Algae has been engineered to kill cancer cells and leave healthy cells unharmed.

90% of cancer cells destroyed!

 Scientists have genetically engineered tiny algae to kill up to 90 percent of cancer cells in the lab, while leaving healthy ones unharmed, and the treatment has also been shown to effectively treat tumours in mice without doing damage to the rest of the body.

Developing medicine that only attacks tumour cells and leaves the rest of the body alone is one of the biggest challenges in cancer drug therapy. Such targeted chemotherapy helps to avoid some of the devastating side-effects associated with typical chemo treatment, when all fast-dividing cells in the body are bombarded with toxic drugs – including hair follicles, nails, and bone marrow.

That’s why researchers have been working on nanoparticle-based cancer drug delivery, and have been sending drug-loaded, porous silica particles into the body to target tumour cells. However, the manufacturing of these types of nanoparticles is expensive and requires industrial chemicals, such as hydrofluoric acid.

Now an international team of scientists from Australia and Germany have genetically engineered a diatom algae that can get the synthetic nanoparticle job done just as nicely.

Diatoms are a large group of microscopic one-cell organisms which sport translucent cell walls composed of hydrated silicon dioxide or silica – the same type of porous material used in manufactured nanoparticle medicine. These algae are just four to six micrometres in diameter, over ten times smaller than the width of a human hair.

“By genetically engineering diatom algae – tiny, unicellular, photosynthesising algae with a skeleton made of nanoporous silica, we are able to produce an antibody-binding protein on the surface of their shells,” said lead author and nanomedicine expert Nico Voelcker.

Such antibody-laden diatom nanoparticles only bind to molecules found in cancer cells, where they can release drugs. This makes it the targeted therapy researchers are looking for.

“Much attention has been paid to developing drug carriers that are natural, biocompatible and biodegradable,” the authors state in their report, published in Nature Communications.

The tiny biosilica diatom algae meet these criteria, as they mostly just need water and light to grow, and can break down if left to the elements. And by choosing the right antibody, the algae nanoparticles can be easily pointed in the direction of tumour cells only.

Algae-cancer-drugs Nature-Communications image 1Mr Marc Cirera

The team stuffed the diatoms full of chemo drugs using a special two-step method, and then tested the nanoparticles on cancer cells both in vitro and in mice with induced neuroblastoma tumours.

Not only did the algae successfully kill roughly 90 percent of cancer cells in a dish while sparing healthy human cells, they also reduced tumour growth in mice after a single injected dose.

Furthermore, the mice also didn’t have any acute tissue damage from the chemo, and the diatom biosilica safely degraded in their bodies.

The researchers believe this technique has huge potential for the future of nanomedicine and targeted cancer treatment in particular.

“Although it is still early days, this novel drug delivery system based on a biotechnologically tailored, renewable material holds a lot of potential for the therapy of solid tumours, including currently untreatable brain tumours,”Voelcker said.

Dissecting a cigarette reveals the horrors of what’s really inside – research presented by the “Stop Smoking King”

Artificial intelligence technology combats suicide in veterans

Mobile and social networking technology monitors big data from messages to detect suicide risk in military veterans

Chris Poulin is a contributing author to the book Artificial Intelligence in Behavioral and Mental Health Care,recently published by Elsevier. He was Director and Principal Investigator of the Durkheim Project, a nonpofit big-data collaboration that developed the technology he describes in the book and this story. Gregory Peterson was a board member of the Durkheim Project.

As Veterans Day is observed throughout the United States, the country faces a persistent crisis in veterans committing suicide – an average of 22 veterans take their own lives every day. Concern over the rise in veteran suicides has brought renewed attention from military personnel, elected officials, concerned families and medical professionals.

Among the key questions is “how can we improve options for monitoring at-risk veterans and effectively facilitate suicide interventions?”


A new technology that uses big data to predict suicide risk in real time could help medical professionals and social workers intervene and prevent suicide. This artificial intelligence technology is featured in the book Artificial Intelligence in Behavioral and Mental Health Care, recently published by Elsevier.

A frustrating and tragic problem

US Army records on suicide rates only go back to the early 1980s, so no one has historical data to provide a long-term perspective on this tragic problem. But we do know that America’s military leaders have long recognized the dire threat posed by suicide — and the inability to address this formidable enemy using traditional methods.

