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The US government’s crackdown on foreign interference at universities is making the United States less attractive to Chinese scientists, say research leaders. Issues include strict visa restrictions and investigations and arrests of researchers who hold grants from government agencies. “I’m trying to convince these people not to go back [to China]. If it wasn’t for immigrant scientists, we would be a second-tier STEM country,” says physicist Stephen Chu.
With water temperatures on the rise, sea creatures need to head to cooler waters — but warming water is causing some of them to head in the wrong direction. In the northwest Atlantic Ocean, slow-moving snails, sand dollars, mussels and other creatures with drifting larvae are spawning earlier, triggered by warmer seas. Unfortunately, that’s when winds and currents are aligned to drive them into even hotter waters. The result is that the ranges of once-abundant species are shrinking.
Features & opinion
Last year, scientists released a report that fleshed out a ‘global deal for nature’, outlining what governments must do to have a hope of saving ecosystems and limiting global warming. Leaders around the world must fully protect 30% of Earth’s surface and sustainably manage another 20% by 2030. Now, researchers have published a follow-up called the global safety net, which identifies the exact regions on land that must be protected to achieve the deal’s goals. Increasing existing protected areas from about 15% of land to 17.3% — in the right places — could save our planet’s rarest plant and animal species within five years, writes conservation scientist Greg Asner. Bumping that up to 50% can “save our planet’s rich biodiversity, prevent future pandemics and meet the Paris climate target”, says Asner. Much of this land is in Russia, the United States, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, Australia and China.
Learn about the global safety net in a 3-minute video from the researchers.
“Around the world, democracy is losing ground,” assert Science editors Tage Rai and Brad Wible in the introduction to the journal’s special issue on the state of democracy. From online activism to artificial-intelligence-powered gerrymandering, the twenty-first century has put the system under never-before-seen pressures. In the run-up to the US presidential election in November, the collection offers insights into the challenges and opportunities for what Winston Churchill called “the worst form of Government except for all those other[s]”.
Science | 4 min read and 8 pieces of related content
When it comes to quantum physics, what — if anything — reflects reality? (If reality exists at all.) Chemist and science writer Jim Baggott tackles that thorny question in a remarkably thorough and enlightening book, writes reviewer Sabine Hossenfelder. The book doesn’t require a background in the field, but even Hossenfelder, a quantum physicist, discovered new insights in its pages. “Indeed, in Quantum Reality I found a more comprehensible explanation of the Penrose-Hameroff conjecture (that the origin of consciousness is coherent quantum states of microtubules in the human brain) than I have heard from both Penrose and Hameroff themselves,” she writes.