Treating cancer with the latest drugs and techniques is costly and will not improve survival globally.

Entrepreneurs are finding profits turning human waste into fertiliser, fuel and even food.

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Glaciers in the high mountains of Asia (HMA) make a substantial contribution to the water supply of millions of people, and they are retreating and losing mass as a result of anthropogenic climate change3 at similar rates to those seen elsewhere. In the Paris Agreement of 2015, 195 nations agreed on the aspiration to limit the level of global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius ( °C) above pre-industrial levels. However, it is not known what an increase of 1.5 °C would mean for the glaciers in HMA.

Methane (CH4) is a powerful greenhouse gas and plays a key part in global atmospheric chemistry. Natural geological emissions (fossil methane vented naturally from marine and terrestrial seeps and mud volcanoes) are thought to contribute around 52 teragrams of methane per year to the global methane source, about 10 per cent of the total, but both bottom-up methods (measuring emissions)1 and top-down approaches (measuring atmospheric mole fractions and isotopes)2 for constraining these geological emissions have been associated with large uncertainties.

When the Moon’s shadow races across the continental United States on 21 August, researchers will be waiting — in planes, on mountaintops and at other carefully chosen vantage points along the roughly 110-kilometre-wide path of totality. Thanks to the sheer number of observers, solar physicists hope to learn more from this latest total solar eclipse than from any previous such event, and to use that knowledge to develop tools for next time.

To be able to curb the global pandemic of physical inactivity and the associated 5.3 million deaths per year, we need to understand the basic principles that govern physical activity. However, there is a lack of large-scale measurements of physical activity patterns across free-living populations worldwide. Here we leverage the wide usage of smartphones with built-in accelerometry to measure physical activity at the global scale. We study a dataset consisting of 68 million days of physical activity for 717,527 people, giving us a window into activity in 111 countries across the globe.

Growth in terrestrial gross primary production (GPP)—the amount of carbon dioxide that is ‘fixed’ into organic material through the photosynthesis of land plants—may provide a negative feedback for climate change. It remains uncertain, however, to what extent biogeochemical processes can suppress global GPP growth. As a consequence, modelling estimates of terrestrial carbon storage, and of feedbacks between the carbon cycle and climate, remain poorly constrained.

Recent hydrological modelling and Earth observations have located and quantified alarming rates of groundwater depletion worldwide. This depletion is primarily due to water withdrawals for irrigation but its connection with the main driver of irrigation, global food consumption, has not yet been explored. Here we show that approximately eleven per cent of non-renewable groundwater use for irrigation is embedded in international food trade, of which two-thirds are exported by Pakistan, the USA and India alone.

During 2015–2016, record temperatures triggered a pan-tropical episode of coral bleaching, the third global-scale event since mass bleaching was first documented in the 1980s. Here we examine how and why the severity of recurrent major bleaching events has varied at multiple scales, using aerial and underwater surveys of Australian reefs combined with satellite-derived sea surface temperatures. The distinctive geographic footprints of recurrent bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef in 1998, 2002 and 2016 were determined by the spatial pattern of sea temperatures in each year.

Oil palm has a reputation as an environmental menace. Can the latest genetic research change that?

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