UN outlines biodiversity plan to reverse climate change

July 13, 2021 by  
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The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (U.N. CBD) has set out a plan to reverse ecological destruction, cut down extinction rates and promote human coexistence with nature. The plan will also protect at least 30% of the world’s oceans and land to achieve significant climate crisis mitigation by 2030.  The latest draft arrived after extensive financial and  scientific negotiations  in May and June. The draft considers science, financial implications and nature conservation . However, it is still subject to scrutiny by governments and decision-makers before the U.N. summit to be held in Kunming China. The summit has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic and is expected to be rescheduled a third time for early 2022.  Related: UN launches program to reverse “triple environmental emergency” Besides the 2030 targets, the U.N. also aims to reduce the current rate of extinctions by 90%. The plan seeks to enhance the overall integrity of ecosystems and provide financial resources to achieve the vision. The U.N. also aims to reverse $500 billion (£360 billion) in government subsidies that support harmful environmental practices.  Basile van Havre, co-chair of the CBD working group that drafted the agreement, says that the set goals are based on the latest scientific data. He adds that the draft aims to introduce a significant shift in agriculture and other land use purposes that affect the ecosystem. “Change is coming,” van Havre said. “There will be a lot more of us in 10 years and they will need to be fed so it’s not about decreasing the level of activity. It’s about increasing the output and doing better for nature .” One of the targets is to cut the use of harmful pesticides and reduce the effects of such harmful chemicals in the ecosystem. “Cutting nutrient runoff in half, reducing pesticide use by two-thirds and eliminating plastic discharge: those are big. I’m sure they’re going to raise some eyebrows as they present significant change, particularly in the agriculture.” Scientists warn that human activities are driving the current mass extinction of species, making it the sixth mass extinction in the planet’s history. However, scientists also say that humans still have a chance to save the earth and promote an ecosystem that supports the coexistence of humans and other species.  “We don’t control what is happening on the climate change agenda but science is telling us this is what we can bring to the issues,” van Havre said. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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Dragonflies are losing their color due to climate change

July 13, 2021 by  
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A  new study  published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that dragonflies are losing key features due to climate change . The study has established that global warming is causing male dragonflies to lose their color, a feature used to attract mates. The study was lead and co-authored by Michael Moore, an evolutionary biologist at Washington University in St. Louis. In the study, researchers analyzed over 300 dragonfly species from across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. They also cross-referenced wing colors between about 2,700 individual dragonflies from different locations and climates. It was found that male dragonflies were losing their wing colors due to increasing global temperatures.  Related: Global warming driving mass migration of marine life “Our research shows that males and females of these dragonfly species are going to shift in pretty different ways as the climate changes,” Moore said in an interview. “These changes are going to happen likely on a much faster timescale than the evolutionary changes in these species have ever occurred before.” A  different study  done in 2019 found that male dragonflies with darker wing patterns thrive in colder conditions. The darker pigmentation absorbs more heat and is likely to increase their body temperature by 2 degrees Celsius. In contrast, they tend to give away their color to adapt to higher temperatures.  “Evolutionary changes and wing coloration are a really consistent way that dragonflies adapt to their climates ,” Moore said. “This got us wondering what the role of evolutionary changes in wing coloration might be as dragonflies respond to the rise in global temperatures.” While the study raises serious concerns about the future of dragonflies and mating, the researchers are unable to explain the changes experienced in female dragonflies. According to Moore, female dragonflies usually do not show drastic changes to climate change, and when they do, it is the opposite of what happens to male dragonflies. In other words, female dragonflies may get darker as temperatures rise. “We don’t yet know what’s driving these evolutionary changes in female wing coloration,” Moore said. “But one of the very important things that this indicates is that we shouldn’t assume that males and females are going to respond to climatic conditions in exactly the same way.” Via CNN Lead image via Pixabay

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Dragonflies are losing their color due to climate change

