Scientists relieved as Joe Biden wins tight US presidential election, study says we need to eat less meat to tackle the climate crisis, and time capsule placed at North Pole in 2018 washes up in Ireland
Welcome to this week’s news roundup. As always we’ll be mixing it up - there’ll be some good news stories, some not so good news stories, and maybe some stories you won't have seen elsewhere!
Hope you enjoy!
“Joe Biden will soon be president of the United States, and scientists the world over are breathing a collective sigh of relief. But concerns remain: nearly half the country voted for President Donald Trump, whose actions have repeatedly undermined science and scientific institutions. Biden will have his work cut out for him in January as he takes the helm of a politically polarized nation. “Our long national nightmare is over,” says Alta Charo, a bioethicist at the University of Wisconsin Law School, quoting president Gerald Ford’s famous 1974 remarks about his predecessor Richard Nixon’s scandal-ridden term. “I couldn’t say it any better than that.”
Despite votes still being counted and legal challenges from Trump and his team in some states, major media outlets in the United States declared Biden the victor on 7 November, after confirming that he won Pennsylvania and captured enough electoral college votes to claim victory. Once Biden takes office on 20 January, he will have an opportunity to reverse many policies introduced by the Trump administration that were damaging to science and public health. This includes actions on climate change, immigration and the COVID-19 pandemic, which could claim more than a quarter of a million lives in the United States before Trump leaves office in January.”
Eco-fashion offers a renaissance for new Tunisian brands (Associated Press)
“The sun is setting by the time Tunisian fashion designer Chems Eddine Mechri reaches the breezy, seaside town of Mahdia. He has spent half the day driving in the scorching heat in pursuit of the precious, handmade fabrics he needs for his upcoming winter collection. With a 200-kilometer ( 125-mile) road trip from Tunis coming to an end, the designer knows just the place: the basement of a blue-lit workshop, hidden away in the labyrinth of Mahdia’s old medina, where silk weaver Mohamed Ismail’s spinning wheel still is going at full speed. In a globalized world dominated by fast fashion brands such as Zara, H&M and Topshop, Tunisian designers like Mechri are increasingly going back to their roots, embracing local artisans and environmentally conscious materials. Thanks to North African nation’s age-old textile-making traditions, Tunisia is a good fit for the eco-fashion they want to champion.”
“Annual investor votes on company plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would create “critical link” between sustainability and accountability, U.N. climate envoy Mark Carney said on Monday. Carney, a former governor of the Bank of England, said investors could have an automatic advisory vote on a company’s climate transition plans, just as they might also have a say on pay. “This would establish a critical link between responsibility, accountability and sustainability,” Carney told the start of a Green Horizon Summit conference on climate finance in London.”
“A national push by the government and numerous wildlife and environment organisations to restore the natural world across England has been launched, aiming to tackle biodiversity loss, climate change and people’s isolation from the natural world. But it comes as some of the same environment groups supporting the initiative have warned that public funding for green recovery projects is already 10 times oversubscribed. The Nature Recovery Network — led by Natural England, the government’s advisers on the natural environment — aims to restore existing protected sites and landscapes across the country and also help provide at least 500,000 hectares of “new wildlife-rich habitat”. Natural England has described the scheme as “the biggest initiative to restore nature ever to be launched in England”, and said individuals from over 600 organisations were backing the effort to link together the country’s nature-rich places and restore rural and urban landscapes.”
The not so good:
A Woman Warned GM about Warming, But Men Didn’t Listen (Scientific American)
“A General Motors scientist who conducted pioneering research on climate change in the 1960s says she faced sexism that made it difficult to do her job. Ruth Reck's allegations raise questions about whether GM executives dismissed or downplayed her findings on global warming because of her gender. Reck joined GM Research Laboratories in Warren, Mich., in 1965 and soon began studying the effects of car emissions on the climate, E&E News reported as part of a monthslong investigation. As the first female scientist in the lab, she encountered an environment in which male co-workers evaluated her body rather than her brains. "I had a very difficult time working at GM in general. They told me I was a distraction because I was a shapely woman. I don't want to go into detail, but it was really hard. Really, unbelievably embarrassing," Reck recalled in one of several phone interviews with E&E News. The lab was located inside the GM Technical Center, which had been designed by the noted Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen. Its walls were made almost entirely of glass. "There was glass everywhere. You could see everyone everywhere," Reck said. "And the men, I was told I distracted them. You could just tell that their eyes were on you all the time."”
We Must Change What we Eat to Solve the Climate Crisis, Shows Research (Earth News Network)
“A paper published in the journal Science reveals that, although reducing fossil fuel use is essential to meet global climate targets, those goals are out of reach unless the global food system is also transformed. The research shows that what we eat, how much we eat, how much is wasted and how food is produced will need to change dramatically by 2050, if we are to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement’s goal of limiting the increase in global temperature to 1.5°C or 2°C above pre-industrial levels. If current trends continue, emissions from food systems would surpass the 1.5°C target within 30-45 years, the researchers found, and may exceed the 2°C target within 90 years, even if all other sources of greenhouse gas emissions immediately stopped. If other sources of greenhouse gas emissions reached zero by 2050, the 1.5°C target would be surpassed in 10-20 years and the 2°C target by the end of the century.”
And something a bit different:
“When the crew and passengers of the nuclear-powered icebreaker ship 50 Years of Victory reached the north pole in 2018, they placed a time capsule in the ice floe. The metal cylinder contained letters, poems, photographs, badges, beer mats, a menu, wine corks – ephemera from the early 21st century for whomever might discover it in the future. The future came pretty swiftly. The cylinder was found this week on the north-western tip of Ireland after floating an estimated 2,300 miles from the Arctic Circle, where global heating is melting a record amount of ice.