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We used fossil fuels to build a modern society and global industries. It’s now destroying the environment. Millions of species are at risk of being extinct; millions die of air pollution each year; climate events already affect the lives of millions around the world — thanks mostly to fossil fuels. Yes, we depend on fossil fuels for energy, transportation, and to produce drugs and chemicals; but there’s no justification to carry on as usual anymore.

A sustainable future requires reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so there’s no place for continued use of fossil fuels for industrial productions. Biological production of goods using microorganisms (like bacteria and fungi) represents an attractive and sustainable alternative to petrochemical driven production. However, biological organisms’ feedstocks often include sugars that mostly come from plants (sugar canes and sugar beets). Agriculture has a huge ecological impact, so the cultivation and processing of sugars adversely affect the environment, including land use (biodiversity loss), water use, and chemical (fertilisers, pesticides). …


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Plastic. This simple yet ingenious material literally changed our lives. Have a look around you, and you’ll notice that most things contain plastics. The computer, which I’m using to write this blog, the clothes that I’m currently wearing, and pretty much everything I can lay my eyes on in my room contains plastic. We’ve been so used to plastic, it’s hard, if not impossible, to imagine life without it — and for good reasons too. They prevent food loss, keep our medicine safe and are great as a single-use material to prevent contamination of deadly microbes or chemicals.

Plastic is amazing for us humans; it’s what enables our society and our lifestyles. …


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When I finished my PhD, I carried on working in research, partly because I was unaware of other career options. Three years more in academia, and it was time to move on. But, being trapped in the “academic bubble”, I still had no clue about what I could be doing next.

I know that my story isn’t unique — there are plenty of PhD students and post-doctorate researchers that find themselves in a similar situation. So, I recently launched the TalkPlant “Post-PhD Career” blog series to highlight different career routes after a PhD. …


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As the world endures the impacts of a rapidly changing climate — sea level rise, extreme weather events, warming and acidifying oceans (among many others) — policymakers and the public should critically examine how food production contributes to these worrying trends. Animal agriculture may be the best place to start since, many scientists argue, it’s the single biggest cause of biodiversity loss and a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Over a quarter of the world’s land surface is currently dedicated to raising animals for food, but that practice can be exceptionally wasteful. Despite taking up almost 80 percent of global agricultural land, livestock represents less than 20 percent of the world’s calories. Proper stewardship of the land, which absorbs nearly one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions, is critical in our fight against climate change, but human activities degrade roughly a quarter of it, and livestock production is perhaps the primary culprit. …


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People of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds are more likely to die from the Coronavirus Disease 2019, or Covid-19, a new study finds. In the largest Covid-19 study conducted by any country to date, researchers analysed health records of over 17.4 million UK adults to identify factors that increase the risk of Covid-19 death.

Covid-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2). On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared Covid-19 as a pandemic after outbreaks in 114 countries killing thousands. As of 9 May 2020, over 4 million people worldwide have contracted Covid-19 with over 275 thousand casualties. …


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This is the second part of my own career path in the TalkPlant Post-PhD Career blog series. In the first part, I wrote about my previous role as a Research Programme Manager at the National Institute for Health Research. Here, I write about my role in science policy.

Senior Funding Policy Manager at UK Research and Innovation

My 12-month contract at NIHR ended in June 2017, and I have been in UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) ever since. UKRI is the UK’s largest public funder of science, research and innovation. …


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When I finished my PhD, I carried on working in research, partly because I was unaware of other career options. Three years more in academia, and it was time to move on. But, being trapped in the “academic bubble”, I still had no clue about what I could be doing next.

I know that my story isn’t unique — there are plenty of PhD students and post-doctorate researchers that find themselves in a similar situation. So, I recently launched the TalkPlant “Post-PhD Career” blog series to highlight different career routes after a PhD.

This is the first blog of the series, and I’m starting with myself in a two-part blog. In this blog, I’m writing about my experiences in my first job outside academia as a Research Programme Manager. In the second part, I summarise my current role in science policy. …


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Towards the end of my PhD, like all PhD students, I was left with two options: carry on working in research; or start a non-academic career. Even though I very well knew that I was only extending a road that led to a dead-end, I ended up taking up a job as a postdoctoral scientist.

There were good reasons for me to take up a job in research, too. I loved science — and still do, although not the labwork part — and had an incredibly enjoyable experience in my PhD, so it made sense to stay and do science for a bit longer. …


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The climate emergency and biodiversity crisis demand drastic institutional changes. Environmentalists are choosing more sustainable lifestyle options by flying less, working virtually or opting to invest in green projects rather than in fossil fuels.

We’ve also seen a sharp rise in veganism amidst findings that the meat industry is the biggest driver of biodiversity loss and one of the most significant contributors of greenhouse gases. (After recent biodiversity and climate change reports, I’ve also become a vegetarian.)

A particularly disruptive market in the sustainability sector has been the emergence of plant-based “meat” as a genuine and sustainable alternative to meat products. A recent survey found that over 40 percent of Americans have tried plant-based meat, which includes the Impossible Burger, made with protein from genetically modified (GM) soy. …

About

Rupesh Paudyal

Science writer at www.talkplant.com. I write about plant science, health, food, sustainability, environment, and my experience in academia.

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