Scientific news in small doses

A few milligrams of all the science news of the week.

Fewer pollutants for beluga whales

Industrial pollutants present in the environment of beluga whales in St. Lawrence estuary, is declining, concludes a study published in the journal Science of the total environment. The work was carried out by a team of Quebec researchers led by Dr.r Stéphane Lair, Professor in the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Montreal. Scientists have found a significant decrease in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in beluga whales. This pollution is considered one of the causes of cancer in this marine mammal. For two other categories of pollutants, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), the situation is slowly improving. Pollutants are only one of the mortality factors for beluga whales, which are also threatened by climate change.


Do green belts reduce urban sprawl?


Greenbelts force municipalities to densify more, researchers have found.

A study by two researchers from Concordia University has determined that green belts can significantly reduce sprawl in large urban centers. The study by Parnian Pourthaherian and Jochen Jaeger was published in the journal Landscape and urban planning. The experts assessed 60 European cities, half of which had a green belt. In 27 of these 30 cities, a slowdown in urban sprawl was observed. This has fallen by 90% in cities with a green belt, compared to just 37% for city centers that do not. One of the main findings in the study is that green belts force municipalities to greater densification instead of geographical dispersion.

Number one



Charging electric taxi in Taiyuan, China

By the end of the year, China will capture 60% of global electric car sales, Bloomberg estimates. A share that has seen a dramatic increase in just seven years: from 26% in 2015 to 56% in the first half of 2022. In the United States, sales of zero-emission vehicles have increased by 70% in the first nine months of 2022 compared to the corresponding period in 2021, according to the analysis company Cox Automotive.

Deforestation is accelerating in Africa


Congo Basin forest

Deforestation continues to gain ground in Central Africa, according to the latest forest declaration assessment report. In 2021, this increased by 4.9% compared to the average of the previous three years in the forest of the Congo Basin, which stretches into six countries. The forestry and mining industry as well as agriculture are the main causes of deforestation. However, this forest, which totals 170 million hectares, is also an important carbon sink, the report emphasizes. There are large deposits of copper, cobalt and coltan, minerals essential for the manufacture of electronic products. The Congo Basin forest is the second largest on the planet, after the Amazon rainforest in South America.

Carbon neutral in 2050?


Heavy traffic in New York

While most major cities around the world say they are aiming for carbon neutrality by 2050, just over half have no specific plan or mechanism to measure progress. This is the observation of a recent analysis by Net Zero Tracker, an organization that documents international efforts towards carbon neutrality. For large companies, 75% of them will be able to do the same, although several companies still lack transparency about their activities. The organization also found that only 10% of major cities and 20% of companies have provisional targets to reduce their greenhouse gases: the vast majority have not set a target for 2030. The Net Zero Tracker lists the activities of more than 1100 major companies and cities around the world.

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