This is how many trees are left on the planet

A woman walks past trees reflected on a lake in front of a construction site of a residential compound on a hazy day in Wuhan, Hubei province March 6, 2015. REUTERS/StringerThomson ReutersA woman walks past trees reflected on a lake in front of a construction site of a residential compound on a hazy day in Wuhan

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New research?has provided the most accurate count yet for the number of trees on Earth: 3.04 trillion.

The finding, with 95% accuracy, is about eight times more than previous estimates, but suggests that the number of trees has plummeted 46% since the dawn of human civilization 11,000 years ago – with the number once being above six trillion.

The study, published in the journal Nature, was conducted by an international team of researchers and led by Yale University.

The tree count was made using a combination of satellite imagery and more than 400,000 ground measurements, with the researchers defining a tree as “a plant with woody stems larger than 10 centimeters [four inches] diameter at breast height.”

In a press conference,?lead author Thomas Crowther, a postdoctoral fellow at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (F&ES), noted that previous studies only looked at plants larger than 50 centimeters (20 inches) in diameter.

Nonetheless, the latest findings could help map endangered species, show how water is recycled and reveal how much carbon dioxide is being absorbed from the atmosphere.

Perhaps most significantly, the study highlights the dramatic effect humanity is having on the natural world.?

"We’ve nearly halved the number of trees on the planet, and we’ve seen the impacts on climate and human health as a result," Crowther said in a statement. “This study highlights how much more effort is needed if we are to restore healthy forests worldwide.”

Data from the study could be useful in working out how much carbon is stored in terrestrial vegetation.?"In the study, we show that there is a positive relationship between the amount of trees in an area and the amount of carbon storage," Crowther told IFLScience, but he noted that "this relationship was not strong because the highest densities of trees are often dominated by a large number of small trees that don’t store much carbon."

Breaking down the findings, 1.39 trillion trees were in tropical and subtropical forests, 0.74 trillion in boreal regions and 0.61 trillion in temperate regions. Thanks to the data on the ground, the researchers were able to measure the density of trees in forests around the world to come to their accurate figures.

The study looked at tree levels over the last 12 years, and found that there was a gross loss of more than 15 billion trees a year, and a net loss of 10 billion when regrowth was taken into account. Crucially, humans were found to be?"one of the dominant regulators of trees," Crowther said in the press conference. "The one consistent factor is the negative impact of humans."

Another outcome of the study was on campaigns to plant more trees, such as the UN's?Billion Trees Campaign. According to the findings, planting one billion trees is just 1/3000th of the total number on Earth, suggesting greater efforts are needed to manage Earth’s ecosystem.

Overall, the message is clear: We are having a drastic effect on Earth’s ecosystem. There are currently 422 trees per person in the world but, if current trends continue, that will fall to 214 in 150 years. It’s a sobering thought to realise just how much of an impact we are having on this relatively tiny ball of rock we call a planet.

Read the original article on IFL Science. Copyright 2015. Follow IFL Science on Twitter.

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Here's why Americans don't have to work Labor Day

barbecue national holiday party


John Minchillo/Invision for Solid & Striped/AP ImagesGuests mingle around the pool at the Solid & Striped BBQ & Pool Party, Saturday, June 7, 2014, in Southampton, N.Y.

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The nation will observe Labor Day this coming Monday, allowing millions to enjoy the waning days of summer, as well their last chance to wear white pants without earning a "tsk tsk" from Miss Manners.

How did this early September holiday get its start?

Though President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a national holiday in 1894, the occasion was first observed on Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City.

A parade was organized by the city's Central Labor Union, a branch of the Noble Order of the Knights of Labor, a secretive labor union founded in 1869 by a clique of Philadelphia tailors.

Historians still debate over whom, specifically, to credit with the idea of a holiday dedicated to the workingman. Some say that Labor Day was the brainchild of Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor.

Others argue that Matthew Maguire, the CLU's secretary, was the holiday's mastermind and that he doesn't receive proper credit because he ticked off the mainstream labor movement by running for vice president on the National Socialist Labor Party ticket in 1896.

