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Environment

  • Knut the polar bear’s cause of death discovered by scientists

    Knut the polar bear’s cause of death discovered by scientists

    Scientists in Germany say they have finally figured out what killed Knut, the polar bear who became a worldwide celebrity. Knut drowned four years ago after swelling of his brain caused him to collapse and fall into his enclosure’s pool at Berlin...

  • Concern over plastic waste and its impact on the sea

    Concern over plastic waste and its impact on the sea

    Up to 80 tons of plastic could enter the sea every year from everyday cosmetics and cleaning products in the UK, according to a study. Research has shown almost 100,000 tiny ‘microbeads’ – each a fraction of a millimetre in diameter – could be...

  • Sea levels across world climbed 8cm since 1992

    Sea levels across world climbed 8cm since 1992

    Sea levels worldwide rose an average of nearly 8cm since 1992, the result of warming waters and melting ice, a panel of Nasa scientists said. In 2013, a UN panel predicted sea levels would rise from 0.3 to 0.9 metres by the end of the century. The...

  • Animal defence tactics

    Animal defence tactics

    Predatory animals have a problem: their food does not want to be eaten and does its utmost to avoid being captured. Many animals hide themselves, often by becoming camouflaged. Many insects use such a strategy effectively: there are insects that...

  • Tropical forests size of India to be axed by 2050

    Tropical forests size of India to be axed by 2050

    Tropical forests covering an area nearly the size of India are set to be destroyed in the next 35 years, a faster rate of deforestation than previously thought, a study warned. The Washington-based Centre for Global Development, using satellite...

  • Low-energy and healthy homes

    Low-energy and healthy homes

    With street names such as Temperance and Hygiene and plenty of green open spaces, the 1920s Bon Air (Good Air) housing estate in a working-class district of Brussels was meant to provide a healthy ‘garden city’ way of life. Now, 21st-century...

  • While everyone is at the beach...

    While everyone is at the beach...

    We are right in the middle of summer, a period associated with a more lethargic working pace and an emphasis on various forms of leisure, courtesy of the warm weather. But it seems not everyone rests in summer. In fact, the summer and Christmas...

  • Successful sustainable development education needs change of mindsets

    Successful sustainable development education needs change of mindsets

    Developing Education for Sus­tainable Development (ESD) as a cross-curricular theme, as requested by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF), does not merely involve finding environmentally-related topics and inserting them in syllabuses that can...

  • Bluebirds 'shout to be heard over human noise'

    Bluebirds 'shout to be heard over human noise'

    Bluebirds “shout” to be heard over the noise produced by humans, new research has shown. They alter their songs immediately after noise levels intensified, such as from traffic, the study showed, and made “real-time” adjustments in order to...

  • Invasive plants spreading fast in billion-euro threat

    Invasive plants spreading fast in billion-euro threat

    Many of the world’s plants are turning ‘alien’, spread by people into new areas where they choke out native vegetation in a worsening trend that causes billions of euros in damage, scientists said. The invaders include water hyacinth from the...

  • China’s carbon count ‘could be overstated by 14%’

    International organisations could be overestimating emissions from China, the world’s biggest producer of greenhouse gas because of problems in the way they calculate their data, said a study published by Nature. With talks on a new global climate...

  • Butterflies under threat

    Butterflies under threat

    If you think that when you were younger there were more butterflies around, you are right. Butterflies are disappearing from the Maltese islands. Twenty years ago I wrote an article about the meadow brown butterfly. At the time this was one of the...

  • Andes face water woes

    Residents of the Central Andes mountains in Peru and Bolivia, already short of water, could see rainfall decline by up to 30 per cent by the end of the century, a Swiss study said. Even the next 20 years could see a noticeable drop in rainfall,...

  • The evolution of dogs

    The evolution of dogs

    Climate change helped in the design of dogs, forging man’s best friend from a creature that was more like a cat, scientists have learned. Ancestors of dogs living in North America 40 million years ago resembled small mongooses and, like cats, were...

  • Annals of botany

    Annals of botany

    A plant that had no petals and lived underwater more than 125 million years ago could be the oldest known ‘flower’, scientists believe. The aquatic Montsechia vidalii was once abundant in freshwater lakes in what are now mountainous regions of...

  • Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls are equipped with state-of-the-art stealth technology to help them swoop on prey undetected, a study has shown. The night hunters have feathers that absorb aerodynamic sound and suppress the vibrations that occur when a bird flaps its...

  • Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls use ‘stealth technology’ to help capture prey

    Owls are equipped with state-of-the-art stealth technology to help them swoop on prey undetected, a study has shown. The night hunters have feathers that absorb aerodynamic sound and suppress the vibrations that occur when a bird flaps its...

  • Pope’s climate push at odds with US Catholic oil assets

    Pope’s climate push at odds with US Catholic oil assets

    Pope Francis heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he urged immediate action to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of “highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced...

  • Rich nations’ climate plans fall short of hopes

    Rich nations’ climate plans fall short of hopes

    Developed nations are on track to cut their greenhouse emissions by almost 30 per cent by 2030, Reuters calculations show, falling far short of a halving suggested by a UN panel of scientists as a fair share to limit climate change. Last week,...

  • Severe ‘food shocks’ more likely due to extreme weather

    Severe ‘food shocks’ more likely due to extreme weather

    Extreme weather such as intense storms, droughts and heatwaves will cause more frequent and severe food shortages as the global climate and food supply systemschange, British and American experts have warned. The pressure on the world’s food...

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