Illegal beef farmers promote deforestation in Chiribiquete National Park

June 30, 2021 by  
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Leading supermarkets in Colombia are stocking and selling beef that may be produced illegally in protected nature areas. Such beef contributes to deforestation. According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), there are known links between protected ecosystems, cattle ranches and the supply chain behind the beef sold in Colombia . A look at data provided by the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) shows that there are well-established ranchers operating in Chiribiquete National Park . The ICA is in charge of vaccinating all herds of cattle in Colombia, whether they live in protected areas or not. The agency records the accurate names of ranches, their locations and cattle owners. Related: Facebook Marketplace fuels illegal sales of land in the Amazon rainforest Although this information is available, ranchers still exist in protected areas . To make matters worse, these ranchers sell their products to the public through an openly known supply chain. Investigations by the EIA have established that Grupo Éxito and Colsubsidio, two of the largest supermarkets in Colombia, purchase between 100 and 300 head of cattle per month, from a supplier whose farm operates in Chiribiquete National Park. The park has been a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2018. The direct supplier of beef to these supermarkets has a relationship with an indirect supplier who then partners with someone else responsible for fattening cattle. The cattle are fattened on an 800-hectare farm in the northern part of Chiribiquete National Park. According to EIA, about 400 hectares of land in the Chiribiquete National Park has been deforested and converted into pasture for cattle, based on 2019 data. “Given that in Colombia there is no traceability system for livestock that allows the consumer or buyer to know the true origin of the meat, this involuntarily supports the destruction of protected forests and extortion by armed groups and paramilitary organizations responsible for multiple human rights violations in Colombia,” the EIA said, as reported by Mongabay . There have been efforts to address the issue of beef farming in preserved areas but with no significant results. In 2019, Grupo Éxito and 36 other entities signed an agreement pledging to eliminate deforestation, promote ecosystem restoration and reduce the carbon footprint produced by the beef industry. Chiribiquete National Park is one of the oldest archaeological sites in the Amazon basin with well-documented ancient rock art. Conservationists are now calling on the Colombian government to take action against illegal farmers to cut their activities in protected areas. Via Mongabay Image via Ministry of Environment of Colombia

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New study reveals tree disparities across the US

June 30, 2021 by  
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As anybody who has ever sat under a tree has noticed, these tall, leafy plants provide shade. But what about people who live in neighborhoods without a heat-blocking tree canopy? They’re going to be a lot hotter and could possibly face worse health outcomes. A new study is raising awareness of shade disparity. Trees aren’t evenly distributed through neighborhoods. Poorer areas of cities, especially those where communities of color live, are often tree-deprived. This new report concludes that people need to plant 30 million more trees in urban areas of the U.S. in order to achieve tree equity . Related: South Korea to plant 3 billion trees by 2050 Conservation organization American Forests recently released its first tally of tree equity scores, using a metric based on population density, existing tree cover, socioeconomic makeup and other relevant criteria. The study looked at 150,000 neighborhoods in 486 cities around the U.S. Current tree cover is about 10% short, the study concluded. Cities need to plant more than 31 million more trees to reach equity. “We need to make sure the trees go where the people are. Tree Equity Score steers us in the right direction, and now it’s up to all of us to go beyond business as usual and take bold action,” said Jad Daley, American Forests president and chief executive officer, as reported by The Guardian . The study proved that white people have tree privilege. Neighborhoods where the majority of residents are people of color averaged about one-third less tree canopy than predominately white neighborhoods. Very low-income areas, where more than 90% of people live in poverty , have 65% less tree canopy than the most affluent neighborhoods. Because trees remove fine particulates from air, they help people breathe more easily. From its research in Dallas, American Forests showed that heat-related deaths could drop 22% if the city planted more trees and added more reflective surfaces. According to the study, some of the country’s biggest cities really, really need more trees. These include Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Fresno, Houston, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and New York City. + American Forests Via The Guardian Image via Jay Mantri

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Ekodome’s Geodesic Dome Kits turn into popup shelters or greenhouses

