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Bye-Bye, Baby

Bye-Bye, Baby | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Birthrates are falling around the world. And that’s O.K.

 

Why do commentators, like Chicken Little, treat this worldwide trend as a disaster, even collective suicide? It could be because declines in fertility rates stir anxieties about power: national, military and economic, as well as sexual. In reality, slower population growth creates enormous possibilities for human flourishing. In an era of irreversible climate change and the lingering threat from nuclear weapons, it is simply not the case that population equals power, as so many leaders have believed throughout history. Lower fertility isn’t entirely a function of rising prosperity and secularism; it is nearly universal.


Via Seth Dixon
PIRatE Lab's insight:

This op-ed from the New York Times provides excellent material for discussing demographic issues, especially regarding declining populations.  Many countries do fear the demographic uncertainty and are actively encouraging pro-natalist policies (with salacious ads such as Singapore's National Night and a Travel agency's 'Do it for Denmark' campaign).  The author of this article though, seeks to quell those fears.  

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Sally Egan's curator insight, April 9, 2014 6:44 PM

Challenges the ideas about the impacts of declining birth rates across the world. Contains interesting graphs of changing Fertility rates from 1950 for the highest and lowest GDP nations. Relevant to Population Geography. 

Sid McIntyre-DeLaMelena's curator insight, May 29, 2014 2:18 PM

The dwindling birth rates may be seen as negative to some in a sense of power insecurities, but the reality is that it is great for economic growth and prevents population issues. With high birth rates, movement tends to be higher towards immigration while low birth rates mainly have movement towards urban spaces.

Sarah Ann Glesenkamp's curator insight, September 17, 2014 7:35 PM

Unit 2

Sustainability Science
How might we keep the lights on, water flowing, and natural world vaguely intact? It starts with grabbing innovative ideas/examples to help kick down our limits and inspire a more sustainable world. We implement with rigorous science backed by hard data.
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Welcome to Sustainability Science

Welcome to Sustainability Science | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Welcome to my curation site for the emerging science of sustainability.

 

Here you will find an array of stories, examples, relevant cautionary tales, and data related to our hunt for a more sustainable economy with a reduced ecological footprint.  While my students, colleagues and I are interested in all aspects of sustainability, these pages have an historc emphasis on:

 

- human population growth rates/demography 

- product design/construction, especially:

    - triple bottomline

    - life cycle analyses (LCA)

    - sustainable supply chains

 - carbon footprints (especially carbon "finprints" of seafood)

 - food production/distribution systems

 - energy production/storage systems, especially:

    - dams and flow diversions

    - wind turbines

    - tidal power

    - solar panel efficiency/material advances

    - fuel cell design/material advances

 - general building design/construction, especially:

     - green roof/wall construction and plant palletes

     - lighting systems

     - elegant design

     - redevelopment/reuse

 - urban planning

 - role of mobile technology in fostering sustainability

 - elegant and effective communication

 

Thanks for visiting.  Please enjoy and let me know if I can answer any questions or be of any other help.

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Ready For Wearable Environmental Intel? Tzoa Portable Air Quality Monitor

Ready For Wearable Environmental Intel? Tzoa Portable Air Quality Monitor | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Wearable technologies are all the rage, but can yours tell you the humidity and air quality outside? The Tzoa air quality monitor can and much more.
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Wood That Proudly Wears the Marks of Previous Use

Wood That Proudly Wears the Marks of Previous Use | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

HReclaimed wood, including from old fence posts and Venetian “barber poles,” is taking center stage in high-end automotive interiors.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

Hmmmm...an interesting example of re-use.  But perhaps not the lowest carbon footprint for repurposed products.

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2015 California Policy and Regulatory Preview | JD Supra

The California Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) workload skyrocketed in the fall of 2006 with the passage of AB 32. By any definition, that was a BIG year in the world of climate...
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National Academy: Geoengineering No Substitute for Carbon Cuts | Inside Climate News

National Academy: Geoengineering No Substitute for Carbon Cuts | Inside Climate News | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

The idea of geoengineering to reverse climate change has been around since the 1960s. The two-volume NAS report says cutting GHGs is the only solution.

