Amazon deforestation still high despite Brazil’s COP26 pledge

November 9, 2021 by  
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Last week at  COP26  in Glasgow, 100 countries, including Brazil, pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030. However, recent figures for October show that Brazil is nowhere near protecting the Amazon rainforest. In fact, the latest numbers are the second most appalling since scientists began measuring deforestation. The Brazilian National Space Agency (INPE) released its latest data on November 5. It showed that during October 2021, The  Amazon rainforest lost 796 km2 to deforestation. For comparison, this is more than four times the area of the Glasgow metropolitan area. Last October, the Amazon set an all-time deforestation record of 836 km2. The November 5 report shows a figure only 4.8% lower. Related: 110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030 “It is appalling to see this steady growth in  deforestation  in Brazilian Amazon, while the world is coming together to protect the world’s rainforest,” said Toerris Jaeger, secretary general of Rainforest Foundation Norway, in a statement. “Only one third of the world’s original rainforest now remains intact. We have no more square kilometers to lose.” As world leaders gather in Glasgow to try to solve the  climate change  conundrum, the deforestation pledge was one of the first positive steps. Such heavily forested nations as Canada, Russia, the U.S., U.K., Indonesia, China, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also signed. Who knows what aerial photos would reveal about recent deforestation in these other countries? “The world will remain skeptical about  Brazil’s  promises until the country shows concrete results,” Jaeger said. “The pace of Amazon destruction needs to be reduced at the very least to comply with the country’s own 2020 climate targets.” Jair Bolsonaro’s administration hasn’t shown itself to be BFFs with the rainforest so far. During the administration’s first two years in power, Amazon deforestation rates soared to a 12-year high. The deforestation rate in 2019 and 2020 was 67% higher than the average deforestation rate a decade earlier. Via Rainforest Foundation Norway Lead image via Pixabay

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Amazon deforestation still high despite Brazil’s COP26 pledge

Oil and meat producing countries attempt to weaken UN report

October 22, 2021 by  
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Greenpeace investigative team announced this week that oil, coal, beef and animal feed producing countries have been lobbying to tone down a major United Nations climate report. According to Greenpeace, fossil fuel producers, including Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan and Iran, want the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to not recommend phasing out fossil fuels. Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) members second that. And then there are the meat and dairy kingpins like Brazil and Argentina, who don’t appreciate the UN connecting plant-based diets with climate benefits. In fact, the draft report of the IPCC working group had more than 32,000 comments by corporations, governments and other concerned parties, according to Greenpeace. Related: Leaked report details what must be done to stop climate change “These comments show the tactics some countries are willing to adopt to obstruct and delay action to cut emissions,” said Simon Lewis, professor of global change science at University College London, as reported by Unearthed. “Like most scientists, I’m uncomfortable with leaks of draft reports, as in an ideal world the scientists writing these reports should be able to do their job in peace. But we don’t live in an ideal world, and with emissions still increasing, the stakes couldn’t be higher.” So, do these comments have any weight? Not necessarily. According to Mark Maslin, an earth system science professor at University College London, countries always like to lobby for their interests on IPCC climate change reports. “But it has no effect on the reports,” said Maslin, as reported by The Guardian. “Scientists, social scientists and economists that work on these reports are led by the evidence and what is best for the world and all of its peoples. This is why the public and politicians all around the world trust scientists and the IPCC reports as they know they will not be influenced by petty politics.” Let’s hope he’s right. Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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United Nations rejects youth activist climate petition

October 19, 2021 by  
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The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child declined to rule on a complaint filed by youth activists from twelve countries. The young adults claimed that Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Turkey have violated children’s rights by failing to control carbon emissions, despite knowing about the perils of climate change. The panel told the activists that they should have brought their cases to national courts. The self-dubbed “Children vs. the Climate Crisis” insist there’s not time for lengthy court cases; they need to take their case to the top. The youth come from twelve countries: Argentina , Brazil, France, Germany, India, Palau, Marshall Islands, Nigeria, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia and the United States. Some countries, such as the Marshall Islands , are especially pressed for time — their chain of ancient submerged volcanoes may be under the rising seas by 2035. Related: “Climate shocks” threaten over half of Earth’s children “The truth is that I’m doing this because I feel like I haven’t been left a choice and this is the only way for me to not feel guilty,” said 18-year-old French climate activist Iris Duquesne as reported by EcoWatch. “The shame of having the possibility to do something and not doing it is too big. This is the main motivation for all youth climate activists, this and anger. Anger to feel left behind, not listened to and simply left alone.” The petition in question was filed in 2019 by 16 activists who ranged in age from eight to 17 at the time. The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child monitors 196 signatories of a 1989 convention declaring the civil, cultural, economic and political rights of children unassailable. Of these, 48 countries agreed to allow children to take action to fix violations. The five countries named in the petition are part of this subset. Environmental and human rights attorneys from Hausfeld and Earthjustice are representing the youth activists. The lawyers said in a statement that the committee’s decision, announced October 11, “delivered a rebuke to young people around the world who are demanding immediate action on the climate crisis. In dismissing the case, the Committee told children that climate change is a dire global emergency , but the UN’s doors are closed to them.” However, the kids had some wins. The committee acknowledged that states are legally responsible for emis s ions that cause harm beyond their borders, and that the youth are indeed victims of climate-related threats to their health, life and culture. These findings could significantly influence future litigation. Via Washington Post and EcoWatch Lead image via Pexels

