Archive for January, 2017:

UK ‘need not fear electricity blackouts’ says ex-National Grid boss

Image copyright Getty Images The UK has enough energy capacity to meet demand – even on the coldest days when demand is highest, says Steve Holliday, the man who ran National Grid for a decade. He said news stories raising fears about blackouts should stop. His optimism is based on the government’s latest auction of

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Restoring native plants ‘boosts pollination’

Image copyright C. Kaiser-Bunbury Image caption Mahé is the largest island in the Seychelles archipelago Removing invasive exotic plants from natural areas can act as a boost for wildlife, a study suggests. Bees, butterflies and birds returned to remote mountaintops in the Seychelles only six months after exotic plants were removed. Taking out exotic plants

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Scientists find ‘oldest human ancestor’

Image copyright Cambridge University Image caption Artist’s reconstruction of Saccorhytus coronarius, based on the original fossil finds. The actual creature was probably no more than a millimetre in size Researchers have discovered the earliest known ancestor of humans – along with a vast range of other species. They say that fossilised traces of the 540-million-year-old

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Flood prevention being ignored

Image copyright Getty Images Simple actions to help protect homes in England from flooding are still being ignored by government, MPs say. The Commons environment committee said ministers were not addressing what it called the fragmented, inefficient and ineffective flood management. Areas of concern include flood impact home insurance, building rules and local authority planning

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Amazon Reef: First images of new coral system

Image copyright Greenpeace Image caption The reef runs from French Guyana to the Brazilian state of Maranhao The first pictures of a huge coral reef system discovered in the Amazon last year have been released by environmental campaigners. The Amazon Reef is a 9,500 sq km (3,600 sq miles) system of corals, sponges and rhodoliths,

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Researchers seek evidence on gardens and well-being

Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption Links between gardens and health are being investigated A project aims to investigate the social case for gardens and what impact they have on health and well-being. There is growing evidence for the environmental and health benefits of gardens and gardening. Access to green spaces has been linked to reduced

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London’s dirty air: How bad is it?

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption London has suffered a “very high” episode of air pollution thanks to emissions from cars and stoves in cold, windless conditions The cold, calm weather of the past few days has seen London and the South East experience very high levels of air pollution. Emissions from cars and wood

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Human-pig ‘chimera embryos’ detailed

Image copyright Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte Image caption The embryos were allowed to develop for 28 days Embryos that are less than 0.001% human – and the rest pig – have been made and analysed by scientists. It is the first proof chimeras – named after the mythical lion-goat-serpent monster – can be made by

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New mercury threat to oceans from climate change

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption There have been concerns over the levels of mercury in fish for many years Rising temperatures could boost mercury levels in fish by up to seven times the current rates, say Swedish researchers. They’ve discovered a new way in which warming increases levels of the toxin in sea creatures.

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Seeds offer clue to domesticated plants’ larger size

Image copyright S.Matesanz Image caption Studies have shown that domesticated species of crop (left) are larger than their wild relatives (right) The seeds of domesticated plants could offer clues as to why cultivated crops are larger than their wild cousins, researchers have suggested. Increased size is common among domesticated plants but the reason for increased

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