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Eight amazing science stories of 2017

BBC - Mon, 2017-12-25 10:25
BBC News looks back on eight of the biggest science and environment stories of 2017.
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Country diary 1917: forest in the grip of a black frost

The Guardian - Mon, 2017-12-25 08:30

28 December 1917 In the sombre foliage of the forest firs we heard the short, high-pitched notes of the goldcrest, and saw two or three of the tiny birds hunting for insects

Iron-hard roads rang beneath our feet and cat-ice between the ruts scrunched and crackled; a black frost had the forest in its grip. Under the firs was a litter of stripped cones and scattered flakes; the squirrels, in spite of the frost, had been busy, and over and over again we disturbed them from their hunt amongst the fallen needles and sent them scurrying up the straight boles. It was in the sombre foliage of these forest firs that we heard the short, high-pitched notes of the goldcrest, and saw two or three of the tiny birds hunting for insects – hibernating insects too insignificant for larger birds to worry with.

Related: Walking in the winter woods: Country diary 100 years ago

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The eco guide to the Christmas walk

The Guardian - Sun, 2017-12-24 16:00

Going out for a breather after the big meal is a tradition. But now you have to think about the quality of the air you’re taking in

The post-lunch Christmas walk is a family tradition in many households. What’s not to like? You get to walk off one of the biggest meals of the year. Young or old, most members of the family can manage a gentle stroll and you get some fresh air in your lungs.

But how fresh is that air? A new study by British researchers recently published in the Lancet highlights the fact that older members of the family need to be much more choosy about where they take their exercise.

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Meet the free range reindeer that tour the UK

BBC - Sun, 2017-12-24 10:19
Free-ranging reindeer are spending time touring the UK to help children learn about them.
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How Sea Shepherd lost battle against Japan’s whale hunters in Antarctic

The Guardian - Sun, 2017-12-24 07:00
The Southern Ocean was a sanctuary – but now Japan’s boats have military hardware and conservationists can no longer track them

A fleet of Japanese ships is currently hunting minke whales in the Southern Ocean. It is a politically incendiary practice: the waters around Antarctica were long ago declared a whale sanctuary, but the designation has not halted Japan’s whalers, who are continuing a tradition of catching whales “for scientific research” in the region.

In the past, conservation groups such as Sea Shepherd have mounted campaigns of harassment and successfully blocked Japan’s ships from killing whales. But not this year. Despite previous successes, Sea Shepherd says it can no longer frustrate Japan’s whalers because their boats now carry hardware supplied from military sources, making the fleet highly elusive and almost impossible to track. As a result the whalers are – for the first time – being given a free run to kill minke in the Southern Ocean.

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Science Extra: The year in environmental science

ABC Environment - Sun, 2017-12-24 06:10
ABC Science Editor Jonathan Webb chats with environment reporter Nick Kilvert about the environmental science stories that caught his eye in 2017.
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Country diary: 'Demanding Ladies' blossom in a Victorian time warp

The Guardian - Sun, 2017-12-24 03:52

Hawkhurst, Kent One of Britain’s largest collections of Victorian glasshouses is being restored thanks to the fond memories of a wartime evacuee

Just outside Hawkhurst, in the Kentish Weald, there’s a walled garden so quintessentially Victorian that stepping inside feels like time-travelling. Rustic brickwork glows in the winter sun; in bright corners the skeletal arms of buddleia seem to beckon the ghosts of bees; and everywhere you look the light is reflected by shimmering glass.

There are 13 crumbling, deeply atmospheric glasshouses – the “Demanding Ladies” – most of them more than 140 years old. There’s a shaded fern house, a long, leaning peach case, a sunken glass corridor for melons and pineapples, a pelargonium house, a carnation house, a hot house with great vats that once steamed with heated water.

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Bruce McCandless's pioneering spacewalk 'quite comfortable'

BBC - Sun, 2017-12-24 01:50
The first person to fly untethered in space, Nasa astronaut Bruce McCandless, has died.
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Tesco pledges to end edible food waste by March 2018

The Guardian - Sun, 2017-12-24 00:43

Supermarket announces plans to donate surplus stock to local charities, and urges other chains to follow suit

Tesco is to become the only UK retailer to no longer waste food fit for human consumption.

