After water, concrete is the most widely used substance on the planet. But its benefits mask enormous dangers to the planet, to human health – and to culture itself
Taking in all stages of production, concrete is said to be responsible for 4-8% of the world’s CO2. Among materials, only coal, oil and gas are a greater source of greenhouse gases. Half of concrete’s CO2 emissions are created during the manufacture of clinker, the most-energy intensive part of the cement-making process.
But other environmental impacts are far less well understood. Concrete is a thirsty behemoth, sucking up almost a 10th of the world’s industrial water use. This often strains supplies for drinking and irrigation, because 75% of this consumption is in drought and water-stressed regions. In cities, concrete also adds to the heat-island effect by absorbing the warmth of the sun and trapping gases from car exhausts and air-conditioner units – though it is, at least, better than darker asphalt.
It also worsens the problem of silicosis and other respiratory diseases. The dust from wind-blown stocks and mixers contributes as much as 10% of the coarse particulate matter that chokes Delhi, where researchers found in 2015that the air pollution index at all of the 19 biggest construction sites exceeded safe levels by at least three times. Limestone quarries and cement factories are also often pollution sources, along with the trucks that ferry materials between them and building sites. At this scale, even the acquisition of sand can be catastrophic – destroying so many of the world’s beaches and river courses that this form of mining is now increasingly run by organised crime gangs and associated with murderous violence.
Science Vs peels back the label on GM foods to find out whether they’re safe to eat and what impact they can have on the environment. Both sides of the debate have written impassioned songs, but what does the science say? We talk to Prof. Fred Gould, Dr. Janet Cotter, and Prof. David Douches to find out.
In the original version we suggested that the Bt corn that killed monarch caterpillars was taken off the market as a direct result of studies demonstrating its harm. But although the corn was eventually taken off the market, the company that made it later told us it was phased out “for business reasons”, such as declining sales — and they did not mention the dead butterflies.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) stated, “The immense diversity and pluriformity of this creation more perfectly represents God than any one creature alone or by itself.”  However, most Christians thought humans were the only creatures that God cared about, and all else—animals, plants, light, water, soil, minerals—was just “food” for our own sustenance and enjoyment.
.. God created millions of creatures for millions of years before Homo sapiens came along. Many of these beings are too tiny for us to see or have yet to be discovered; some have seemingly no benefit to human life; and many, like the dinosaurs, lived and died long before we did. Why did they even exist? A number of the Psalms say that creation exists simply to reflect and give glory to God (e.g., Psalm 104).
The November midterm elections are vulnerable to the Russian interference that plagued the 2016 presidential election, the Trump administration’s top intelligence official said Tuesday.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Moscow could undertake cyber-influence operations in the coming congressional elections similar to those it stands of accused of running in 2016.
.. “Influence operations, especially through cyber means, will remain a significant threat to U.S. interests as they are cow-cost, relatively low-risk and deniable,” wrote Mr. Coats, a former Republican Indiana senator appointed by Mr. Trump to the top intelligence job in his administration last year. “Russia probably will be the most capable and aggressive source of this threat in 2018.”
.. Mr. Coats, along with the leaders of the National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency, told the panel they had already seen evidence Russian intends to interfere in the 2018 elections, but declined to elaborate, citing the public nature of the hearing.
.. Russia’s goal, Mr. Coats said, was to “create wedges that reduce trust and confidence in democratic processes.”
.. Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo suggested that North Korea leader Kim Jong Un would be reluctant to give up his nuclear arsenal for fear that it would undermine his standing at home.
.. “The impacts of the long-term trends toward a warming climate, more air pollution, biodiversity loss, and water scarcity are likely to fuel economic and social discontent—and possible upheaval—through 2018,” Mr. Coats’s assessment found.