This week, Science celebrates the impending 20th anniversary of the publication of the draft human genome sequence—a landmark achievement by any measure…The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an internationally supported public project (Celera Genomics was the private effort that simultaneously sequenced the human genome). When the endeavor was launched in 1990, collaboration among a diverse group of scientists was essential because the sequencing was distributed across a number of international research sites.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, the publisher of Science) also looks forward to next week’s annual meeting, whose theme is “Understanding Dynamic Ecosystems.” At first glance, these two events may seem unrelated. But the successful completion of the human genome sequence ushered in biology’s era of “big science” and created a research ecosystem for tackling complex, technology-driven, and data-intensive multidisciplinary projects that continue to improve our understanding of cancer, the microbiome, the brain, and other areas of biology.
The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an internationally supported public project (Celera Genomics was the private effort that simultaneously sequenced the human genome). When the endeavor was launched in 1990, collaboration among a diverse group of scientists was essential because the sequencing was distributed across a number of international research sites. High-throughput technologies for DNA sequencing were critical to the project’s success, and the participation of biotech companies in the effort was instrumental in driving down the cost, speed, and throughput of generating DNA sequence. The ever-increasing amount of sequence data drove the development of mathematical and computational tools for assembling and annotating the data. Neither the laboratory scientists nor the computational scientists could have done this alone, and the convergence of these disciplines has been one of the most important legacies of the early genome efforts. There was also a commitment to train the next generation of genome scientists, and over the past 20 years, many colleges and universities have established new undergraduate and graduate programs in quantitative and systems biology. Life sciences students today graduate with a very different set of skills than they did in 2000.
Hours after being sworn in as US 46th President, Joe Biden kicked off his mandate by signing 17 executive orders. Among those, some were destined to undo the legacy of his predecessor Donald Trump, including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. The new president seems to keep climate as his administration’s priority, as promised.
Around 390,000 new humans are born every day. So, on a planet with dwindling resources and an increasing strain on natural systems… is curbing our booming population the key to solving our environmental woes?
In 2018, just North America and China were responsible for almost half of the world’s CO2 emissions. These are also the countries with the highest concentrations of the world’s wealthiest people. Their populations are living longer and having fewer babies, so their population growth is actually slowing down. By contrast, the poorest half of the world—where most global population growth is currently concentrated — produces only 10% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
These populations typically lack the technology and wealth that result in high energy expenditure, increased industrialization, and pollution. So, in climate change projections that take these imbalances into account, it’s been shown that redistributing wealth—so, reducing both extreme wealth and extreme poverty—has as much impact on carbon emissions as reducing overall population would.
Even in projected scenarios where a reduction in population does make a difference in emissions, it’s not enough of a difference to affect projected temperature rise. No amount of population reduction would achieve the reduction in emissions necessary to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius in our near future.
A new generation of investors wants to force businesses to become environmentally-friendly. Even climate conservationists know that money talks, but can green investments really save the world? Green investment rewards companies that use sustainable production practices and protect the environment. At the same time, companies that pollute or contribute to global warming are deprived of funds.
The strategy converts the once secondary issue of the environment into hard, cold cash. Antonis Schwarz is 30 years old — and an investor, philanthropist, and activist. His slogan is “cash against climate change.” Schwarz, like many other wealthy millennials, sees climate change as the key variable when it comes to investing money. These people intentionally put their cash into companies and projects that protect the environment. Schwarz believes that those who are well-off have a special responsibility to follow this strategy. He says, “When you are able to change something and you don’t, you’re complicit. We all have to become fully involved, so we can prevent a climate disaster.”
This philosophy can be summed up with the following question: “What’s the point of having loads of money if it becomes worthless because you’re living on a planet that’s becoming increasingly chaotic?” Institutional investors have more money at their disposal than wealthy private individuals do. Their approach is also changing — and not out of pure idealism. Extreme weather events caused by climate change, for example, are bad for business. They can force corporations to write off billions in damages.
This documentary goes behind the scenes to take a closer look at the financial markets. How well does “impact investing” work? Can investors really move large, powerful corporations to change their strategies? Politicians have so far failed to do precisely that.
Bolivia’s Tuni glacier is disappearing faster than initially anticipated, according to scientists in the Andean nation, a predicament that will likely make worse water shortages already plaguing the capital La Paz
Investors have been pouring more money than ever into renewable energies such as solar and wind. WSJ looks at how the pandemic, lower energy costs and global politics have driven the rally–and whether it can last.
When Covid-19 sparked lockdowns around the world, emissions of one of the greenhouse gases responsible for climate change, atmospheric carbon dioxide, plummeted. But is this record drop a short-term effect of the 2020 pandemic or a ‘new normal’? BBC Weather’s Ben Rich explores the impact of coronavirus on the global climate.