In 2012 former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called military suicide “perhaps the most frustrating challenge that I’ve come across since becoming Secretary of Defense.” And when the Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Military Personnel held hearings in October 2015, testimonies from America’s military leaders confirmed that the nation’s suicide problem is persistent.

If these hearings are a fair indicator, America’s military leaders are recognizing the limitations of current medical approaches to suicide prevention. The military narrative also seems to be acknowledging a need to supplement traditional mental health treatment with innovative, if not well defined, approaches.

In a recent Congressional testimony, Dr. Keita Franklin, Director of the Defense Suicide Prevention Office (DSPO), said:

Strong data and surveillance methodologies help us identify our most at‐risk populations.

And Lt. General James C. McConville of the US Army said:

We are committed to reviewing the ‘how’ and ‘why’ from every case to learn from it.

Both of these quotes are, in fact, accurate descriptions of how technology should be used in the fight against suicide. Currently, traditional ‘off-line’ approaches are favored, such as the Columbia-Suicide Severity Rating Scale, an assessment used to determine suicide risk.

Unfortunately, there’s a wide gap between current military practices and the potential of innovative approaches that could be used to protect those who are most at-risk. America’s Department of Defense (DoD) needs a more innovative and effective approach.

A new approach to an old problem

The technology analyzes text communications to show suicide risks depicted above; red indicate suicide risk, terms in yellow indicate mental disturbance without suicide risk, and green features reflect the control group.
The technology analyzes text communications to show suicide risks depicted above; red indicate suicide risk, terms in yellow indicate mental disturbance without suicide risk, and green features reflect the control group.

The suicide crisis in veterans requires the marriage of traditional medicine with emerging technologies that have proved efficacious, both in suicide intervention and for mental health issues more generally. In stark contrast to the standalone, traditional medical approaches are the successful R&D efforts in opt‐in mass surveillance technology. The noteworthy example – one that has led to the new suicide risk predicting technology – is “The Durkheim Project,” sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The Durkheim Project analyzes unstructured linguistic data from social and mobile sources to predict mental health risk. This is facilitated by a predictive analytics engine (Predictus). The predictive engine is integrated with the latest big data technologies (e.g., Hadoop and other open-source technology). This combination facilitates a clinical dashboard so timely interventions can be taken to save those at risk.

The Durkheim Project was a nonprofit research effort that ran from late 2011 to early 2015, focusing on using big data to inform knowledge on suicide. This initiative was named in honor of Emile Durkheim, a sociologist who pioneered linguistics as a tool to model human behavior, including suicide, as described in his 1897 bookSuicide.

The project was run by a multidisciplinary team of artificial intelligence and medical experts from the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Patterns and Predictions and big data firm Cloudera. Together these professionals formed a team dedicated to applying big data research on suicide at the intersection of artificial intelligence and medicine.

The project completed its last testing phase earlier this year. Intiially, the project team successfully identified suicidal intent better than state‐of‐the‐art medical approaches by analyzing the text derived from medical records. They then built a large scale opt‐in network to help medical professionals and social workers intervene – the new artificial intelligence solution. It is garnering bi-partisan Congressional attention for its potential as a “game-changing” aid in isolating risk in the veteran suicide crisis.

Protecting US veterans

In the wake of this fall’s Armed Services Committee Hearings, Congressman Duncan Hunter, a former Marine who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, was prompted to take action. In late October, Rep. Hunter issued an urgent letter calling on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to bolster the DoD’s core strategies for suicide risk reduction among veterans, arguing that veterans would be better protected with a national strategy “…which would provide a more accurate indicator of at-risk service members and allow for successful intervention and treatment.”

Rep. Hunter also advocated the use of artificial intelligence technology, which has proven more effective than traditional medical methods in health monitoring and the detection of suicide risk among at-risk veterans. Specifically, the Congressman cited research findings from The Durkheim Project. In the letter, he wrote:

“It has come to my attention that the Defense Advance Research Project Agency (DARPA) funded a pilot study using big data to identify and predict mental health and suicide risk. This study, known as the Durkheim Project, took advantage of new data sources, better technologies, and advances in predictive analytics to successfully isolate suicidal intent better than state-of-the-art medical practice.”

