No more neglect: Mongolia says rangelands are a global priority

April 12, 2019 by  
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When most people think of conservation , they often picture the large, hallmark mammals (think pandas) or key ecosystems like coral reefs and rainforests. Few people think about or even understand rangelands as a priority for land restoration, even though rangelands cover more than 50 percent of all land on earth. In March, Mongolian community-conservation leaders persuaded the United Nations to acknowledge the importance of rangelands and commit to global action to fill glaring gaps in data. As a result of their efforts, the United Nations adopted a resolution to recommend an official “Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists” and to center rangeland restoration within the already declared Decade of Ecosystems Restoration (2021-2030). In Mongolia, leaders have also submitted a “Rangeland Law” to parliament, which would ensure that herders have legal land rights and are named the primary protectors of their land. What are rangelands? The International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) defines rangelands as land that is covered with grass and shrub species and used as a primary source for livestock grazing. Rangelands are also recognized for their ability to provide other environmental services, including carbon sequestration, eco-tourism opportunities, biodiversity, ranching and mining. Related: Less fertilizer, greater crop yields and more money — China’s agricultural breakthrough ICARDA estimates suggest that nearly 50 percent of all land surface is considered rangeland, which includes grasslands, savannas and marshes. Why is Mongolia on the forefront? Herding has been a defining part of Mongolian culture and tradition for more than 4,000 years . Up to 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product comes from sheep, cattle and other livestock. However, economic, environmental and migration changes have caused much of Mongolia’s rangelands to become degraded. The United Nations reports that nearly 57 percent of all rangeland in Mongolia is degraded and 13 percent is so degraded that it is believed to be impossible to restore. Despite this, Mongolia still has some of the world’s last remaining natural grasslands, and people there are committed to preserving these diverse ecosystems and their traditional way of life. “If nothing is done now, we face the danger of losing this beautiful land, threatening the livelihoods of thousands of nomadic herder families,” said Enkh-Amgalan Tseelei , a sustainable rangeland expert from Mongolia. Research shows that indigenous and local communities are some of the most effective stewards of natural land. However, these same groups rarely have legal land rights, making them vulnerable to dislocation and exploitation. According to the World Resource Institute’s  land mapping tool , indigenous and collectively-managed lands store about 25 percent of the world’s above-ground carbon , which means land restoration in these areas is essential to reducing climate change , and that indigenous people are the rightful leaders. We don’t know enough about rangelands The UN resolution aims to elevate awareness, earmark funding and increase collaborative action to improve the  protection and restoration of rangelands. The resolution also amplifies the role of community leadership and traditional management practices. Most critically, however, the resolution calls for increased research, pointing to major gaps in current scientific knowledge about the “status, conditions and trends in rangeland, pastoral land and pastoralism.” Another UN report from March suggests that current data on agriculture and livestock within rangeland regions and societies are insufficient to inform effective policy. The report, “A case of benign neglect: Knowledge gaps about sustainability in pastoralism and rangelands,” recommends further collection and disaggregation of data to highlight different needs and opportunities for locally based, sustainable management. For example, the report warns that some governments have misconceptions of rangelands and even consider them to be “forgotten” or “barren.” Seemingly environmentally progressive programs have implemented afforestation projects — meaning large  tree  planting initiatives — in rangelands. This can actually devastate rangeland biodiversity and have a negative impact on existing carbon sequestration. Pastoralism and marginalization Nearly 500 million people are considered pastoralists, yet these communities are among the most marginalized societies in the world. Herding, nomadic and pastoral groups face challenges such as land degradation, biodiversity loss, vulnerability to climate change, low investments, inequity, low literacy, inadequate infrastructure, lack of access to markets, lack of legal ownership and exodus of youth. Related: One of the last remaining communities still farming like the Aztecs If March is any indication of the next few years — and hopefully the next decade — pastoralists might have the attention, investment and collective action needed to make meaningful advancements in land restoration and community management. Deputy Director General of Integrated Sciences at the International Livestock Research Institute, Iain Wright, praised the efforts of governments and partners so far. “In my 35 years’ experience working on rangelands and pastoralists, this is the first real progress I am seeing,” Wright said. “The lack of data up to now has been critical, and this report forms one of the building blocks in getting this issue into the political and international agenda.” Via UN Environment Images via Jeanne Menjoulet , Ludovic Hirlimann , Sergio Tittarini ,  Christopher Michel , and Paulo Philippidis

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No more neglect: Mongolia says rangelands are a global priority

