How science can fix the planet

How science can fix the planet

Discover how science can help us save earth from climate change and mass extinction In depth articles on… -Mega-projects to geoengineer the climate -Solving the plastic problem -The best diet for Earth -8 ways to beat the floods -Eco power tools to save the planet -How to beat mass extinction -And meet the cloud chaser, plant whisperer and coral matchmaker

United Kingdom
Immediate Media Company London Limited
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2 min
saving planet earth

Anyone aged 18 or over has lived through all 10 of the warmest years on record. And, by 2100, temperatures are expected to rise by around 3.2°C. Stats like these are worrying. We know that rising temperatures are killing coral reefs, causing desertification, whipping up super-storms and creating severe floods. Some people are resigned to the dangers of this changing world. But others are looking for ways we can fight climate change. Former President Obama said in 2015: “More drought, more floods, rising sea levels… That’s one path we can take. The other path is to embrace the human ingenuity that can do something about it.” Scientists around the world are researching techniques that could save Earth – from large-scale geoengineering projects (page 58) to more modest inventions that will cut urban…

8 min
defusing the population bomb

The numbers are scary. The world’s population is soaring. It passed seven billion in 2011, four times the number just a century ago, and is now over 7.6 billion. UN statisticians predict more than 11 billion by the end of the century. Make that another three Chinas to feed. And with every citizen on the planet demanding a better life, with greater consumption of the planet’s scarce resources, scientists fear we are rapidly approaching dangerous ‘planetary boundaries’, beyond which food supplies give out, ecosystems break down, global warming accelerates, and – maybe – our global civilisation, with its many comforts, goes into a tail-spin. The stakes could not be higher for Homo sapiens on Planet Earth. But, if you read the stats carefully, there is hope. We are not doomed – for two…

10 min
what’s the best diet for the planet?

Diet can be a contentious issue, subject to the forces of personal ethics, religious beliefs and health concerns. But when it comes to the environment, for many people it’s an open-and-shut case. “The evidence is all there, you just need to look for it,” my vegan friend told me recently. The thing is, although I’m not a vegan myself, I suspect he’s probably right. While I’m quite sure this isn't the stated aim of most vegans, abstaining from animal products does seem to give you the moral high ground in the environmental stakes. I’ve watched Cowspiracy, I know the deal. At the same time, I’ll admit to being a little put off by how self-assured some people seem in their dietary choices. Seldom does all the evidence point in one direction,…

2 min
saving the world, one bite at a time

5 things to eat MORE of… MUSSELS These shellfish can be grown on ropes, causing minimal damage to the marine ecosystem. But they can also absorb carbon from the environment to grow their shells. What’s more, being filter feeders they require no feed input whatsoever. They’re full of fatty acids and vitamins too. LEGUMES Compared to other protein sources, legumes – beans, peas and lentils – require little water or fertiliser, and their carbon footprint is low. These plants even ‘fix’ nitrogen from the atmosphere into the soil, converting it into ammonia that other plants need to grow. TILAPIA These freshwater fish can be grown in closed tank systems, avoiding the water pollution usually associated with fish farms. As they are not carnivores like many commercial fish species, they don’t need to be fed fishmeal, which…

2 min
how to keep the   tap on

A person can survive without food for a number of days, but dehydration can quickly kill them. Hence, water is our most precious resource. But it is becoming increasingly scarce, due to climate change and a rising demand from an exploding population. Most water is actually used for irrigation, rather than for drinking or around the home. Indeed, agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of global water withdrawal. The Middle East and North Africa only have 1.4 per cent of the world’s fresh water resources, yet 6.3 per cent of the global population. In the US, the average person uses 445 litres a day – 60 per cent for flushing toilets, having a bath, washing clothes and so on, 30 per cent for watering the garden, and 10 per cent…

6 min
there are plenty more fish in the sea

A reef shark slides past, an arm’s length away, then another. These sleek hunters pay me no attention and seem accustomed to having people nearby. Scuba divers flock to visit the marine life flourishing around the remote islands of Palau in the Pacific Ocean. This special place offers a glimpse of how things used to be before human activities began emptying the oceans. Palau remains a rare underwater wonderland, in part because the government takes marine protection seriously. A whopping 80 per cent of the nation’s waters are off limits to fishing. This is one of a new generation of marine reserves. In August 2016, Barack Obama announced a huge expansion of Hawaii’s Papahānaumokuākea marine reserve. It’s the biggest yet, a massive 1.5 million square kilometres – around the size of…