In the letter, Rep. Hunter requested Secretary Carter’s answers to key questions in three important areas related to veterans’ suicide:

  1. How has suicide risk been reduced? Has there been a quantifiable reduction in the number of active duty and veteran service members who have taken their lives?
  2. What are the latest efforts in risk detection? Is the military isolating those who are truly at risk versus those who are seemingly at risk in enough time to reduce the likelihood of the event?
  3. Should the DoD employ “precise medicine” to isolate at-risk individuals for interventions/treatment rather than employing broad-based efforts?

In closing, Rep. Hunter wrote:

I respectfully request your response to the questions raised in this letter and ask that you address the DOD’s core strategy for a risk reduction plan – in particular how DoD can employ the tools used in The Durkheim Project to reduce the high rate of suicide among our active duty personnel and our veterans.

Congressman Hunter’s initiative is a welcome new voice in the fight to protect America’s veterans against suicide. And out of The Durkheim Project has emerged a new team, which is now proposing an “end-to-end” national strategy that incorporates technological advances integrated with medical resources.

This under development program recommends four essential aspects to reducing suicide among veterans:

  • Outreach: Sign up hundreds of thousands of veterans (rather than the small, isolated “pilot” programs currently in place).
  • Digital Risk Assessment: Use state-of-the-art data mining to isolate mental health risk factors for participating veterans.
  • Resource Allocation: Maximize available resources – through enabling interventions by both medical professionals and peers.
  • Effective Intervention: Both quantify and qualify the efficacy of the risk – remediation efforts.

The proposed new system will be built in partnership between Patterns and Predictions and Cloudera, both participants in the original Durkheim work.

America’s active duty and veteran soldiers are facing challenging mental health issues. With The Durkheim Project, the research team demonstrated that technology and medical innovation can play an important role in providing that desperately needed help. The question now is not one of technological prowess, but of our military and political leaders’ readiness to recognize veterans’ needs, and to embrace proven methods to provide the protection they deserve.

Reminder: “Natural” Food Means Literally Nothing

Reminder: "Natural" Food Means Literally Nothing

A box of powder-cheesed macaroni? Natural! A candy bar? Sure, why not: natural! A can of 7-Up? All natural! A bag of fruit snacks? Just chock full of natural flavor, friend.

The presence of the word “natural “on your food has long guaranteed you one thing: Someone at that food company wanted to write it there. Despite being an extremely evocative bit of ad copy, “natural” is a meaningless designation—and one that the FDA has declined to define. Yesterday, though, something interesting happened; the agency posted a short notice on its website asking people to send in their own definition of just what “natural” might mean.

“Food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth,” that is how the FDA has long explained why it didn’t want to create any fixed definition for the term. This is a true enough statement, but it certainly didn’t stop “natural”-labeled foods from showing up everywhere.

In fact, the exact opposite became true: The absence of any definition created a vacuum where “natural” can appear on pretty much any label that wants to stick it on there. That’s why candy companies can straight-facedly talk up the “natural” fruit flavors hidden somewhere deep beneath eight layers of sugar. Or why 7-Up was able to unabashedly declare itself an “all-natural” drink option (complete with an ad campaign of sunshine-drenched farmers carefully tending their 7-up trees; truly, nature is bountiful).

Essentially, the FDA now wants to know what on Earth people think it is they’ve been buying all this time when they get these “natural” foods. Though the agency hasn’t said what their intention for this information is yet, presumably, they could end up reverse-engineering an official definition from there—and that would be an excellent thing.

“Natural” doesn’t have any real definition yet, but it’s clear from people’s behavior that they believe it means something—and it’s far better that something has a fixed definition than one made in the moment by someone trying to sell you soda.

In the long term, this could end up being an incredibly important food-labeling change. In the meantime, though, let this serve as your regular reminder: “Natural” food is (literally) whatever you want it to be.

Pathophysiology of native coronary, vein graft, and in-stent atherosclerosis.