June 30, 2021 by  
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If you enjoyed building forts as a kid, you’re going to love the modular design of the Ekodome Geodesic Dome Kits, which provide options for a versatile dome with endless possibilities. The Geodesic Dome Kits are made by Ekodome, a company based in Brooklyn, New York City. The concept is simple with an aluminum frame that you put together, DIY-style. It’s made with high-quality, durable materials for a long lifecycle. Supplies include the aluminum hub and hub caps with EPDM seal on, aluminum struts and caps both equipped with TPE SEBS seals and stainless steel bolts and nuts. Related: Agrodomes are individual greenhouses for budding crops Once constructed, the geodesic dome can be used for a multitude of purposes such as a greenhouse, garden shed or glamping tent. You might want to employ it as a temporary work space, living quarters or a chicken coop. It would also work as an off-grid tiny home or disaster relief shelter. Each frame can be covered with your choice of material, ranging in thickness from 4mm to 10mm. This allows you the ability to adapt the unit for use as a greenhouse with plastic or as a shelter with fabric. You can form your own coverings using company templates or wait for the pre-cut panels, which are expected to be offered soon. The modular design allows you to connect units together via tunnels for the true Mars experience and also for protection from the elements here on Earth. The geodome concept isn’t new and has been used for tents and full-size homes with an understanding that the design is strong, light and efficient. However, these domes often have notable issues in regards to water resistance and reliable, protective cladding options. Ekodome has overcome those challenges using innovative technology to create strong seals throughout. The company now offer five geodome solutions. Ekodome explained, “The five different models at various sizes are named after the feelings they evoke at first sight: Seed, for being the smallest in size; Luna, for being able to connect to bigger sizes like a satellite; Terra, for being the most common size for greenhouses ; Stellar, for its stunning look and Cosmos, for its massive dimensions.” + Ekodome Images via Ekodome

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Google’s San Jos Downtown West Mixed-Use Plan approved by city council

June 30, 2021 by  
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Google is seemingly everywhere, yet it considers the San José, California area home. Inasmuch, the company has been in the planning stages to develop an 80-acre campus since 2017, and discussions have been in the works between the city, the citizens and the company. Recently, the San José City Council gave the go-ahead for Google to pursue its San José Downtown West Mixed-Use Plan, which is set to be the largest multi-modal transit hub on the West Coast. The lead designer on the project, SITELAB Urban Studio, created a concept that is an extension of downtown San José, an area rich with culture and connections with nature. Rather than making a stuffy commercial space, the plan welcomes the community with a major transit hub and copious opportunities to engage with the environment along 15 acres of green spaces and parks. Related: Abu Dhabi’s new urban biodiversity park enhances local microclimate Even with thousands of houses, 7.3 million square feet of office space and up to 500,000 square feet of retail, cultural, arts, education and gathering spaces, the 80-acre compound aims to achieve a net-zero target . The approved Downtown West project incorporates nearly all-electric buildings and will rely on a microgrid to serve the area. It will host 7.8 megawatts of onsite solar generation and energy-efficient utilities to be shared between buildings. All of these systems will help to minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Water-saving features are also part of the plan with an onsite water reuse facility and the implementation of a water recycling system for all non-potable uses. The micro-community will be set up to support bike and foot traffic to minimize car emissions with the goal of having 65% of all trips be made by bike, foot, public transit or carpool. The massive project plans to break ground in 2023 but will be constructed in stages over a timeline of 10 years. In the end, the project aims to earn LEED ND Gold for the project as a whole and LEED Gold for all office buildings. Google said, “Over three years we’ve spoken to thousands of residents and stakeholders to collectively imagine how Downtown West can contribute to the future of the Diridon Station Area and the City of San José. We heard a consistent message and request: create a community that has housing alongside jobs, that is part of San José and not a corporate campus. We took that as a call to action and are excited to share the fruits of our collaboration with the release of Downtown West’s Social Infrastructure Plan.”  + SITELAB Urban Studio Images via SITELAB Urban Studio and Google

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6 urban farms feeding the world

