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TREES SUFFERING FROM DROUGHT ARE LESS EFFECTIVE AS CARBON SINKS

The Independent online, 04/03/2015, Tom Bawden

Drought-stricken forests absorb ten per cent less carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are up to three times as likely to die as trees growing in normal conditions, according to new research highlighting the dangers of climate change. Researchers from the University of Oxford studied trees across the Amazon and found that the rate of photosynthesis – by which trees convert carbon into energy to fuel their activities – slowed by about a tenth in areas afflicted by drought.

The paper, published in the journal Nature, concludes that the slowdown in photosynthesis was the result of the trees channelling their more limited energy reserves into growth, rather than maintaining their health, for example through tissue maintenance. This is because the trees need to continue to grow their roots, leaves and branches so as not to be at a disadvantage when competing for light, water or nutrients, the paper suggests.

‘As trees die and decompose, the concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase, potentially speeding up climate change during tropical droughts,’ said Dr Christopher Doughty, of the University of Oxford. ‘These plots are our canaries in the climate change coal mine. They can give us important into the actual mechanisms for how these complex forests are responding to extreme climates,’ added Professor Yadvinder Malhi, also from the University of Oxford.

Read more on The Telegraph website (opens new window)

Also:

Droughts in the Amazon are speeding up climate change

Mail Online, 5/03/2015, Ellie Zolfagharifard

Drought-hit trees ‘neglect own health’
i (The paper for today), 05/03/2015, p.23, Tom Bawden

BEWARE OF THOSE CLIMATE POLLS

Huffington Post (USA), 04/03/2015, William S. Becker

Article about the public opinions on the importance of climate change and how climate change is reported by the media. Article notes that a published analysis of newspaper reports on climate polls in the UK by Corina Hoppner at Oxford University concluded: ‘If the aim is to provide a fact-based platform for public opinion, journalists and all authors involved in the production and media representation of opinion polls should adopt a more critical and careful approach.’

Read more on The Huffington Post website (opens new window)

WHY HAS SUICIDE DECLINED AMONG OLDER PEOPLE IN THE UK?

BBC News online (Magazine), 04/03/2015, Justin Parkinson

Article examines the decline in suicide rates among older people in the UK relative to the middle aged. Anthropologist William Pickering, who set up a centre at Oxford University to study the works of Emile Durkheim, the French sociologist who wrote a seminal work on suicide rates and causes in the 1890s, comments on these figures

Read more on the BBC News website (opens new window)

THE FUTURE OF WORK

Huffington Post, 05/03/2015, Ian Goldin

Comment: Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, writes about what the world of work will look like in the future as technology advances. He notes: ‘Rapid technological advancements are enabling the automation of many human tasks. My colleagues at the Oxford Martin School, Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, have estimated that 47 percent of U.S. jobs are at high risk of automation over forthcoming decades. In our latest report, published by the Oxford Martin School in partnership with Citi, Frey and Osborne demonstrate that, for the first time, low-income and low-skill jobs are most likely to be automated. It is no wonder that profound questions are being raised about how we will work and live in the 21st century.

Read more on The Huffington Post website (opens new window)  

DO BUSINESS-SCHOOL RANKINGS MATTER?

Wall Street Journal Europe online, 04/03/2015, Lindsay Gellman

Schools that send large numbers of graduates into nonprofits or social entrepreneurship say that can hamper their standing, since rankings place significant weight on graduates’ starting salaries. About 16% of M.B.A.s from the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School go into nonprofit work after graduation, according to the school. Dean Peter Tufano said students often seek advice about choosing between a high-paying job over a role in a social-good venture they feel passionately about. ‘It’s very clear what my response should be” to boost the school’s rank, he said, adding he doesn’t dissuade students from any career for salary reasons.’

Read more on the Wall Street Journal website (opens new window)

STANDING AT A CROSSROADS

Times Higher Education, 05/03/2015, p.28, Danny Dorling

Danny Dorling, Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, writes on the Labour Party’s proposal for £6,000 tuition fees. He argues: ‘They need to be reduced to zero, as in Germany. Labour’s proposal to reduce the maximum to £6,000 takes us a third of the way there.’

Read more on the Times Higher Education website (opens new window)

CHINA AND US CLASH OVER BACKDOORS

BBC News online, 04/03/2015, Unattributed

Beijing has rejected President Obama's criticism of its plan to make tech companies put backdoors in their software and share their encryption keys if they want to operate in China. Dr Joss Wright, from the Oxford Internet Institute, comments on the security of internet backdoors.

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CHINA TO STAGE MASSIVE MILITARY PARADE IN BEIJING

Daily Telegraph online, 04/03/2015, Tom Phillips

China has announced it is to hold a military parade this year to mark its victory over Japan in 1945. Includes comment from Professor Rana Mitter of the University of Oxford.

Read more on the Daily Telegraph website (opens new window)

FOOD LABELS: WHY ‘LOW-FAT’ AND ‘HIGH-FIBRE’ DON'T MEAN HEALTHY

Daily Telegraph online, 04/03/2015, Sue Quinn

Article about misleading food packaging includes comment from Professor Mike Rayner, an expert in population health at Oxford University.

Read more on the Daily Telegraph website (opens new window)