Plaque rupture, usually of a precursor lesion known as a ‘vulnerable plaque’ or ‘thin-cap fibroatheroma’, is the leading cause of thrombosis. Less-frequent aetiologies of coronary thrombosis are erosion, observed with greatest incidence in women aged <50 years, and eruptive calcified nodules, which are occasionally identified in older individuals. Various treatments for patients with coronary artery disease, such as CABG surgery and interventional therapies, have led to accelerated atherosclerosis. These processes occur within months to years, compared with the decades that it generally takes for native disease to develop. Morphological identifiers of accelerated atherosclerosis include macrophage-derived foam cells, intraplaque haemorrhage, and thin fibrous cap. Foam-cell infiltration can be observed within 1 year of a saphenous vein graft implantation, with subsequent necrotic core formation and rupture ensuing after 7 years in over one-third of patients. Neoatherosclerosis occurs early and with greater prevalence in drug-eluting stents than in bare-metal stents and, although rare, complications of late stent thrombosis from rupture are associated with high mortality. Comparison of lesion progression in native atherosclerotic disease, atherosclerosis in saphenous vein grafts, and in-stent neoatherosclerosis provides insight into the pathogenesis of atheroma formation in natural and iatrogenic settings.

Medication-induced mitochondrial damage and disease.

Since the first mitochondrial dysfunction was described in the 1960s, the medicine has advanced in its understanding the role mitochondria play in health and disease. Damage to mitochondria is now understood to play a role in the pathogenesis of a wide range of seemingly unrelated disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, migraine headaches, strokes, neuropathic pain, Parkinson’s disease, ataxia, transient ischemic attack, cardiomyopathy, coronary artery disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, retinitis pigmentosa, diabetes, hepatitis C, and primary biliary cirrhosis. Medications have now emerged as a major cause of mitochondrial damage, which may explain many adverse effects. All classes of psychotropic drugs have been documented to damage mitochondria, as have stain medications, analgesics such as acetaminophen, and many others. While targeted nutrient therapies using antioxidants or their precursors (e. g., N-acetylcysteine) hold promise for improving mitochondrial function, there are large gaps in our knowledge. The most rational approach is to understand the mechanisms underlying mitochondrial damage for specific medications and attempt to counteract their deleterious effects with nutritional therapies. This article reviews our basic understanding of how mitochondria function and how medications damage mitochondria to create their occasionally fatal adverse effects.

A ‘nervous system’ for ant colonies? Colony responds to predation simulation as a ‘superorganism’

A 'nervous system' for ant colonies?
Researchers at the University of Bristol, UK, led by Thomas O’Shea-Wheller, investigated the extent to which colonies of rock ants behave as a single entity by subjecting colonies of migrating ants to differing forms of simulated predator attack. 

Colonies of ants are incredibly complex, and at the same time intensely cooperative, so much so that they are often referred to as single ‘superorganisms’. But to what extent do they actually behave as a single entity?

In order to answer this question, researchers from the University of Bristol subjected colonies of migrating to differing forms of simulated predator attack.

By targeting ants scouting at the periphery of colony activity, and workers within the very heart of the nest, they were able to show very different responses to predation depending on its location.

When scouts were removed, the foraging ‘arms’ of the colony were retracted back into the nest. However, when ants were removed from within the nest itself, the whole colony absconded, seeking asylum in a new location.

While the first of these scenarios could be seen as akin to burning your hand on a stove, the second is more of a ‘house-on-fire’ scare, and in each case the ants responded appropriately.

A 'nervous system' for ant colonies?
Researchers at the University of Bristol, UK, led by Thomas O’Shea-Wheller, investigated the extent to which colonies of rock ants behave as a single entity by subjecting colonies of migrating ants to differing forms of simulated predator attack. 

Thomas O’Shea-Wheller, a PhD student in Bristol’s School of Biological Sciences and one of the authors of the study, said: “Our results draw parallels with the nervous systems of single organisms, in that they allow appropriate, location dependent, responses to damage, and suggest that just as we may respond to cell damage via pain, respond to loss of workers via group awareness.”

A 'nervous system' for ant colonies?
Researchers at the University of Bristol, UK, led by Thomas O’Shea-Wheller, investigated the extent to which colonies of rock ants behave as a single entity by subjecting colonies of migrating ants to differing forms of simulated predator attack. 

Huge El Nino pushes climate toward records.

This year is set to be Earth’s warmest in millennia, according to new data—with profound implications. Here, calved icebergs are seen floating on the water on July 30, 2013, in Qaqortoq, Greenland.

Over the past few days, a bevy of climate data has come together to tell a familiar yet shocking story: Humans have profoundly altered the planet’s life-support system, with 2015 increasingly likely to be an exclamation point on recent trends.

