The pandemic helped clear the air. (Pixabay/Rebecca Humann)
The pandemic helped clear the air. (Pixabay/Rebecca Humann)The world’s carbon dioxide emissions saw their largest-ever one-year drop in 2020, falling 7% from 2019 to 34 billion metric tons because of pandemic-related restrictions. But in a new study, researchers said the world should be reducing its output at a rate only slightly less rapid for the rest of the decade, if it is to adhere to the Paris Agreement and avoid the worst effects of climate change.

Cholesterol may be helping ebola. (CDC via AP/Frederick Murphy)
Cholesterol may be helping ebola. (CDC via AP/Frederick Murphy)Scientists removed cholesterol from the membranes of the most dangerous Ebola viruses and found that it heavily reduced their success in embedding in cells, directly demonstrating for the first time that the lipid is a crucial component to Ebola infection.

Our oxygen levels may drop ... but not for a while. (Unsplash/NASA)
Our oxygen levels may drop ... but not for a while. (Unsplash/NASA)A hotter sun and changing geological processes will cause Earth’s atmosphere to lose 99% of its oxygen in about 1.1 billion years, according to new research putting a cap on the planet’s oxygen-breathing biosphere and providing new insights into the search for habitable exoplanets.

Encouraging sea urchin predators doesn't always hurt urchin population numbers. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
Encouraging sea urchin predators doesn't always hurt urchin population numbers. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)Overfishing protections off the coast of California helped recover populations of animals that hunted sea urchins, which have been laying waste to the region’s kelp forests. Yet rather than suppressing the urchins’ prevalence by creating more predators, new evidence shows that the protections expanded their numbers, revealing more nuanced ecosystem dynamics than expected.

Google has provided a new way to detect waves in water and earth. (Pixabay/Elias Sch.)
Google has provided a new way to detect waves in water and earth. (Pixabay/Elias Sch.)Geoscientists harnessed data signals transmitting through a Google-owned fiber-optic cable that runs more than 6,200 miles under the Pacific Ocean seafloor to record dozens of earthquakes and storm swells, detecting seismic activity from changes in the signal’s polarization.

Retreating sea ice is making life tough for polar bears. (AP via USGS/Mike Lockhart)
Retreating sea ice is making life tough for polar bears. (AP via USGS/Mike Lockhart)Retreating Arctic sea ice is causing polar bears to swim more often and narwhals to make more inefficient dives to escape killer whales and human disturbances, forms of travel that require three to four times more energy than walking on ice or normal dives, respectively.

Nsp13 helicase (orange) unwinds RNA (blue), the same material as the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Recent findings show that mechanical forces (black arrows) increase nsp13 unwinding efficiency. (Rockefeller University/Keith Mickolajczyk)
Nsp13 helicase (orange) unwinds RNA (blue), the same material as the SARS-CoV-2 genome. Recent findings show that mechanical forces (black arrows) increase nsp13 unwinding efficiency. (Rockefeller University/Keith Mickolajczyk)Scientists have developed a deeper understanding of the novel coronavirus’ RNA-unwinding helicase, which they identified as a possible target to stop COVID-19 infection because of its resistance to mutations and critical role in viral replication. Their study was one of 10 chosen by the Biophysical Society to be highlighted at its 65th annual meeting and will be presented on Tuesday.

Rare earth mineral recovery may become part of recycling. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)
Rare earth mineral recovery may become part of recycling. (AP Photo/Elizabeth Dalziel)Material scientists developed a new chemical process to recycle valuable metals from battery and magnet scrap using inexpensive and environment-friendly salts. It is a possible improvement to modern recycling methods of rare earth metals, which sometimes produce hazardous wastes and are only occasionally employed.

Soil protects humans from tons of contaminants. (Pixabay/Goumbik)
Soil protects humans from tons of contaminants. (Pixabay/Goumbik)Soil filters and sanitizes about 42 million tons of human waste in pit latrines and septic tanks every year, a service that prevents pathogens and other contaminants from entering groundwater and is worth at least $4.4 billion.

The Deepwater Horizon spill is still affecting dolphins. (Pixabay/Pexels)
The Deepwater Horizon spill is still affecting dolphins. (Pixabay/Pexels)Eight years out from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, bottlenose dolphins remained more susceptible to infection due to crude oil's detrimental effects on their white blood cells, the latest sign that the Gulf of Mexico population is struggling to recover from the environmental disaster.

Sleeping too much or not enough can affect white cell counts. (Pixabay/lograstudio)
Sleeping too much or not enough can affect white cell counts. (Pixabay/lograstudio)A study of more than 11,000 Americans found that sleeping too little or too much slightly raises the chance of death by creating imbalances in the immune system, by way of changes in white blood cell counts.

Mobile phone case made with 3D printing, using recycled plastic. (University of Konstanz/Mecking group)
Mobile phone case made with 3D printing, using recycled plastic. (University of Konstanz/Mecking group)German chemists have developed two sustainable plastic alternatives to high-density polyethylene that can be chemically recycled more easily and nearly 10 times as efficiently, thanks to “break points” engineered into their molecular structures.