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27,390 articles from Guardian Unlimited Science

On Friday 20 September, millions of people led by Greta Thunberg and students from Sydney to Delhi, Melbourne to London and New York, will march for urgent action on climate change. Follow for all the latest school strike 4 climate news

Absolutely huge turnout in Geelong where they’re singing and chanting.

At Geelong City Hall for the #ClimateStrike . Huge turnout pic.twitter.com/AA5Pbdo151

“No planet B” song at Geelong #ClimateStrike pic.twitter.com/5xrMAXkSzc

Townsville locals #Strike4Climate, not a single southern latte-sipper in sight. pic.twitter.com/VjAYF9qfrB

First Barnesy now The Oils:

We support today’s #climatestrike - "it happens to be an emergency". Look at these average annual temps (dark red = hottest years). For everyone, especially the young, we are now at the crossroads. pic.twitter.com/k9XZoL44oE

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Two target markers deployed around Ryugu ahead of lander’s planned descent next month

Japan’s Hayabusa 2 spacecraft has deployed two target markers around asteroid Ryugu. The deployment took place at 5.17pm BST on 17 September from an altitude of 1km. In the minuscule gravity of the asteroid, the unpowered markers are still falling to its surface. They are expected to land sometime over the weekend or early next week at the latest.

The 10cm-wide markers are covered in a highly reflective material that makes them easy to observe from the main spacecraft, which has now risen to a height of 20km (12.4 miles). By tracking their descent, planetary scientists can deduce the precise gravitational field that the asteroid generates, which reveals its internal structure. Hayabusa 2 arrived at Ryugu on 27 June 2018. It has already released three small rovers to the surface and performed two touchdowns to collect surface material.

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Leading academics from around the country say it is their moral duty to rebel to ‘defend life itself’

We the undersigned represent diverse academic disciplines, and the views expressed here are those of the signatories and not their universities. While our academic perspectives and expertise may differ, we are united on one point: we can no longer tolerate the failure of the Australian government, or any other government, to take robust and urgent action to address the worsening ecological crisis.

The science is clear, the facts are incontrovertible. We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. This includes many species of insects, some of which are essential to our food systems. Many people around the world have already died or been displaced from the effects of a rapidly warming climate. July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest on record. Arctic peat is burning and ice is melting at rates far beyond even the most radical scientific predictions. The Amazon is burning at an alarming rate. All are creating devastating feedback loops, releasing more CO2 and reducing the Earth’s heat reflecting capacities.

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Global outbreak of antibiotic-resistant superbugs linked to overconsumption of meat

Hotspots of antibiotic-resistant superbugs are springing up in farms around the world, the direct result of our overconsumption of meat, with potentially disastrous consequences for human health, a study has found.

Areas in north-east India, north-east China and the Red River delta in Vietnam were identified as hotspots in Asia, with areas as widely separated as Mexico and Johannesburg also affected. But the hotspots are expanding quickly. The study found areas where resistance to antibiotics among farm animals was starting to emerge in Kenya, Morocco, Uruguay, southern Brazil, central India and southern China.

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Millions will take to the streets in global climate crisis protests from 20 to 27 September

The global climate strike kicks off on Friday and will ripple across the world in more than 4,000 locations, the start of a weeklong movement to train international attention on the climate emergency. It’s the latest of a succession of strikes on Fridays led by schoolchildren – but this time adults are invited to join in.

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Unprecedented feat reveals little-known Denisovans resembled Neanderthals but had ‘super-wide’ skulls

One of the most mysterious relatives in the human family has stepped out of the shadows after scientists used ancient DNA from a fossilised finger to reconstruct their appearance.

The unprecedented feat, described as “exciting” and “extraordinary” by one leading researcher who was not involved in the work, shows that the Denisovans looked similar to the Neanderthals, but had wider heads and more protruding jaws.

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Emma Thompson and Mark Ruffalo among signatories of open letter to secretary general

A global campaign backed by 450 activist groups and celebrities, including actors Emma Thompson and Mark Ruffalo, is calling on the UN to endorse a global end to fracking before the industry torpedoes efforts to tackle the climate crisis.

