Nat Kelly Nat Kelly28 September 2023 Open Science
August top 5

Insights from MDPI Top 5 Picks: August

The majority of the most read MDPI articles from August centre around the environment, covering ecological overshoot, the forecasting of the effects of greenhouse gas emissions, and natural and human-caused drivers of global warming. Additionally, we also look at the possibility of pizza consumption alleviating some of the effects of rheumatoid arthritis and the diet of the whitespotted eagle ray.

1. The Human Ecology of Overshoot: Why a Major ‘Population Correction’ Is Inevitable

“This article is part of my ongoing effort to draw attention to the major ‘environmental’ crisis facing humanity—not climate change, but rather ecological overshoot.

There are too many people consuming and polluting too much on our finite planet. Overshoot results from humanity’s natural expansionist tendencies reinforced by a socially constructed myth of perpetual material growth and continuous technological innovation powered by fossil fuels.

Overshoot is a meta-crisis, the cause of global heating, plunging biodiversity, land/soil degradation, ocean acidification, tropical deforestation, pollution of everything, i.e., the entropic dissipation of the ecosphere. No major co-symptom of overshoot can be addressed effectively in isolation, but addressing overshoot directly would relieve all co-symptoms simultaneously. 

Society’s simplistic focus on climate change is therefore a distraction from the primary problem. Without a Plan ‘B’, energy/resource shortages and global entropic decay will force the contraction of the human enterprise, including a major population ‘correction’ in coming decades.”

2. Quantifying Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Human Deaths to Guide Energy Policy

The number of human deaths due to climate change is argued by some to be the most important metric to quantify future harms caused by carbon emissions. It is important, then, that the approaches used to calculate this are highly accurate.

This study compares the approaches used to estimate this figure and discusses the implications for energy policy. It is concluded that, as a rough indication, burning 1000 tons of fossil carbon causes one future premature death. In response, governments have a moral responsibility to implement energy policies to reduce carbon emissions to zero as quickly as possible.

3. Does Pizza Consumption Favor an Improved Disease Activity in Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis is a major public health issue worldwide, having significant effects on quality of life. Alleviating the disease burden is of high priority to those researching this condition.

This study investigates the potentially positive effects that pizza consumption has on rheumatoid arthritis. The authors found that participants who ate over half a pizza once a week experienced beneficial effects, with mozzarella and olive oil likely being the main drivers of this.

4. Diet and Feeding Ecology of the Whitespotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari) from Florida Coastal Waters Revealed via DNA Barcoding

This study presents the first analysis of the whitespotted eagle ray’s diet in Florida waters using visual-based gut content analysis complemented with DNA barcoding. These dietary data can provide insight into this species’ potential to interact with shellfish enhancement activities and highlight its diverse role in the top-down regulation of coastal benthic communities.

If you want to find out more about any of the studies mentioned in this article, you can read them for free on the MDPI website.