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Showing posts from February, 2022

Climate change: effect on forests could last millennia, ancient ruins suggest

Jonathan Lenoir , Author provided Jonathan Lenoir , Université de Picardie Jules Verne (UPJV) and Tommaso Jucker , University of Bristol Forests are home to 80% of land-based biodiversity, but these arks of life are under threat. The rising average global temperature is forcing tiny plants like sidebells wintergreen on the forest floor (known as the understory) to shift upslope in search of cooler climes. Forest plants can’t keep up with the speed at which the climate is changing – they lag behind . The pace at which forests adapt to changing conditions is so slow that species living in forest understories today are probably responding to more ancient changes in their environment. For instance, the Mormal Forest floor in northern France is, in several places, covered by a carpet of quaking sedge. This long grass-like plant betrays the former settlements of German soldiers who used it to make straw mattresses during the first world war

Low-technology: why sustainability doesn’t have to depend on high-tech solutions

Encouraging recycling is part of the low-tech approach to life. PxHere It’s a popular idea that the path to sustainability lies in high-tech solutions. By making everyday items like cars electric , and installing smart systems to monitor and reduce energy use, it seems we’ll still be able to enjoy the comforts to which we’ve become accustomed while doing our bit for the planet – a state known as “ green growth ”. But the risks of this approach are becoming ever clearer. Many modern technologies use materials like copper, cobalt, lithium and rare earth elements. These metals are in devices like cell phones, televisions and motors. Not only is their supply finite, but large amounts of energy are required for their extraction and processing – producing significant emissions. Plus, many of these devices are inherently difficult to recycle. This is because to make them, complex mixes of materials are created, often in very small quantities.

#COP26 to #CabotNext10: Reflections from our 2021 Communications Assistants

Last year, we had the pleasure of working with six excellent Master’s and PhD students in the run up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26 . They impressed us with the creativity in their applications and we recruited them as Cabot Communications Assistants - an exciting opportunity that doesn’t come up very often within the Institute to gain experience in communications, and work with the Cabot team. Covering COP26 themes , the ecological emergency and #CabotNext10, which celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the Cabot Institute and looked ahead to the next 10 years, our comms assistants designed and implemented campaigns for a variety of different audiences, drawing upon their own research as well as that of experts across the University.  With COP27 coming up later this year, these issues are still very much on the minds of press, the public and environmental professionals across the world. Keep reading to learn more about the work that some of our Cabot Communicatio

How ancient plants ‘learnt’ to use water when they moved on to land – new research

Focal point/Shutterstock “Plants, whether they are enormous, or microscopic, are the basis of all life including ourselves.” This was David Attenborough’s introduction to The Green Planet , the latest BBC natural history series. Over the last 500 million years, plants have become interwoven into every aspect of our lives. Plants support all other life on Earth today. They provide the oxygen people breathe, as well as cleaning the air and cooling the Earth’s temperature. But without water, plants would not survive. Originally found in aquatic environments, there are estimated to be around 500,000 land plant species that emerged from a single ancestor that floated through the water. In our recent paper, published in New Phytologist , we investigate, at the genetic level, how plants have learnt to use and manipulate water – from the first tiny moss-like plants to live on land in the Cambrian period (around 500 million years ago) through to the gi

New flood maps show US damage rising 26% in next 30 years due to climate change alone, and the inequity is stark

Coastal cities like Port Arthur, Texas, are at increasing risk from flooding during storms. Joe Raedle/Getty Images Climate change is raising flood risks in neighborhoods across the U.S. much faster than many people realize. Over the next three decades, the cost of flood damage is on pace to rise 26% due to climate change alone, an analysis of our new flood risk maps shows. That’s only part of the risk. Despite recent devastating floods , people are still building in high-risk areas. With population growth factored in, we found the increase in U.S. flood losses will be four times higher than the climate-only effect. Our team develops cutting-edge flood risk maps that incorporate climate change. It’s the data that drives local risk estimates you’re likely to see on real estate websites. In the new analysis, published Jan. 31, 2022, we estimated where flood risk is rising fastest and who is in harm’s way . The results show the high c