Plants face extinction

More than a third of the world’s plants are so rare they face extinction. In a warmer world, that would leave supplies of food at risk. Botanists have made a new census of terrestrial plants – only to find that with nearly 40% of them rare, or extremely rare, this may put food at risk. And…

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Science can double the solar dividend

Researchers have found three new ways to double the solar dividend, making the sun work harder and deliver more to the renewable economy. A new, translucent material made of little more than silica and air can double the solar dividend, collecting solar heat and raising temperatures to 200°C, delivering new ways to heat homes or…

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Popping corn

Soon the corn could roast on the cob long before the maize harvests are due. That could be far sooner than anyone expects. Rapidly rising heat will cut maize harvests European scientists have bad news for the world’s farmers: within a decade, maize harvests will suffer as global temperatures will have reached a level that…

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Drinking water

Two thirds of the world worries about water for at least a month annually. One successful source of salt-free drinkable water leaves a bitter aftertaste. Around the arid world, some 16,000 desalination plants are now purifying seawater and brackish aquifers, producing 95 million cubic metres of fresh, salt-free drinkable water daily. This is almost half…

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Forest health

Forests help to moderate climate change, which can itself affect forest health. Researchers still puzzle over how the canopy affects the global carbon exchange. It is a given of climate science that forest health, the consequence of protected and biodiverse forests, will play a vital role in containing global warming. Now a new study for…

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More vegetables

Researchers are clear: the healthy diet for a healthy planet is more vegetables, less meat. What matters is the food that’s served, and the way it’s produced too. An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, wholegrains and pulses, give…

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Geoengineering

With new aircraft, humans could potentially mimic volcanic action, dim the sunlight and slow global warming, showing that geoengineering works. It’s a controversial idea. Nobody knows for sure whether we shall ever see if geoengineering works. But now somebody knows how to do it. Engineers have designed an aircraft that could lift a cargo of…

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Hotter climate

The continent must brace itself for the big heat: a hotter climate will cost Europe dear if average global temperatures soar by 3°C near the end of the century, when heat extremes could claim an additional 132 000 deaths a year. Labour productivity in some southern European countries could fall by 10 to 15%. As…

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Fruit and vegetables

Guidelines for a healthy diet emphasise fresh fruit and vegetables. Right now, there may not be enough in the gardens to nourish a cooler, healthier world. Canadian scientists have confirmed once again that a healthy diet is the best way to help contain global warming and feed 9.8 billion people by 2050. And that involves,…

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