October 26, 2017 by  
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A bustling city is the last place you’d ever expect to find a farm. But urban agriculture is alive and well, providing city dwellers with local, sustainable food.  These days, you can urban farms  inside warehouses, on top of buildings, and even on the tiniest plots of land. If you are looking to grow food in your city, take a look at these six different urban farming projects we’ve rounded up to highlight various creative antidotes to the pressing issue that is global food security . Detroit agrihood feeds 2,000 households for free The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative started a three-acre agrihood in Detroit to bring local, fresh produce to the neighborhood. The agrihood includes a two-acre garden, children’s sensory garden, 200-tree fruit orchard, and a Community Resource Center in the works. Nutritional illiteracy and food insecurity are two obstacles Detroit residents face, and the agrihood provides a community-friendly solution offering free produce to around 2,000 households. Related: Wind-powered vertical Skyfarms are the future of sustainable agriculture Rooftop farms in Gaza grow food where resources are scarce Urban farming initiatives don’t need to be massive to make a difference. The almost two-million population of Palestine’s Gaza Strip doesn’t have much land to farm, so in 2010 the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization introduced the concept of rooftop farming on a large scale by giving 200 homes equipment for aquaponic growing systems. Other Palestinians have built garden beds with recycled plastic and wood, planted with seeds from nearby farmers. Ahmad Saleh, a former professor and community organizer, said rooftop gardens empower people and help create healthier populations. Indianapolis warehouse farm is 100 percent powered by renewable energy Old warehouses are being transformed into farms in some areas of the world, like at Farm 360 in Indianapolis , Indiana. The farm’s hydroponic systems are completely powered by clean energy, and the indoor farm produces fresh, local food year-round. The nearby neighborhood had struggled with poverty and unemployment, and one of Farm 360’s goals was to boost economic growth by providing jobs close enough to where employees live for them to walk or bike to work. Farm on Tel Aviv mall roof produces 10,000 heads of greens every month Israel’s oldest mall, Dizengoff Center in Tel Aviv , received a burst of life with the Green in the City rooftop farm. There’s no dirt necessary for the hydroponic systems able to churn out 10,000 heads of greens a month, inside two greenhouses boasting around 8,073 square feet of space. All of the produce is sold, largely to local homes and restaurants through online orders delivered by bicycle. The Green in the City garden was launched by hydroponics company LivinGreen and the sustainability department of Dizengoff Center to raise awareness of the food crisis and offer affordable local produce. World’s largest rooftop farm in Chicago can grow 10 million crops annually Chicago , Illinois is home to the world’s biggest rooftop garden after Brooklyn-based agriculture company Gotham Greens expanded out of New York to start the 75,000-square-foot garden on top of a Method Products manufacturing plant. William McDonough + Partners and Heitman Architects designed the project, which grows 10 million pesticide-free herbs and greens every year, all year round, inside a greenhouse facility powered by renewable energy . Massive Shanghai urban farm to feed nearly 24 million people Shanghai , China is home to over 24 million people, and a 100-hectare urban farm planned for the city could feed nearly all of them. Architecture firm Sasaki is behind the Sunqiao Urban Agricultural District, which is designed to weave vertical farms among towers. Hydroponic and aquaponic methods, floating greenhouses, and algae farms are all part of the design. Images via The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative Facebook , Mohamed Hajjar , Esther Boston , © Lucy Wang , Gotham Greens, and ArchDaily

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Chinese scientists created a type of rice that can grow in saltwater

October 25, 2017 by  
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For the first time, rice grown in diluted saltwater has yielded a crop sufficient enough to be commercially viable, according to a new study by Chinese scientists . The research team led by agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, also known as China’s “father of hybrid rice,” planted 200 types of rice in spring in the coastal city of Qingdao in eastern China’s Shandong Province and then subsequently tested their resilience to saline-alkali soil and diluted saltwater; four types of rice showed particular promise. If successful on a large scale, these salt-resistant rice varieties could turn previously non-arable space into productive agricultural land. In order to test the rice’s resilience in saline-alkali environments, the scientists pumped in saltwater from the Yellow Sea, on which Qingdao is located. The seawater was first diluted to achieve a salinity level of .3 percent, then gradually increased to .6 percent. Although researchers expected only an output of around 4.5 tons per hectare, “the test results greatly exceeded our expectations,” according to Liu Shiping, a professor of agriculture at Yangzhou University. The four mentioned rice varieties ultimately produced yields of 6.5 to 9.3 tons per hectare. While some wild varieties of rice are known to survive in salty environments, they typically only yield 1.125 to 2.25 tons per hectare. Related: 7 plants that could save the world Increased yield from salt-resilient varieties of rice could have significant economic benefits. “If a farmer tries to grow some types of saline-tolerant rice now, they most likely will get 1,500 kilograms per hectare. That is just not profitable and not even worth the effort,” said Yuan. “Farmers will have an incentive to grow the rice if we can double the yield.” The current 100 million hectares of saline-alkali soil in China, one-fifth of which could be cultivated with the right crop, also may experience significant change as farmers move onto previously unusable land. Salt-resilient rice would prove to be an asset for South and Southeast Asia as well, regions where millions of hectare are left unused due to high salinity. The team plans to refine its rice varieties and growing techniques, so that salt-resilient rice may soon become a supplemental extension of the region’s staple crop. Via Xinhua / South China Morning Post Images via Depositphotos (1)

