Hello Nature readers,
This week, Nature joins more than 250 of the world’s media organizations — with a combined audience of more than one billion — in a week of intensive reporting called Covering Climate Now. Our shared purpose: to focus attention on the need for urgent climate action. So you’ll see more than the usual number of climate-change stories in the Briefing this week, along with other topics.
Arctic sea ice is at a near-record low — but that’s just one of the north’s problems. From raging wildfires to melting ice in Greenland, the top of the world is screaming for help. Discover some of the shocking records broken this year, and the effect the changes are having on everything from carbon emissions to wildlife.
Scientists are often on the front lines of ecosystem collapse, but few studies have investigated the emotional consequences of such work. An Australian social scientist is investigating how scientists and others working on the Great Barrier Reef responded to the devastating bleaching events of 2016 and 2017. The study authors are still analysing the results, but some researchers said they felt intense grief and sadness about the reef’s deterioration. Nature has also spoken to several coral-reef scientists who echo those sentiments of loss, a phenomenon called ecological grief.
Scientists from African countries attending the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification have called for help with research and data collection so that they can better identify and prepare for drought. The UN estimates that by 2030, 700 million people will be forced to leave their homes because of drought. But there isn’t even a scientific consensus on what ‘drought’ means.
Two-thirds of people in the United States believe climate change is either a crisis or a serious problem, says a representative poll of 2,000 people by CBS News. But almost half of respondents did not accept that there is a scientific consensus about the human causes of global warming. “Our own and others’ research has repeatedly found that this is a critical misunderstanding, promoted by the fossil fuel industry for decades, in order to sow doubt, increase public uncertainty and thus keep people stuck in the status quo,” says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
FEATURES & OPINION
A new book by energy researcher Vaclav Smil explores how we have peopled the planet through our growing capacity for harvesting energy — and the high cost of our accomplishments. The book delineates what reviewer Melanie Moses calls “our most crucial singularity: a single planet whose resources have fuelled the spectacular growth of human civilization, and are now running out”.
Conferences: exhausting, overwhelming and occasionally downright boring? It doesn’t have to be that way, say Hannah Turbeville and Ruth Gotian. They offer suggestions based on human-centred design thinking to create conferences that are more engaging, useful and supportive.
Conferences can also be better for Earth. Attending a conference generates an estimated 800 kilograms of CO2 emissions per participant, note Olivier Hamant, Timothy Saunders and Virgile Viasnoff. They offer seven practical proposals to make travel to scientific conferences more sustainable.
A chance visit to the Science Museum in London inspired Emily Scott-Dearing to make the leap from medical researcher to exhibition curator. Now a freelancer working with Wellcome, the Natural History Museum and the University of Oxford, Scott-Dearing shares her path from academia to the gallery.
Elite chess players can burn up to 6,000 calories during each day of a tournament — three times what an average person uses in a day. Discover the extraordinary physical effects at play, and how grandmasters are learning to train like more active athletes to overcome them.
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