Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species

July 29, 2020 by  
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Coconut oil has been in the spotlight for a while now as a superstar for personal care and healthier eating. It might seem like a miracle product, but a new study is highlighting the negative impacts of coconut oil that lurk in the shadows. Other oils, mainly palm oil , have made headlines for years. Grown in tropical areas, palm oil harvested from trees is widely acknowledged as a threat to the habitats of endangered species. Related: Dutch designer creates leather alternative from palm leaves For the discerning consumer, it can be difficult to gather information about how products you purchase are made. But the truth is all consumable products have an impact on the planet, including coconut oil, a trendy health food and personal care product. A team of researchers wanted to provide more information regarding the harvest of coconuts to consumers, but even they were surprised by the results of their study. Lead author Erik Meijaard has worked in tropical conservation for nearly three decades, so he’s familiar with the frequent publication of information about palm oil and the lack of information around other similar plants. “Both of them are tropical plants that are occupying large areas that previously would have been covered in natural forest,” he said. “Why does one end up being evil and the other one being wonderful?” The cultivation of coconut oil has been detrimental to ecosystems and is even expected to be responsible for the extinction of some animals, including the Marianne white eye, a tiny bird, and the feared-to-be-extinct Ontong Java flying fox, found only on the Solomon Islands. Other species currently threatened by coconut production are the endangered Sangihe tarsier, a small primate native to the Sangihe island of Indonesia, and the Balabac mouse-deer, which is only found on three islands in the Philippines. According to the study , now in several publications, the production of coconut oil is a danger to 20 threatened species per million liters of oil produced, the standard measurement used in establishing the level of destruction caused by production. Comparatively, palm oil measures in at 3.8 species per million liters, and soybean oil impacts 1.3 species per million liters. Another interesting tidbit from the study shows that coconut farms actually cover significantly less land space than other oil crops. For example, compared to the estimated 30.4 million acres for coconut palms, oil palms cover 46.7 million acres. The overall impact is higher, however, based on the IUCN’s Red List. The study reports that coconut plantations affect 66 species on the list, including 29 vertebrates, seven arthropods, two mollusks and 28 plants. Although this revelation on coconut oil might be shocking, it’s intended to be informative for consumers. “We want to be very careful not to say that coconut is actually a greater problem than palm oil,” Meijaard said. The study goes on to report that coconut isn’t the only culprit, and we need to maintain a wider lens when it comes to oil production. For example, the machines that harvest olive oil are blamed for the death of over 2.5 million birds each year. The researchers felt it was important to dig into the effects of oil production in products typically seen as healthy and low-impact environmentally, because these types of oils seem to benefit from a pass by the critical eye of the media and environmentalists. “What we’re really trying to say, and trying to get the public to understand, is that all agricultural commodities have their own issues,” Meijaard explained. Co-author Jesse F. Abrams added, “When making decisions about what we buy, we need to be aware of our cultural biases and examine the problem from a lens that is not only based on Western perspectives to avoid dangerous double standards.” Overall, the goal of the study wasn’t to target coconut oil production but to bring awareness to the need for more information about all consumer purchasing decisions. “At the moment, we’re simply not there yet,” Meijaard said. “We can pick any crop , and there are huge holes in our understanding and knowledge about their impact, so it’s a call from us for scientists, politicians, and the public to demand better information about commodities.” Douglas Sheil, co-author of the study, added, “Consumers need to realize that all our agricultural commodities, and not just tropical crops, have negative environmental impacts. We need to provide consumers with sound information to guide their choices.” + Coconut Oil, Conservation and the Conscientious Consumer Via Mongabay Images via Ogutier , Marie Osaki and Monicore

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Coconut oil production is a danger to vulnerable species

Understanding Where Garbage Goes

October 15, 2019 by  
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We call it many things: garbage, trash, rubbish, waste. The … The post Understanding Where Garbage Goes appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Understanding Where Garbage Goes

Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

April 25, 2018 by  
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You may have heard of the Human Genome Project, but an international group of researchers has recently announced plans to go one step further. The Earth BioGenome Project is a massive effort to sequence the DNA of every single one of the 1.5 million species on Earth – and it will officially be the largest genome sequencing project ever undertaken. Ultimately, scientists hope that it will help us understand and protect the plants, animals, and fungi that call our planet home. Researchers announced their ambitious plans this week at the World Economic Forum , writing that “increasing our understanding of Earth’s biodiversity and responsibly stewarding its resources are among the most crucial scientific and social challenges of the new millennium. These challenges require fundamental new knowledge of the organization, evolution, functions, and interactions among millions of the planet’s organisms.” Related: Atacama ‘alien’ skeleton’s identity revealed by genetic testing So far, we’ve sequenced just 0.2 percent (about 2,500) of the eukaryotic species on Earth, so we have a long way to go to before reaching the 1.5 million known species – and that doesn’t even take into account the estimated 10 to 15 million undiscovered ones. The entire project is estimated to take about 10 years and $4.7 billion to complete. While that may sound like a ton of money, sequencing a genome is just a fraction of the cost that it used to be. In fact, today sequencing a new species costs just $30,000, compared to the $2.7 billion it cost to sequence the first human genome. Once completed, the data will be made available as part of the public domain. Via Gizmodo Image via Nikola Jovanovic and Deposit Photos

