Financial institutions and individual board members could be the next targets of climate litigation cases, according to the campaigners who helped to secure a landmark courtroom victory against oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.
It comes at a time when countries are scrambling to reach consensus in the final days of the COP26 climate summit. Negotiators from 197 countries are taking part in discussions with the goal of keeping the all-important global target of 1.5 degrees Celsius alive.
Modern society benefits when people understand science concepts. This knowledge helps explain how cryptocurrency works, why climate change is happening or how the coronavirus is transmitted from person to person.
Yet the average American spends less than 5% of their lifetime in classrooms learning about such topics. So, besides school, where else can people go to study and explore science?
Here are four alternative venues where the general public can enjoy nature, engage in hands-on science learning and get a behind-the-scenes look at scientific research in action.
1. National parks
Visitors to national parks dramatically increased over the past two years as the pandemic inspired people to go outside and enjoy nature more regularly. However, people often don’t realize that many parks offer lecture series, nature walks and interactive science learning opportunities for those interested in adding an extra layer of scientific and environmental knowledge to their outdoor experience.
For those who don’t wish to venture into the great outdoors, the National Parks Service has a variety of online resources, such as virtual park visits and webcams that present real-time views of weather, dramatic scenery, wildlife and more.
The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in Michigan has a bird sanctuary that offers adult courses on botany, ornithology and nature drawing, as well as volunteer opportunities. There’s also a dairy center that hosts open-house events where visitors can learn about cutting-edge dairy management and research.
For learners who want to get involved in the scientific process, engage in a longer-term experience or participate as a family, Mohunk Preserve in upstate New York enlists volunteers to monitor bird activity and habitats, record the seasonal changes in plants and engage in other activities.
4. Marine labs
Marine laboratories are similar to biological field stations but are typically located on coasts or other water bodies.
In Alaska, the Behind the Scenes program provides adults a look at the skills and science of running the Sitka Sound Science Center, like monitoring the genetic interaction of wild and hatchery salmon. Its feature event, the Sitka WhaleFest, includes wildlife cruises guided by scientists, science lectures and storytelling. For learners worldwide, the center hosts a podcast and offers recorded lessons on how to say the names of local animals in Tlingit, the language of the Sitka tribe.
Everyone in the packaging industry is concerned with the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. We have all heard the harrowing statistics, and everyone wants to play a part in helping to manage the problem and create a circular economy for plastics. But for Willemijn Peeters, tackling ocean plastics became her entire work’s mission in 2016 when she started Searious Business with the aim of using upstream innovation to prevent new plastics from entering the ocean. Today, the company works with big brands such as Unilever and Danone to help them make their products more circular.
Experts from our Department of Biosciences think this is a possibility after new research found that some species of trans-Saharan migratory birds, like Nightingales and Willow Warblers, are spending as many as 50-60 fewer days a year in their non-breeding grounds in Africa.
Researchers have found that the bacterium Ideonella sakaiensis can fermentatively convert environmentally problematic poly(ethylene terephthalate) (PET) plastics into highly biodegradable poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) plastics. Their findings have promising environmental implications because they provide a new approach not only for PET recycling but also for the sustainable production of biodegradable plastics.
Rice described what he calls the “Holy Trinity” of soil health: More carbon in the soil means more food for the microbes that live in the soil. Good microbial activity produces nutrients that increase plant productivity while also promoting good soil structure. Soil structure is important in ensuring soils can better withstand weather extremes.
But storing more carbon in the soil doesn’t only help soil health and structure. It also plays a role in climate change.
Sustainable agriculture will not be achieved by one universal solution. A meta-analysis shows that the current focus on no-till farming does not achieve the desired results. A sustainable system of agriculture must be designed for local needs and in dialog with local farmers.