Sustainability and climate change are very much at the forefront of all our minds at the moment, and especially when planning for the largest specimen move ever undertaken by the Museum.Continue reading “A sustainable move | Sarah-Jane Newbery, Moves Project Manager”
In this post, masters student Sophie Jane Tudge details her research into biofuels.
Carbon-neutral energy sounds like it is exactly what the world needs right now. With the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) almost upon us, more people than ever are asking how we can halt climate change to protect our planet and, ultimately, ourselves. The greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels have led to many countries, including the UK, to make commitments to shift over to renewable energy sources. But renewable energy does not always mean that it is good for the environment. Let’s take a look at one growing form of renewable energy: biofuels.Continue reading “Can biofuels solve the planetary emergency we are facing? | PREDICTS biodiversity team”
Biodiversity loss is low on the public agenda, but the pandemic could help us reassess our relationship with the natural world, writes Clare Matterson, the Museum’s Director of Engagement.
A newfound appreciation for weeds in the cracks of city pavements, enjoying melodious birdsong in place of the booming traffic and marvelling at quiet clear blue skies have become daily lockdown news.
Amidst the tragedy of Covid-19, nature has thrived and as we have slowed down in lockdown its variety has caught our eye.
Today is International Day For Biological Diversity, created by the United Nations 27 years ago to raise awareness of biodiversity issues and celebrate that variety.
Since then scientists have warned us about the catastrophic loss of species and their habitat because of our actions.
We need that variety of life on earth for food, medicines and clean water, never mind a spiritual boost in tough times.
Prof. Andy Purvis
Coordinating Lead Author, IPBES Global Assessment and Life Sciences Research Leader at The Natural History Museum, London
The IPBES Global Assessment estimated that 1 million animal and plant species are threatened with extinction. It also documents how human actions have changed many aspects of nature and its contributions to people; but species threatened with extinction resonate with the media and the public in ways that degradation of habitats and alteration of rates of ecosystem processes perhaps don’t, so the figure was widely reported.
IPBES is the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, an independent intergovernmental body that was established in 2012 to strenthen links between science and policy to support conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being, and sustainable development
Because only the Summary for Policymakers has so far been made available, it wasn’t clear where the figure of 1 million threatened species came from. Some journalists and researchers asked me, so I explained it to them, and will explain it again here. Some other writers, often with a long history of commenting critically on reports highlighting environmental concerns, instead railed against the Global Assessment in general and the figure of 1 million threatened species in particular. Given that these writers often advance empty or bogus arguments, I thought it would be also be useful to explain why these arguments are wrong.
I have therefore written this blog post in the form of thirteen questions and answers.
Starting the Neglected Tropical Disease summit in Geneva this week gone, the World Health Organisation brought together its global partners for a meeting to launch the 4th WHO report on Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). As an important player in the global effort to control and eliminate these debilitating diseases, the Museum has been following the meeting closely.
The Museum has had a long history of researching NTDs, particularly those caused by worm infections and/or transmitted by insects. Today the Museum hosts DeWorm3, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a major project researching the control and elimination of soil-transmitted helminths, aka intestinal worms. Intestinal worms are the most common of NTDs. DeWorm3 and Museum NTD experts travelled to Geneva for the NTD summit and report on the meeting.
Recently, members of the Acidophile Research Team at Bangor University carried out some bioleaching experiments which aimed to leach cobalt from the Captain sulfide ore (from New Brunswick, Canada). Sarah Smith, a geomicrobiologist at Bangor University and one of the collaborators in the COG3 project reports.
The aim was to compare the bioleaching rates of metals (primarily cobalt) from the ore at two different temperatures. To do this, two different mixed cultures were grown up (one containing bacteria that are happy at about 30°C, and another with bugs that prefer slightly higher temperatures). The cultures were then added to the bioreactors, along with the ore, and the bugs were left to work their magic!
Continue reading “Bioleaching cobalt from sulphide ores | COG3 Consortium”
by Dr Peter Jourdan, Director of Science and Policy, DeWorm3, NHM
This recent interview outlines the plans and vision for DeWorm3, a major Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation-funded Museum project that is conducting rigorous research to provide evidence for the next generation of policies to guide the global control and elimination of infection by soil-transmitted helminths – STH.
STH are intestinal worms that cause a major neglected tropical disease (NTD) affecting millions of people worldwide in less-developed countries, especially in communities with poor access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene facilities. This disease has major impacts on quality of life, ability to work and economic development. Continue reading “DeWorm3: interview on disease elimination with Peter Jourdan│Sustainabilty”
by Hannah Wolley, Museum Development Intern
As someone with two science degrees and a fascination for the unusual I was intrigued, when I found out that the Museum is a world leader in the research of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs).
NTDs are a group of parasitic and bacterial infections that affect over 1 billion people worldwide. Infection can lead to disabling chronic conditions, delayed and cognitive development. Children are predominantly affected and impacted as they are more likely to come into contact with the parasites.
The research at the Museum has in recent years mainly focused on schistosomiasis (also known as Bilharzia), a debilitating disease caused by schistosome blood flukes that are picked up from contaminated fresh water – freshwater snails are hosts for part of the life cycle.
However, Museum research is now radically expanding to include major work on a group of NTDs called Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH) and they have recently launched DeWorm3. Aimed at demonstrating the feasibility of using integrated platforms to interrupt the transmission of STH, DeWorm3 is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
by Professor Richard Herrington, Head of the Department of Earth Sciences
The world needs copper – we all need copper. It carries the electricity and hot water in our homes through cables and pipes. It is part of all the electrical appliances we use at home and in industry – an essential ingredient in any low-carbon economy. The sources and security of supply of copper are important in economic terms and of great interest for government policy and business strategy.
Every person in the UK uses around 8kg of copper per year. Worldwide usage exceeds 24 million tonnes annually and, whilst around 41% of European copper needs are met by recycling, the demands of growing economies like China and India mean that 75% of this usage is met by mined metal. Copper can’t be grown and simply recycling what we have already extracted won’t keep pace with demands.