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Scientists pledge to sequence the DNA of all 1.5 million known species on Earth

EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

April 25, 2018 by  
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Earlier this week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a new policy which will classify the burning of wood as a ‘carbon neutral’ fuel source. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled this policy shift to an audience of timber industry leaders in Georgia, who have a vested interest in whether they can market wood-based fuel products as ‘green energy.’ Pruitt supported his decision by claiming that forest regrowth will lead to greater absorption of carbon dioxide and somehow counteract the cumulative greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and burning wood. Scientists, none of whom were consulted in this policy change, disagree. “Today’s announcement grants America’s foresters much-needed certainty and clarity with respect to the carbon neutrality of forest biomass,” Pruitt said in a  press release . A study published by British think-tank Chatham House concluded that when all emissions and carbon absorption is accounted for, harvesting energy from burning wood produces carbon pollution equivalent to that of coal . Further, using this method of energy to create steam may be 50 percent more carbon intensive than coal. Scientist William Moomaw, who focuses on forests and their role in climate change, told Mashable that the policy was announced with “zero consultation” of agency scientists or the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. “It’s a bad idea because anything that has carbon in it produces carbon dioxide when you burn it,” Moomaw said. “This is horrific.” Related: Iceland is replanting its forests 1,000 years after vikings razed them The EPA’s decision to inaccurately classify burning wood as carbon neutral may have global consequences. “Between this and the Europeans [who constitute the largest market for bioenergy], it means no chance of staying within the 2-degree limit,” Moomaw explained. Even if the forests do grow back to their original state, the damage will already be done. “The carbon dioxide in the air will have warmed the planet. … When the tree regrows, the glacier doesn’t regrow,” Moomaw said. “The climate change effects are irreversible. Carbon neutrality is not climate neutrality.” Via Mashable Images via Depositphotos (1)

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EPA to consider burning wood a ‘carbon neutral’ energy source

Just before he died, Stephen Hawking predicted the ‘end of the universe’

March 19, 2018 by  
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Just before he died, Stephen Hawking was working on a groundbreaking study that predicted the end of the world and sought to prove the multiverse theory. His co-author Professor Thomas Hertog, of KU Leuven University in Belgium, says that the work is so important that Hawking could have received a Nobel Prize had he not passed away last week . Hawking’s paper, titled “A Smooth Exit From Eternal Inflation,” looks at ways in which humans could identify parallel universes – known as the multiverse theory – using probes on spaceships. It also theorizes about the end of the universe, saying that it will end as the stars run out of energy. Related: Beloved physicist Stephen Hawking passes away at 76 The paper is currently being reviewed by a leading scientific journal, and while it will no doubt contribute to our understanding of the world around us, sadly, Hawking can’t win a Nobel Prize for his work. “He has often been nominated for the Nobel and should have won it. Now he never can,” Prof Hertog told The Sunday Times . Via The Independent an CNBC Images via Wikimedia and Flickr  under CC license

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Just before he died, Stephen Hawking predicted the ‘end of the universe’

3 Great Ways to Help Your Prom Dress Go Green

May 17, 2017 by  
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How many times do you usually wear a prom dress? It’s a ridiculous question, right? Ridiculous because prom dresses, much like wedding dresses, are typically purchased with the understanding that they’ll be worn just once. Once! One…

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3 Great Ways to Help Your Prom Dress Go Green

Ramez Naam: Radical planetary optimism

September 30, 2016 by  
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Climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, air pollution. We’re up against huge threats. But history and the trends of technology show that we can turn the corner. As clean energy and clean transportation plunge in price, as biotechnology revolutionizes our understanding of the natural world, and as the developing world reaches the demographic transition, a world of greater prosperity with less impact on the planet becomes possible. Make no mistake: The state of the environment will get worse before it gets better.

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Ramez Naam: Radical planetary optimism

Steve Pullins of Hitachi on technology, social innovation and things that matter

September 30, 2016 by  
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A 20+ year sustainability executive talks about the intersection of technology and sustainability in the context of social innovation and the opportunities that microgrids provide to accelerate corporates and community resilience.

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Steve Pullins of Hitachi on technology, social innovation and things that matter

New Study Shows Eukaryotic Phytoplankton Accounts for Almost 50% of Ocean’s Carbon Fixation

April 15, 2010 by  
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Eukaryotic Diatoms.

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New Study Shows Eukaryotic Phytoplankton Accounts for Almost 50% of Ocean’s Carbon Fixation

Hello Jurassic Park: 95-Million-Year-Old Insects Found Fossilized in Amber

April 8, 2010 by  
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Photo: courtesy of PNAS and Alexander Schmidt, used with permission. Or Rather, Cretaceous Park The discovery of splendid fossilized specimens dating back about 95 million years ago in Ethiopia, Africa (though back then the continents weren’t in the same relative position) could change our understanding of the origins of some species, including ants, and of the ecology of Cretaceous woodlands

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Hello Jurassic Park: 95-Million-Year-Old Insects Found Fossilized in Amber

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