On Monday, scientists at Britain’s national weather service, the Met Office, said our planet will finish this year more than one degree Celsius warmer than preindustrial levels for the first time. That figure is halfway to the line in the sand that scientists say represents “dangerous” climate change and global leaders have committed to avoid—an ominous milestone.

This year’s global heat wave—about two-tenths of a degree warmer than 2014, a massive leap when averaged over the entire planet—can be blamed most immediately on an exceptionally strong El Niño but wouldn’t exist without decades of heat-trapping emissions from fossil fuel burning. Separate data released on Monday by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed the current El Niño, a periodic warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, has now tied 1997for the strongest event ever measured, at least on a weekly basis.

“We’ve had similar natural events in the past, yet this is the first time we are set to reach the 1 degree marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory,” said Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre in a statement.

The Met Office data were quickly confirmed on Twitter by Gavin Schmidt, who leads the research center in charge of NASA’s global temperature dataset, which uses a slightly different methodology:

That means not only will 2015 end up as the planet’s warmest year in millennia—and probably since the invention of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago—but that there’s a lot more warming that’s already baked into the global climate system.

All that extra heat is already changing the planet in complex ways. For example, as of last week, there’s fresh evidence that the Atlantic Ocean’s fundamental circulation system is slowing down.

Over the past few years, a notoriously persistent cold patch of ocean has emerged just south of Greenland in the north Atlantic. There have been several theories as to why this is happening, but most involve a slowdown of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, part of the global oceanic “conveyor belt” system of heat and water that helps regulate the Earth’s climate by cooling off the tropics and gently warming polar regions.

You wouldn’t necessarily expect persistent record-cold temperatures when the planet overall temperature is at record highs, but that’s exactly what’s happening:

That weird little cold patch in the north Atlantic has an interesting story.


The AMOC is so important that its slowdown has been linked to past episodes of abrupt climate change, like a three-degree Celsius drop in Northern Hemisphere temperatures in less than 20 years about 8,000 years ago, and formed the highly dramatized basis for the planetary chaos featured in The Day After Tomorrow. Earlier this year, an important study provided further strong evidence that melting ice from Greenland has begun to disrupt and slow down the ocean’s circulation by changing the density of the north Atlantic, with profound consequences: In 2009, East Coast sea levels sharply—and temporarily—jumped by about four inches as water piled up. Stronger winter storms and an interruption of the Atlantic marine food chain alsomay already be happening.

According to a new analysis released last week, scientists used data from a pair of NASA satellites to track climate-related changes in the north Atlantic—the first time ocean currents have been tracked from space. Over the last decade, the satellites were able to take highly precise measurements of the literal weight of the ocean between Florida and Iceland that corroborated measurements from a network of ocean buoys over the same general place and time. From that information, they were able to calculate that the Atlantic’s circulation is indeed slowing down, a potential climate tipping point that’s been long predicted to occur at some point in the 21st century. Call it one more data point from a rapidly changing planet.

Still, despite the blindingly clear data, there’s hope that the tide could—finally—be shifting on climate change. Later this month, world leaders will be gathering in Paris and are widely expected to agree to the first-ever global agreement to constrain future emissions trajectories in a meaningful way—possibly enough to avoid the worst-case climate scenario.

What happens to your body when you’re drunk

As soon as that drink hits your system, ethanol gets to work…

As the “party season” approaches, you’re going to have to pay some attention to weighty matters like what you’re going to wear to the office bash, whom you must avoid at all costs once you’re there, and trying not to inadvertently poke co-workers in the eye with a sprig of plastic mistletoe.

However, amongst the hubbub, it’s unlikely that you’ll give much thought to the chemical composition of the drinks that you are pouring down your neck. There’s cold, rational science behind your decision to bust out your robot dance moves to impress the CEO, and if you take a minute to understand what’s going on inside you, it may give you cause to reflect and maybe intersperse your alcohols intake with a few glasses of water.

There are, in fact, many kinds of alcohol in the chemical world but the one that dominates our drinks is ethanol. Just like you had in big brown jars on the shelf of your school science classroom. The specific shape of an ethanol molecule is precision engineered by nature to affect your brain when swept into your bloodstream on the waves of your favourite tipple.

