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Reading Recommendations

May 2019

Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’

Nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinctions is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely, warns a landmark new report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), the summary of which was approved at the 7th session of the IPBES Plenary, meeting last week (29 April – 4 May) in Paris.

Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)


Air pollution and climate change: two sides of the same coin

Although they may seem to be two very different issues, climate change and air pollution are closely linked, so by reducing air pollution we also protect the climate.

Climate and Clean Air Coalition

Model and manage the changing geopolitics of energy

Transitioning to a low-carbon world will create new rivalries, winners and losers. Energy is at the root of many political ructions. President Donald Trump’s intention to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement in 2020, the European Union’s restrictive policies against importing Chinese photovoltaic cells and the political hostility towards the school strikes over climate-change inaction are all reactions to attempts to shift the world to a low-carbon economy.



Model-based assessments for long-term climate strategies

Many countries are formulating a long-term climate strategy to be submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change by 2020. Model-based, multi-disciplinary assessments can be a key ingredient for informing policy makers and engaging stakeholders in this process.


Nature Climate Change

Climate models can correctly simulate the continuum of global-average temperature variability

Climate models are foundational to formulations of climate policy and must successfully reproduce key features of the climate system. The temporal spectrum of observed global surface temperature is one such critical benchmark. This spectrum is known to obey scaling laws connecting astronomical forcings, from orbital to annual scales. We provide evidence that the current hierarchy of climate models is capable of reproducing the increase in variance in global-mean temperature at low frequencies.



Factors associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation, based on big data analysis

Preventing exacerbation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients is crucial, but requires identification of the exacerbating factors. To date, no integrated analysis of patient-derived and external factors has been reported.



Widespread nitrous oxide undersaturation in farm waterbodies creates an unexpected greenhouse gas sink

Inland water bodies are currently considered to be nitrous oxide (N2O) sources to the atmosphere, based on limited studies on large lakes and reservoirs. However, emissions from small artificial waterbodies, such as farm reservoirs, are currently unaccounted for in global models. We present a regional-scale study of N2O in farm reservoirs and demonstrate that the majority of these waterbodies act as N2O sinks. 



Permafrost collapse is accelerating carbon release

The sudden collapse of thawing soils in the Arctic might double the warming from greenhouse gases released from tundra, warn Merritt R. Turetsky and colleagues. This much is clear: the Arctic is warming fast, and frozen soils are starting to thaw, often for the first time in thousands of years. But how this happens is as murky as the mud that oozes from permafrost when ice melts.



Antarctica’s effect on sea level rise in coming centuries

There are two primary causes of global mean sea level rise – added water from melting ice sheets and glaciers, and the expansion of sea water as it warms. The melting of Antarctica’s ice sheet is currently responsible for 20-25% of global sea level rise.

Just 10% of U.S. plastic gets recycled. A new kind of plastic could change that

Most plastics have a chemical history that makes starting a new life a challenge. The dyes and flame retardants that make them perfect for say, a couch cushion or a bottle of detergent, make them tough to transform into a desirable end product—one of the reasons just 10% of plastic in the United States gets recycled. Now, researchers have created a plastic with a special chemical bond that helps it separate out from those additives, turning it back into a pure, valuable product.



A fresh approach to synthesizing ammonia from air and water

Ammonia is vital to society, but its manufacture is energy intensive, has a large carbon footprint and requires high initial capital outlays. An intriguing reaction now suggests that energy-efficient alternatives are possible.



Stop denying the risks of air pollution


Research linking fine particulate pollution and premature deaths is under attack in the United States and other countries.



Global warming has increased global economic inequality

We find that global warming has very likely exacerbated global economic inequality, including ∼25% increase in population-weighted between-country inequality over the past half century. This increase results from the impact of warming on annual economic growth, which over the course of decades has accumulated robust and substantial declines in economic output in hotter, poorer countries—and increases in many cooler, wealthier countries—relative to a world without anthropogenic warming


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