Daniel Libeskind unveils climate change-inspired sculptures at Paleis Het Loo

April 11, 2019 by  
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This spring, tapestry-like shrubbery and geometric flowerbeds won’t be the only highlights at the Het Loo Palace’s Dutch Baroque gardens. The palatial grounds in Apeldoorn, Netherlands recently opened a new climate change-inspired exhibit, ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries,’ featuring four monumental art installations designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind . The exhibit showcases the first-ever contemporary installations on show in the gardens of Paleis Het Loo, which dates back to the late 17th century. ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ opened April 2, 2019 and will remain on display at the palace until mid-2021. Architect Daniel Libeskind of the New York-based Studio Libeskind is best known for his avant-garde buildings. His best-known portfolio pieces typically pertain to the arts and museums; however, he also famously won the competition to design the masterplan for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York. In addition to architectural work, Libeskind has also created furnishings, fixtures, sculptures and even opera sets. Libeskind’s ‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ consists of four abstract sculptures that “explore the imbalance of humankind in nature,” according to Studio Libeskind. “Each of the approximately 3-meter-tall fragments of a globe represent different chemical compounds that contribute to our changing climate . Conceived as a sculptural and conceptual counterpoint to the ordered beauty of the palace garden, the gardens of the 17th century represent a perceived paradise, man’s perfection of nature. But, due to technology and human intervention, our current planet is rapidly changing.” Related: Daniel Libeskind unveils twisted, tree-covered skyscraper for Toulouse Considered one of the most popular museums in the Netherlands, Museum Paleis Het Loo comprises a grand palace where the House of Orange-Nassau once lived, the symmetrical baroque gardens, the Stables Square and the palace park. The museum, which opened to the public in the 1980s after an extensive renovation, is now undergoing another major renovation and renewal slated for completion in 2021. Stables Square and the garden are open from April to September. + Daniel Libeskind Images via Studio Libeskind

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Daniel Libeskind unveils climate change-inspired sculptures at Paleis Het Loo

Report Report: Food waste, investing, transportation, systems change, plastic pollution

April 2, 2019 by  
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The latest crop of research reports on sustainable business, climate and cleantech topics.

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Report Report: Food waste, investing, transportation, systems change, plastic pollution

Earth Day and the polling of America 2019

April 2, 2019 by  
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Is it hot in here or is it us? Pollsters take Americans’ temperature on climate.

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Earth Day and the polling of America 2019

Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends

March 26, 2019 by  
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A recent study analyzed billions of Wikipedia searches and found that the public’s interest in plants and animal species is often linked to the seasonality and migration patterns of wildlife. The findings contribute to a body of research that uses internet search data to understand and gauge the public’s interest in environmental topics. Researchers believe this information can ultimately help guide more effective wildlife conservation campaigns. The study: Wikipedia searches and species The study, led by John Mittermeier, an ornithology student at the University of Oxford, was published on March 5 in the  PLOS Biology journal. It analyzed 2.3 billion Wikipedia page views of 32,000 different species. The authors examined pages across 245 different languages over a span of three years. The study’s most pertinent finding shows that over a fourth of all page views were linked to the seasonality of the searched-for species . The authors concluded that this means that people are paying attention to the plants and animals around them, despite the widening disconnect between people and nature. According to Mittermeier, each page could count as a human-wildlife interaction, “if you count a click as an interaction”. Although “clicks” are debatable as an interaction, it is true that people are increasingly disconnected with nature in many parts of the urbanized world. The study’s authors are hopeful that this knowledge of seasonal interest can turn into support for wildlife conservation . Related: IKEA teams up with London artists to upcycle old furniture into funky abodes for birds, bees, ?and bats Searches and Seasonality The study found that searches for particular species peaked during certain seasons or times of migration . For example, searches for Baltimore Orioles were higher in the Spring when the birds migrate to breeding grounds. Searches for flowering plants were also higher during times when flowers were in bloom, whereas searches for evergreen plants like pine trees had no correlation to season. “The results of this study…encouragingly suggest that humans remain attuned to the seasonal dynamics of the natural world,” Mittermeier explained. The authors also noted cultural trends in the searches. For example, searches for Great White Sharks rose during the Discovery Chanel’s Shark Week. Mittermeier and the co-authors believe the study will help explain important questions, such as “how is the world changing, for which species is it changing the most and where are the people who care the most and can do the most to help?” Similar internet-search studies There are a number of other studies that have examined the ties between internet searches and environmental topics. In fact, this body of research is part of an emerging field called “conservation culturomics,” which uses digital trend data to understand public support for and interest in the environment. One similar study examined Google searches on environmental topics since 2004, particularly testing linkages between ‘conservation’ and ‘ climate change ‘ and the competition between those two searches within the public’s “limited bandwidth” for environmental topics. Although the authors originally believed climate change would overpower conservation and biodiversity searches,  findings reveal that both topics are closely linked and that searches for the two were about equal. Remarkably, the data also revealed a drastic increase in interest in conservation and climate change among populations in India, Nepal, and Eastern and Southern African countries. Another study suggests that spikes in wildlife conservation searches occur around the publication of news articles on similar topics, however, such peaks are not associated with the publication of research studies. This discovery shows the critical importance of the media for conservation and climate change awareness and suggests that conservation organizations should look to strengthen partnerships with journalists and media channels as complementary to their investments in scientific research. Still, different  study on internet searches for endangered wildlife species revealed that the general public is far too focused on endangered mammals, while equally important and threatened fish and reptiles receive little attention and therefore very few searches. Again, this study concluded that more media attention must be given to lesser-known and often less-charismatic species in order to peak public support for their protection. All of the studies’ authors are quick to point out that though the use of internet searches is a great and inexpensive way to read the pulse of the general public and understand their curiosities; interest does not equate to support, and conservation organizations must use the new information to turn curiosities into financial and political action. Via Monga Bay Image via Dave_E