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Chinese scientists created a type of rice that can grow in saltwater

LEGO launches Women of NASA set

October 19, 2017 by  
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Trailblazing women who have been instrumental in NASA’s space program are being honored in a special way: as LEGO toys. The company just displayed the final design , with an official launch date for the 231-piece set that includes four women: Mae Jemison, Sally Ride, Margaret Hamilton, and Nancy Grace Roman. Science writer and LEGO tinkerer Maia Weinstock proposed the idea for Women of NASA on the LEGO Ideas platform last summer – and reached 10,000 supporters in 15 days. LEGO designers Gemma Anderson and Marie Sertillanges got on board to help transform the idea into an official set, which will launch November 1. Related: BIG’s LEGO House officially opens to the public in Denmark Sally Ride was the first American woman in space , while Mae Jemison was the first woman of color in space. Nancy Grace Roman was the first woman to hold an executive role at NASA, and was instrumental in planning the Hubble Telescope . Margaret Hamilton “led the team that developed the building blocks of software engineering – a term that she coined herself,” according to NASA . Weinstock said in a statement, “…when girls and women are given more encouragement in the STEM fields, they become more likely to pursue careers in these areas. With this project, I wanted to spotlight a fantastic group of women who have made seminal contributions to NASA history. My dream would be to know that the first human on Mars – or an engineer or computer scientist who helped her get there – played with the LEGO Women of NASA as a child and was inspired to pursue a STEM career as a result.” The original proposal included five women, but according to a LEGO statement, “Katherine Johnson chose not to be part of the set.” If you’re in the New York City area, there will be a pre-release event October 28 at the Flatiron District LEGO store on 200 5th Avenue from 10 AM to 2 PM. You can check out details on the Facebook event page here . Via LEGO and LEGO Ideas Blog Images via LEGO

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Greening the Earth could fight climate change as efficiently as cutting fossil fuels

October 18, 2017 by  
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Planting trees, revitalizing soil, and other natural environmental actions could prove as effective in fighting climate change as ceasing all oil use across the planet, according to new study published by an international team of scientists in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Better stewardship of the land could have a bigger role in fighting climate change than previously thought,” said the team in a statement. Protection of carbon-storing peatlands , sustainable land management, reforestation, and other natural solutions could account for 37 percent of all emissions reductions required under the Paris Agreement by 2030. Perhaps most astoundingly, a complete re-greening of the planet would have as much of a positive impact on climate change mitigation as completely stopping the global burning of oil for fuel. The estimates of the potential benefits from natural climate change solutions are about 30 percent higher than that predicted by a 2014 UN panel of climate scientists. In the recently released study, scientists conclude that more sustainable management of natural resources and the environment could result in 11.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of China’s yearly emissions, by 2030. Trees are particularly important to this system, as they act as carbon banks while they are alive. After they die, trees decompose and this carbon is slowly released back into the atmosphere. More trees and more resilient forests means more potential carbon storage, among other health benefits. Related: Megacities could save $505 million a year thanks to trees Although the current plans from governments across the globe are insufficient to avert a 2 degree Celsius global temperature rise, the new study offers hope for alternative solutions. “Fortunately, this research shows we have a huge opportunity to reshape our food and land use systems ,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. Unfortunately, the planet is rapidly running out of time before catastrophic climate change upends the world as we know it. “If we are serious about climate change, then we are going to have to get serious about investing in nature ,” said Mark Tercek, CEO of The Nature Conservancy. You heard it here: get out there and start planting trees. Via The Guardian Images via Depositphotos

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