All posts tagged: Earths

Pronatalists are conveniently ignoring Earth’s real problems | Population

Pronatalists are conveniently ignoring Earth’s real problems | Population

[ad_1] Pronatalists like the Collinses, interviewed for your article (America’s premier pronatalists on having ‘tons of kids’ to save the world: ‘There are going to be countries of old people starving to death’, 25 May), emphasise their authority on the “data”, but their cherrypicked results neglect to look at the full picture that humanity’s outsized impact is degrading the natural resources upon which we all depend. The Global Footprint Network says we are in ecological overshoot, with humanity using the resources of 1.7 Earths. The UN has made clear that our unsustainable demand for resources is driving the triple planetary crisis: climate change, biodiversity loss, and increasing levels of pollution and waste. And despite the rhetoric of Silicon Valley, technology is not our saviour; it is found to mitigate global extraction by only 5%. It’s time pronatalists recognised that nothing in nature exists independently. The impacts of climate change are already endangering millions of lives, yet they ignore the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s data citing population growth and per capita consumption as the biggest …

Did Earth’s magnetic field trigger the emergence of complex life?

Did Earth’s magnetic field trigger the emergence of complex life?

[ad_1] The Ediacaran Period (635-541 million years ago) witnessed a pivotal transformation on Earth. (CREDIT: Creative Commons) The Ediacaran Period (635-541 million years ago) witnessed a pivotal transformation on Earth. Complex, multicellular organisms, some reaching impressive sizes, emerged during this era, paving the way for the Cambrian explosion of animal life. A new study by researchers at the University of Rochester sheds light on a potential environmental driver for this diversification – a dramatic weakening of Earth’s magnetic field. John Tarduno, lead author and Dean of Research at the University, highlights the Ediacaran fauna as a remarkable example. These early animals, some exceeding a meter in length, displayed mobility, suggesting a higher oxygen dependency compared to their predecessors. “Explanations for the Ediacaran fauna’s appearance have traditionally focused on genetic or ecological factors,” says Tarduno. “However, the temporal coincidence with the ultra-weak magnetic field compelled us to re-evaluate environmental influences, particularly atmospheric and oceanic oxygenation.” Earth’s Magnetic Shield: A Story from Below Deep within Earth’s core, roughly 1,800 miles down, lies a churning cauldron of liquid …

Alien Earths: How to find habitable worlds in our galaxy

Alien Earths: How to find habitable worlds in our galaxy

[ad_1] This week, I have the pleasure of sharing with you my Q&A with Lisa Kaltenegger about her new book, Alien Earths: The New Science of Planet Hunting in the Cosmos. Lisa is a world-renowned astrobiologist and the Director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University. Earlier this year, we published a joint paper with Sara Vannah proposing a new strategy for identifying planets that share similar characteristics with Earth at different times across its evolution. Life writes its presence on the atmospheres of planets, and the search for living worlds is in reality a search for the “biosignatures” that we associate with life, at least life as we know it. Apart from being an outstanding scientist, Lisa is one of the most engaging lecturers I know, and her infectious enthusiasm is ever present in her book, a must-read.  Explain what astrobiology is and why it is so exciting. How did you get into it? We live in an incredible epoch of exploration. We are discovering not merely new continents, like the explorers of …

11-year-old girl finds fossil of largest marine reptile ever to swim Earth’s oceans

11-year-old girl finds fossil of largest marine reptile ever to swim Earth’s oceans

[ad_1] (LEFT) Dean Lomax, Ruby Reynolds, Justin Reynolds and Paul de la Salle with fragments of an ichthyosaur jawbone in 2020. (CREDIT: Dean Lomax) In 1811, Mary Anning, a 12-year-old from southwestern England, made a groundbreaking discovery on a beach near her home: the first scientifically identified ichthyosaur fossil, a marine reptile akin to a dolphin from the dinosaur era. Fast forward two centuries, just under 50 miles away, an 11-year-old named Ruby Reynolds stumbled upon another ichthyosaur fossil, possibly the largest ever found by science. Ruby, now 15, and her father, Justin Reynolds, have been exploring fossil-rich areas near their Braunton home in England for over a decade. Their journey took a significant turn in May 2020 during a family outing to Blue Anchor village along the River Severn estuary when they spotted a fossilized bone fragment nestled on a rock. An illustration by artist Sergey Krasovskiy of an ichthyosaur, a dolphin-like, ocean-dwelling reptile from the time of the dinosaurs. (CREDIT: Sergey Krasovskiy) “We were both excited as we had never found a piece …

Understanding of Earth’s flowering plants blossoms in genome study

Understanding of Earth’s flowering plants blossoms in genome study

[ad_1] WASHINGTON : Flowering plants – from corn, wheat, rice and potatoes to maple, oak, apple and cherry trees as well as roses, tulips, daisies and dandelions and even the corpse flower and voodoo lily – are cornerstones of Earth’s ecosystems and essential for humankind. New research based on genome data for 9,506 species, as well as an examination of 200 fossils, provides the deepest understanding to date of the evolutionary history of flowering plants, called angiosperms – the largest and most diverse plant group. It details how angiosperms appeared and became dominant during the age of dinosaurs and how they have changed over time. The scientists devised a new tree of life for angiosperms, covering 15 times more types of flowering plants – nearly 60 per cent of them – than the nearest comparable study. “It is a massive leap forward in our understanding of plant evolution,” said botanist William Baker of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) in London, senior author of the research published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. Angiosperms, …

