science
The World’s Second-Largest Rainforest is Losing the Carbon It’s Held for a Thousand Years

The Congo Basin is the second-largest rainforest on Earth, and like most tropical forests, it’s getting chewed up by humans. That’s a problem for the climate, and not just because trees are a natural sponge helping to mop up humanity’s ever-rising carbon emissions. New research suggests that as trees are replaced with fields for agriculture, carbon that’s been locked up in the Congo’s soils for hundreds to thousands of years is starting to seep out. Read More >>

drones
Can Drones Be Good?

It was a cool day in Dallas last November, when a small quadcopter lifted itself off the ground of an American Airlines hangar and buzzed towards a Boeing 777. The drone, a DJI Mavic Enterprise, had been outfitted with a spotlight, but otherwise looked a lot like what you might see your neighbour flying in the backyard. The remarkable difference was that this particular aircraft had been programmed to inspect the hull of the much larger aircraft, the jet. It could do in a matter of minutes what it would take a maintenance crew hours to do. It was, in its own way, a tiny flying robot with a job. Read More >>

science
Potatoes Have a Form of ‘Depression,’ but Scientists Have an Idea to Cure Them

Scientists are trying to revolutionise potatoes and, in the process, cure the tubers’ depression, the result of generations of inbreeding. Read More >>

science
Genetic Modification Turbocharges Photosynthesis and Drastically Improves Crop Growth

Scientists genetically modified plants in order to give a huge boost to photosynthesis, hoping to one day improve the yield of food crops like rice and wheat, according to a new paper. Read More >>

food
I Have a Few Questions About This Bacon Vending Machine

It’s come to our attention that Ohio State University, in the US, now features a bacon vending machine. The technology was installed in the Animal Sciences Building at the university’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and it dispenses servings of ready-to-eat bacon for $1 each (about 70p). These basic facts have led me to ask a lot of questions about what’s really going on. Read More >>

conservation
French Ban on Neonicotinoid Pesticides, Which Bees May Find Addictive, Goes Into Effect

A French ban on five neonicotinoid pesticides intended to protect the nation’s bees from colony collapse disorder went into effect on Saturday, Agence France-Press reported. Read More >>

drones
Colombia Is Testing Drones to Drop Herbicide on Crops Used for Cocaine

Under newly elected President Iván Duque, Colombia is testing remote-controlled drones designed to track and destroy coca, the crop used in cocaine production. The government has reportedly tested ten drones so far. Read More >>

food
Wow, Spain Sure Has a Lot of Pigs

There are now enough pigs in Spain that technically everyone could have one, and there’d be pigs to spare. Per the Guardian, Spanish environmental ministry figures reveal that the country now has 50 million oinking piggies, which is about 3.5 million more than the number of humans. That’s the first recorded time the nation has had more pigs than people. Read More >>

uncategorized
Scientists Just Measured the Drought that May Have Brought Down the Ancient Maya

The ancient Maya were an innovative people. They constructed intricate cities throughout the tropical lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, communicated using one of the world’s first written languages, and created two calendar systems by studying the stars. But despite their achievements, the thriving Mayan civilisation mysteriously collapsed sometime between the eighth and ninth centuries. We still don’t know exactly why. Read More >>

science
Discovery of 14,000-Year-Old Toast Suggests Bread Can Be Added to Paleo Diet

Archaeologists have uncovered the earliest evidence of bread-making at a site in northeastern Jordan. Dating back some 14,400 years, the discovery shows that ancient hunter-gatherers were making and eating bread 4,000 years before the Neolithic era and the introduction of agriculture. So much for the “Paleo Diet” actually being a thing. Read More >>

agriculture
Are You a ‘Wizard’ or a ‘Prophet’? The Dueling Visions for How Humanity Will Survive

By 2050, the world’s population will top ten billion people. As industrial capitalism evolves across the globe like no time in human history, will our planet’s ecosystem be able to sustain itself during this rapid transformation? This is just one of many questions that Charles C. Mann’s grapples with in The Wizard and the Prophet. Read More >>

agriculture
Let’s All Be Charmed By This Chinese Man Who Makes a Living Live-Streaming Farming

So much of our extremely online lives now revolves around things like the president of the United States threatening to either nuke North Korea or show them his genitals (not sure which!) or worrying about massive security breaches. But hey, some of it also rules. Read More >>

science
New Study Shows What Would Happen If the Entire USA Went Vegan

If you were to ask all of your friends what an ideal society looks like, I’m sure you’d receive vastly different answers. Maybe someone will suggest a society without war where everyone works together to solve problems. Your friend who just finished an Ayn Rand book will say something stupid. And maybe your vegan friend will pipe up and suggest a society without animal agriculture. Read More >>

science
The US Just Greenlit the Release of Genetically Modified Moths

Diamondback moths may be a mere half-inch in length, but their voracious appetite for Brussels sprouts, kale and cauliflower make them a major pain for farmers. This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture approved a potential solution: moths genetically engineered to contain a special gene that makes them gradually die off. A field trial slated to take place in a small area of upstate New York will become the first wild release of an insect modified using genetic engineering in the US. Read More >>