According to Ted Watt's The First Labor Day Parade, the September date was chosen because it coincided with a Knights of Labor conference in New York, thus guaranteeing a sizable turnout for the festivities. Though the event wasn't particularly festive, at least by today's standards: It resembled a protest far more than a parade, with CLU members required to march in support of the eight-hour workday. (Those who ditched faced fines.)

The CLU held the event again the following year on the same date. In 1884, however, the organization shifted gears and mandated that Labor Day take place annually on the first Monday in September. In 1887, Oregon became the first state to make Labor Day an official holiday, with Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York quickly following suit.

grill bbq barbecueglutnix via Flickr


For a while, Labor Day had stiff competition from May 1. In 1884, the American Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions declared that, by May 1, 1886, the eight-hour workday should be in effect across the land.

When legislators and employers failed to comply in time, the result was a general strike and the bloodyHaymarket Riot in Chicago, which caused the deaths of eight police officers and led to the hangings of four labor activists.

Though May 1 became an important day for Socialists and Communists, state governments and less radical labor leaders feared that the date was too emotionally charged.

In 1894, after President Grover Cleveland ordered the brutal suppression of the Pullman Strike, he realized that he had to do something to curry favor with the labor movement, which viewed him with contempt.

Worried that a May 1 holiday would encourage rabble-rousing in commemoration of the Haymarket Riot, he followed the lead of several states and made the first Monday in September a federal holiday in honor of the workingman.

The political maneuver didn't achieve its desired effect, however: Cleveland lost the Democratic Party's 1896 presidential nomination to William Jennings Bryan.

Bonus explainer:

May 1 wasn't forgotten, however. In the 1920s, it became known in the United States as Loyalty Day, and it's still observed with an annual presidential proclamation that asks all government officials to take the not-so-outlandish step of flying the U.S. flag above their buildings.

Read the original article on Slate. Copyright 2015. Follow Slate on Twitter.

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This graph shows how much money you can earn from each college major

Student-loan debt in the US continues to skyrocket. And?at $1.2 trillion,?it now now exceeds?car loans and credit-card debt figures.

And between 2001 and 2012, the average sticker price for tuition rose 46%, according to a?report by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which?adjusted its figure for inflation.

More now than ever, it seems that college students must think carefully about choosing their college majors and the future earning power of their chosen degrees.

With that in mind, Payscale?compiled data on lifetime earnings of?different majors and degrees to?show the future financial impact on a particular course of study.

Take a look below to see where your major and degree lands among the group.

(h/t The Atlantic)

SEE ALSO: Here's what Malcolm Gladwell got wrong in his epic Twitter rant about Yale and hedge funds

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Tesla is about to prove all its biggest critics wrong

tesla model xAlex Davies/Business InsiderThe Tesla Model X, in preproduction form.

In a tweet this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk declared that the company's?first Model X SUVs would be delivered to customers on September 29. In doing so, Musk made good on a promise to get the Model X to market in the third quarter.

There was no lack of skepticism among Tesla watchers about Musk's goal. Tesla has a history of missing deadlines and revising estimates.

But this time, it actually is different.

We shouldn't be surprised. Prior to Musk's tweet, all the news coming out of Tesla about the Model X indicated that the vehicle was on schedule for its launch. Here's why:

As far back as last year, Tesla was making moves to rejigger its manufacturing process to build the Model X alongside the Model S. This ultimately caused some issues with Model S deliveries in 2014, but it was a necessary step to take if the Model X was going to arrive on time in 2015.

Tesla added an all-wheel-drive version of the Model S sedan to its lineup. This was the famous "D" that Musk tweeted about prior to a big reveal in Los Angeles in October. An AWD Model S was a useful addition, but the arrival of a "dual motor" propulsion system, with an electric motor for each set of wheels, proved that Tesla was gearing up to properly produce an SUV, which, for most buyers, has to have AWD.

tesla dElon Musk/TeslaWhat's the "D?"

Rumors emerged that the Model X's?upswinging "falcon wing" doors were creating manufacturing problems. Rumors about manufacturing problems might sound bad, but they mean that a carmaker is, you know,?manufacturing early versions of a new car. No rumors about problems means that the car might not be anywhere near mass production.

More rumors emerged about problems with the Model X's "sculptural" back seats. Again, problems with an interior component indicate that the supply chain feeding into the assembly plant has been activated. Another good sign that full production is near.

