environment

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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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Most of us now realise that fish stocks in the world’s oceans are at an all-time low. But what many people fail to understand is that the age of the remaining fish within those stocks also has an important impact on the health of these marine communities, which we rely on as an important source of food.

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Not just adults but also infants and people with chronic heart and lung diseases are hospitalized and sometimes even die from excessive exposure (above 35 ppm) to the toxic gas, carbon monoxide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has caused more than 400 deaths per year in America alone because of what is called carbon monoxide poisoning. The presence of this gas in the environment is a result of automobile emissions and exhaust fumes or while burning fuels in homes such as stoves and open fires.

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It’s suggested that Hurricane Harvey is the largest flooding rainstorm to ever hit the United States. The intense rainfall and speed with which the storm intensified caused widespread devastation and a “1,000 year flood” that will take years for the affected communities to recover from.

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The threat of deforestation is real. The biodiverse forests that cover more than 30% of our planet are at risk due to climate change, human interference and natural disasters. This in turn is endangering the lives of the many species who depend on them for survival. The World Resources Institute (WRI) has noted the decline in farmland, which ultimately affects basic necessities like food and drinking water even for the high-income nations of the world.

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Coral reefs are incredible habitats, teeming with life and estimated to support an amazing 35 percent of all known marine species in the areas surrounding them. So, despite covering less than 0.2 percent of the ocean, they are extremely vital ecosystems for the health of the species that rely on them for survival.

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