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▶ Keystone XL needs a one-two punch

President Obama says he'll veto the latest attempt by Congress to push through the Keystone XL pipeline but he hasn't yet committed to rejecting this dangero...
PIRatE Lab's insight:

I found this a very interesting piece of PR.  Engaging and effective use of visuals with essentially a budget of zero.

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Diet Experts Push More Plants, Less Meat in Nod to Environment

Diet Experts Push More Plants, Less Meat in Nod to Environment | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
U.S. dietary guidelines, the government’s benchmark for a healthy diet, have long advised Americans to eat dark, leafy greens. Now, there is another way they could be going green.
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Apple Gears Up to Challenge Tesla in Electric Cars

Apple Gears Up to Challenge Tesla in Electric Cars | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The maker of iPhones has hundreds of staff working on an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter who said its “Titan” project is designing a vehicle that resembles a minivan.
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'Africa rising' narrative takes a hit as foreign investors scale back investment

'Africa rising' narrative takes a hit as foreign investors scale back investment | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The well-worn narrative of Africa as a place ripe with growth potential isn't as strong as it once was.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

But while this makes things difficult for the mining industry, is it really such a terrible thing for Africa? Africa holds about 30 percent of the world’s mineral resources. Revenue from those resources could improve a lot of lives. But some think that in the long-term, a lack of interest from mining companies could be a positive thing, spurring interest in industry other than simple raw extraction of materials.

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Farming Now Worse For Climate Than Deforestation | Climate Central

Farming Now Worse For Climate Than Deforestation | Climate Central | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Farming is now the leading source of land-based greenhouse gas pollution as deforestation has slowed.

 

Efforts such as these to slow deforestation have delivered some of humanity’s few gains in its otherwise lackadaisical battle so far against global warming. A gradual slowdown in chainsawing and bulldozing, particularly in Brazil, helped reduce deforestation’s annual toll on the climate by nearly a quarter between the 1990s and 2010. This new study describes how this trend has seen agriculture overtake deforestation as the leading source of land-based greenhouse gas pollution during the past decade. While United Nations climate negotiations focus heavily on forest protections, the researchers note that delegates to the talks ignore similar opportunities to reform farming. “The decline in deforestation over the past decade or two is a success story,” Rob Jackson, a professor at Stanford University’s earth sciences school, said. He was not involved with the new study. The deforestation slowdown has, “in large part,” he said, been driven by new forestry rules in Brazil, by the U.N.’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program, which funds forest conservation, and similar policies elsewhere.

PIRatE Lab's insight:

The new study, led by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and published in Global Change Biology, quantifies the reductions in climate pollution from the degradation and clearcutting of forests. Clearcutting most often clears space for agriculture, suggesting agriculture’s indirect climate impacts surpass the impacts of deforestation for timber and other commodities. The researchers aim to tally those indirect impacts later this year. This paper was an early step in a larger effort to better understand and report on the climate repercussions of how land is used. “Every year, we’ll have updates,” lead author Francesco Tubiello said.

The study is also a reminder that the burning of fossil fuels remains the main cause of global warming. Burning fuel produces about four times more climate pollution every year than forestry and agriculture combined — a figure that is growing. The research shows that the recent climate-protecting gains in forests are being nearly canceled out by efforts to satisfy the world’s growing appetite — particularly its appetite for meat. Greenhouse gases released by farming, such as methane from livestock and rice paddies, and nitrous oxides from fertilizers and other soil treatments rose 13 percent after 1990, the study concluded. Agricultural climate pollution is mostly caused by livestock. Cows and buffalo are the worst offenders — their ruminating guts and decomposing waste produce a lot of methane. They produce so much methane, and eat so much fertilized feed, that livestock are blamed for two-thirds of agriculture’s climate pollution every year. “We’re seeing an expansion of agricultural lands in some areas because of the growing global population,” Jackson, who is a co-chair of the Global Carbon Project, which studies the global carbon cycle, said. “We’re also seeing intensification of agriculture.”