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Coffee prices spike, thanks to climate change

October 1, 2021 by  
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If melting polar ice caps and a deforested Amazon seem too far away to be real, many consumers may soon get an up-close and personal taste of climate change in their coffee cups.  Coffee  bean prices are about to spike. It’s kind of like that story of a butterfly flapping its wings having far-reaching consequences. But in this case, it’s a cold snap in  Brazil , piling on top of droughts, mixed with COVID-19 supply chain issues — and before you know it, the price of coffee could hit $4.44 per kilogram. A very unlucky number, indeed. In July, a bout of cold weather in a major arabica coffee-producing part of Brazil ruined a third of the coffee crop. Related: San Francisco coffee shop opens right by Golden Gate Bridge While frosts frequently happen in summer, this year coffee producers in part of Minas Gerais state were surprised by the severity of freezing temperatures driven by an unprecedented Antarctic front. Climate change seems to be driving the extreme weather in Brazil — and around the world. Coffee farmers are worried that Brazil will never get back to its normal seasons. The country has been plagued by a series of  droughts  and hasn’t had a typical rainy season for more than a decade now. “Most farmers have never seen anything like it,” said Brazilian ex-pat and coffee merchant Andre Selga, as reported by The Guardian. “Frost in that area is normal but not at that intensity and not at that altitude. I’ve heard of farmers that lost everything. All the plants . They’re waiting now to see if some of them can recover. They’ve lost their whole livelihood.” The price of the beans Selga imports has risen 60%. But he’s more worried about  climate change  than about the price tag. “It’s bigger than the cost of freight, it’s structural,” Selga said. “Climate change, a few years back, was something to be discussed by higher management and politics . But it seems now it’s come down to our level and ordinary people are having to deal with those things.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pexels

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Fact-checking Bolsonaro’s environmental claims at the UN

September 29, 2021 by  
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When Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro addressed the  U.N.  General Assembly last week, he confused onlookers by boasting about his environmental record. Haven’t we been hearing about how the Amazon rainforest is collapsing on his watch? Science news service Newswise did some fact-checking to get to the bottom of Bolsonaro’s claims. After bragging about  Brazil’s  environmental protections, Bolsonaro claimed that Amazon deforestation was reduced by 32% this August compared to the previous August and that 84% of the forest is intact. Newswire consulted its trusted sources and concluded Bolsonaro’s statement was half true. Related: Annual Amazon deforestation rate hits highest levels in a decade According to The Guardian, the rainforest shrank by 10,476 square kilometers between August 2020 and July 2021. This is 13 times the size of New York City. Brazilian research institute Imazon said destruction in the  Amazon  is moving at its fastest pace in the last decade. Brazilian National Institute of Space Research reported that 80% of the Amazon rainforest remains intact. Carbon offset programs haven’t made up for the gap left by deforestation. Early this year, a study in Environmental Research Letters   demonstrated that new forest growth had offset less than 10% of carbon emissions from Amazon deforestation. Bolsonaro’s Amazon approach has been a mixed bag. The president has been blamed for encouraging development in the Amazon and weakening government environmental agencies that try to stop illegal logging and mining. On the other hand, he’s deployed thousands of soldiers to battle illegal fires and  deforestation . Meanwhile, Bolsonaro’s approval rating continues to tank. In August, a poll found that 54% of Brazilians rated him as “bad, terrible,” while only 23% said he was “good or great.” The previous month, those figures had been 52% and 25%, respectively. By September, protestors across Brazil organized marches against the president. Many Brazilians have not been impressed with Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic. The president has denounced masks, vaccines and lockdowns, while more than 580,000 Brazilians have died of the virus. Via Newswise , United Nations Lead image via Anderson Riedel / PR

