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Insights/Opinion
Colorful, fresh organic vegetables. fcafotodigital / Getty Images

A New Diet for the Planet

By Tim Radford

An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, whole grains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor's orders, tomorrow's farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

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Insights/Opinion
Forest area in SW Cameroon cleared for oil palm plantation. Mokhamad Edliadi / CIFOR

Palm Oil Sourcing Should Be Disclosed to Consumers, Sustainability Study Recommends

By Alex Kirby

Companies selling products which contain palm oil need to be upfront about where it comes from, so as to relieve consumers of the burden of making sustainable choices, a UK study says.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge say companies should not rely simply on purchasers' own awareness of the need to make environmentally responsible decisions, but should publicly disclose the identities of their palm oil suppliers.

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Energy
Shanghai panoramic skyline at sunrise. zorazhuang / Getty Images

China’s Cities Face Sobering Cooling Costs

By Tim Radford

China's cities now have a better idea of what global warming is going to cost. New research warns that for every rise of one degree Celsius in global average temperatures, average electricity demand will rise by 9 percent.

And that's the average demand. For the same shift in the thermometer reading, peak electricity demand in the Yangtze Valley delta could go up by 36 percent.

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Climate
Colored composite image of Earth, showing surface temperature and 3-D cloud cover. R.B.HUSAR / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY / Getty Images

Earth's Climate After 2030: Conditions Could Resemble Era 3 Million Years Ago, Scientists Predict

By Tim Radford

Humankind, in two centuries, has transformed the climate. It has reversed a 50-million-year cooling trend.

Scientists conclude that the profligate combustion of fossil fuels could within three decades take planet Earth back to conditions that existed in the Pliocene three million years ago, an era almost ice-free and at least 1.8°C and possibly 3.6°C warmer than today.

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Black autumn truffles from France with leaves of oak, beech and hazel. kabVisio / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Why Wild Plant Ancestors Need Protection

By Tim Radford

Only a small percentage of the wild plant ancestors vital to human life can be considered safe from extinction.

Botanists who have monitored the conservation status of almost 7,000 species—the wild forerunners of plants that humans use for food, medicine, shelter, fuel and livestock feed—found that most could be counted as not properly conserved and protected.

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The Atlantic wolffish is already at risk from oxygen depletion. Nilfanion, via Wikimedia Commons

Oxygen Loss in Canada Linked to Climate Change

By Tim Radford

Oceanographers have identified an act of slow suffocation, as oxygen loss grows near one of the world's richest fishing grounds, and are linking the change to human-triggered global warming.

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Energy
Vehicle charging points at a railway station in France. François GOGLINS via Wikimedia Commons

Electric Vehicle Sales Foretell a Big Oil Crash

By Paul Brown

Oil and gas companies have underestimated probable electric vehicle sales and the effect they will have on their own businesses and profits, a new report says.

If the car manufacturers' projections of future sales of electric cars are correct, then demand for oil will have peaked by 2027 or even earlier, sending the price of oil in a downward spiral as supply exceeds demand, said Carbon Tracker (CT), an independent financial think-tank carrying out in-depth analysis on the impact of the energy transition on capital markets.

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Flooding in the haor of Bangladesh in 2010. Balaram Mahalder / CC BY-SA 3.0

Growing Number of Bangladeshis Flee Rising Waters

By Kieran Cooke

As another monsoon season begins, huge numbers of homeless Bangladeshis are once again bracing themselves against the onslaught of floods and the sight of large chunks of land being devoured by rising water levels.

Bangladesh, on the Bay of Bengal, is low-lying and crisscrossed by a web of rivers: two thirds of the country's land area is less than five meters (approximately 16 feet) above sea level. With 166 million people, it's one of the poorest and most densely populated countries on Earth—and one of the most threatened by climate change.

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Climate
Los Padres National Park on Dec. 23, 2017, when the Thomas Fire was 65% contained. Stuart Palley / U.S. Forest Service

California Wildfire Risk Grows as Cloud Cover Is 'Plummeting'

By Alex Kirby

Southern California's wildfires are posing a growing risk, as the Sunshine State threatens to become too sunny for its own good. In many southern coastal areas, rising summer temperatures caused by spreading urbanization and the warming climate are driving off formerly common low-lying morning clouds and increasing the prospect of worse wildfires, U.S. scientists say.

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