Jonathan Safran Foer: why we must cut out meat and dairy before dinner to save the planet

Found on The Guardian on Wednesday, 02 October 2019
Browse Nature

Our meat habit is the leading cause of deforestation, which releases carbon when trees are burned (forests contain more carbon than do all exploitable fossil-fuel reserves), and also diminishes the planet’s ability to absorb carbon.

It is hard to talk about our need to eat fewer animal products both because the topic is so fraught and because of the sacrifice involved. Most people like the taste of meat, dairy and eggs.

Or, we could start by not throwing away most of the food that is produced. Large masses of food are thrown away because it does not look pretty, or gets close to its shelf life without being actually bad.

Jakarta has sunk by up to 4 meters, forcing Indonesia to build a new capital

Found on Ars Technica on Wednesday, 28 August 2019
Browse Nature

Yesterday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced a plan to move the country’s capital from Jakarta to a new location in Borneo. The reason? Jakarta is bursting at the seams—and sinking.

Cities like New Orleans and Venice, to name a couple problematic examples, are sinking partly due to groundwater extraction. And Shanghai has experienced more than two meters of subsidence due to groundwater pumping and construction on compressible sediments—just like Jakarta. California’s Central Valley is famous for the incredible amount of subsidence that has occurred as the region’s agriculture has tapped the aquifers for irrigation.

Now add global warming where the ice melts and sea levels rise, and suddenly you can add a lot more cities to the list.

How Bad Is Pakistan's Plastic Bag Problem? See For Yourself

Found on NPR on Friday, 16 August 2019
Browse Nature

Over more than a decade, Pakistani provinces have repeatedly imposed bans on single-use plastic bags made out of polyethylene (also called polythene), but those bans have faltered.

When the ban takes effect on Aug. 14, residents may be fined about $70 for being caught using a bag — nearly a month's wages for a laborer. Manufacturers will face larger fines for making plastic bags, as will shops for distributing them.

That's an approach that would be welcomed world-wide; and really needed too.

The banana is one step closer to disappearing

Found on National Geographic on Wednesday, 14 August 2019
Browse Nature

Panama disease Tropical Race 4—or TR4—is an infection of the banana plant by a fungus of the genus Fusarium.

Banana agriculture is itself partly to blame for the potential of the fungus to spread. Commercial plantations grow almost exclusively one clonal variety, called the Cavendish; these plants’ identical genetics mean they are also identically susceptible to disease.

Regardless of the method used, creating just one viable replacement is not a long-term solution. “We need to deploy the rich biodiversity by generating a suite of new banana varieties, not just one,” says Kema. “Monoculture is by definition unsustainable.”

Monoculture is never a solution and will always end with a catastrophe. The more variety there is, the more stability there is. Cheap mass-production does not work as a long term business plan.

Stop abusing land, scientists warn

Found on BBC News on Monday, 05 August 2019
Browse Nature

Scientists are to deliver a stark condemnation of the damage being done to the land surface of the planet.

Scientists say the problem is huge. They admit it will be hard to solve, especially as conservation-style farming would involve teaching half a billion farmers to work differently.

Prof Jane Rickson from Cranfield University, UK, told us: “Increased temperatures and heavier rainfall will aggravate soil erosion, compaction, loss of organic matter, loss of biodiversity, and landslides… many of which are irreversible.

As long as more money is made by abusing nature than by saving it, nothing will change. That's what it all boils down to.

Ethiopia plants 350m trees in a day to help tackle climate crisis

Found on The Guardian on Monday, 29 July 2019
Browse Nature

The planting is part of a national “green legacy” initiative to grow 4bn trees in the country this summer by encouraging every citizen to plant at least 40 seedlings. Public offices have reportedly been shut down in order for civil servants to take part.

Ethiopia’s minister of innovation and technology, Dr Getahun Mekuria, tweeted estimates of the number of trees planted throughout the day. By early evening on Monday, he put the number at 353m.

If only the "first world nations" would do something similar, instead of just talking about it and breaking their own resolutions.

GM fungus rapidly kills 99% of malaria mosquitoes, study suggests

Found on BBC News on Friday, 31 May 2019
Browse Nature

A fungus - genetically enhanced to produce spider toxin - can rapidly kill huge numbers of the mosquitoes that spread malaria, a study suggests.

A 6,500-sq-ft fake village - complete with plants, huts, water sources and food for the mosquitoes - was set up in Burkina Faso. It was surrounded by a double layer of mosquito netting to prevent anything escaping.

"The transgenic fungus quickly collapsed the mosquito population in just two generations," said Dr Brian Lovett, from the University of Maryland.

It would be more efficient if the GMO would kill the malaria parasites, instead of the transmitter. Something similar should be released to fight ticks, since those are truly useless and just a pain.

Sea level rise could hit 2 metres by 2100 - much worse than feared

Found on New Scientist on Tuesday, 21 May 2019
Browse Nature

A new assessment found runaway carbon emissions and melting ice sheets could result in such a worst case scenario, potentially double the upper limit outlined by the UN climate science panel’s last major report.

Around 1.79 million square kilometres of land could be lost and up to 187 million people displaced. “Many small island states, particularly those in the Pacific, will effectively be pretty much inhabitable. We are talking about an existential threat to nation states,” says Bamber.

Seeing how this problem is handled by politicians on a global scale, better buy some waders and boats.

The elite soldiers protecting the Amazon rainforest

Found on BBC News on Friday, 10 May 2019
Browse Nature

French Guiana, a small French overseas territory on the north-eastern coast of South America, is one of the most forested nations on the planet, but its precious ecosystem is under threat from illegal gold mining.

Since then, the price of gold has continued to soar and rampant illegal gold mining has destroyed swathes of jungle from Ecuador across Peru, Colombia and Venezuela to Brazil.

They should just leave the bodies of the illegal miners in the forest; nature will take care of them. It's not only illegal gold mining though; a lot of forest vanishes for plantations to grow coconut palms for fat and oil. All with a "Bio" label...

Proposal to spend 25% of EU budget on climate change

Found on BBC News on Wednesday, 08 May 2019
Browse Nature

It was signed by France, Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.

But not everyone is on board - there are 28 countries in the EU, and several of those absent from the joint position statement are significant players - including Germany.

The position of the eight countries is that climate change has "profound implications for the future of humanity" and that its impacts are already apparent - citing "the heat waves and scorching fires of last summer".

But several countries oppose strengthening current commitments, which have proven difficult to stick to just two years after the Paris climate agreement was signed.

Political and economic giant Germany is among them, fearing that further action could damage its industry.

It was not too long ago when "Climate Chancellor" Angela Merkel did not get tired to underline how important it is to stop the climate change; but when all that hot-air speeches require real action, there suddenly is no interest anymore. Even worse, the position completely changed. Now you have politicians like Altmaier who say that climate protection will only work as long as prosperity is not affected. People like him have no clue what the world is facing right now.