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Sloth’s House offers a large family an escape into nature with minimal impact

July 6, 2021 by  
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Great architectural design melds the needs of the inhabitants with the surrounding landscape. In the case of Casa da Preguiça (Sloth’s House), that means providing an escape for a large family while presenting the best opportunities to immerse the residents in nature and view the prevalent sloths in the area. Casa da Preguiça, located in the lush Atlantic Forest in Iporanga, São Paulo in Brazil, is designed by Nautilo Arquitetura & Gerenciamento. The building is camouflaged on just over 0.3 acres. Related: Luxurious eco-resort overlooks Sri Lankan’s most famous wildlife park In order to maintain minimal site impact on the steep lot and accommodate the space needed by the client, the team built the house up in three levels. From the street, a bridge connects to the garage. The main spaces of the home are contained in two rectangular-shaped volumes that overlap. The first and second floors are in one volume, while the swimming pool and third floor fill the other. Most of the bedroom suites are located on the first floor. On the second floor, the design includes the living area and two additional bedrooms. The main gathering space is surrounded by vertical circulation, enrobed in natural light and laid out for cross ventilation, all of which facilitate a tight, energy-efficient design. The third floor includes three bedrooms, a game room and a sauna, leaving no question about available amenities. The entire space offers views of the surrounding landscape and the best opportunity to see the home’s namesake mammal. The interior design promotes an industrial vibe with exposed electrical piping, concrete block walls and a polished concrete floor. Stairways are open, framed in steel and glass. In contrast to the gray materials, the space is accented with a blast of yellow in tilework, beams and soffits. The choice of natural materials, mostly wood , for the furniture and finishings further marries the comfortable indoor space with the natural surroundings. + Nautilo Arquitetura & Gerenciamento Photography by Alessandro Guimarães via Nautilo Arquitetura

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Abandoned tramway becomes the playful Precollinear Park

July 5, 2021 by  
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If you’re not familiar with the term, placemaking is an idea that is sliding into the central focus spot when it comes to urban planning . It’s a people-centered approach to planning the usage of public spaces and was essential in developing the now permanent Precollinear Park in the center of Corso Gabetti and Ponte Regina Margherita in Turin, Italy. Even before the pandemic upended life in Italy, the strip of space was mostly abandoned. It previously hosted a tramline that experienced a few evolutions before crossing the route off the schedule, leaving the bridge with no activity. Related: Valet proposes a prefab parklet system for Milan’s roads When the pandemic saw droves of people looking for safe outdoor gathering spaces, nonprofit cultural association Torino Stratosferica started strategizing how to best use the space to the benefit of the citizens. With a priority for people’s happiness and well-being, the space was temporarily converted into Precollinear Park, a public area with seating and room to safely social distance. The project immediately drew help from the community , with over 700 residents from all over Turin speaking out about their ideas. Crowdfunding campaigns raised over 2,500 euros to help maintain the area. As a central location with arms connecting the four neighboring districts of Borgo Po, Madonna del Pilone, Vanchiglia and Vanchiglietta, Precollinear Park began hosting an assortment of events catering to entertainment, education and exhibitions. Now, it remains hugely popular as a recreational space where volunteers regularly participate in organized care and maintenance events. At least 60 citizens make up Volunteers of the Park who dedicate time each week to keep the park clean. The park was officially inaugurated in June 2020 and is now a permanent fixture in the region. Seemingly every week, Torino Stratosferica adds more structures and furnishings in continued development of the space, including an informational booth, wood pallet benches, flower pots, seating, a platform for events and an increasingly full calendar of cultural and recreational events. + Torino Stratosferica Via ArchDaily Images via Torino Stratosferica

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Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

July 1, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Scientific Reports has found that young harpy eagles are dying in the Amazon due to deforestation. The harpy eagle, one of the world’s largest eagles, has almost “zero” chances of surviving if Amazon deforestation continues. The study has established that harpy eagles are dying of starvation in areas where significant deforestation has occurred. The Amazon is the last remaining hope for the survival of harpy eagles, with almost 90% of the birds currently residing there. The study warns that the geographical range of the eagle is continuously being limited by continued deforestation. Related: Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging Professor Carlos Peres of the University of East Anglia, U.K. and co-author of the study said, “Considering that harpy eagles have the lowest life cycle of all bird species , their chances of adapting to highly deforested landscapes are nearly zero.” The adult harpy eagle females grow to 10 kilograms, making them one of the largest raptors in the world. They are native to the tropical forests of Central America to northern Argentina. Unfortunately, due to human interference and widespread deforestation, the eagles have disappeared from large parts of their native range. Currently, the biggest threat to the survival of the birds is deforestation . However, other factors, such as hunting, are also threatening their existence. In some countries, including Brazil, Panama and Suriname, the harpy eagle has legal protections. Unfortunately, enforcement of the laws in these regions has remained a big challenge. The study was led by Everton Miranda of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In their study, the researchers monitored 16 nests in the Brazilian Amazon using cameras. They found that eagles in the region mainly feast on two-toed sloths, brown capuchin monkeys and grey woolly monkeys. From bone fragments observed around nesting areas, the researchers established that the eagles could not find alternative food where there was deforestation. The most alarming observation was that in areas with 50% to 70% deforestation, at least three eagles died from starvation over the period of the study. In areas with deforestation over 70%, there were no nests to be found. Via BBC Image via cyrusbulsara

