In the spotlight
Climate change to open up ‘frontier’ farmland, but experts urge caution
Kenya’s livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan’s mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits being grown in Sicily: farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.
Italy and FAO highlight the importance of the Mediterranean diet for the sustainable management of land and water resources
The Mediterranean diet is not only healthy for humans, but also for the environment and for biodiversity. This was the main message at an event held today at FAO headquarters with the aim of raising awareness on how the Mediterranean diet can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Energy: new method for identifying effective decarbonisation policies
A new method for evaluating the energy technologies present on the national territory and identifying the most effective policies for the transition towards a low carbon national production system.This is the subject of the study “Assessment of the state and development potential of energy technologies in the decarbonisation process of production systems and services”, to be presented in Rome on January 30th at the ENEA legal office.
Africa’s organic farmers struggle to get certified
Organic farmers in Africa face an arduous journey getting cropland certified, limiting exports and frustrating farmers who say ecological practices could increase food security while protecting the land.
Agriculture & Environment
‘Air is cleaner than before the Industrial Revolution’: a best case scenario for the climate in 2050
It is 2050. We have been successful at halving emissions every decade since 2020. We are heading for a world that will be no more than 1.5C warmer by 2100. In most places in the world, the air is moist and fresh, even in cities. It feels a lot like walking through a forest and very likely this is exactly what you are doing.
Transport & Energy
Can smart city tech go global?
Across the world, municipal leaders dream of using digital tech to optimise everything from refuse collection to public space and local transport. But few cities are living this dream. Making a city smart means connecting hordes of sensors and actuators to the Internet of Things, and then turning the resulting data into actionable insights.
Autonomous vehicles get in the fast lane for next decade
By 2030, a tenth of vehicles worldwide will be self-driving, and the market volume of fully automated cars getting into gear by this time is expected to be worth $13.7bn, according to the latest DossierPlus report from Statista.
New method proposed to achieve better robot self-learning
Human beings show amazing adaptability when dealing with complex tasks in daily life. This adaptability is the direct embodiment of individual learning ability, which enables human beings to improve their own behavior ability independently and incrementally.
Commission outlines plan to create single EU data space by 2030
The ‘European strategy for data’, expected to be published on 19 February, outlines the Commission’s vision for a genuine single European data space, “where personal as well as non-personal data, including business-sensitive data, are secure and businesses have also easy access to an almost infinite amount of high-quality industrial data boosting growth and creating value, while minimising human carbon footprint”.
The age of decadence
Everyone knows that we live in a time of constant acceleration, of vertiginous change, of transformation or looming disaster everywhere you look. Partisans are girding for civil war, robots are coming for our jobs, and the news feels like a multicar pileup every time you fire up Twitter.
Food & Health
Social media data needed for ‘harm’ research, say doctors
Data from social-media companies would help research into mental-health risks, a report says. Leading UK psychiatrists say they will never understand the risks and benefits of social media use on children’s mental health unless companies hand over their data to researchers.
‘Animals live for man’: China’s appetite for wildlife likely to survive virus
The scale of the crackdown, which has netted almost 40,000 animals including squirrels, weasels and boars, suggests that China’s taste for eating wildlife and using animal parts for medicinal purposes is not likely to disappear overnight, despite potential links to the new coronavirus.
New synthesis methods enhance 3D chemical space for drug discovery
After helping develop a new approach for organic synthesis – carbon-hydrogen functionalization – scientists at Emory University are now showing how this approach may apply to drug discovery.
Science policy & Communication
Facebook fine ‘a warning to tech sector’
The Facebook penalty was levied under the European Union’s privacy rules, which took effect in May 2018. Facebook’s German unit was handed a fine of €51,000 for failing to properly nominate a data protection officer for its local office – a penalty which privacy regulators said should serve as a warning to others.
Making the internet more energy efficient through systemic optimisation
Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden, recently completed a 5-year research project looking at how to make fibre optic communications systems more energy efficient. Among their proposals are smart, error-correcting data chip circuits, which they refined to be 10 times less energy consumptive. The project has yielded several scientific articles, in publications including Nature Communications.
EU Summit Challenge – A budget for the climate emergency
Heads of state meet this week hoping to reach an agreement on the size and purpose of the next EU budget. The outcome should tell us whether Europe is able to finance its transition to carbon neutrality.
Stakeholder consultation “The future of EU clean air policy in the framework of the zero-pollution ambition”
The Committee of the Regions (CoR) is preparing an opinion on ” The Future of EU Clean Air policy in the framework of the zero-pollution ambition. The Zero pollution ambition is one of the main environmental priorities of the European Green Deal.
What if crop protection were environment-friendly?
Synthetic pesticides are often denounced as harmful to both human health and the environment. European Union (EU) policy has a tendency to encourage a reduction in their use. But what effective alternatives are there to protect plant health and boost crop yields?
Give the camper van a plug
Some vans sound perfect for conversion to electric. They don’t travel very often. Maybe manufacturers could produce them and get electric car tax exemption. The articles reports on some direct experiences.
You can pay people to style your houseplants
Growing up in California, Orion Tait used to watch his father’s weekend housekeeping routine. “Sunday was loud music — Neil Young — and my dad going around watering the plants,” Mr. Tait recalled. “He had a deck of plants growing everywhere. It was a ritual.”