Wissenschaftlerin im weißen Kittel mit einem großen gelben Stück Plastikmüll im Labor

Why chemicals and plastics pose a risk to our future

Humanity has released and spread numerous new substances into the environment. Since they were rarely or never involved in evolutionary processes, organisms have not been able to develop strategies to cope with these xenobiotics. These foreign substances can be poisonous, persistent, highly mobile and can affect our health and the Earth system.

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Ein junger Flussotter schwimmt durch einen See in Ottawa, Kanada.

“Biodiversity is like insurance against extreme weather”

Josef Settele is an agrobiologist and professor of ecology at the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. At the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Halle, he investigates how change in climate and land use affect biodiversity, and how reduced biodiversity affects ecosystems and people.

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Blaue Frösche in einem Moor mit kleinen Ästen.

Biodiversity and the climate: We need more and bolder measures

From December 7-19, 2022, 196 nations will meet in Montreal to determine a new global biodiversity framework. At issue are wildlife conservation efforts, more areas for nature conservation and spending in the billions. Climate action also hangs on the balance of this agreement. What is needed now is political courage and commitment to binding measures.

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Sonnenkollektoren in der Oase Dakhla, Ägypten

Tipping point less favorable to climate action

The results of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) have been overwhelmingly criticized as weak and vague. That said, the negotiators did demand that the development banks mobilize greater amounts of money for climate action.

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Tauender Permafrost

On the trail of thawing permafrost

As the climate warms, the frozen soils of the Arctic are thawing. Large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide are released, accelerating climate change. Locally, moreover, the land is subsiding, buildings are becoming unstable, and ecosystems and populations are at risk. Where exactly could permafrost disappear in the future, and where do people need to prepare?

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How CO2 can be removed from the air

To achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement and limit global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius, it will not be enough to emit less carbon (CO2). In addition, CO2 must also be removed from the atmosphere. What processes are available?

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Mulchen in der Forstwirtschaft. Bodenvorbereitung beim Waldumbau

Transformation instead of clean-up

Our forests are valuable natural habitats. They make important contributions to climate protection and mitigate the human impact of climate change. But they are increasingly suffering from heat and drought. Scientists and companies that manage forests are working together on ideas for shaping the forests of the future.

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Brennender Waldboden bei Waldbrand

“We need the chance to intervene”

As it is elsewhere, climate change is increasing the risk of forest fires in Germany. So should deadwood that intensifies fires be removed from forests? Or should it be left where it is for conservation reasons?

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Eine bunte Menschenmenge, die über die belebte Kreuzung läuft

“We’re in something of an emergency now”

Dirk Messner is a sustainability researcher and has been president of the German Environment Agency (UBA) since 2020. In this interview, he tells us about his hopes and worries on the way to a sustainable future with equitable sharing of the burdens associated with climate change.

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Further news from Helmholtz


Tiburtius Prize for Eike Köhnen

On Tuesday, 6 December 2022, Dr. Eike Köhnen received the Tiburtius Prize (First Place) for outstanding dissertations. Eike Köhnen has contributed to significantly increasing the efficiency of tandem…
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