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Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

Amazon deforestation threatens harpy eagles

July 1, 2021 by  
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A new study published in the journal  Scientific Reports has found that young harpy eagles are dying in the Amazon due to deforestation. The harpy eagle, one of the world’s largest eagles, has almost “zero” chances of surviving if Amazon deforestation continues. The study has established that harpy eagles are dying of starvation in areas where significant deforestation has occurred. The Amazon is the last remaining hope for the survival of harpy eagles, with almost 90% of the birds currently residing there. The study warns that the geographical range of the eagle is continuously being limited by continued deforestation. Related: Monarch butterfly population declines due to climate change and logging Professor Carlos Peres of the University of East Anglia, U.K. and co-author of the study said, “Considering that harpy eagles have the lowest life cycle of all bird species , their chances of adapting to highly deforested landscapes are nearly zero.” The adult harpy eagle females grow to 10 kilograms, making them one of the largest raptors in the world. They are native to the tropical forests of Central America to northern Argentina. Unfortunately, due to human interference and widespread deforestation, the eagles have disappeared from large parts of their native range. Currently, the biggest threat to the survival of the birds is deforestation . However, other factors, such as hunting, are also threatening their existence. In some countries, including Brazil, Panama and Suriname, the harpy eagle has legal protections. Unfortunately, enforcement of the laws in these regions has remained a big challenge. The study was led by Everton Miranda of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. In their study, the researchers monitored 16 nests in the Brazilian Amazon using cameras. They found that eagles in the region mainly feast on two-toed sloths, brown capuchin monkeys and grey woolly monkeys. From bone fragments observed around nesting areas, the researchers established that the eagles could not find alternative food where there was deforestation. The most alarming observation was that in areas with 50% to 70% deforestation, at least three eagles died from starvation over the period of the study. In areas with deforestation over 70%, there were no nests to be found. Via BBC Image via cyrusbulsara

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Fireworks banned due to heat in parts of western US

July 1, 2021 by  
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The U.S. has long prized personal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of sparkly stuff to set on fire come the Fourth of July. But this year,  fire  chiefs in some cities across the West Coast are saying no to fireworks. Excessively hot and dry conditions plus amateur pyrotechnics equals a terrifying  wildfire  season for western states. Fireworks have started major wildfires in the past, including the 2017 Eagle Creek fire outside Portland, which was started by a 15-year-old boy and burned 50,000 acres. A 2020 gender reveal party in California started a wildfire that killed a firefighter. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year Portland , Oregon, broke heat records last Monday with a sizzling 116 degrees. In response, the Portland Fire Department has prohibited all fireworks until further notice. Fire departments in nearby Tualatin, Oregon, have banned fireworks through July 9. “If we don’t take this proactive step now, I fear the consequences could be devastating,” said Portland fire chief Sara Boone in a statement. “It is not easy to make a decision like this so close to our national  holiday , but as fire chief I feel I have a higher responsibility to sometimes make unpopular decisions during unprecedented times to protect life, property and the environment.” City officials in Yreka,  California , which is only thirty miles from the currently raging Lava Fire, have also banned fireworks until further notice. Some Utah, Washington and Montana towns have banned private fireworks this year. Steamboat Springs, Colorado, canceled its official public fireworks show. Clark County, in southwest Washington state, banned the sale and use of fireworks from June 29 through midnight on the Fourth of July. “We recognize that this decision will cause some hardship to some residents’ celebration plans as well as businesses and non-profit organizations that sell fireworks,” said Eileen Quiring O’Brien, the county council chair, according to KATU. “We empathize with all who are affected, but we must follow county codes. They are in place to protect the welfare and  safety  of Clark County residents.” Via The Guardian Lead image via Pixabay

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