Drones help track wildfires, count wildlife and map plants

Drone
Drones are revolutionizing the way scientists observe, measure and monitor the natural environment. From mapping the patterns of wildfires, like those in California, to measuring the size of jellyfish populations, drones have the potential to improve our understanding of the natural environment. Although we use different names to refer to drones — for example, remotely piloted aircraft systems or unmanned aerial systems/vehicles — there is strong...
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Yes, microlending reduces extreme poverty

Micro Loans
A small boost in microlending to the developing world could lift more than 10.5 million people out of extreme poverty. That's one conclusion of my study, published last month in The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, which found that microfinance not only reduces how many households live in poverty but also how poor they are. Currently, 836 million people – or 12% of the world's population – experience extreme poverty, living off less than US$1.25 a...
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Agent Orange, exposed: How U.S. chemical warfare in Vietnam unleashed a slow-moving disaster

Agent Orange Spraying
In the end, the military campaign was called Operation Ranch Hand, but it originally went by a more appropriately hellish appellation: Operation Hades. As part of this Vietnam War effort, from 1961 to 1971, the United States sprayed over 73 million liters of chemical agents on the country to strip away the vegetation that provided cover for Vietcong troops in "enemy territory." Using a variety of defoliants, the U.S. military also intentionally t...
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What is a ‘mass extinction’ and are we in one now?

Tiger
For more than 3.5 billion years, living organisms have thrived, multiplied and diversified to occupy every ecosystem on Earth. The flip side to this explosion of new species is that species extinctions have also always been part of the evolutionary life cycle. But these two processes are not always in step. When the loss of species rapidly outpaces the formation of new species, this balance can be tipped enough to elicit what are known as "mass e...
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Ethiopia is making maps to help improve soil health

Farmers-Ethiopia
Healthy soils are vital to human survival. They play a pivotal role in feeding global populations – after all, food is grown in soil. Healthy soils grow more crops and allow for nutrients to be better absorbed by the crops. That's why it's important to understand exactly when there might be a problem with the soil of a particular area, and what's causing it. Without a precise diagnosis, soil can't be successfully treated. Soil health is a matter ...
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Understanding the root causes of natural disasters

Sichuan Province Earthquake 2008
Every year disasters take lives, cause significant damage, inhibit development and contribute to conflict and forced migration. Unfortunately, the trend is an upward one. In May 2017, policy-makers and disaster management experts from over 180 countries gathered in Cancun, Mexico, to discuss ways to counter this trend. In the middle of the Cancun summit, news arrived that large parts of Sri Lanka were devastated by floods and landslides, killing ...
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Achieving gender equality in India: what works, and what doesn’t

Indian Women
Discrimination against women and girls is a pervasive and long-running phenomenon that characterises Indian society at every level. India's progress towards gender equality, measured by its position on rankings such as the Gender Development Index has been disappointing, despite fairly rapid rates of economic growth. In the past decade, while Indian GDP has grown by around 6%, there has been a large decline in female labour force participation fr...
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