We started to see prototypes of the Model X, undergoing testing on actual roads. The prototypes began to appear at about the right time, too — roughly six to nine months before full production.

Tesla Model X TestingScreenshot via YouTubeEarly Model X testing.

Musk said that the Model X was the "hardest car to build in the world."?A car can't be hard to build if you aren't actively?building it!

Tesla released an online configuration tool for Model X customers. This happened in early September, right when it should have to enable the earliest buyers to nab a "Signature Series" Model X — and pay as much as $132,000 for the privilege!

Far from areas of concern, all these developments indicated that Tesla had learned a lot of lessons from the Model S rollout and initial production and wasn't going to miss expectations for the Model X delivery schedule.

Tesla is a new car company, for most of its existence building one rather innovative car in one factory, but it's clearly improving its operational capabilities.

Model X ConfiguratorScreenshotTesla's online configurator for the Model X.

Tesla critics have been reminding everyone for months that Tesla misses deadlines, overpromises and underdelivers, and will use various hype cycles to distract investors from negative financial developments. The message has been, "The Model X is coming but don't expect anything normal with the launch."

But in fact the lead-up to the launch has been completely normal. Tesla has never looked?more like a car company. The developments of the past 12 months or so, with Model X, are exactly like what Ford or GM or Audi or BMW deals with when launching a new vehicle.

Sure, we're not going to see thousands of Model X's rolling off the assembly line in Fremont, California. We might see more like five or 10, at first. Tesla is a real car company, but it's also a?really small real car company.

With a date now set for the first official Model X?deliveries, however, Tesla has proved that its biggest critics were wrong.

And not just wrong, but guilty of reading bad news into what was, in retrospect, very good news.

SEE ALSO: I just tried out Tesla's new 'Ludicrous Mode' Model S

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Syrian military official: There’s been a ‘big shift’ in Russian military support for Assad

Putin AssadSergei Karpukhin, pool/AFPVladimir Putin (right) and Bashar al-Assad meet in Moscow's Kremlin on December 19, 2006

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Everyone’s missing the really major development of the Syrian conflict

While the desperate flight of Syrians from their country's war was dominating news bulletins this summer, yet another diplomatic push to end the four-year-old conflict was quietly running into the sand.

That largely unnoticed failure has reinforced the view amongst Syria experts that there is no solution in sight, with one of the biggest obstacles a seemingly unbridgeable international divide over President Bashar al-Assad's future.

As a consequence, Syria looks set for ever greater fragmentation into a patchwork of territories, one of them the diminishing Damascus-based state where Assad appears confident of survival with backing from his Russian and Iranian allies.

While some Western officials say even Assad's allies now recognize he cannot win back and stabilize Syria, Moscow is setting out its case for supporting him in ever more forthright terms.

Russia's foreign minister in recent days reiterated the Russian view that Assad is a legitimate leader, slammed the U.S. position to the contrary as "counterproductive", and likened the west's approach to Syria to its failures in Iraq and Libya.

Russia meanwhile continues to supply Assad with weapons.

A Syrian military official told Reuters there has recently been a "big shift" in Russian military support, including new weapons and training.

“Our ties are always developing but in these days a qualitative shift has happened. We call it a qualitative shift in Arabic, which means big,” the Syrian official said.

Such assertions are difficult to verify, but U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his concern over reports of increased Russian involvement in a telephone call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Saturday. The New York Times said Russia had sent a military advance team to Syria, citing American intelligence analysts.

SyriaREUTERS/Bassam KhabiehA fighter from the Free Syrian Army's Al Rahman legion carries a weapon as he walks towards his position on the frontline against the forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jobar, a suburb of Damascus, Syria July 27, 2015.


Reflecting the logjam over Assad, some of the ideas being tabled for advancing a political process sidestep the question of his future altogether - at least for now, according to a diplomat tracking the conflict.

Yet this remains the biggest single obstacle to breaking a diplomatic impasse around a war whose repercussions are being felt like never before in Europe, which faces a migration crisis fueled by Syrian refugees.

In turn, it is a big complication for efforts to fight the Islamic State group that has flourished in the bloodshed of a conflict that has killed a quarter of a million people and driven another 11 million from their homes.

