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Climate policy: Ditching of the obsolete 2°C warming goal advised

What is ultimately needed is a volatility index that measures the evolving risk from extreme events — so that global vital signs can be coupled to local information on what people care most about. A good start would be to track the total area during the year in which conditions stray by three standard deviations [...]

Nitrogen dioxide and ozone impacts on lung function revealed

Ambient air pollution, comprised mainly of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and particulate matter, is directly linked to increased risk of stroke, heart disease, asthma and lung cancer. According to World Health Organization estimates,air pollution was responsible for 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012.   When these pollutants are inhaled, they [...]

Noble gases identify the mechanisms of fugitive gas contamination in drinking-water wells overlying the Marcellus and Barnett Shales- TERA

Hydrocarbon production from unconventional sources is growing rapidly, accompanied by concerns about drinking-water contamination and other environmental risks. Using noble gas and hydrocarbon tracers, we distinguish natural sources of methane from anthropogenic contamination and evaluate the mechanisms that cause elevated hydrocarbon concentrations in drinking water near natural-gas wells. We document fugitive gases in eight clusters [...]

A faster Rubisco with potential to increase photosynthesis in crops- TERA

Here we report two transplastomic tobacco lines with functional Rubisco from the cyanobacterium Synechococcus elongatus PCC7942 (Se7942). We knocked out the native tobacco gene encoding the large subunit of Rubisco by inserting the large and small subunit genes of the Se7942 enzyme, in combination with either the corresponding Se7942 assembly chaperone, RbcX, or an internal [...]

Istanbul mega-canal needs environmental scrutiny for sewage mixing

Erdoğan wants to dig an equivalent of the Suez Canal in western Istanbul. Some 400 metres wide and 25 metres deep, the artificial waterway would stretch nearly 50 kilometres to connect the Sea of Marmara with the Black Sea.He would like to see the canal open for the 2023 centenary of the Turkish republic… …Istanbul [...]

US drops restrictions on more GM seeds

The US Department of Agriculture has approved Dow’s ‘Enlist’ engineered corn and soybean seeds for commercial cultivation without special authorisation. Dow claims this represents the most thorough review of a genetic modification yet. However, US environmental advocacy group Center for Food Safety (CFS) immediately condemned the decision and vowed to sue to stop commercialisation.Enlist seeds [...]

Aquarium trade: Who is going to monitor Brazil’s ornamental fish trade closely?

Brazil’s aquaculture and fisheries secretary decreed last month that 2,000 different species of ornamental fish can be legally removed from the Brazilian Amazon. The fish will be farmed to supply the aquarium trade. This raises concerns about over-exploitation and threats to biodiversity, particularly given the poor record of inspection and… doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/513315d

Three New Books Address the ‘Reality’ of Race in Humans- TERA

A full-throated, intellectually rigorous anti-racism must critically assess both biological and cultural evidence about race. It must acknowledge that no work on race science can be free of ideology — and, precisely for that reason, it must not place historical actors before a moral green screen showing an image of contemporary values. Rather, it must [...]

To Count or Not To Count: UN sustainability goals lack quanitification says Stafford-Smith

The first problem is that there are too many proposals: 17 goals encompassing 169 individual targets, ranging from improving maternal health to safeguarding the oceans. The strategy has shifted from a list of priorities to an unwieldy and impractical catch-all. The strength of the original MDGs was their focus.We should aim for no more than [...]

Life-cycle net energy assessment of large-scale hydrogen production via photoelectrochemical water splitting- TERA

Here we report a prospective life-cycle net energy assessment of a hypothetical large-scale photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen production facility with energy output equivalent to 1 GW continuous annual average (1 GW HHV = 610 metric tons of H2 per day). We determine essential mass and energy flows based on fundamental principles, and use heuristic methods to [...]