Volume 530

  • No. 7591 25 February 2016

    This Nature special issue examines whether scientists today consider the world of tomorrow when they make decisions � and why they should. Technology experts tell us that tomorrow’s world will be radically different from today’s (see page 398). Even the people in it could be different (page 402). And scientists, like all people, find it difficult to care much about what the world will look like after they’re gone. As Nicholas Stern warns, current climate economics models implicitly assume that lives in the future are less important � a major problem when unmanaged climate change today could affect future lives the most (page 407). Social science highlights tensions between our tendencies to care about others, yet to favour current benefits over future ones � behavioural economists Ernst Fehr and Helga Fehr-Duda call for the design of sustainable-development policies and schemes that game these evolved behaviours (page 413). Finally, John Bongaarts suggests the best thing we could do now for future generations is to ensure that there are fewer of them (page 409). Cover art: Anna Parini

  • No. 7590 18 February 2016

    Damaged seagrass meadow edge showing exposed rhizomes and roots that sequester carbon, stabilize the substratum and provide the foundational support for one of the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. The photograph was taken near Kolaviken, the Archipelago Sea, south-west Finland. Zostera marina, or eelgrass, is widely distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere. It is therefore of considerable ecological importance but � as with other seagrasses � its coastal habitats are among the world’s most threatened ecosystems. Jeanine Olsen and colleagues report the whole-genome sequence of Zostera. Their analyses provide insights into the evolutionary changes associated with the ‘back to the sea� reverse evolutionary trajectory that has occurred in this angiosperm lineage, including the loss of the entire repertoire of stomatal genes and the presence of sulfated cell-wall polysaccharides that are more macro-algal-like than plant-like. Cover photo by Pekka Tuuri.

  • No. 7589 11 February 2016

    The computer industry is about to formally announce that the era of Moore’s law � the expectation that the number of transistors on a microprocessor chip and hence its performance will double every two years � is at an end. Industry insiders agree though that this does not mean the end of progress. Improvements could come through better materials or even new types of computing. Plus the new era of mobile devices has changed the game in terms of the microprocessor chips of the future. Mitch Waldrop takes a look at some of the exciting new ideas that could help keep the information technology revolution on track.

  • No. 7588 4 February 2016

    Bell heather (Erica cinerea) flowers with a resting silver-studded blue adult butterfly (Plebejus argus) in Shropshire, UK. There is widespread concern about recent declines in bees, butterflies and other insect pollinators. Declines in flowers have been suggested as a key cause, but the idea has not been fully tested until now. Mathilde Baude et al. provide a UK national-level assessment of a key resource on which pollinators depend — nectar. They determine the nectar value of most common British plants, and assess nectar production in 260 plant species, combining the data with historical vegetation surveys. The results show that total nectar resources declined in England and Wales between the 1930s and 1970s before stabilizing and then increased more recently, but the diversity of species providing the nectar kept declining for a further decade after that. By 2007, just four grassland plant species accounted for more than half of the national nectar provision. These trends mirror pollinator diversity, which declined in the mid-twentieth century but stabilized more recently. Small adjustments to the management cycle of improved grasslands, allowing white clover (the dominant resource species) to flower would increase nectar availability, although only a subset of pollinator species would benefit. Cover: Mark Sisson/ FLPA