Although annual climate pollution from deforestation is declining, experts warn that recent gains could quickly be reversed.Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest spiked recently following nearly a decade of declines, for example, as farmers and loggers rushed to exploit loopholes in forest protection laws. Some parts of Central Africa are seeing deforestation in areas where it was not previously a problem. And cutting down trees can reduce moisture levels in a rainforest, which could cause parts of the Amazon to start dying off — even if everybody’s chainsaws simultaneously jammed. The researchers drew on three global datasets to try to hone in on land’s changing contribution to global warming. Such impacts are harder to quantify accurately than are the pollution impacts of burning fuel. Governments invest fewer resources tracking and reporting complex climate indicators for deforestation and agricultural activity than is the case for the energy sector. The paper noted a gulf between global efforts to reduce the climate impacts of deforestation, and the dearth of a global response to the climate impacts of food production. REDD is a major focus of U.N. climate negotiations, but agriculture is barely discussed during the talks….

...Doug Boucher, the director of climate research at the Union of Concerned Scientists, says agriculture’s climate impacts could be reduced without taking food off tables. Reducing the overuse of fertilizers, protecting the organic content of soils by changing farming practices, and keeping rice paddies flooded for fewer weeks every season could all contribute to a climate solution, he said.The biggest opportunities for reforming agriculture’s climate impacts can sometimes be found miles from where any food is grown. Reducing waste where food is sold, prepared, eaten and, in many cases, partly tossed in the trash as uneaten leftovers or unsellable produce, reduces the amount of land, fertilizer and equipment needed to feed everybody. “Shifting consumption toward less beef and more chicken, and reducing waste of meat in particular, are what seem to have the biggest potential,” Boucher said.

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San Francisco gets no rain in January for first time in 165 years

San Francisco gets no rain in January for first time in 165 years | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
In another sign California's persistent drought, downtown San Francisco recorded no measurable rain in January for the first time in 165 years.
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Why oil prices keep falling — and throwing the world into turmoil

A complete guide to the oil price crash.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

This is a great general overview of oil pricing fluctuations.  It does not prove a curb-notes version or overly simplify this important dynamic.

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Worldwide Country Comparison

Worldwide Country Comparison | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

"MyLifeElsewhere allows you to compare your home country with different countries around the world. Ever wonder what your life would be like if you were born somewhere else?"


Via Seth Dixon
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HG Académie de Rennes's curator insight, January 31, 1:56 AM

Un site d'une grande simplicité d'utilisation bien qu'en anglais. Le principe est de choisir deux pays dans un menu déroulant pour en comparer les principaux indicateurs de développement sous la forme de petites infographies très pédagogiques.
La comparaison est évidemment un processus de raisonnement à mettre en place pour situer et caractériser en géographie. On songera ainsi à l'utilisation d'un tel outil dans le cadre de l'étude des inégalités de développement en classe de 5e et de Seconde, mais aussi pour une mise en perspective sur les Territoires dans la mondialisation en classe de 4e afin de caractériser un PMA, un pays émergent, un pays développé (cf. exemple réalisé pour l'illustration).

Dernière information sur ce site, les statistiques utilisées proviennent des bases de données open source de la CIA américaine.

Brian Wilk's curator insight, February 7, 7:51 PM

After studying this comparison tool and using it to find the best of the best and worst of the worst, I picked out some highlights I'd like to share. Monaco is clearly the place to be born, earn, and live. When compared to the USA, the infant mortality rate is 71% less, the life expectancy is 10 years longer @ 84, and you'll earn 62% more money, no doubt because you have ten more years in which to do so. I believe the stats may be skewed a bit in this country comparison as the very rich live there and they have access to the best medical care, and probably don't have very many infants with them when they make the move from elsewhere, hence the low infant mortality rate. Austria is not a bad second choice as you are 33% less likely to be unemployed. On a sobering note, the life expectancy if you live in Namibia is only 52! Yikes, I'm already 53... It's far worse however in Swaziland. The life expectancy is sadly only 50.5 years and you are 44 times more likely to have AIDS than if you lived here. 26.5% of the population has AIDS! Be thankful for where you live and stop complaining, it's far worse on average in nearly all other countries.

Monika Fleischmann's curator insight, February 15, 4:59 AM
Seth Dixon's insight:

Did you know that with 1/30th the territory of the United States, Norway still has over 25% more coastline?  I didn't either until I compared Norway to the United States using My Life Elsewhere.  This site is designed allow United States students to imagine how their lives might be different if they were born in a different part of the world.  Students would probably die 21 years earlier if they were born in Liberia and 11 times more likely to have died in infancy.   Students would be 43.8% less likely to grow up and be unemployed and have 36.3% less babies if they were born in Taiwan.  This side-by-side format is a great way to help students help make these statistics real and meaningful.  One major drawback: this site only allows users to compare a country to the United States.  If you prefer to have students compare, say Cuba to the United Arab Emirates, I would recommend that you try If It Where My Home. 


