Tag: Environment

Eating the future

Breaking down the impact of global agriculture on climate change.

The recent climate change conference in Marrakech saw the Canadian government release its Mid-Century Long-Term Low-Greenhouse-Gas Development Strategy, and with it a requirement for “very deep emissions cuts from every sector by mid-century.”

The magnitude of the contribution that the agricultural sector (and indeed the entire food system) makes to global emissions continues to be widely under-appreciated, eclipsed by discussions of transportation and electricity-related emissions reductions.

WHAT DOES THE ENVIRONMENT HAVE TO DO WITH DISEASES THAT AFFECT THE IMMUNE SYSTEM?

The rise in recent decades of diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis suggests that factors in the environment are contributing.

In 1932, New York gastroenterologist Burrill Crohn described an unusual disease in 14 adults. The patients had bouts of abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea, and lesions and scars on the bowel wall. Doctors in other parts of North America and Europe were seeing it in their patients, too. They called the rare condition Crohn’s disease. After World War II, the number of new people getting inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and a related condition called ulcerative colitis) skyrocketed across the West in countries such as the U.S., Canada and the UK. In the last three decades, IBD has begun to crop up in newly industrialized parts of the world like Hong Kong and China’s big cities.

NEW WEBSITE SHOWCASES SEEDS OF A BRIGHTER FUTURE

Want to solve big problems? Start small.

Seeds of Good Anthropocenes, a website created by an international team of sustainability scientists, seeks to do just that. The site showcases more than 500 initiatives from around the world that, while not widespread or well known, might contribute to a sustainable future.

The purpose of the project, according to its founders, is to provide a middle ground between gloom-and-doom reports, which may inadvertently spur feelings of powerlessness and resignation, and those that are overly optimistic and risk inciting complacency. Writing in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the founders argue that we should break through this dichotomy by looking to “seeds” — environmentally beneficial tools and techniques that are neither untested proposals nor established practices. Each seed offers an idea that helps in some way to address challenges posed by the Anthropocene, such as environmental awareness, urban sustainability and equitable decision-making.

FOR OUR FOOD SYSTEM’S SAKE, LET’S SAY “NO” TO CORPORATE CONSOLIDATION

Mergers puts food workers and small-scale farmers at risk and increase vertical integration, hurting farm­ers’ ability to compete.

When you look to the year ahead, what do you see? Ensia recently invited eight global thought leaders to share their thoughts. In this interview with Ensia contributor Lisa Palmer for Ensia’s 2017 print annual, Real Food Media founder Anna Lappé responds to three questions: What will be the biggest challenge to address or opportunity to grasp in your field in 2017? Why? And what should we be doing about it now?

The food system is one of the largest forces impacting our planet’s environment and people’s health. The choices about what crops are grown, where and how they are produced, who gets access to that food and who makes those decisions all have global consequences.

IT’S TIME TO STOP OVERSPENDING OUR FRESHWATER BUDGET

If freshwater is to remain a renewable resource, we must balance supply and demand on farms, in cities, in industry and in power production.

When you look to the year ahead, what do you see? Ensia recently invited eight global thought leaders to share their thoughts. In this interview with Ensia contributor Lisa Palmer, World Resources Institute Global Water Program director Betsy Otto responds to three questions: What will be the biggest challenge to address or opportunity to grasp in your field in 2017? Why? And what should we be doing about it now?

We continue to overspend our budget when it comes to freshwater resources globally. No country is immune; this is not just a challenge for arid regions.

BURUNDI LEADS THE WORLD IN RENEWABLE ENERGY USE — AND OTHER FASCINATING FACTS ABOUT POPULATION, ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY

Good news: more people across the globe have improved access to safe water and sanitation. Bad news: air quality is a growing problem in lower-income countries. The Population Reference Bureau’s 2016 World Population Data Sheet, released in August, offers valuable insights into not only current and projected demographic measures, but also health, energy and environment trends around the world.

The report predicts that Africa’s population will reach 2.5 billion by 2050, accounting for 54 percent of the total world population growth. However, Asia will remain the most heavily populated region with a gain of nearly 900 million (36 percent of global population growth), and India will replace China as the nation with the most people. The number of people in the Americas is slated to rise by only 223 million, and Europe will experience a slight decline of 12 million.

Yet another activist murdered in Guatemala

The murder of 22-year-old Jeremy Barrios, a young environmentalist in Guatemala, has increased concerns over the threats that environmentalist defenders endure and the failure of the state to provide protection to organisations under threat.

Barrios was shot and killed in Guatemala city on November 12. His murder is in many ways a dark symbol for Guatemala, a country in the top ten most vulnerable countries to climate change, where the average age of the population is, precisely, 22 and where at least ten environmental activists – most of them indigenous – were murdered in 2015.

Paris Agreement passes first stress test at COP22

In response to the close of COP22, Manuel Pulgar-Vidal, leader of WWF International’s Climate & Energy Practice, issued the following statement:

“The UN climate talks continue to be filled with twists and turns, but they have delivered what they needed to this week – putting substance behind the promise of the Paris Agreement so it can be fully implemented. The Marrakech work has not been the most glamorous, but it’s a key step in the chain reaction needed to roll out the agreement.

Africa presents united front and calls for action at COP22

The 22nd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) kick-started Monday, 7 November in Marrakesh (Morocco).

A collaborative partnership between the Africa Development Bank (AfDB), the African Union Commission (AUC), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) established the Africa Pavilion in the blue zone of the COP22 village, dedicated to engagement, networking and dialogue. The Pavilion also aims to provide a platform for the voices of the continent to be heard.

The Pavilion embodies the united front of an Africa “speaking with one voice” in articulating its interests given the high stakes of climate change negotiations

The most threatened ecosystem you’ve never heard of

What covers up to 600,000 square kilometers (230,000 square miles) of Earth’s surface, provides benefits worth an estimated US$570 billion or more each year, and is rapidly being lost due to human activity?

If you have not a clue, you’re far from alone. Scientists who study the underwater feature known as a seagrass meadow call it a “marginalized ecosystem” that ranks with coral reefs and mangrove swamps as among the most endangered marine habitats but is “often overlooked, regarded as merely an innocuous feature of the ocean.”

A different kind of bank

The fossil fuel divestment movement argues that where we invest our money either helps move toward a cleaner future or props up polluting industries that are driving climate change.

Now government agencies are taking that idea to the next level by proactively encouraging investment in renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects. Called green banks, they are not banks as we typically think of them. They do not accept deposits from individuals, and they aren’t private institutions. Instead, green banks are government run and aim to leverage limited public funds by attracting private capital to these projects.

The Clean Power Plan and Inequality

An appeals court will rule on the legality of Obama’s plan, which could narrow economic gaps by lowering energy costs and creating jobs.

Lawyers for a coalition of states and businesses reliant on fossil fuels made their case September 27 to a federal appeals court that President Barack Obama’s plan to curtail climate-warming greenhouse gases is an unlawful power grab.11830516643_561ab36dd5_m-2

The Clean Power Plan is by no means perfect, but it has the potential to benefit American families, especially low-income people and people of color. These households are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel-fired power plants and the effects of climate change.

A Toxic Mix of Illegal Logging and Corruption Is Devastating Europe’s Last Primeval Forests

Earlier this week, journalists from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and the RISE Project published a new documentary studying the effects of illegal logging in Romania and Ukraine. The film, titled “Clear Cut Crimes,” examines the collusion of illegal and legal businesses that are devastating the last of Europe’s primeval forests.