Spotlights

Toilets Confront Climate Change
January 5, 2016 07:25 AM - Shahani Singh

Two-and-a-half billion people worldwide have no access to safe, durable sanitation systems. Brian Arbogast, director of the water, sanitation and hygiene programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, tells SciDev.Net how innovative toilet technologies and business models could help fix this — and help communities cope with the devastation of climate change.

How does climate change impact sanitation?

With sea levels rising, you have flooding that causes huge health problems. As latrines and septic tanks get flooded and waste goes into the streets and streams, it can carry a lot of disease, including cholera, dysentery and typhoid.

The problem is that the world has only one gold standard for sanitation, which is having flush toilets connected to sewer lines, that are further connected to big and expensive wastewater treatment plants. Growing cities that already have water shortages may not have enough water for everybody to bathe and cook, let alone to flush toilets. So, are these cities going to follow the same path we have taken for the last century in developed cities?

Earth is Losing Farmland at an Alarming Rate
December 15, 2015 09:49 PM - s.e. smith

2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.

Earth is Losing Farmland at an Alarming Rate
December 15, 2015 09:49 PM - s.e. smith

2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.

Earth is Losing Farmland at an Alarming Rate
December 15, 2015 09:49 PM - s.e. smith

2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.

Earth is Losing Farmland at an Alarming Rate
December 15, 2015 09:49 PM - s.e. smith

2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.

Earth is Losing Farmland at an Alarming Rate
December 15, 2015 09:49 PM - s.e. smith

2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.

Earth is Losing Farmland at an Alarming Rate
December 15, 2015 09:49 PM - s.e. smith

2015 has marked the International Year of Soils, an event that many members of the public missed — but they shouldn’t have, because soil is vitally important for human survival. Ominously, a study from the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures indicates that in the last 40 years, humans have chewed through 33 percent of the Earth’s topsoil, thanks to development and harmful farming practices. The grim findings are a bad sign for the future, as we rely on soil not just for sustenance, but also as a carbon trap, key component of nearly every ecosystem on Earth, and breeding ground for organisms with tremendous commercial and humanitarian applications, such as bacteria that could contribute to the development of cutting edge pharmaceuticals. We should be worshiping the ground we walk on, and this study indicates that we’ve been doing just the opposite.

Bioart: An Introduction
November 24, 2015 07:04 AM - Cell Press via EurekAlert!

Joe Davis is an artist who works not only with paints or pastels, but also with genes and bacteria. In 1986, he collaborated with geneticist Dan Boyd to encode a symbol for life and femininity into an E. coli bacterium. The piece, called Microvenus, was the first artwork to use the tools and techniques of molecular biology. Since then, bioart has become one of several contemporary art forms (including reclamation art and nanoart) that apply scientific methods and technology to explore living systems as artistic subjects. A review of the field, published November 23, can be found in Trends in Biotechnology.

Bioart ranges from bacterial manipulation to glowing rabbits, cellular sculptures, and--in the case of Australian-British artist Nina Sellars--documentation of an ear prosthetic that was implanted onto fellow artist Stelarc's arm. In the pursuit of creating art, practitioners have generated tools and techniques that have aided researchers, while sometimes crossing into controversy, such as by releasing invasive species into the environment, blurring the lines between art and modern biology, raising philosophical, societal, and environmental issues that challenge scientific thinking.

Bioart: An Introduction
November 24, 2015 07:04 AM - Cell Press via EurekAlert!

Joe Davis is an artist who works not only with paints or pastels, but also with genes and bacteria. In 1986, he collaborated with geneticist Dan Boyd to encode a symbol for life and femininity into an E. coli bacterium. The piece, called Microvenus, was the first artwork to use the tools and techniques of molecular biology. Since then, bioart has become one of several contemporary art forms (including reclamation art and nanoart) that apply scientific methods and technology to explore living systems as artistic subjects. A review of the field, published November 23, can be found in Trends in Biotechnology.

Bioart ranges from bacterial manipulation to glowing rabbits, cellular sculptures, and--in the case of Australian-British artist Nina Sellars--documentation of an ear prosthetic that was implanted onto fellow artist Stelarc's arm. In the pursuit of creating art, practitioners have generated tools and techniques that have aided researchers, while sometimes crossing into controversy, such as by releasing invasive species into the environment, blurring the lines between art and modern biology, raising philosophical, societal, and environmental issues that challenge scientific thinking.

Bioart: An Introduction
November 24, 2015 07:04 AM - Cell Press via EurekAlert!

Joe Davis is an artist who works not only with paints or pastels, but also with genes and bacteria. In 1986, he collaborated with geneticist Dan Boyd to encode a symbol for life and femininity into an E. coli bacterium. The piece, called Microvenus, was the first artwork to use the tools and techniques of molecular biology. Since then, bioart has become one of several contemporary art forms (including reclamation art and nanoart) that apply scientific methods and technology to explore living systems as artistic subjects. A review of the field, published November 23, can be found in Trends in Biotechnology.

Bioart ranges from bacterial manipulation to glowing rabbits, cellular sculptures, and--in the case of Australian-British artist Nina Sellars--documentation of an ear prosthetic that was implanted onto fellow artist Stelarc's arm. In the pursuit of creating art, practitioners have generated tools and techniques that have aided researchers, while sometimes crossing into controversy, such as by releasing invasive species into the environment, blurring the lines between art and modern biology, raising philosophical, societal, and environmental issues that challenge scientific thinking.

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