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8 ways you are killing the environment that you probably didn't even realize

8 ways you are killing the environment that you probably didn't even realize | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Keurig coffee makers aren't the only culprits here.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

I find these types of stories very interesting.  One because the get so much press and two because they really are pretty stupid.  While all these things can stand to be improved upon, it is a far cry from a holistic list that really looks at the real drivers of problems.  This is very much the treating the symptom/ignoring the 400 lbs gorilla in the room type of story.

 

Can anyone say Climate change?  Population size?  Energy systems?  Food systems?  Consumerism?

 

 

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B Team Leaders Call for Net-Zero Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by 2050 - The B Team

B Team Leaders Call for Net-Zero Greenhouse-Gas Emissions by 2050 - The B Team | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Geneva, 5th February, 2015 – Today, Leaders of The B Team running some of the world’s largest companies, called upon world leaders to commit to a global goal of net-zero greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 – and urged business leaders to match this ambition by committing to bold long-term targets. The B Team’s ambition builds on recent talks …
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Using information in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, the 2014 United Nations Environment Programme’s Emissions Gap Report, and other scientific literature, a new briefing note from Climate Analytics details timeframes for that goal. For a 66 percent likelihood of avoiding 2 degrees of warming by century’s end, GHG emissions would have to be 40–70 percent below 2010 levels by 2050 and would need to reach zero some time between 2080 and 2100, but energy and industry emissions of CO2 would have to reach zero no later than 2075 and perhaps as soon as 2060.

At the outset of the Geneva talks, The B Team, a group of leaders from the business and nonprofit sectors founded by Sir Richard Branson, referenced the 66 percent chance in endorsing a net zero emissions goal: “The B Team view a 1-in-3 chance of failure as an unreasonable risk scenario carrying significant cost implications, strengthening the business case for achieving net-zero GHG emissions by 2050.”

"Momentum is already growing in finance, business and political circles for a net zero goal," wrote Mary Robinson, the United Nations Secretary General's special envoy on climate change, in the foreword to The Business Case for Adopting the Long-Term Goal for Net Zero Emissions, a report published by Track0.org.

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BP's two-word fix for global climate change

BP's two-word fix for global climate change | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Oil supermajor BP says global carbon emissions will continue to rise well above what most scientists regard as safe levels in the years to come. While there's no silver-bullet solution to the threat of climate change, the company endorses one specific policy as a way to guide efforts.
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Apple's £1.25bn Europe data centres will run entirely on renewable energy

Apple's £1.25bn Europe data centres will run entirely on renewable energy | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Tim Cook says Apple’s two data centres, in Ireland and Denmark, will be among the largest in the world and have most advanced green building designs
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Scientists Produce Fake Rhino Horn to Stop Poaching

Scientists Produce Fake Rhino Horn to Stop Poaching | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
As the rhino population continues to dwindle around the world, scientists are thinking outside the box about how to save the endangered animals.

Via Garry Rogers
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Cheap solar cells made from shrimp shells

Researchers at QMUL have successfully created electricity-generating solar-cells with chemicals found the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans for the first time.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Interesting!

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Sodexo Has A Beef With Food Certification Programs

Sodexo Has A Beef With Food Certification Programs | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Advocacy groups disagree about how to produce food sustainably and how to market it to consumers. Look no further than the more than 365 food certification programs out there, says one food company director.
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London’s Abandoned Underground Lines May Soon Become Self Sustaining Cyclist Highways

London’s Abandoned Underground Lines May Soon Become Self Sustaining Cyclist Highways | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
“Outside” is a horrible place for bicycles, as it’s full of weather and cars. However, Gensler, a design firm from the US, has proposed a radical idea: to transform London's abandoned metro and rail tunnels into bike lanes in a system they'd call the London Underline.

Via Anita Woodruff
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Americans are finally taking climate change seriously. Here is why that might not last.