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Analysis of Wikipedia searches reveals high wildlife conservation trends

15 fresh ideas for leftover fruit that will reduce your food waste

March 26, 2019 by  
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With 40 percent of America’s food going to the trash each year, food waste has become a major factor in climate change , because most of it ends up in landfills and then releases methane , a major greenhouse gas . If you are looking for some creative ways to use the random leftover fruit sitting in your kitchen, try some of these recipes. We all have the best intentions when we make trips to the grocery store, and the plan is never for the food to end up in the trash. But many of us still find ourselves trying to figure out what to do with food that is on the verge of spoiling, because life got in the way and you didn’t have a chance to eat it. This is especially true when it comes to fruit. You can make everything from healthy drinks to delicious pies with your leftover fruit, so there is no reason for it to end up in the trash ever again. Fruit-infused water One of the best and easiest ways to use leftover fruit is to infuse water with it. You can use any kind of fruit you have sitting in the kitchen to create all kinds of flavor combinations. Pure fruit ice pops You can use your spoiling or overripe fruit to make ice pops or fruit cubes with this recipe from Food Meanderings . The great thing about this idea is that you can use any type of fruit, then add some frozen berries and puree it all together before freezing. Related: 8 of the best fruits and vegetables you can eat in their entirety Candied orange peels Make your very own orange candy with this recipe for candied orange peels from Complete Recipes . All you need is sugar, water and a few oranges, and they take just an hour to make. Raspberry and pear smoothie Don’t throw those ripe pears away! Instead, use them to make a smoothie with this recipe from Neil’s Healthy Meals . Mix some yogurt, frozen raspberries, cranberry juice and chopped pears together in a blender for this quick and healthy breakfast or snack. Mango orange banana sunrise smoothie Do you have a mango, clementine and banana taking up space in your kitchen? Then try this smoothie recipe from Gimme Delicious . Just add some yogurt and honey to your fruit , and blend it for a couple of minutes to get a delicious breakfast. Creamy strawberry salad dressing All you need are five ingredients to make this delicious, creamy strawberry salad dressing from Montana Happy . Salad and strawberries are a match made in heaven, and a blender, some strawberries, raspberry vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil and lemon juice will help you make it happen. Berry fruit salad If you have a bunch of leftover berries, then try this recipe from Gimme Some Oven and make a delicious fruit salad. This berry fruit salad is quick and easy to make, and the honey, mint and lemon juice give it a nice, refreshing taste. Related: The Seasonal Food Guide helps you store, cook and enjoy seasonal produce Apple pie for one Turn a lonely apple into a scrumptious dessert with this recipe from One Dish Kitchen . You don’t need to bake an entire pie to use up your leftover fruit, just try an apple pie for one. Boozy peach-blackberry pie Are you trying to figure out what do with your leftover peaches and blackberries? Obviously, pie is the answer with this recipe from My Modern Cookery . Pressure cooker blueberry jam Try making some homemade jam with leftover blueberries by using this recipe from Simply Happy Foodie . Not only does it taste better than store-bought jam, but it’s also cheaper. Plum jam Need to use up some plums before they go bad? Try making some plum jam with this recipe from A Baker’s House . You won’t usually find plum jam in stores, so making your own at home will be a sweet treat that you can add to vanilla ice cream or as a compliment to pork. Of course, it is also fantastic on a piece of bread. Mixed-berry dessert sauce Give your pound cake, cheesecake or ice cream a little kick with this mixed-berry dessert sauce recipe from The Spruce Eats . This is a great way to use up leftover raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Banana bread One of the best ways to use up ripe bananas is to make banana bread. This recipe from Tastes Better From Scratch takes just a handful of ingredients and about an hour to bake. Related: 12 delicious and crowd-pleasing vegan brunch ideas Apple cinnamon bread All you need is one apple for this recipe from The Happier Homemaker . Just peel and finely chop the apple before adding some cinnamon, sugar and a few other pantry staples. In about an hour, you will have delicious apple cinnamon bread. Leftover fruit bread This is a great recipe for ripe bananas and peaches, plus a few blueberries. It comes from The Food Network , and you can opt to bake an entire loaf or make muffins. Either way, it will be delicious. Next time you are thinking about throwing out some leftover fruit, try one of these simple recipes instead and know that you are helping the environment by reducing your food waste . Images via Shanna Trim , Silviarita ( 1 , 2 ), Jodi Michelle , Ponce Photography , Imoflow , Nile , Sabine van Erp , Marke1996 , Alan Levine , Marco Verch and Shutterstock

