing threat from pests and diseases. Every year, up to 40 percent of global food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases.
Transport & Energy
EU Governments under pressure to quit energy charter treaty
Signatories to the Energy Charter Treaty, a controversial pact signed in 1991 to spur energy investment in post-Communist countries, are facing heavy pressure as they meet in Brussels over the next two days. Climate campaigners are demanding that European Union countries pull out of the treaty unless they can negotiate an end to the pact’s investor-state dispute mechanism.
How India will try to turn 200 million vehicles electric in just six years
In September 2017, India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways provoked outrage when he told an audience of carmakers that he would require all of India’s roughly 250 million vehicles to be electric by 2030.
IFS warns Labour renationalisation may delay low-carbon economy
Thinktank warns of significant short-term disruption given importance, cost and complexity of target industries. The IFS asks why state control would work better to fulfil a low-carbon economy than simply ‘altering the current regulatory framework’.
Quantum trends and the internet of things
As a new decade approaches, we are in a state of technological flux across many spectrums. One area to take note of is quantum computing. We are starting to evolve beyond classical computing into a new data era called quantum computing.
This map shows the US cities where robots are impacting jobs the most
The use of robots in U.S. workplaces has more than doubled since the Great Recession, but the impact has hit certain areas of the country — and segments of workers — more than others.
AI and higher Ed Pros are partners, not competitors
Long before the technology revolution, the masters of science fiction have envisioned a world in which robots dominated humankind. The technology that we created would take over, making us dependent on machines and robots. Over time, something remarkable has happened.
Special digital policy feature
In our special digital policy feature, MEPs Patrizia Toia and Kris Peeters discuss the potential impacts of 5G, Eva Kaili looks at Big Data and its role in safeguarding our fundamental rights and Marek Belka explains why cyber security in financial institutions must be treated more seriously.
Food & Health
Health: cancer, enhancing efficacy of treatment with grape seeds
There are new prospects in the fight against malignant mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that affects the mesothelium, a tissue that covers most of our internal organs, according to a study by ENEA, CNR (the National Research Council of Italy) and Università “Federico II” (Naples) (UNINA).
UV lights in hospitals could help limit bacteria on phones
Ultraviolet sanitizing devices could be stationed around hospitals to help prevent the spread of bacteria on workers’ devices like smartphones, a small Canadian study suggests.
Science policy & Communication
Academies of sciences and German Research Foundation call for new European genetic engineering legislation
In July 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that the legal regulations for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) apply to all organisms which have been altered using genome editing methods such as CRISPR-Cas. This makes it difficult to study, develop and cultivate improved crops which are urgently needed for productive, climate-adapted and more sustainable agriculture.
China gene-edited baby experiment ‘may have created unintended mutations’
The gene editing performed on Chinese twins to immunise them against HIV may have failed and created unintended mutations, scientists have said after the original research was made public for the first time.
Let’s jointly create more real knowledge!
Many believe that we are living in a knowledge society, when in fact the plethora of raw data and unlinked information that we gather too rarely lead to real knowledge and understanding, says Jonathan Jeschke. In an interview, the ecologist talks about an innovative database for researchers that he hopes will shed light on “knowledge in the dark”.
China mixing military and science in Arctic push: Denmark
Disputes in the Arctic over global warming and access to minerals broke into the open in May when U.S. Secretary Mike Pompeo accused Russia of aggressive behaviour in the polar region and said China’s actions must be watched closely.
European Space Agency working on technology to ’embrace’ defunct satellites
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working towards tackling the issue of space debris with the technological version of a big hug. The organisation hopes to be able to use tentacle-like mechanical arms to embrace a dead satellite and bring it out of orbit.
What’s behind the decline in bees and other pollinators?
In recent years, beekeepers have reported colony losses, especially in Western EU countries such as France, Belgium, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. However, with many parts of the world, including the US, Russia and Brazil experiencing the same problem, it is clearly a global issue.
Biodiversity: MEPs call for legally binding targets, as for climate change
The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on Tuesday approved a resolution setting out their proposals for Parliament’s position for the UN biodiversity conference to be held in autumn next year.
Brussels’ draft proposal for a European Green Deal
The incoming European Commission of Ursula von der Leyen is preparing a draft of new climate and environmental laws as part of a European Green Deal due to be unveiled on 11 December. EURACTIV got hold of a first draft, which is still subject to change.
StarDog and TurboCat review – laboured time-travel animation
Here’s a daft, likable enough animation for small kids, with a smashing voice cast but slim pickings for grownups. Nick Frost does a nice job providing a voice for Buddy, a dog sent into orbit in 1969 to test a rocket.