These photos show how a warmer climate is damaging Earth’s waters

These photos show how a warmer climate is damaging Earth’s waters

[ad_1] In her new book, Entropy, photographer Diane Tuft explores the damage that a warmer climate will have on bodies of water. The Great Salt Lake in Utah (pictured above) is a stark example. Here, climate change has ramped up temperatures, while demands for fresh water from industry and agriculture have reduced the flowing of mountain streams to a trickle, shrinking the lake to two-thirds the volume of what it was in 2000. The colour split, captured by Tuft from a helicopter, is a result of differently pigmented algae that either live in high salinity (pink) or lower salinity (blue) water, bisected by a railroad causeway. The second image, shown above, shows what was once a rice field in Kutubdia Island, Bangladesh, transformed into a field of salt. This is a country at peril from changing waters – projections suggest 17 per cent of it may be submerged by sea by 2050, with the saltwater making much of the land unsuitable for crops. With one having too little water and the other too much, “both …

Researchers finally identified the cause of Earth’s last ice age

Researchers finally identified the cause of Earth’s last ice age

[ad_1] New explanation for the swift expansion of the ice sheets that coated a considerable portion of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age. (CREDIT: Creative Commons) For quite some time, paleo-climate specialists have been perplexed by two enigmas: What was the origin of the ice sheets that defined the final ice age, and how could they expand so rapidly? Fresh research conducted by University of Arizona‘s experts suggests a plausible explanation for the swift expansion of the ice sheets that coated a considerable portion of the Northern Hemisphere during the last ice age. Furthermore, the study’s findings may be applicable to other glacial periods in the Earth’s past. A recent publication in the journal Nature Geoscience provides new insights into the mechanisms behind Earth’s glacial-interglacial cycles. Understanding the periodic advance and retreat of ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere is a complex phenomenon that researchers have been working on for a long time. During this time, the earth’s climate repeatedly changed between very cold periods, during which glaciers covered large parts of the …

Plastic Is Starting to Generate a Staggering Proportion of Earth’s Carbon Pollution

Plastic Is Starting to Generate a Staggering Proportion of Earth’s Carbon Pollution

[ad_1] “The consequences of this industry’s unfettered carbon emissions will reach everyone on the planet.” Trash Mountain Our species’ bottomless appetite for plastic isn’t just a problem because of all the waste it generates. Its production is also spewing unchecked greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report released this week by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The work shows that our reliance on the ubiquitous material is undermining climate change mitigation efforts, not to mention adding endless plastic pollution to the environment and our bodies in the form of insidious and far reaching microplastics. “Petrochemicals, the building block of plastic, are already poisoning communities that neighbor production facilities with cancer-causing pollution,” Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Beyond Petrochemicals executive director and one of the report’s sponsors Heather McTeer Toney told The Guardian. “The consequences of this industry’s unfettered carbon emissions will reach everyone on the planet.” Carbon Budget The scientists found that even a conservative scenario — of the plastic sector growing at 2.5 percent per year — would result in a future in which greenhouse …

Protecting vital infrastructure beyond Earth’s atmosphere

Protecting vital infrastructure beyond Earth’s atmosphere

[ad_1] Sylvester Kaczmarek, Chief Technology Officer at OrbiSky Systems, explores the challenges and innovations shaping the future of cybersecurity in space to safeguard essential global technologies. Space exploration and technology have become integral to modern life, powering critical systems from global communication networks to precision navigation and comprehensive Earth Observation. The marvels of space technology—such as global navigation systems that guide our travels, satellite internet that connects us across vast distances, and Earth Observation satellites that monitor our planet’s health—have become an invisible but vital thread woven into the fabric of our daily lives. As our reliance on these space-based technologies grows, so too does the vulnerability of these assets to cyberattacks. Cybersecurity in space—an oft-overlooked frontier in the broader cybersecurity dialogue—is now under the microscope as both public and private sectors recognise the potential catastrophic consequences of breaches. These assets, critical to economic, military, and scientific infrastructures, require robust protection from a new wave of cyber threats. This analysis examines the current threats to space infrastructure, explores innovative protective measures, and underscores the necessity …

Plastic-production emissions could triple to one-fifth of Earth’s carbon budget – report | Plastics

Plastic-production emissions could triple to one-fifth of Earth’s carbon budget – report | Plastics

[ad_1] By the middle of the century, global emissions from plastic production could triple to account for one-fifth of the Earth’s remaining carbon budget, an analysis has found. The stunning new estimates from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, published on Wednesday, provide yet more evidence that the plastic industry is “undermining the world’s efforts to address climate change”, said Heather McTeer Toney, executive director of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Beyond Petrochemicals campaign, which helped fund the new report. The production of plastic, which is made from fossil fuels, is greenhouse gas-intensive. Coal, oil or gas must first be mined or extracted, and then those materials must be refined and processed in another emissions-heavy procedure. In some cases, other chemical compounds such as formaldehyde must also be produced, creating more pollution. Petrochemicals are then “cracked” into plastic building blocks such as ethylene – the aspect of plastic production with the largest emissions toll. Additional emissions come from the process of polymerization – combining those building blocks to form larger molecules – and then shaping them into products, the …