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The best science long reads of 2020


It was a year when scientists tried to solve the mystery of rogue orcas attacking boats and the pandemic shed light on our increasingly strained relationship with nature. If you want to delve deeper into some of the big science and environment stories of the year, here's a selection of this year's long reads.

How Joe Biden plans to tackle climate change. By Matt McGrath

Joe Biden's plan to tackle climate change has been described as the most ambitious of any mainstream US presidential candidate yet. Matt McGrath considers what he wants to do, and how he might get it done.

image copyrightReuters

Global warming will increase the chances of summer conditions that may be "too hot for humans" to work in, experts say. These conditions could expose millions of people to dangerous levels of heat stress - a dangerous condition which can cause organs to shut down.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionAvoiding heat stress is easier said than done

This year has seen renewed interest in nuclear power from the UK government. Though it's classed as a renewable form of power, nuclear energy has its critics. So is it time to reassess our attitude to nuclear power? Justin Rowlatt reports.

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In the past six months there have been at least 40 reported incidents of orcas attacking boats off the coasts of Spain and Portugal. What's behind the unusual behaviour of these sea mammals?

No war, recession, or previous pandemic has had such a dramatic impact on emissions of CO2 over the past century as Covid-19 has in a few short months.

Matt McGrath examined the massive impact on our environment caused by the Covid crisis, and explained why it's also likely to have little effect on long-term patterns.

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Bats have been scapegoated by humans for centuries, with Covid only the latest example, say scientists. According to many experts, it's our increasing level of interference with these wild creatures that's at the root of the problem.

image copyrightScience Photo Library
image captionBats have been on Earth for more than 50 million years

The Covid-19 lockdown has cut climate change emissions - for now. But some governments want to go further by harnessing their economic recovery plans to boost low-carbon industries. Their slogan is "Build Back Better", but can they succeed?

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Astronaut Scott Kelly told the BBC how he managed to live for a year on the International Space Station and why, four years into his retirement from Nasa, he would go back if someone asked.

image copyrightNASA

A surprise announcement at this year's UN General Assembly had a transformative effect on the politics of cutting carbon, says Justin Rowlatt. He examined whether it might just signal the beginning of a global rush to decarbonise.

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image captionDespite being the world's top emitter, China is also the biggest manufacturer of solar panels