The open letter to the UN secretary general, António Guterres, includes signatures from individuals representing global environmental movements, universities and faith groups.

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Environmental activists Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot have helped produce a short film highlighting the need to protect, restore and use nature to tackle the climate crisis.

Living ecosystems like forests, mangroves, swamps and seabeds can pull enormous quantities of carbon from the air and store them safely, but natural climate solutions currently receive only 2% of the funding spent on cutting emissions. 

 The film’s director, Tom Mustill of Gripping Films, said: 'We tried to make the film have the tiniest environmental impact possible. We took trains to Sweden to interview Greta, charged our hybrid car at George’s house, used green energy to power the edit and recycled archive footage rather than shooting new.'

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Tasmanian senator says Hitler would be ‘so proud’ after academic website announces it will not tolerate climate change denial

The Liberal senator Eric Abetz has compared the Conversation website to Hitler, Stalin and Mao, after it announced a zero-tolerance approach to climate change deniers.

The academic news and analysis website has said it will remove comments and lock accounts that put forward those views, outraging the Tasmanian senator.

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Strong civil society movements are needed to ramp up pace of change, says study

Greenhouse gas emissions could be halved in the next decade if a small number of current technologies and behavioural trends are ramped up and adopted more widely, researchers have found, saying strong civil society movements are needed to drive such change.

Solar and wind power, now cheaper than fossil fuels in many regions, must be scaled up rapidly to replace coal-fired generation, and this alone could halve emissions from electricity generation by 2030, according to the Exponential Roadmap report from an international group of experts.

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Eight-country poll shows people view climate crisis as priority over migration and terrorism

A majority of the public recognise the climate crisis as an “emergency” and say politicians are failing to tackle the problem, backing the interests of big oil over the wellbeing of ordinary people, according to an eight-country poll.

The survey, which comes before what is expected to be the world’s biggest climate demonstrations on Friday, found that climate breakdown is viewed as the most important issue facing the world, ahead of migration, terrorism and the global economy, in seven out of the eight countries surveyed. In the US it comes third behind terrorism and affordable healthcare.

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Smashing of monster asteroid half a billion years ago thought to have caused mini ice age

An enormous dust cloud that swept through the ancient solar system sent Earth into a mini ice age that sparked an explosion in primitive life on the planet, scientists say.

The space dust was created when a monster asteroid was smashed to pieces in a violent collision somewhere between Mars and Jupiter nearly half a billion years ago.

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C-section babies pick up more hospital bacteria than those born vaginally, research shows

Babies born by caesarean section have different gut bacteria to those delivered vaginally, the most comprehensive study to date on the baby microbiome has found.

The study showed that babies born vaginally pick up most of their initial dose of bacteria from their mother, while C-section babies have more bugs linked to hospital environments, including strains that demonstrate antimicrobial resistance. The findings could explain the higher prevalence of asthma, allergies and other immune conditions in babies born by caesarean.

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Dire risk is compounded by climate crisis, urbanisation and lack of sanitation, says global monitoring board

It sounds like an improbable fiction: a virulent flu pandemic, source unknown, spreads across the world in 36 hours, killing up to 80 million people, sparking panic, destabilising national security and slicing chunks off the world’s economy.

But a group of prominent international experts has issued a stark warning: such a scenario is entirely plausible and efforts by governments to prepare for it are “grossly insufficient”.

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Last year, the government announced plans to ban remote-control collars, but now a dog-owning minister is calling for the ban to be abandoned. So what is the truth about these training aids?

Is it cruel to give your pet electric shocks? Just little ones? The work and pensions secretary, Thérèse Coffey, has come under fire for using one on her beagle-pug cross, Lola, which reportedly kept trying to attack other dogs. She spoke to Steve Andrews, a Suffolk dog trainer, who recommended an electric collar to help control Lola’s behaviour. This seemed to work, and Andrews has since asked Coffey to help to overturn the government’s plans for a ban on remote-control collars. Awkwardly, the plans were announced by Michael Gove last year, when Coffey was a minister in his department.

