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Return to the Stone Age

Researchers may have found when humans first altered the planet’s geology

Israeli researchers claim to have pinpointed the first permanent geological change made by humankind, the moment when humans first altered the planet’s geology.

They have identified a set of erosion processes made 11,500 years ago in the Dead Sea Basin. This would represent the first hint of what increasingly has been called the Anthropocene, a geological era in which the planet’s characteristics are defined by just one species, Homo sapiens.

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Climate change set to alter flow of River Nile

By Tim Radford
The 400 million people who depend on the predictability of the River Nile face an uncertain future.

A 5,000-year-old problem is about to get much more problematic. Climate change will make it harder than ever to bank on the flow and annual flood of the River Nile.

The Nile is the natural world’s great gift to human history: its annual flood delivered nourishing silt and vital water for the farmers who supported a hierarchy that founded a civilisation.

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Stormy weather

By Tim Radford
Scientists warn that global warming is affecting four-fifths of ecological processes vital to ecosystems.

Climate change has already begun to alter the world’s ecosystems – at sea, in rivers and lakes, and in the forests and meadows on land, according to an international team of scientists.

They have identified 94 vital ecological processes that support healthy ecosystems, and have found that more than 80 per cent of them are already affected by global warming.

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Forest species help trees to absorb carbon

By Tim Radford
The ability of forests to absorb carbon is strongly affected by the mix of trees and the other creatures that inhabit them.

Here is how to conserve a forest: soak up carbon from the atmosphere and keep the climate cool: make sure your forest is rich in animal and bird species; make sure that it remains a natural mix of saplings, mature trees, shrubs and creepers; and remember to take care of the forest giants. In other words, leave it to Nature.

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