The truth about panda sex

Zoologist Lucy Cooke explains why humans are totally wrong about panda sex, and why captive breeding backfires.

  • We humans love to hear about how utterly useless pandas are at sex. 'They won't breed to save their species!' Except that's not true at all, says zoologist Lucy Cooke.
  • Wild pandas are extremely virile — their sperm is 10 to 100 times more dense than human sperm — and pandas in the wild have been observed having sex 40 times in a single afternoon.
  • In this comprehensive and fascinating talk, Cooke explains the panda mating ritual ("a sort of urinary Olympics"), why captive breeding has created a second kind of panda that struggles to survive in the wild, and she reveals what humans can really do help: stop micromanaging pandas' sex lives.
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Want to help fight climate change? Try going 'flexitarian.'

Whether or not there are tropical islands in 50 years might depend on whether or not we can eat fewer hamburgers.

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  • Results from recent research suggest we have roughly 12 years to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. If we can't, then the amount of greenhouse gases released to the atmosphere will have compounding feedback loops that progressively warm the planet up further.
  • One of the biggest culprits in warming the planet is the production of beef and sheep meat.
  • Anybody could help prevent climate change by consuming less beef and sheep, or by cutting them out entirely.
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A world first: Luxembourg's public transport to be free for all

Luxembourg will offer the world's first fare-free public transit system, but is there really such a thing as a free ride?

(Photo from Wikimedia)
  • To combat congestion, Luxembourg aims to become the first country to implement fare-free public transit services.
  • Other European nations are considering similar courses, but across the pond the United States continues to fumble its public transportation to deleterious effects.
  • Luxembourg's goal is noble, but it will have to overcome historic trends showing such fare-free systems rarely work in the long run.
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Australia cuts plastic bag use by 80% in 3 months after supermarket ban

Australia's two largest supermarkets led the ban, which has so far prevented some 1.5 billion plastic bags from entering the environment.

  • The ban was led by the private sector, though several Australian states have banned single-use plastic bags.
  • Worldwide, more than 30 countries and two U.S. states have banned single-use plastic bags.
  • Kroger, the largest supermarket chain in the U.S., recently announced plans to phase-out plastic bags by 2025.
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Scientist's accidental discovery makes coral grow 40x faster

There might be hope for our oceans, thanks to one clumsy moment in a coral tank.

Photo by Preet Gor on Unsplash.
  • David Vaughan at the Mote Laboratory is growing coral 40 times faster than in the wild.
  • It typically takes coral 25 to 75 years to reach sexual maturity. With a new coral fragmentation method, it takes just 3.
  • Scientists and conservationists plan to plant 100,000 pieces of coral around the Florida Reef Tract by 2019 and millions more around the world in the years to come.
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