Is our environment affecting our weight?

When most of us think about gaining or losing weight, we see it as a straightforward equation of calories in vs. calories burned. If it’s really that simple, though, why do so many struggle with weight-loss even while following targeted diet and exercise plans? Recently, scientists have begun to identify “obesogens” – chemicals that boost obesity risk – in our environment. Understanding the role of these chemicals in obesity (in addition to diet, activity, genetics, and other known risk factors) may help us understand why some people have an especially difficult time losing weight.

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The Color of Water Policy

What’s your favorite color – blue, or green? Water policy has focused traditionally on blue water (ground or surface water released into the atmosphere by evaporation), but there’s more to the water-use equation. To understand water use and availability more broadly, researchers are now considering the value and availability of green water (that which is released back to the atmosphere by plants). In this paper, green-water use and availability is investigated at a global scale, leading the authors to advocate for inclusion of green water into water policy considerations.

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Gardeners for Biodiversity: How Surveys can Help Quantify Diversity in Urban Areas

Backyard gardens can boast surprising levels of biodiversity. Quantifying the diversity of many small gardens spread out across an urban area, however, can be difficult for scientists. In this study, researchers proposed a survey in which garden-owners were asked to give basic information about their gardens. From the responses, a statistical model was designed to determine the actual number of species present.

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Melting Moves Marine Mammals

As glaciers melt, the species who live there are faced with a dilemma – retreat into the little remaining habitat or find some way to adapt. Movement data from populations of ringed seals and white whales before and after a major sea-ice decline provides insight on how each species has responded to habitat loss. One of these species has chosen retreat, while the other has learned to adapt.

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