Jan. 11, 2022, 2:37 p.m.View more articles
This month on Newsdesk: the impacts of rising global temperatures, an experimental asteroid mission, and recognizing animal feelings.
Over the past century, average global temperatures have risen by around 1 degree Celsius. The rise in temperatures has been mainly caused by greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane being released into the atmosphere. These gases are mainly produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil to generate energy.
Rising temperatures are already causing major disruption to the world's climate: forest fires are becoming stronger and more frequent, melting glaciers are causing sea levels to rise, and extreme weather events are becoming more common. Scientists have warned that if temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees the effects of climate change could be catastrophic, and its impact will become ever more disruptive.
World leaders agreed to limit the increase in global temperatures to 1.5 degrees at COP26, a climate change conference held in 2021. However, to stop temperatures rising, we will need to make major changes to how energy is produced, and how we live our everyday lives.
Thousands of asteroids are flying through our solar system. Occasionally, an asteroid heads directly toward the Earth, causing destruction where it hits the surface. Although no asteroid currently poses a danger to the Earth, a large asteroid could one day cause serious damage.
To prepare for this unlikely event, a group of NASA scientists are conducting a unique experiment. They have launched a spacecraft to crash into an asteroid! The rocket will fly toward the asteroid before releasing a smaller spacecraft that will collide into the surface of the asteroid. Scientists have calculated that the collision will be powerful enough to knock the asteroid off course.
The mission could demonstrate that we can deflect incoming asteroids away from the Earth, and avoid potential disasters, if we ever need to in the future. It’s one small nudge from man, one giant sigh of relief for mankind.
Humans experience a wide range of feelings, like happiness, excitement, and sometimes sadness. Scientists describe animals that can experience feelings as “sentient.” Dogs are regarded as sentient, because they are widely considered to experience joy when playing. And chimpanzees' ability to display affection highlights their sentient nature.
Now, a scientific report in the UK has listed a number of animals without a spine, known as invertebrates, as able to experience feelings. Octopuses, lobsters, and crabs have all been classed as sentient.
Learn more about rising global temperatures by watching the Twig Film Global Warming.
For more great topical science content, visit Twig Science Reporter where you'll also find videos, transcripts and lesson support to accompany this article.