environment

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The worldwide population of mammals, birds, fish and aquatic creatures, amphibians, and reptiles have plunged by almost 60 percent, since 1970, as human activities are continuing to overwhelm the environment, said the WWF conservation group, last week.

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A piece of Hawaii is now entirely underwater.

This happened as a result of Hurricane Walaka, a Category 4 super-storm that hit the chain of small islands and atolls, recently. The former Hawaiian features in question were East Island and Tern Island, located in a region of the US state known as French Frigate Shoals. Tern Island was reported as physically “altered” by the storm, whereas East Island was not that lucky and this area has been completely submerged as a result of hurricane activity.

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Microplastics have already been found in birds, fish, and whales, so it should come as no surprise that they have now been discovered in humans! Scientists have found small particles, better known as microplastics, everywhere from the oceans, the air, bottled water, beer, to even table salt.

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Apple has, of late, made their commitment to recycling very clear, on a public stage. The Cupertino-based electronics giant has made it evident that they want to improve their impact on the environment. Apparently, this involves making new devices out of 100% recycled, old ones in the future. Although, it is not clear when customers will be able to buy these super-sustainable products. In the meantime, Apple has been showing off the technology that may get them on their way.

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The concept of carrying capacity is employed in a remarkably wide range of disciplines and debates, and it has been forcefully critiqued within numerous fields. Though, its historical origins still remain obscure.

The natural and engineering sciences offer tremendous prospect for contribution to a more sustainable future, and it becomes a responsibility because these areas produce, not only solutions but also, problems. It is much needed that science and technology are accompanied by societal priorities because this gives sustainability science its context and rationale.

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Scotland is a good example of a country that is making a commitment to a future with greener, more sustainable energy. The nation has increased its volume of off-shore wind farms by 37%, recently. However, this investment only means so much in the context of the weather. In calm weather, Scotland may need back-ups in the form of batteries in order to keep constant the current flowing through its grid.

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Relatively simple chemical processes take place in our cells, every second. They occur to help build new proteins, break down foods for energy (or store the same energy for later) and to signal between and within cells. These events involve reactions such as hydrogenation, which is the addition of H atoms to molecules.

Industrial chemistry also finds these reactions useful. While cells use abundant elements such as carbon to complete these processes easily and efficiently, chemists haven't been so lucky!

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The rising levels of CO2 in the atmosphere is an ecological issue that contributes to global temperature changes and impaired air quality. It has been evident that humans are producing more CO2, in the form of fuel and electricity, greater than the natural world is equipped to cope with.

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Periplaneta americana, commonly known as the American cockroach, is the most dreaded house pest of them all.

Why? It is almost impossible to kill.

This unique survival mechanism has inspired scientists to create robots mimicking these roaches. But, what makes them so adaptable to the environment that they cannot be destroyed easily? Their genes!

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The phenomenon of 'climate warming' has been touted as the ultimate environmental risk of the future. This occurrence is being linked to potentially cataclysmic processes such as widespread flooding, hurricanes, and the concomitant, permanent loss of land-mass. It may also lead to large-scale damage to locations that are normally ice- and snow-locked.

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Some of the biggest cities in the world, such as Cape Town, Bangalore and Beijing, are predicted to run out of drinking water — and soon.

With sustainability being key, can conservationists and scientists devise means to preserve and generate clean, potable water?

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Many scientists of numerous disciplines generally agree that the Earth is likely to get warmer in the future.

The change in climates that may accompany this temperature shift could affect how hospitable many environments will be to the animals that currently live in them. Hostile conditions can induce adaptations in species that need to continue living in them, but can prompt others to migrate away, or simply die out.

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The naked mole rat has been a research subject of interest for decades, due to their novel social structure and unusual physiology.

These rodents have been observed to be much less susceptible to cancer and other genetic abnormalities compared to other species in their class. Moreover, it appears that the naked mole-rat has a much greater lifespan than other animals of a comparable weight and size.

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Scientific studies are designed to test hypotheses, such as that a new treatment will be more effective than a corresponding control. However, researchers should conduct their analyses with an eye to the possibility that there is something behind apparently positive results besides the variables they are to focus on.

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Perovskites have attracted a lot of interest as the raw materials for the photovoltaic devices that make up the cells of sun-powered batteries.

These minerals, particularly those of the organic-inorganic hybrid variety, have a range of properties that make them ideal for the absorption and retention of solar energy. However, there is one major drawback: these hybrid perovskites are lead-based, and, therefore, toxic. They are also water-soluble, which may affect the risk of environmental contamination with this metal.

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Nestled in the corner of a small reef just off the coast of Tasmania, a new population of critically endangered red handfish (Thymichthys politus) have been discovered, giving hope for the conservation of this species into the future.

The population of this fish has now been given a big boost, thanks to eagle eyed members of the public involved in a citizen science project known as the Reef Life Survey.

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Many of us remember that iconic photograph of a tiny seahorse clutching tightly to a plastic cotton bud as a defining image of 2017. Indeed, this photograph, taken by Justin Hofman, was one of the finalists for The Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

More and more of us are becoming aware of the issues facing our oceans, including plastic pollution which includes cotton buds. The plastic stems of these cotton buds are frequently to be found in the top ten types of litter seen on UK beaches.

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Whilst most of us know that we need to take action and make changes to our livelihoods in order to reduce our impact on the environment, it’s sometimes hard to know where to start.

Actions such as reducing our carbon footprint through flying less is a great place to start, but if you only plan on taking an overseas holiday once a year, sometimes you might feel like you need to do more on a daily basis in order to make more of a difference.

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Many of us are now more familiar with plastic pollution and its consequences for marine life. More and more creatures are being poisoned by micro-plastics as you read this; meanwhile, the dumping and migration of this material into marine areas continues unabated. People who want to do something about it are hampered by a lack of effective tools that detect and locate plastic pollution, however. Therefore, it’s difficult to even characterise the extent of plastic waste in our oceans accurately.

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The race to Mars is well and truly on, but a major stumbling block so far has been how to create a breathable environment for those brave enough to volunteer as the founding members of any colony which may be established there. Consideration also needs to be given to the fuel required for any return trips from the red planet and whether it may be possible to produce this on Mars itself.

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