Warnings From The UN and Russia

Grind for August 16th
“The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.”
– Albert Einstein

Science News

The Headline

UN climate report urges people to eat less meat

The Grind

A new report by the UN’s panel on climate change warns that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will fail unless people are willing to adopt significant changes to agriculture and diet.

The report highlights the need to preserve forests because forests cool global temperatures by sucking carbon dioxide out of the air. The report specifically mentions cattle farming, an emission-intensive practice that often requires deforestation.

“We don’t want to tell people what to eat,” says UN ecologist Hans-Otto Portner. “But it would indeed be beneficial for both climate and human health if people in many rich countries consumed less meat and if politics would create appropriate incentives to that effect.”

The widespread adoption of a plant-based diet could free up millions of square miles of land by 2050, explains the report, and cut CO2 emissions by up to 8 billion tons per year.

The Details

The UN report comes amid increasing deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest, the total destruction of which could result in the release of more than 50 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air over the next 30-50 years.

“Unfortunately, some countries don’t seem to understand the dire need of stopping deforestation in the tropics,” says Portner. “We cannot force any government to interfere. But we hope that our report will sufficiently influence public opinion to that effect.”

The report also warns farmers they will need to make significant changes in order to cut emissions while producing enough food for a growing population.

Farmers are already struggling with droughts, land degradation, pollution, and intense rainfall.

Nearly 25% of the planet’s land area already suffers from soil degradation, and we can expect global warming to make the problem worse.

“The biggest hurdle we face is to try and teach about half a billion farmers globally to re-work their agricultural model to be carbon sensitive,” says Andre Laperrière, who directs an agriculture and nutrition program at Oxford.

The report, compiled by more than 100 experts throughout the world, is designed to inform negotiators at a climate summit next month in New York.

Tech News

The Headline

Russia asks Google to stop promoting illegal protests

The Grind

Russia’s media regulator Roscomnadzor is asking Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on YouTube.

The request follows a demonstration in Moscow on Saturday, in which tens of thousands of people gathered to demand free elections.

The Details

In a letter Sunday, Roscomnadzor explained how groups had purchased advertising tools from YouTube, including push notifications, to spread the news about the demonstration.

YouTube’s live coverage of the event is believed to have attracted more than 50,000 people.

In the letter, Roscomnadzor warned that YouTube’s failure to respond to the request would constitute a “hostile influence and obstruction of democratic elections in Russia.”

Did you know… Daizi Zheng, a Chinese designer, made a Coca-Cola powered cell phone. She designed a battery that uses enzymes to generate electricity from the carbs.