An aerial view shows dead palm trees on the beach near the Salton Sea
Climate change will worsen resource degradation and conflict: IEP report

A vicious cycle linking natural resource depletion to violent conflict may have passed the point of no return in some parts of the world and is likely to be exacerbated by climate change, according to a report on Thursday.

Food insecurity, water scarcity and the impact of natural disasters, combined with strong population growth, fuel conflicts and displace people in vulnerable areas, said the think tank of the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP).

The IEP uses data from the United Nations and other sources to predict the countries and regions most at risk in its “Ecological Threat Register”.

Serge Stroobants, IEP’s director for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, said the report identified 30 ‘hotspot’ countries – which are home to 1.26 billion people – as facing Most of the risks. This is based on three criteria relating to resource scarcity, and five focusing on disasters, including floods, droughts and rising temperatures.

“We don’t even need climate change to see a potential system collapse, only the impact of these eight ecological threats can drive it – of course climate change is making it stronger,” Stroobants said.

Afghanistan gets the worst score in the report, which says its ongoing conflict has hampered its ability to cope with risks to water and food supplies, climate change and alternating floods and droughts . According to the findings, conflicts in turn lead to further degradation of resources.

Last year, six seminars comprising governments, military institutions and development groups sent the message that “the international community is unlikely to reverse the vicious circles in some parts of the world,” IEP said .

This is particularly the case in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, which have seen more and more conflict over the past decade, he said. “With tensions already mounting, climate change can only be expected to have an amplifying effect on many of these problems,” the report said.

India supports decision to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as marine protected areas

India has extended its support for the protection of the Antarctic environment and co-sponsored a European Union proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as marine protected areas (MPAs), announced Thursday. the Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Addressing a high-level ministerial meeting held virtually on Wednesday, which was attended by various countries in the European Union, Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh said the two proposed MPAs are essential to regulate illegal fishing not declared and unregulated.

He urged member countries of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to ensure that India remains associated in the future in the mechanisms of formulation, adaptation and implementation of these MPAs. “India supports sustainability in protecting the Antarctic environment,” Singh said.

“India has extended its support for the protection of the Antarctic environment and co-sponsorship of the European Union’s proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) “said the Ministry of the Environment.

Singh said the proposal to designate East Antarctica and the Weddell Sea as MPAs was first presented to the commission in 2020, but a consensus could not be reached at that time. -the. He said since then substantial progress has been made with Australia, Norway, Uruguay and the UK agreeing to co-sponsor the proposal. The minister added that by the end of October 2021, India would join these countries in co-sponsoring the MPA proposals.

Singh informed EU delegates that India embarked on an Antarctic expedition in 1981, across the southern Indian Ocean and that since then there has been no turning back. He said that so far India has completed 40 expeditions with plans for the 41st expedition in 2021-2022.

Singh said this was the first time India had considered co-sponsoring an MPA proposal to CCAMLR and aligning with countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea, New -Zeeland, South Africa and the United States, which are also proactively considering supporting the GPA. proposals.

The minister said India’s decision to consider expanding its support and co-sponsoring MPA proposals is driven by the principles of conservation and sustainable use and adheres to global cooperation frameworks such as the Goals sustainable development, the United Nations Ocean Decade, the Convention on Biodiversity, etc. of which India is a signatory.

The high-level ministerial meeting was hosted virtually by Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. In attendance were ministers, ambassadors and country commissioners from nearly 18 countries. The meeting aimed to increase the number of co-sponsors of MPA proposals and reflected on a common strategy and future actions for their early adoption by CCAMLR.

CCAMLR is an international treaty to manage Antarctic fisheries in order to preserve species diversity and the stability of the entire Antarctic marine ecosystem. It entered into force in April 1982. India has been a permanent member of CCAMLR since 1986. Work on CCAMLR is coordinated in India by the Ministry of Earth Sciences through its attached office, the Center. for Marine Living Resources and Ecology (CMLRE) in Kochi, Kerala.

A marine protected area ensures the protection of all or part of its natural resources. Certain activities within an MPA are limited or prohibited to achieve specific objectives of conservation, habitat protection, ecosystem monitoring or fisheries management. Since 2009, CCAMLR members have developed MPA proposals for various regions of the Southern Ocean. The CCAMLR Scientific Committee is reviewing these proposals. Once accepted by CCAMLR members, elaborate conservation measures are defined by the commission.

cave cloth
Moroccan cave reveals oldest clues to the advent of human clothing

People may take for granted the need and existence of clothing, from shirts to pants to dresses, coats, skirts, socks, underwear, bow ties, top hats, etc. gowns, kilts and bikinis. But it all had to start somewhere.

