“Inflammation” is one of those medical terms that may sound intuitive, but few of us actually understand the causes or the mechanisms at work in our bodies. Immunologists Prakash and Mitzi Nagarkatti from the University of South Carolina dig into this basic question – what is inflammation? – and the damage an overactive immune system can inflict. They note that stress, diet and nutrition, as well as genetic and environmental factors, all play roles in inflammation.

The U.N. projects the global population to reach 8 billion people on or around Nov. 15, which happens to overlap with the COP27 climate conference in Egypt. Arizona State University evolutionary biologist and historian of science Manfred Laubichler ties together the two threads of climate change and population in a story that provides a framework for understanding how humanity has managed to grow exponentially despite limited environmental resources. His piece ends with a hopeful note that “humanity can use knowledge to keep itself within its environmental boundaries.”

A story by a marine biologist and an evolutionary ecologist from Texas A&M University raises questions about how to best protect highly migratory species. They explain their research tracking endangered olive ridley sea turtles, which have highly varied paths across the oceans. They recommend a “dynamic ocean management” strategy, which has been used to reduce threats to other species, that “integrates many kinds of data, including satellite tracking, voluntary catch reports from fishermen and modeling of target species’ habitat preferences.”

Also in this week’s science news:

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Insect bites or stings, like the one on this person’s hand, are a manifestation of inflammation. Suthep Wongkhad/EyeEm via Getty Images

What is inflammation? Two immunologists explain how the body responds to everything from stings to vaccination and why it sometimes goes wrong

Prakash Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina; Mitzi Nagarkatti, University of South Carolina

Inflammation is a complicated and important part of how the immune system responds to threats to the body. But when the inflammatory response goes awry, it can lead to serious problems.

Population growth fuels knowledge, leading to new technology and energy use, fueling more population growth. Robert Essel/The Image Bank via Getty Images

8 billion humans: How population growth and climate change are connected as the ‘Anthropocene engine’ transforms the planet

Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University

The UN estimates the global population will pass 8 billion people on Nov. 15, 2022. From the Stone Age to today, here’s how things spiraled out of control.

An olive ridley swims Into the wild blue yonder. Gerard Soury/The Image Bank via Getty Images

Olive ridley sea turtles are constantly on the move, so protective zones should follow them

Pamela T. Plotkin, Texas A&M University; Joseph Bernardo, Texas A&M University

Standard marine protected areas with fixed boundaries can’t effectively shelter these ocean nomads.

Understanding how news works can short-circuit the connection between social media use and vaccine hesitancy

Muhammad E. Rasul, University of California, Davis; Jaeho Cho, University of California, Davis; Saifuddin Ahmed, Nanyang Technological University

Researchers identified a connection between low levels of media literacy and COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in people who consume their news via social media.

Dung beetle mothers protect their offspring from a warming world by digging deeper

Kimberly S. Sheldon, University of Tennessee

Everyone is feeling the heat these days – even species that develop underground.

Over-the-counter hearing aids offer a wide range of options – here are things to consider before buying

Vinaya Manchaiah, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus; Cory Portnuff, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

They are cheaper to buy and don’t require a doctor’s prescription. But OTC hearing aids come with some limitations.

Mass migration from Twitter is likely to be an uphill battle – just ask ex-Tumblr users

Casey Fiesler, University of Colorado Boulder

The communities that call Twitter home might decide to pack their bags. If they do, they are unlikely to be able to completely reconstitute themselves elsewhere.