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A Japanese-owned ship is spilling oil into the coral reefs and pristine lagoons of Mauritius. More than 1,000 tonnes of fuel has escaped from the MV Wakashio since it ran aground on 25 July. It still has 2,500 tonnes of oil onboard, and experts warn that it is likely to break up. “Never in my wildest nightmares would I have imagined something like this,” said Vikash Tatayah, director of the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
Lebanese authorities say that the explosion, which killed at least 220 people, injured more than 5,000 and left an estimated 300,000 homeless, was caused by 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate. This makes it one of the largest accidental ammonium-nitrate explosions ever recorded — so powerful that it was heard more than 200 kilometres away in Cyprus. But the disaster has had such tragic consequences for reasons unrelated to the explosion itself: it hit a country that is strained by the coronavirus pandemic and still reeling from an economic crisis. “This is a crisis layered upon multiple crises — an economic crisis, a political crisis, a health crisis,” says social scientist Charlotte Karam.
An analysis of 30 ecology and conservation conferences held since 2009 found that almost 40% took place in locations where laws and societal norms discriminate against people of specific genders or sexual orientations. About half of the events had codes of conduct promoting equity, diversity and inclusion, but these did not always lead to initiatives that reduced implicit biases and barriers to participation. “Diversity initiatives are not being done in a strategic way,” says conservation scientist Ayesha Tulloch, who did the analysis.
Features & opinion
Neuroscientists wanting to understand the brain have conventionally studied how its networks of cells respond to sensory information and how they generate behaviour, such as movement or speech. But they couldn’t look in detail at the important bit in between — the vast quantities of neuronal activity that conceal patterns representing the animal’s mood or desires, and which help it to calibrate its behaviour. A slew of techniques that allow scientists to scrutinize huge piles of data is starting to change that.
For some female marine scientists, Shark Week (a week-long celebration of sharks on US television) can raise mixed feelings, says shark biologist and ecologist Catherine Macdonald. “Many women I’ve spoken to were passionate viewers as children,” she says — but when they grew up, the programmes’ emphasis on senior male researchers began to ring hollow. More than 60% of graduate students in the field are women, and Macdonald and others share examples of sexual harassment during fieldwork and discrimination in academia.
With contributions by Smriti Mallapaty