Scientists said Thursday that artefacts discovered in a cave in Morocco dating back 120,000 years indicated that humans made specialized tools out of bones, skinned animals, and then used tools to turn those skins into fur and leather.

The objects from the Smugglers Cave, located about 800 feet (250 meters) from the Atlantic coast in the town of Temara, appear to be the oldest known evidence of clothing in archaeological records, they added.

Our species, Homo sapiens, first appeared over 300,000 years ago in Africa and then spread around the world. The advent of clothing was a milestone for humanity, reflecting cultural and cognitive evolution.

“We assume that clothing was integral to the expansion of our species into cold habitats,” said evolutionary archaeologist Emily Hallett of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, lead author of the study published in the journal. iScience.

Scientists found 62 tools made from animal bones and also identified a pattern of cut marks on the bones of three small carnivore species – a fox, a jackal and a wildcat – indicating that they had been skinned for fur, and unprocessed for meat. The bones of antelopes and wild cattle suggest that the hides of these animals may have been used to make leather, while the meat was eaten.

“Clothing is a unique human innovation,” said evolutionary archaeologist and study co-author Eleanor Scerri, also of the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. “We use clothes in a practical sense, to stay warm, for example, or to protect our skin. We also use the clothes symbolically, to express something about who we are, and they also respond to a plethora of social conventions that tie in with our various global cultures, ”Scerri added.

Artefacts unearthed in a cave of
Morocco dating from 120,000 years ago indicates that
humans skinned animals and
then using tools to process these skins for fur and leather. (REUTERS)

The cave artifacts date from a time when evidence of personal adornments and other signs of human symbolic expression appear at various archaeological sites. Fur, leather, and other organic clothing is highly perishable over time, and no prehistoric clothing has been found in the cave.

The tools were made during a time when the cave was occupied by members of our species from around 120,000 to 90,000 years ago. The nature of the clothes they were able to make remains uncertain. Tools with a wide rounded end, called spatulate tools, were of particular interest.

“There are streaks on spatulate bone tools that are the result of use, and the shine at the ends of bone tools is the result of repeated use against the skin. Bone tools with this shape are still used today to prepare the skins because they do not puncture the skin, they are durable, and they are effective in removing connecting tissue without damaging the skin, ”Hallett said.

So far, some of the earliest evidence of Homo sapiens clothing has been bone needles dating from around 45,000 to 40,000 years ago from Siberia. Researchers suspect that our species had started making clothing thousands of years before the date of Moroccan artefacts, although archaeological evidence is lacking.

Genetic studies of clothing lice by other researchers suggest that clothing originated as possibly 170,000 years ago in Africa. It is also likely that the Neanderthals, a close human cousin who entered Eurasia before Homo sapiens, made clothes, given the cold regions they inhabited, the researchers said. They cited evidence of bone tools for leatherworking made by the Neanderthals around 50,000 years ago.

SpaceX crew
Cancer survivor, geoscientist: meet the crew of the first fully civilian space flight

The quartet of ordinary citizens who make up the Inspiration4 team, ready to make history aboard a SpaceX rocket as the first fully civilian crew to launch into orbit, may at first glance appear to be ordinary people, but they are. far from ordinary.

They consist of a billionaire internet commerce executive and a jet pilot; geoscientist and finalist in the NASA Astronaut Nominee Program; a medical assistant at the childhood cancer hospital where she was previously a patient; and an aerospace data engineer and US Air Force veteran.

The crew’s vehicle, dubbed Resilience, is scheduled to take off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on Wednesday.

Here are the profiles of the Inspiration4 crew.


Initiator and billionaire benefactor of Project Inspiration4, Isaacman paid a large undisclosed sum – reported by Time magazine to have cost around $ 200 million – for the four seats aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

A lifelong aviation enthusiast, who flew in the Black Diamond Civilian Aerobatic Jet Squad and co-founded a private air force of fighter jets for military training called Draken International, Isaacman made his fortune in e-commerce. Isaacman transformed the business he started as a teenager in the basement of his family’s home into one of America’s leading financial transaction services, Shift4 Payments.


A geoscience professor at South Mountain Community College in Phoenix and a PhD in science education, Proctor’s lifelong passion for space exploration is rooted in her father’s work in Guam, where she was born, for a NASA tracking station during the Apollo lunar missions.

A certified pilot and major in the Arizona Civil Air Patrol, she has completed four “analog” astronaut projects involving simulated space activities, including a four-month man-made mission to Mars funded by NASA to study dietary strategies. for long duration space flights. Proctor was also a 2009 NASA Astronaut Nominee Program finalist and is now poised to become the fourth African-American woman to ever fly in space. She was chosen in an online business competition organized by Shift4 Payments as part of the Inspiration4 Crew Selection.


