In the spotlight
Million hectares of threatened species’ habitat cleared without assessments
More than a million hectares of threatened species’ habitat was cleared for agriculture in New South Wales and Queensland without referral to the federal environment department for assessment, according to new analysis by WWF Australia.
Scientists fear push to deregulate environmental approvals will lead to extinction crisis
Scientists have expressed dismay and frustration at Scott Morrison’s latest push to deregulate the environmental approval process for major developments, noting it comes just months after an unprecedented bushfire crisis and during a review of national conservation laws.
Agriculture & Environment
Britain beyond lockdown: can we make more space for nature?
The first post-lockdown crops of the land army have been harvested. The food – chard, spinach, lettuce and radish – is being parcelled out to the local shops, market stalls and those in need. Now the volunteer labour force has its sights on a new goal: a land-use revolution that will make UK farming more nature friendly, plant-based and resilient to future shocks.
Not all “meatless meats” are good for your health or the environment
Science-backed claims that plant-based meats are healthier for both humans and the environment have sparked a global wave of veganism that shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers have become increasingly conscious about doing better by their bodies and the environment.
Arctic Circle sees ‘hottest-ever’ temperatures
Temperatures in the Arctic Circle are likely to have hit an all-time record on Saturday, reaching a scorching 38C (100F) in Verkhoyansk, a Siberian town.The record still needs to be verified, but it appears to have been 18C higher than the average maximum daily temperature in June. The Arctic is believed to be warming twice as fast as the global average.
Transport & Energy
Green-energy firms have a human rights problem
Land seizures. Dangerous working conditions. Mistreatment of native populations. For decades, such practices were associated in the public mind with the oil and gas industries. That perception in turn undermined confidence in fossil fuels and, as climate change worsened, helped set the stage for a widespread boom in the renewable energy business.
Climate change: planting new forests ‘can do more harm than good’
Rather than benefiting the environment, large-scale tree planting may do the opposite, two new studies have found. One paper says that financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and reduce biodiversity with little impact on carbon emissions. A separate project found that the amount of carbon that new forests can absorb may be overestimated.
Cities should open streets to pedestrians and cyclists
Since cities came to exist 5,000 years ago, epidemics have shaped their fate. Plagues weakened the Roman Empire and may have helped bring it down. The sewers that cleaned up a filthy London in the 19th century were built in direct response to a cholera outbreak. Many of the great urban parks, including Central Park in New York City, were similarly planned after epidemics, to provide more open space.
Time to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy, says European civil society
As Europe slowly emerges from the coronavirus crisis, the climate emergency is starting to regain the place it deserves, coming back to the top of the EU agenda. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), which brings together civil society organisations from all Member States, developed this Opinion in response to a request by the Republic of Croatia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU.
Japan’s coronavirus supercomputer named faster in world
The Fugaku supercomputer topped the world rankings at once for the first time in history. It has been put to work creating models to fight the coronavirus pandemic, but its designers now have bigger plans for it. A Japanese computer used to fight coronavirus has taken the top spot as the world’s fastest in all the supercomputer rankings for the first time, announced its developers on Monday.
Why AI is the future of remote security monitoring
Real-time analysis of remote video feeds is rapidly improving thanks to AI, increasing the accuracy of remote equipment and facility monitoring. Agriculture, construction, oil & gas, utilities, and critical infrastructure all need to merge cybersecurity and physical security to adapt to an increasingly complex threatscape.
Food & Health
Coronavirus: should I start taking vitamin D?
There are mounting questions about whether vitamin D has a role to play in the fight against coronavirus. The Scientific Advisory Commission on Nutrition and the health watchdog the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have done a rapid review of the evidence.
Coronavirus gives new urgency to Europe’s obesity problem
As Europe emerges from its coronavirus lockdown, public health experts point to an uncomfortable truth: many of its citizens will need to shed some weight as part of a long-term prevention strategy. The question for the EU is whether it’ll miss a key moment to intervene.
Why testing negative for coronavirus isn’t a guarantee you don’t have COVID-19
Testing negative for the coronavirus doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, and experts say the high rate of false negatives could mean many cases aren’t being caught.
Science policy & Communication
Why hardware must embrace agile principles
In a Wall Street Journal article last month, author Matt Ridley argued that “Innovation Can’t Be Forced, but It Can Be Quashed”. After noting that innovation has been slower in hardware than in software, the article argues that this is mainly because “bits are lightly regulated and atoms are heavily regulated.”
Exploring the performance gap in EU Framework Programmes between EU13 and EU15 Member States
This in-depth analysis explores the background of various challenges in research and development of EU13 vs EU15, in order to investigate the gap between these two groups.
EU food agency consults on cumulative risk of pesticides
The European Food Safety Authority, the EU’s food agency, opened a public consultation Tuesday on its pilot assessments of the risks posed to humans by residues of multiple pesticides in food. The agency, based in Parma, Italy, says interested parties have until 15 November to submit comments on two assessments: one considers chronic effects on the thyroid system and the other looks at acute effects on the nervous system.
Scientists solve mystery as to why Alpine glacier is turning pink
An Alpine glacier is turning pink in colour because of an algae that accelerates the effects of climate change, scientists have said. An investigation has been launched after pink ice appeared on parts of the Presena glacier in the Italian Alps.