“Thérèse’s dog responds on setting 11 [out of 100],” Andrews told the Eastern Daily Press. “She felt what that was like and could feel nothing … This is not cruel. Thérèse and her family are dog lovers doing the best for their pet.”

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Sticky-tentacled species returns to boglands but introducing meat-eating varieties is not without risk

The great sundew (Drosera anglica) is a carnivorous plant with leaves covered in red tentacles that ooze sticky slime to kill and digest insects, giving the plant extra nutrition in the boglands where it grows.

It was once common in England but was almost wiped out as wetlands and peat bogs were drained or dug up, but a project is reintroducing the plant in restored bogland in north-west England, using cuttings from native plants.

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Here, let me try. The sun is very, very hot

When I was an undergrad learning geology, the maxim that was thumped into me wasn’t how to build a mine or drill for oil and gas, it was simply: “The present is the key to the past.” The thing that took a while to accept was that the past was really, really, long.

It’s hard to comprehend the scale of geologic time: the timespan for continents to crash together and rip apart, for tiny sea creatures to live, die and condense into kilometres of limestone, or streams to carve epic canyons carrying mountains to the sea. We use comparisons our minds can grasp, such as if all cosmological time was the length of string or compressed into a single year (humans beings appear in the final six hours).

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Research finds black carbon breathed by mothers can cross into unborn children

Air pollution particles have been found on the foetal side of placentas, indicating that unborn babies are directly exposed to the black carbon produced by motor traffic and fuel burning.

The research is the first study to show the placental barrier can be penetrated by particles breathed in by the mother. It found thousands of the tiny particles per cubic millimetre of tissue in every placenta analysed.

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New York forum aims to ‘restore’ the climate by reducing atmospheric levels of carbon to those of a century ago

A new effort to rally governments and corporations behind technologies that suck greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to help stave off disastrous global heating will be launched at the United Nations on Tuesday.

The first annual Global Climate Restoration Forum, held in New York, aims to spur international support for emerging and sometimes controversial methods to claw back planet-warming gases after they have been emitted from power plants, cars, trucks and aircraft.

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Facility know as Vector is one of only two sites holding virus, and also houses Ebola samples

A gas explosion has sparked a fire at a Russian laboratory complex stockpiling viruses ranging from smallpox to Ebola, authorities have said.

The State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology denied that the fire had exposed the public to the pathogens stored inside, some of the deadliest on Earth.

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US study finds Christians are willing to pay for prayers – but atheists will pay to avoid them

All things have a price – and if not, economists will find one. Researchers have calculated the going rate for thoughts and prayers offered in hard times.

Rather than settling on one price for all, the study found the value of a compassionate gesture depended overwhelmingly on a person’s beliefs. While Christian participants were willing to part with money to receive thoughts and prayers from others, the idea made nonbelievers baulk. Instead of shelling out to receive the gestures, on average they were willing to pay to avoid them.

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Night and day will be of equal length at the end of this week as the sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south

The September equinox takes place this week. Occurring on 23 September, it marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn for the northern hemisphere and is called the autumnal equinox at northern latitudes. In the southern hemisphere, the situation is reversed and the moment marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. The equinox is defined as the place in the sky where the sun’s path, called the ecliptic, crosses the celestial equator, which is the projection of Earth’s equator up into the sky. This crossing occurs in Virgo and the sun will cross this point at 0850 BST on 23 September, as shown in the chart. At this moment, the sun will be moving from the northern sky into the southern sky. On this day around the world, everywhere will experience an almost even split of 12 hours day and 12 hours night. After this, the days shorten at northern latitudes and lengthen in the southern hemisphere. The next equinox will take place at 0350 GMT on 20 March 2020.

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An intolerance to manufactured scents can lead to migraines, respiratory issues and long-term sick leave. So should they be banned in public spaces?

If you flew abroad this summer, you probably passed through an airport’s duty-free perfume section. Perhaps you paused to spritz yourself with an expensive scent you had no intention of buying, before making the obligatory trip to WH Smith for overpriced crisps and bottles of water.

For most people, the wafting odours of perfume counters are not a problem. But, for some, the trip through duty free is a choking, cloying experience.

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