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15 fresh ideas for leftover fruit that will reduce your food waste

Corporate climate action: A matter of policy

March 26, 2019 by  
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The time for companies sitting on the sidelines on climate policy — or saying one thing and doing another — is running out.

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Corporate climate action: A matter of policy

The decarbonization ideals underlying the Green New Deal are not unattainable

March 26, 2019 by  
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Massive electrification will bring about a new American abundance.

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The decarbonization ideals underlying the Green New Deal are not unattainable

Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

March 22, 2019 by  
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Ghostly white bands of light are illuminating the coastline in the Outer Hebrides to show the potential rise in sea levels that could become reality as a result of unchecked climate change . The collaborative and site-specific art piece, named Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W), is the work of Finnish artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho . The environmental art installation is embedded with sensors that measure the rising tidal changes and activate three synchronized light lines during times of high tide. Hoping to draw attention to and spark a dialogue about climate change, artists Pekka Niittyvirta and Timo Aho wanted to render visible the predicted impacts of rising sea levels in an area they believe will be among the hardest hit. Consequently, the artists chose the Uist, a low-lying island archipelago belonging to the Outer Hebrides island chain located off the west coast of mainland Scotland. The artwork has been installed at the Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre in Lochmaddy, the main port of entry to North Uist, which the artists said “cannot develop on its existing site due to predicted storm surge sea levels.” Lines (57° 59 ?N, 7° 16 ?W) consists of bright white LED lights, float switches/sensors and timers. Two light lines wrap around the sides of a pair of gabled buildings while the third light line appears to hover above an empty field. The three lines light up in sync with the rising tide. Related: Climate change art illustrates sea level rise in Venice during COP 23 “The installation explores the catastrophic impact of our relationship with nature and its long term effects,” the artists said in their project statement. “The work provokes a dialogue on how the rising sea levels will affect coastal areas, its inhabitants and land usage in the future. The work helps us to imagine the future sea level rise in undefined period of time, depending on our actions toward the climate warming.” Installed May 8, 2018, Lines will run until May 1, 2019. + Pekka Niittyvirta + Timo Aho Images via Pekka Niittyvirta

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Chilling light installation visualizes sea level rise caused by climate change

Climate change causing Nebraska’s worst floods on record, damage visible from space

March 20, 2019 by  
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Amid growing concerns about the negative effects of climate change , Following historic levels of rainfall and flooding, the governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts, has officially declared certain counties disaster areas as officials deal with the situation. “This really is the most devastating flooding we’ve probably ever had in our state’s history, from the standpoint of how widespread it is,” Ricketts shared. The flooding crisis started last week after a hurricane-like storm ripped through Nebraska, dumping massive amounts of rain on top of heavily packed snow. The warmer temperatures and moisture rapidly melted the snow, leading to widespread flooding throughout the state. Related: Climate change is wreaking havoc on Italy’s olive harvests Temperatures have remained well above freezing since the storm, which has only led to additional runoff issues. The flooding is so bad that satellites are picking it up from space. Nebraska faces springtime flooding on an annual basis, but the current situation is breaking records in all the major waterways running through the state. Climate change is one of the reasons why the flooding has worsened, as warmer temperatures are coming earlier than usual. In one area of the Missouri River, the water line broke a previous high by close to four feet. The flooding also crashed through the Niobrara River’s Spencer Dam, which is located in the north-central part of the state. The failing dam resulted in an 11-foot tall wave of water rushing through the area. The flood waters have destroyed homes, bridges and roadways all across the state. Over the weekend, a few levees on the Platte River broke, surrounding the city of Fremont with water. With access to the town completely cut-off, officials have been airlifting supplies for local residents. Flooding has started to level out this week, though experts predict that water levels will remain high for a few more days. Offutt Air Force base and Omaha’s National Weather Service station have both been overrun with water, a reminder of the devastating effects of climate change. Via Grist Image via Shutterstock

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Climate change causing Nebraska’s worst floods on record, damage visible from space

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