Amazon deforestation reaches a 12-year record

December 2, 2020 by  
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Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has risen to a 12-year high in 2020, according to data released by Inpe, the national space research agency in Brazil. The official data, released on Monday, shows that deforestation in the rainforest has been on the rise since President Jair Bolsonaro took office. In 2020 alone, the destruction of the rainforest rose by 9.5% as compared to the rate of deforestation in 2019. This means that about 11,088 square kilometers of the forest have been cleared this year. In 2018, the year before Bolsonaro became Brazil’s president, a total of 7,536 square kilometers of the rainforest was cleared. Compared to when Bolsonaro took office, the state of the forest has been on a downward spiral following weakened environmental laws. The president has encouraged more agricultural and industrial activities within the Amazon rainforest, citing that it is the only way to reduce poverty. Such a move has seen many land-grabbers and investors pounce on the opportunity to turn large chunks of the Amazon into ranches, agricultural land and even mining fields. Related: You can help monitor Amazon deforestation from your couch The data now shows that Brazil is unable to reach its own target of reducing annual deforestation to about 3,900 square kilometers. The target, which was set in a climate-related law in 2009, was aimed at reducing deforestation and carbon emissions as well as protecting the natural habitat. While the Amazon is being deforested at an alarming rate, the Brazilian government is busy trying to paint a rosy picture of the situation. Federal officials have hailed the 9.5% growth as a sign of progress in the fight against deforestation. They argue that it is way lower than the 34% increase witnessed in 2019. “While we are not here to celebrate this, it does signify that the efforts we are making are beginning to bear fruit,” Vice President Hamilton Mourão told reporters. The Amazon is the largest rainforest on Earth. If it is destroyed, the world could suffer devastating environmental consequences. Further, much of the planet’s biodiversity would be lost with the forest. For this reason, the Brazilian government is under pressure to tame economic activities that lead to deforestation. Via The New York Times Image via Alexander Gerst

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Amazon deforestation reaches a 12-year record

Hungary announces preemptive ban on fur farms

December 2, 2020 by  
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Hungary’s ministerial commissioner of animal protection, Péter Óvári, announced this week that farming mink, foxes, ferrets and coypu will not be allowed in the country. These animals are not currently farmed there. But now that millions of mink have been slaughtered in other European countries due to COVID-19 concerns, Hungarian officials worried that fur farmers might try to move their operations to Hungary . “This is a precautionary measure that shuts the door to that happening, and that is a good outcome for human health and animal welfare ,” said Joanna Swabe, senior director of public affairs for Humane Society International (HSI) Europe, as reported by VegNews . Related: Denmark’s top fur cooperative is closing The COVID-19 virus has spread between animals on mink farms in some European countries, including Denmark, the Netherlands, France, Spain, Greece and Italy. Infected minks have been identified in at least 15 U.S. farms in Wisconsin, Michigan and Utah. Denmark and the Netherlands have slaughtered millions of mink to stop the spread of zoonotic disease . Health experts worry that the virus could mutate in the animals, which could spell disaster for vaccine development. The strange thing about Hungary’s decision is that while local farmers don’t raise mink, foxes, ferrets or coypu (aka nutria), they do raise chinchillas for fur and plan to continue doing so. “For as long as the animal exploitation of fur farming is tolerated, the potential for reservoirs of animal to human pathogens will persist,” Swabe said, “and so HSI hopes that the Hungarian government will also consider strengthening its ban by shutting down the country’s chinchilla fur farms too, and make fur farming history in Hungary.” Chinchillas are native to South America, but their extremely soft, luxurious fur has made them susceptible to international fur farmers who want to turn the sensitive, nocturnal creatures into coats and cash. A company called Wanger is responsible for much of the fur farming across southeast Europe, including in Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia. Activists have used the hashtag #stopwanger when protesting this company. Via VegNews , Respect for Animals Image via Jo-Anne McArthur

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Hungary announces preemptive ban on fur farms

3XN unveils Denmarks first climate-positive hotel for Bornholm island

December 2, 2020 by  
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On the tiny Danish island of Bornholm, Hotel Green Solution House (GSH) will raise its eco-friendly charms with a new climate-positive wing designed by Copenhagen-based firm 3XN and its green think-tank, GXN. Slated for completion in summer 2021, the new extension will be entirely built, clad and insulated with timber materials for a carbon-neutral footprint. The hotel wing will incorporate upcycled materials from construction offcuts for the furnishings and surfaces. Opened in 2015, Hotel GSH was designed by 3XN and GXN to serve as an inspiring leader in green hospitality. An all-timber build was selected for the new wing for a reduced carbon footprint ; according to the International Environment Agency, approximately 40% of the world’s carbon emissions are attributed to the construction industry, with steel and concrete responsible for a total of 16%. Related: Low-impact geodesic dome hotel immerses guests in Patagonian nature “It is a privilege to work with a developer who is completely uncompromising in her approach to sustainability and the circular economy . In this way, the project is making the impossible a reality,” said Kasper Guldager Jensen, architect and partner at 3XN and founder of GXN. “In addition to creating the foundation for a successful business, I hope that the new project can help to show others the potential of wood construction. If we in Denmark want to be able to achieve our climate goals, the construction industry needs to think and act differently, and there is therefore a great need for lighthouse projects like this.” The new hotel wing at Hotel GSH will feature 24 rooms, a conference room and a rooftop spa. In addition to the use of upcycled materials, debris from local granite quarries in Bornholm will be repurposed as temperature-regulating décor in the conference room. The timber building will reduce its energy footprint with operable windows that let in natural daylight and ventilation. All components of the building are designed with reversible joints so that they can be reused in the future rather than end up as demolition waste. Construction of the new hotel wing is expected to begin this fall. + 3XN Images via 3XN

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3XN unveils Denmarks first climate-positive hotel for Bornholm island

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