As biomedical scientists continue to battle the deadly pandemic this year to help the world return to normalcy, researchers across the disciplines still aim to hit big milestones or launch new projects despite the challenges brought by COVID-19. European scientists will also have to contend with the aftermath of Brexit. Many U.S. scientists, in contrast, have a more hopeful political outlook, with some likely to play an invigorated role in tackling another global crisis, climate change, after President-elect Joe Biden, who has vowed to make it a top priority, is sworn in this month. In this article, Science’s news staff forecasts areas of research and policy we expect to make headlines this year, from protecting the high seas’ biodiversity to probing how ancient humans interacted.
Covid-19 likely emerged from the wilds near southern China, then found residence in horseshoe bats before making the jump to humans. The virus, as of this writing, has infected 63 million people and caused 1.5 million deaths around the world. The global economic impact of the pandemic was estimated at $8 trillion to $16 trillion in July 2020 — it may be $16 trillion in the U.S. alone by the fourth quarter of 2021 (assuming vaccines are effective at controlling it by then). The amount of human suffering this tiny microbe has caused is incalculable: lost loved ones, vanished jobs, broken families, and lingering sickness from a virus that will eventually retreat but will never disappear.
In this in-depth Q&A – which includes a range of infographics, maps and interactive charts, as well as the views of dozens of experts – Carbon Brief examines the big questions around the “hydrogen economy” and looks at the extent to which it could help the world avoid dangerous climate change.
According to the World Bank, the number of people in poverty will climb from 68 million to 132 million by 2030 because of climate change. The existence of global poverty is common knowledge, but many of us remain unaware of the leading cause. Climate change is the culprit of the devastating droughts and natural disasters that have created lasting effects on poverty levels worldwide. The consequences of climate change include food shortages, water shortages, loss of shelter, and a loss of livelihood, each of which are defining factors of poverty.
The Sentinel-6 will see details that previous sea level missions couldn’t. Existing satellites can track large phenomena stretching thousands of miles, such as the Gulf Stream and weather patterns like El Niño and La Niña. But smaller sea-level fluctuations near coastlines exceed their abilities. Sentinel-6’s higher resolution measurements will enable researchers to see finer, more complicated ocean features, especially near shorelines. It will also offer faster data turnarounds—collecting, processing, and releasing data within three hours, down from months and years. The data can be used to more quickly and accurately predict, map, and 3D model coastline changes; weather, such as hurricane intensity; ocean current fluctuations, which dissipate climate energy; and ocean topography and circulation, as movement of heat, salt, pollution, and nutrients impacts marine ecosystems.
As society continues to evolve towards a post-pandemic world and the economy adjusts to the new normal, organizations are presented with the opportunity to set the tone for how they adapt their operations and positively impact society. The current situation allows boards an expanded role in steering their organizations along this journey.
Insects have difficulties handling the higher temperatures brought on by climate change, and might risk overheating. The ability to reproduce is also strongly affected by rising temperatures, even in northern areas of the world, according to a new study from Lund University in Sweden.
Companies have a key role to play in building societal resilience to crises, including the current pandemic and climate impacts, across their value chains. Some priority actions businesses can take to build resilience include conducting supply chain risk assessments; understanding future scenarios; and understanding how the people in business and vital communities are affected.