The particular shape of an ethanol molecule makes it ideally suited to getting humans drunk. Slight differences in the charge at each end of the molecule make it both water and fat soluble. Red atom = Oxygen – White atoms = Hydrogen – Black atoms = Carbon

The ethanol molecule is very tiny, made of two carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. Ethanol is also water-soluble, which allows it fast-track access to your bloodstream and therefore your brain. It’s also fat-soluble which means it can pass through all manner of cell membranes and other biological nooks and crannies unimpeded. In other words, once ethanol gets into your stomach, it’s going everywhere. And once ethanol arrives on the scene it causes havoc.

Research has not conclusively determined exactly how ethanol accomplishes all of its various effects on the brain, but there are some well-supported theories. The slowing of your reactions, the slurring of your speech, the loss of memory, are probably caused by the ethanol attaching to glutamate receptors in your brain’s neural circuitry. These receptors normally receive chemical signals from other parts of the brain, but instead of a normal sober response, the brain receives a big hit of ethanol sending it into confusion and slowing down its normal processes.

Imagine phoning to book a taxi but instead of the operator at the taxi company taking down your details and despatching a cab they start talking to you about modernist poetry in a language that you don’t understand. That’s what’s happening to your brains’ usual chemical processes once ethanol is present.

Ethanol also binds to GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors, which normally serve to slow down brain activity. Unlike glutamate receptors, ethanol actually makes GABA receptors more receptive, causing the brain to slow down even more.

But as we know, alcohol isn’t simply a depressant, because it also stimulates the production of dopamine and endorphins, chemicals that produce feelings of immense pleasure. Again, science hasn’t quite worked out what exactly what’s happening here but it may be similar to the way ethanol stimulates the GABA receptors.

Once ethanol gets into your stomach, it’s going everywhere


So the ethanol careering around your blood stream is slowing you down whilst simultaneously speeding you up in an oxymoronic frenzy of biological contradictions that result in you committing an unforgivable act of karaoke.

So you might want to ease back a little or you’ll find yourself becoming an expert in a whole other area of biological process: the hangover.

Science textbooks are teaching kids that climate change is debatable .

This is how it begins.

There’s an awful lot of people out there who don’t believe in human-caused climate change. Even though studies show more and more people believe that global warming is happening, there’s still a huge number of skeptics who will tell you we’ve got it the wrong way around for x, y or z reasons.

And it seems textbook publishers haven’t been helping things. A new study of 6th-grade science textbooks in California has found that even the educational resources we use to teach kids science are divided on the subject. According to the study, the textbooks introduce climate change as more a matter of opinion than one of scientific fact, giving a disproportionate weighting to denial viewpoints.

“We found that climate change is presented as a controversial debate stemming from differing opinions,” said Diego Román, an assistant professor in education at Southern Methodist University. “Climate skeptics and climate deniers are given equal time and treated with equal weight as scientists and scientific facts — even though scientists who refute global warming total a minuscule number.”

The researchers looked at four different 6th-grade science textbooks published between 2007 and 2008 by different publishers, analysing some 279 separate clauses discussing the topic of climate change.

Their findings, published in Environmental Education Research, show a considerable degree of mixed messages on global warming: climate change maybe happening, humans may or may not be responsible for it, and it’s not clearwhether we need to take action to prevent or mitigate environmental changes getting worse.

According to the researchers, this skewed take on what an overwhelming majority of scientists have achieved consensus on mirrors the adult public’s lack of comprehension or belief in the reality of climate change. But, worse than that, it distorts what we know to be true (and are teaching to our children, no less).

“The primary purpose of science education is to represent the science accurately, but this analysis of textbooks shows this not to be the case for climate science,” the study authors write.

What’s encouraging is that US states are in the process of adopting new national standards on science education, the Next Generation Science Standards, which should help eliminate the distortions being included in textbooks published as recently as 2008.

“As the Next Generation Science Standards become adopted and implemented, publishers are writing new textbooks that include climate change,” the authors write. “This reworking of science textbooks provides a rare opportunity to reflect on how we can create texts that enhance science teaching and learning.”

But as to why current textbooks are so hopeless when it comes to accurately teaching climate change science, it’s not entirely clear. However, the researchers suggest book publishers are trying to have it both ways, tacitly appealing to camps on both sides of the debate in an attempt to maximise the commerciality of their products.

“It appears textbook publishers include discussion of climate change to appease one segment of their market,“ said Román, ”but then to appease another segment they suggest doubt, which doesn’t reflect the scientific reality.”