The company’s chief executive, Dave Lewis, has urged other supermarket chains to follow Tesco’s lead and adopt the changes that it will implement by March 2018.

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Bruce McCandless, who made first untethered space flight, dies at 80

BBC - Sat, 2017-12-23 23:46
In February 1984, Bruce McCandless pushed off from the Space Shuttle and drifted alone into space.
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Mysterious lights over LA baffle onlookers

BBC - Sat, 2017-12-23 21:47
The phenomenon was visible from parts of California and Arizona - the culprit: A SpaceX rocket.
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Hidden camera captures rare pig thought extinct

BBC - Sat, 2017-12-23 19:57
Scientists have filmed one of the world's rarest, and 'ugliest', pigs in a forest in Indonesia.
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New lab-bred super corals could help avert global reef wipeout

The Guardian - Sat, 2017-12-23 18:00

Pioneering research on cross-species coral hybrids, inoculations with protective bacteria and even genetic engineering could provide a lifeline for the ‘rainforests of the oceans’

New super corals bred by scientists to resist global warming could be tested on the Great Barrier Reef within a year as part of a global research effort to accelerate evolution and save the “rainforests of the seas” from extinction.

Researchers are getting promising early results from cross-breeding different species of reef-building corals, rapidly developing new strains of the symbiotic algae that corals rely on and testing inoculations of protective bacteria. They are also mapping out the genomes of the algae to assess the potential for genetic engineering.

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The nuclear boy scouts: radioactive obsessions and genius unleashed

ABC Environment - Sat, 2017-12-23 16:30
Two remarkable kids with remarkable ambitions. This is wild, believe us.
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'World's ugliest pig' caught on camera

BBC - Sat, 2017-12-23 10:24
Conservationists capture the first footage in the wild of the endangered Javan warty pig
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The improbable tale of the outback fish

ABC Environment - Sat, 2017-12-23 09:30
How does a fish the size of a toothbrush head, with bright red fins and big blue eyes, end up living in a puddle of water in the middle of the Australian outback? This story is about one of the rarest fish species in the world, and it's simply epic. {For RN Summer we're playing the best programs of the year, and this one first aired in May, 2017}
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The greening of Singapore

ABC Environment - Sat, 2017-12-23 07:45
The transformation of Singapore into a garden city.
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War on Waste revisited: Farm-gate stall in the city

ABC Environment - Sat, 2017-12-23 05:20
Earlier this year the ABC launched its War on Waste series. It was a campaign to make us stop and think about how we live, look at how we could re-use and recycle items in our home, and cut down on unnecessary waste. Today we meet the Simpson family from the Brisbane suburb of Paddington who've developed a community hub around the produce they grow in their garden.
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The week in wildlife - in pictures

The Guardian - Sat, 2017-12-23 00:19

A mountain hare in the snow, a Christmas beetle, and the pre-speech toddler who has befriended a pack of wild monkeys all feature in this week’s pick of images from the natural world

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Failing our forests: we’ve lost enough trees to cover Spain in 2 years

The Guardian - Fri, 2017-12-22 23:16

Fire. Oil palm. Cattle. Soy. Rubber. Wood. New data from Global Forest Watch shows that forest destruction is on the rise globally, in spite of a slate of pledges and commitments.

Two years ago the world signed the Paris Agreement to combat climate change. It included specific pledges to “conserve and enhance” the world’s forests in order to combat rising temperatures. But in the last two years – 2015 and 2016 – we’ve lost enough trees to cover 493,716 square kilometres, according to satellite data recently released by Global Forest Watch (GFW). This is nearly equal to the entirety of Spain – or about four Englands.

Currently, deforestation accounts for around 10-15% of annual global carbon emissions. Even as combating deforestation has long been seen as one of the cheapest ways to tackle global warming, GFW’s data shows just how far we have to go.

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