Despite a U.S.-led bombing campaign against the jihadist group, Islamic State (ISIS) still holds wide areas of Syria and is poised for further moves toward the big, Assad-controlled cities in the west: Islamic State already has a presence in the southern suburbs of Damascus.

"I don't see a tremendous amount of change out of the Iranians or Russians. There is some talk of them being tired, but their positions are pretty firm," said Andrew Tabler, a Middle East specialist with the Washington Institute.

kerry lavrov russia syriaREUTERS/Ruben SprichU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shake hands after making statements following meetings regarding Syria, at a news conference in Geneva September 14, 2013.

"They think that Assad's immediate departure would lead to a collapse of the regime. Washington also sees a rapid collapse of the regime as something that would be a boon for ISIS. They are in a conundrum: if Assad goes right away, it would help ISIS, but if he doesn't go at all, you have no hope of putting the pieces of Syria back together again," he said.

"This recent outburst of diplomacy is because everyone was becoming concerned, and rightfully so. But the results of that process were remarkably poor. They seem to cement the earlier political positions of the region when it comes to Syria."

The recent flurry of diplomatic activity followed the conclusion of Iran's nuclear deal with world powers and included high-level meetings between states with a stake in the conflict, with Russia taking the lead.

ISISReuters/StringerFighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraq city of Mosul, June 11, 2014.



Assad has wagered on the West rehabilitating him as a partner in the war against Islamic State.

But while the priority for U.S. policy in Syria today is battling Islamic State, not unseating Assad, Washington has stuck by its position that he is part of the problem, saying his brutality has fueled extremism.

The 49-year-old who assumed power 15 years ago upon the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad, has shown no appetite for negotiations despite losing more ground to rebels this year and admitting the Syrian army faces a manpower problem.

The military support from backers in Tehran and Moscow has allowed him to absorb the advances by insurgents who, while better equipped than before, still remain mostly defenseless against the Syrian government air strikes.

"So far, there is no real political solution because of the unlimited support from Russia and Iran," said Bashar al-Zoubi, head of one of the biggest rebel groups fighting Assad in southern Syria, speaking to Reuters via Whatsapp from Syria.

Assad, who describes all the groups fighting him as terrorists, has poured cold water on the idea of imminent political progress. In a recent interview, he said the war would only be near its end when states "conspiring against Syria" ceased doing so - a reference to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

A steady flow of Iranian officials to Damascus has also underlined Tehran's support for an ally who has safeguarded its interests in the Levant in alliance with Lebanon's Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed group fighting alongside Assad in Syria.

Since concluding its nuclear deal, Iran says it is trying to launch a new push to resolve the Syrian war. But there is no sign of Tehran giving ground on Assad.

syria Bashar al-AssadREUTERS/Omar SanadikiA picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is displayed on a damaged structure at the entrance of al-Dukhaneya neighbourhood near Damascus, as civilians carry their belongings recovered from their homes after soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad regained control of the area from rebel fighters October 7, 2014.


No Alternative?

Moscow and Tehran's backing for Assad is underpinned by the fact they see no alternative who can guarantee their interests.

While Assad may control a fifth or even less of Syria, they still see him as the cornerstone of what remains of the state, including the military and security forces which many Syria experts believe would fragment were he gone.

Russia is pushing for the Syrian government to be included in international efforts to fight Islamic State. Saudi Arabia is one of the states to have rejected the idea.

A senior Russian diplomatic source said: "Proposals by our partners for the change of regime in Damascus are illegitimate. They only say Assad must go - and then what? I don't think they have any idea."

"There used to be no terrorists in Iraq, the same in Libya. And now the Libyan state has fallen apart and the?terrorists are roaming there."

The new U.S. special envoy for Syria, Michael Ratney, gave the polar opposite view after his Aug. 28 visit to Moscow.

"We are cognizant that Assad’s continued tenure fuels extremism and inflames tensions in the region. That is why a political transition is not only necessary for the good of the people of Syria, but an important part of the fight to defeat the extremists," a U.S. statement said.

Damascus Douma Barrel Bomb SyriaAnadolu Agency/Getty ImagesSyrians gather at the Damascus district of Douma after barrel bombs dropped to residential areas from the warcraft by Syrian Airforces, killing a number of civilians, including women and children on Jan. 8, 2014.