Americans are finally taking climate change seriously. Here is why that might not last. | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Polling shows that voters' commitment to combating global warming is very much conditional
PIRatE Lab's insight:

A big new poll has raised some optimism that public opinion on climate change is finally catching up to the science. But the poll is a welcome reflection that more and more people understand the seriousness of the climate threat, some caution is merited — for two important reasons. Among the adults polled by The New York Times, Stanford University, and Resources for the Future in January, a healthy majority — 78 percent — think global warming will be a serious problem for the United States (44 percent very serious; 34 percent somewhat serious). Even among Tea Party supporters, 59 percent put themselves in one of the "serious" camps.  As the poll breakdown shows, even though people more clearly recognize that climate change will be a problem, they still consider the threat something that will happen to "other" people, either those living in foreign countries or future generations. When asked if climate change will hurt them personally, more people are likely to say "a little" or "not at all" than "a great deal" or "a lot."  This persistent view that the worst effects are far into the future is not necessarily inaccurate. As reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and World Bank indicate, even at current rates, the worst effects manifest themselves at temperature levels that we will only begin reaching at midcentury, even under a business-as-usual (no policy changes) scenario. However, because the effects of climate change are cumulative, and the transitions needed to prevent the worst effects involve large-scale changes to our economy, it is precisely now that action is needed. And even if the worst effects are still a generation away, there are still many effects that we are seeing right now.

The Risky Business Project, co-chaired by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson, and Tom Steyer, is dedicated to demonstrating that while climate change is having immediate economic effects, for business as well as nations, time is still on our side. Doing something now, they argue, would be more effective and less expensive than doing something later, as investments and policy changes made today will pay much bigger dividends than waiting to play catch-up. 

That the public is still slow to realize this underscores the flaws in how the risks and benefits are being communicated.

Which brings us to the next problem: how to go about doing what is necessary. This challenge is entirely separate from convincing folks climate change is a threat, and the results are less than encouraging.

An overwhelming number of respondents (80 percent) think the government should give tax breaks to companies that use more renewable energy. (To put this in perspective, a modified version of this idea is one of the two main components of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott's climate change plan — which is much maligned.) Nearly as many (78 percent) would support a federally mandated limit on greenhouse gas emissions, which is the closest analog to the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan. 

Unfortunately, far fewer people said that they would tolerate an increase to their electric bills, or an increase to the gas tax to discourage emissions from transportation (a large slice of the American greenhouse gas footprint). This suggests that public tolerance for policies on climate change are household cost sensitive in a way that is not true for policies that are perceived to affect individual companies.

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Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society

Public and Scientists’ Views on Science and Society | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
The public and scientists express strikingly different views about science-related issues, yet both groups agree that K-12 STEM education in America falls behind other nations.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

On some things, such as the space station, fracking, and bioengineered fuel, U.S. adults and scientists a part of the American Association for the Advancement of Science share similar sentiments. On other issues, such as genetically modified foods, animals in research, and climate change, there are big differences.

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Increased frequency of extreme La Nina events under greenhouse warming

Extreme La Nina events occur when cold sea surface temperatures across the central Pacific Ocean create a strong temperature gradient to the Maritime continent in the west. This work projects an increase in frequency of La Nina events due to faster land warming relative to the ocean, and a greater chance of them occurring following extreme El Nino events.
PIRatE Lab's insight:

Extreme La Niña events might be experienced about every 13 years, rather than every 23 years, as they are now, but not like clockwork, according to lead study author Wenju Cai, a climate scientist at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Aspendale, Australia. "We're only saying that on average, we expect to get one every 13 years," said Cai. "We cannot predict exactly when they will happen, but we suggest that on average, we are going to get more."

 

The study finds that powerful La Niñas will immediately follow intense El Niños, causing weather patterns to alternate between wet and dry extremes.


see also:

 

http://www.nbcnews.com/science/environment/global-warming-may-lead-more-frequent-la-nina-events-study-n292451


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Should tackling climate change trump protecting nature?

Should tackling climate change trump protecting nature? | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it
Miles King: Planners have given the green light for a solar farm at Rampisham Down, a SSSI in West Dorset. But stopping biodiversity loss is as important as stopping global warming
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Making the Measure: A Toolkit for Tracking the Outcomes of Community Gardens and Urban Farms  | The Nature of Cities

Making the Measure: A Toolkit for Tracking the Outcomes of Community Gardens and Urban Farms  | The Nature of Cities | Sustainability Science | Scoop.it

Via Anita Woodruff
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