Swarms take over production

Scientists working on the research project SWILT are developing Industry 4.0 algorithms inspired by nature.

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Circular Economy in the EU: Measures and a new Monitoring Framework

The EU has recently published a “Circular Economy Package”, introducing various measures designed to advance the transition to a circular economy. Among these is a monitoring system that can assess progress towards a circular economy. The foundations for this monitoring framework were developed by the Institute of Social Ecology in Vienna in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Ispra.

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Packages delivered by air: Drones as delivery service

What has travelled by road to reach us until now could be delivered by drones in the future. This has many advantages: Poor rural transport infrastructure or persistent congestion in large cities can be bypassed. In 2013, Amazon was among the first to announce the intention to deliver goods using small autonomous drones. But when might this technology truly become part of our daily lives? Drone researcher Pasquale Grippa provides some answers.

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Human impacts on forests and grasslands much larger and older than previously assumed

Human biomass utilization reduces global carbon stocks in vegetation by 50%, implying that massive emissions of CO2 to the atmosphere have occurred over the past centuries and millennia. The contribution of forest management and livestock grazing on natural grasslands to global carbon losses is of similar magnitude as that of deforestation. Currently, these effects are underappreciated in existing global carbon models and assessments of the greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from land-based production. Without full consideration of land management effects, global climate forecasts and calculations of the GHG effects of future bioenergy policies are error prone, seriously jeopardizing the robust evaluation of measures that would help achieving the 1,5°C target of the Paris Agreement. These are some of the result of a study headed by Karl-Heinz Erb from the Institute of Social Ecology, published in the scientific journal “Nature” on 20.12.2017.

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A new program supports the mental health of children in Southeast Europe

Nearly half of all psychological disorders can be traced back to the early years of the affected individuals, i.e. to the time before they reached the age of 14. In adulthood, this frequently leads to chronic illnesses, which may in turn exert negative effects on the individuals’ social lives, economic productivity and quality of life. A new project supported by H2020 (European Union) aims to prevent the occurrence of these illnesses during the childhood years. The project’s geographical focus lies on Southeast Europe.

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Pharmaceutical advertising can empower patients

Autumn is flu season and that means it is high season for pharmacies selling over-the-counter cold and flu remedies. Those who aren’t reminded by their own running noses, are sure to be alerted to these types of pharmaceutical drugs by advertisements and posters. A team of researchers has recently studied the extent to which pharmaceutical advertising supports the so-called self-empowerment of patients. The investigation focused on Brazil, the fastest-growing pharmaceutical drug market in the world.

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Efficient and intelligent: Drones get to grips with planning the delivery of goods


When goods are needed urgently, for instance, in rural areas poorly served by transport infrastructure, or in large, heavily congested cities, they could be delivered by drones. In 2013, Amazon was one of the first to declare the intention to work towards the automated delivery of goods by small autonomous helicopters. A multi-disciplinary research team at the Alpen-Adria-Universität assembled by Christian Bettstetter and Friederike Wall is due to deliver initial insights on the efficient operation of (self-organised) delivery of goods. Doctoral student Pasquale Grippa will present the results at the conference “Robotics: Science and Systems”, which is scheduled to take place at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from July 12th.

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Current insights into social ecology: special issue of the journal ‚Sustainability‘ published

In the last decades social ecology has made important contributions to sustainability research. As the science of societal relationship to nature it evolved in the late 1980s. Today, the approach that understands complex environmental problems to be rooted in the critical relationship between society and nature is regarded to be fundamental for research dealing with sustainable development. Now, with a special issue of the renowned international journal ‘Sustainability’ a comprehensive insight is given to the state of the art of social-ecological research.

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Durstige Landwirtschaft: Übermäßige Grundwassernutzung bedroht Lebensmittelversorgung weltweit

Der Anbau international gehandelter Lebensmittel zapft immer größere Mengen an nicht-erneuerbarem Grundwasser an. Dies führt dazu, dass die Grundwasservorräte schrumpfen – die zukünftige Verfügbarkeit von Lebensmitteln und Wasser gerät damit weltweit in Gefahr, warnt ein internationales Forscherteam im Fachblatt „Nature”. Laut den Expertinnen und Experten des University College of London, des Senckenberg, der Alpen-Adria-Universität, der NASA and des International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, ist die Menge an nicht-erneuerbarem Grundwasser, das zur Bewässerung genutzt wird, von 2000 bis 2010 um knapp ein Viertel angestiegen.

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“Today’s profiteers have to stop making profits”

Michael Gizicki-Neundlinger has carried out a case study exploring agriculture around Castle Grafenegg in Lower Austria during the 1830s. The social ecologist is convinced that the insights gained from the study could be used to better understand the state of current global agriculture.

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