While insisting Assad must go, U.S. officials are not specific about when or how. That leaves open the possibility of a transition that begins with him still in office - an almost impossible sell to the rebels fighting him. In any case, Russia has rejected the idea of any pre negotiated exit for Assad.

In comments closest in weeks to outlining what Moscow might see as an acceptable way forward on dealing with Assad, Russia said on Friday the Syrian president was ready to hold early parliamentary elections and share power with moderate opposition.

The U.N. mediator for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, has invited warring parties to take part in U.N.-led working groups to address matters including political and constitutional issues, and military and security issues.

One of the big complications he faces is dealing with the vast number of rebel factions. While some are getting better organized on the political front, disunity in opposition ranks is still seen as a major challenge to the diplomatic track.

A Western diplomat tracking the conflict said de Mistura's plan would be "very slow". "At the moment no one is talking about (Assad) departing or not."

"The Syrians are loving it ... Damascus is calm."

Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2015. Follow Reuters on Twitter.

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10 things in tech you need to know today

Jan Koum, WhatsAppDavid Ramos/Getty ImagesWhatsApp founder Jan Koum.

Good morning! Here's the tech news you need to know to start your week.

1. The new Apple TV will reportedly focus on gaming. It is expected to have a starting price of $150 (£99), and a remote than can be used as a controller.

2. A study claiming that ad blocking will cost publishers $21.8 billion (£14.4 billion) dollars this year is apparently incorrect. BuzzFeed reports that it "contains a fundamental methodology error that undermines its conclusions."

3. Winning a key battle with Amazon may not be working out the way book publishers wanted. The "Big Five" publishers signed an agreement letting them set their own e-book prices last year, but at least three of them are now seeing declining revenue.

4. One of the new iPhone 6s features could be even more advanced than we thought. Force Touch will reportedly be able to detect three levels of pressure, giving users new ways of interacting with their smartphone.

5. After a five-year hiatus, Google is trying to bring its services back to China. Google hasn't been in the country since 2010.

6. Reddit "gold" raises surprisingly little money for the company. The premium service brought in just three-quarters of a million dollars (around?£500,000) in 2014, according to one analysis.

7. WhatsApp now has 900 million monthly active users. That's up from 800 million in April.

8. BlackBerry is buying competitor Good Technology for $425 million (£280 million). It's part of the struggling company's efforts to boost its software business, the WSJ reports.

9. Microsoft might spend billions to revamp its headquarters with apartments, retail stores, and open space. Its HQ is about 13 miles outside Seattle.

10. YouTube is going to let advertisers independently verify what proportion of their adverts actually get seen by viewers. The Financial Times reports that the move comes in response to concerns about ad visibility.

Furniture and clothes aren"t all that different

Furniture and clothes aren"t all that different. We buy them both based on comfort, necessity, and style. One of the main differences between the two is the amount of time you expect them to last. And there begins Patrik Ervell"s Spring 2015 collection thesis.

Ervell borrowed materials from interior design—polyurethane, vinyl, racing leather, and a set that featured a wall of venetian blinds—to create a collection that was minimal, structured, sporty, and classic. "It"s a tricky thing," he said backstage before the show. "How do you make it convincing in menswear? There"s a strangeness to this that kind of makes it like a sculpture on the body."

The clothes didn"t stray from what Ervell does best: sharply cut trousers with slightly oversize, subtly athletic outerwear. Coats were cut with exaggerated venting. Knit jersey pullovers were reminiscent of retro, low-tech North Face pieces. Trenches and macs in a heavy, supple polyurethane fabric with raw hems appeared laser cut. Metallic turquoise shorts and track pants added vivid, industrial color. The final look featured a nearly perfect black calfskin police jacket that Ervell remarked resembles a beautiful car. On the runway it did.

Will any of it last as long as a couch or an armchair? Probably. Whether or not we actually want indestructible clothes—part of the fun is in desiring and acquiring, not just wearing—Ervell makes an important proposition. This is fashion week, after all, and as thousands of looks blur into a season, one must consider how much of what we see will endure.Welcome to visit my coach bags outlet store: