New Scientist Australian Edition 30-Oct-21

New Scientist covers the latest developments in science and technology that will impact your world. New Scientist employs and commissions the best writers in their fields from all over the world. Our editorial team provide cutting-edge news, award-winning features and reports, written in concise and clear language that puts discoveries and advances in the context of everyday life today and in the future.

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51 Issues

in this issue

2 min
elsewhere on new scientist

Virtual event A prehistory of Britain in seven burials The study of genomes has been revolutionising our knowledge of our deep past. In this talk, anthropologist Alice Roberts will delve into seven burials to help tell the story of British prehistory, from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age. Join us on 4 November at 6pm GMT (1pm EST) or watch on demand. Tickets available now. Online Covid daily update Stay on top of all the most crucial developments in the pandemic with our briefing, updated at 12pm GMT every weekday. We round up the latest coronavirus news, and give links to exclusive features and interviews. Podcast Weekly We begin with news of a treatment that provides hope for children who are born with no immune system. Ecosystem researcher Yadvinder Malhi talks through the science of the new film…

2 min
save our skies

ALL eyes are on the COP26 climate summit, which starts in Glasgow, UK, on Sunday. But amid the “anarchy”, in the words of former UK climate minister Ed Miliband, of the hot phase of negotiations (page 12), in quieter moments, we might cast our thoughts to a problem fast brewing further skywards. In mid 2019, there were 2000 satellites in orbit. That number has now doubled in two years, spurred on by the ambitions of private communications companies. A third of all satellites belong to just one swarm: Starlink, operated by SpaceX. Satellites aren’t bad per se, of course. They are vital to scientific research, providing data on everything from the effects of climate change to the movements of pirate ships. A laudable aim of Starlink is to bring internet access to…

3 min
concern as uk cases rise

THE number of coronavirus cases in the UK has risen to its highest level since July, and hospitalisations and deaths are also rising despite relatively high vaccination rates. Yet the UK government has said it has no immediate plans to change current policy in England despite mounting pressure from health bodies to implement tougher measures sooner rather than later. In the week to 25 October, 315,698 confirmed cases and 942 deaths were recorded in the UK, both figures roughly 10 per cent higher than the previous week. The number of daily cases is now on a par with the large spike seen in July after most lockdown measures were lifted. Senior figures in the National Health Service and the British Medical Association have urged the government to implement “Plan B” of the…

4 min
what to expect at cop26

THE United Nations COP26 climate summit, which runs from 31 October to 12 November in Glasgow, UK, has been described as a “turning point for humanity” and “the most consequential summit… ever”. Delayed due to the covid-19 pandemic, the meeting is by far the most important gathering on climate change since nearly 200 countries adopted the Paris Agreement in 2015. Where the Paris meeting’s job was to forge a new global treaty on curbing global warming, the task in Glasgow is to ensure that action is being delivered. The pandemic meant vital in-person diplomacy to lay the groundwork for the summit was largely replaced by virtual meetings. Meanwhile, unequal access to covid-19 vaccines and the inequity around delegates’ capacity to be in Glasgow has heightened old tensions between high- and low-income countries…

2 min
who’s who at the climate talks

Alok Sharma: COP26 president The man who must shepherd an ambitious consensus from the 197 parties at COP26. Dubbed “no drama Sharma”, he is more technocrat than radical environmentalist. “I’m a normal person, right, I’m not someone who’s some great climate warrior,” he has said. He is respected and has built relations with governments globally. Xie Zhenhua: China’s chief climate negotiator The famously tough climate negotiator for the world’s biggest carbon emitter stepped down in 2019, only to be brought out of retirement by Chinese president Xi Jinping this year. Xie and Kerry have a good relationship, which may help as US-China relations are strained on trade, human rights and the origins of the coronavirus pandemic. Patricia Espinosa: Executive secretary, UN Climate Change Before taking the reins five years ago at the UN agency charged…

5 min
who is tackling climate change best?

THE chief aim of the COP26 climate summit is to “keep 1.5°C alive”, according to the president of the talks, Alok Sharma. But meeting that Paris Agreement goal of holding global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels will require bold ambition from countries in their carbonemission cutting plans for the end of the decade. Governments had to submit plans in 2015 and were given a deadline of showing “progression” by the end of 2020. Many missed that schedule and the COP26 meeting starting in Glasgow, UK, on 31 October is now a de facto deadline for stronger plans. So which countries are leading with their new plans for 2030, and which are lagging? Which are contributing a “fair share” – according to calculations by nonprofit organisation Climate Action Tracker – to…