Does Knowledge Have a Sell by Date?

Naomi Klein’s controversial book and subsequent film adaptation, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014 and 2015 respectively), was meant to give a new take on the issue of the relationship between the current dominant economic model and the price our planet has to pay for its success. To many of its critics the book/film only rehash well-trodden arguments and offer unrealistic or downright silly solutions, their damning verdict is that in fact the book and film do not ...

British ash trees may resist dieback disease

Genetic analysis shows native British ash trees may be more resistant than Danish ones to the deadly fungus that has spread across Europe. The ash is one of Europe’s most common trees. Ash dieback fungus first appeared in the UK in 2012, and has spread rapidly since. It is now found in more than half of the country. It has already affected 90% of trees in Denmark and threatens to all but wipe out ash trees there. The new genetic research ...

The Arctic Resilience Report

Scientists working on climate change in the Arctic warn that increasingly rapid melting could trigger 19 polar ‘tipping points’ with impacts felt as far away as the Indian Ocean. Temperatures in the Arctic have been as much as 20C higher than average and Arctic sea ice is at the lowest extent ever recorded for the time of year. According to Marcus Carson, one of the lead authors of the Arctic Resilience Report, the warning signals are getting louder, and they have ...

Floods and Extreme Weather

In December 2015 northern Britain’s was inundated with extremely wet weather. By December 29th at least 6,700 properties had been inundated in northern England, although no one had died; the floods pale in comparison with recent disasters in other parts of the world. Much has been said about the limited response of both national and local governments, but the good response from the armed forces, emergency services and local communities and religious groups. Since the current UK government came to power in ...

China, Global Warming and Air Pollution

When the Kyoto Protocol was being discussed, the USA was the world’s biggest polluter, and would not agree to mandatory reductions. Now, China is the world’s biggest polluter but it is showing signs change. China emits more greenhouse gases than any other country partly because of its population size: 1.4 billion, compared with 300m for the USA. Much of the pollution it causes comes from making goods for other countries. Once the pollution that goes into traded goods is assigned to ...

A study of fish stocks

Depleted global fish stocks represents a focus for C5: Population ecology. The Gulf of Maine is warming 99% faster than the worlds oceans and is a major contributing factor in the declining cod stocks within that region. Cod is a species adapted to cold water and the increased temperatures  brought about by climate oscillations in the Atlantic and the Pacific have led to an significant decline in the number of fry produced by spawning female cod and fewer are surviving to ...

The 2015 El Nino: Weather Conditions

El Nino is a reversal of the normal weather conditions in the south Pacific. However, it has global consequences. The decline or reversal of the trade winds brings drought to Australia, India and Indonesia, and floods South America, western North America and eastern Africa. Later this year, most likely around Christmas time, the supply of Pacific anchovies will disappear, and with it the livelihoods of many Peruvian fishermen. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported changes in sea ...

The 2015 El Nino: Walker Circulation

El Nino (or the El Nino Southern Oscillation) is a reversal of the normal weather patterns in the southern Pacific Ocean, although it impacts have a global reach. It begins with surface waters of the Pacific being pushed westwards (normal conditions) towards the Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Australia. This water is heated by the sun, which in turns heats the air above it. This warm air rises, creating a low pressure on the surface. The rising air cools, condenses and ...

TED talks / Google Science awards and the COOLing Earth

Biology at the micro level can often feel a conceptual study of processes that have been inferred from abstract data, such as the Kreb's cycle or DNA replication. The following TED video offers a glimpse into the computer generated visualizations of the processes themselves. This video will hopefully provide inspiration as it highlights three young women winning the top prizes at the first Google Science Fair. My third video in the slow month of July is from a favourite website of mine www.labroots.com. I began ...

The Pope’s encyclical on climate change

Climate change, human impact, sustainable development The Pope has warned of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems” and “serious consequences for all of us” if humanity fails to act on climate change, in his encyclical on the environment, published by the Vatican in June this year. Senior Catholic figures in the US and UK have said that  the Pope’s central message is: what sort of world do we want to leave for future generations? The UN secretary general, the World Bank president, plus the ...