A survivor of childhood bone cancer, Arceneaux became a medical assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Center in Memphis, Tennessee, the main pediatric cancer center where she was previously a patient. Arceneaux, who lost part of his left thigh and knee to cancer at the age of 10, boasts of becoming the first person with a prosthetic body part to go to space.

St. Jude, where Arceneaux now works with leukemia and lymphoma patients, is the primary beneficiary of Project Inspiration4, which Isaacman designed primarily as a fundraising and promotional initiative for the institute. Arceneaux said she was motivated to participate in space flight to show her young patients “what life can be like after cancer”.


A data engineer at aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in Everett, Wash., Sembroski spent some of his free time in college launching scale models of high-powered rockets and volunteered with ProSpace, a grassroots organization that lobbied on behalf of private space companies on Capitol Hill. Sembroski also conducted mock space shuttle missions as an advisor for US Space Camp, a government-funded science, technology and engineering youth camp in Huntsville, Alabama.

He joined the US Air Force as an electromechanical technician, and was deployed to Iraq and also helped maintain a fleet of Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles before leaving active service in 2007. Sembroski was selected for the military. Inspiration4 crew through a raffle that drew 72,000 applicants and raised $ 113 million in donations to St. Jude.

volcanic bomb
How mathematics solved the case of volcanic bombs that did not explode

It would be reasonable to hear the term “volcanic bomb” and assume that such an object has a tendency to explode. But a specific type of volcanic bomb rarely lives up to the second half of its name: these objects are thrown into the air, crash to the ground, and disappointingly fail to explode.

These volcanic bombs – blisters of partially melted, plastic magma no smaller than a peach – are shot from a volcano submerged by a body of shallow water, like a lake or the sea near the shore. In the process, the bombs acquire a lot of water. This trapped water meets the hot entrails of the bomb and vigorously transforms into steam.

The sudden build-up of vapor in the projectile should cause the bomb to jump into the air. “Rocks cannot survive in the face of this pressure,” said Mark McGuinness, mathematician at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand. And yet, so many of those bombs go wrong, hitting the ground with an anticlimactic thud.

Solving this riddle would do more than scratch a long-standing scientific itch. Volcanic bombs, a fundamental part of many explosive eruptions, are also a deadly danger. If more of them exploded in mid-flight, it would be better if they blistered someone on the head.

Wishing to resolve the matter, Ian Schipper, a volcanologist in Victoria, teamed up with McGuinness and Emma Greenbank, also a mathematician at the university. They built a mathematical model that simulated the launch of a bomb from a virtual volcano and reproduced the changes in pressure and temperature inside the orb.

Communicate their results in The Proceedings of the Royal Society A, the team concludes that water makes and defuses these pasty volcanic bombs.

Volcanic bombs are a common feature of a set of explosive eruptions. This includes the eruptions of Surtseyan, named after Surtsey, a volcano off the Icelandic coast that exploded above waves in the 1960s until it formed a new island.

During this type of eruption, clusters of magma are propelled through a shallow body of water. Simultaneously, volcanic debris splashed skyward in the same water. This forms an ashy mud, dense enough to perforate and hydrate these globular magmatic clusters destined to become bombs.

The fact that these soggy bombs seldom explode has long been puzzling. But scientists can’t really study these fast projectiles in detail when they’re launched from a volcano.

“You don’t want to try to go and catch them,” said Rebecca Williams, a volcanologist at the University of Hull in England who was not involved in the study.

Volcanologists have studied volcanic boulders – entirely solid pieces of ballistic volcanic material – by shooting them from a custom-made cannon. But they have yet to fire a pistol at clusters of molten magma, an activity that will likely never pass a safety review.

This new mathematical model, reinforced by data from actual Surtseyan bombs that landed and cooled, appears to have come to the rescue.

As magma rises through a volcano and out to the surface, it depressurizes and the water trapped inside escapes as vapor, creating bubbles. This block of foamy magma is then thrown into the water and becomes a bomb. The lake or seawater which then infiltrates the bomb evaporates violently. But the team’s mathematical simulations show that the bomb’s already foamy nature means that there are a myriad of pathways through which steam can flow and escape, stopping a pressure surge and ultimately a explosion.

A few bombs, those devoid of a foamy network of holes created by the magma’s own water, will succumb to the pressure of the newly generated vapor and self-destruct. But most are sufficiently frothy, allowing the vapor to escape without incident.

“Their solution is really elegant; I think it works great, ”said Williams, referring to the model.

For McGuinness, the research has served another purpose: As a dramatic example of how mathematics can solve non-abstract problems, he hopes it will help change the public’s perception of this field of study.

“To say that you are working on explosive bombs and volcanic bombs is much more inspiring for people,” he said.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.