Officials declare world’s first famine in six years

February 21, 2017 by  
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Officials have declared the first official famine in six years – in South Sudan. And it is entirely manmade. The United Nations and South Sudanese government said 100,000 people are already suffering, and one million more are expected to face starvation soon. Food and Agriculture Organization representative Serge Tissot said, “Our worst fears have been realized.” The United Nations said war and economic troubles are to blame for the famine, which has been officially declared in some areas of the Unity state but also threatens other parts of South Sudan. High food prices also make it harder for hungry people to obtain sufficient sustenance. Head of the World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan, Joyce Luma, said the famine is man-made – three years of strife has affected farmers and impacted crop production. Tissot said, “Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive.” Related: Severe drought and El Niño have put 32 million southern Africans in peril According to the WFP and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 4.9 million people desperately need food in South Sudan – that’s over 40 percent of the entire population. But that number could rise to 5.5 million people, or 47 percent of the population, by the summer, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). IPC’s report said acute malnutrition is a public health emergency in the country, as 14 out of 23 counties show Global Acute Malnutrition around or greater than 15 percent. UNICEF representative Jeremy Hopkins said they estimate over one million children are acutely malnourished in South Sudan. The report called for assistance, saying humanitarian help in 2016 was able to bolster and even improve food security in some areas. “It is of paramount importance that assistance not only continues in 2017, but scales up in the face of mounting food insecurity across the country,” the report states. But Luma warned there’s only so much assistance can do without peace in South Sudan. Via the BBC and the United Nations Images via European Commission DG ECHO on Flickr ( 1 , 2 )

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Officials declare world’s first famine in six years

Leonardo DiCaprio says climate action is America’s "biggest economic opportunity"

December 27, 2016 by  
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Actor Leonardo DiCaprio is taking President-elect Donald Trump to task on the topic of climate change. At this month’s United Nations Correspondents Association awards ceremony, DiCaprio called out a “few, very prominent people” who still deny the science on climate change – and then suggested that climate action offers America’s “biggest economic opportunity.” Hopes soared when DiCaprio met with the President-elect’s daughter , Ivanka Trump, earlier this month. The actor even met with the President-elect to clue him in on the fact that renewable energy could generate millions of jobs. But with top government positions offered to people like ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Energy Transfer Partners board member Rick Perry , it seems Trump refuses to acknowledge the science on climate change. Related: Leonardo DiCaprio schools Donald Trump on the benefits of renewable energy As DiCaprio received a prize at the U.N. event, he said the truth about climate change is spreading like wildfire. He said the world’s scientists have come to “overwhelming conclusions” that climate change is “largely human-caused and needs immediate urgent attention.” The actor and activist also said that “In less than 100 years of our pollution-based prosperity, we humans have put our entire existence in jeopardy.” DiCaprio’s recently released film Before the Flood is one of the most-viewed documentaries in history – and according to the actor, the impressive statistics show “just how much the world cares about the issue of climate change.” National Geographic Channel issued a press release back in early November stating the film was the “most-watched documentary in the world since 2000, and the most watched National Geographic film ever released.” DiCaprio also had a message of hope for those who fear backward environmental policies from Trump. “To those who may be discouraged by nay-sayers, let me remind you, the environmental awakening is all over the world and the progress we have made so far…has always been because of people, not governments.” The actor listed purchasing cleaner vehicles, eating smaller amounts of meat, and businesses going carbon-neutral as steps people have taken to battle climate change without the help of any government. Via Reuters Images via Wikimedia Commons ( 1 , 2 )

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Leonardo DiCaprio says climate action is America’s "biggest economic opportunity"

U.N. seeks to integrate climate into city planning

November 10, 2016 by  
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It’s not only at the national level that the United Nations looks at for governance opportunities.

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U.N. seeks to integrate climate into city planning

UN warns of 3C global temperature increase without swift and aggressive global leadership

November 3, 2016 by  
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A new report from the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) warns that global temperatures will rise to 3C over pre-industrial levels if more drastic cuts are not made to greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The UN report criticizes world leaders for not taking climate change more seriously, saying that at least a quarter must be cut from emissions by the end of the next decade in order to curb the warming trend. The 3C increase cited in the report is far above the 2C threshold set by the Paris climate agreement last December, which goes into effect on Friday of this week. The new UNEP report was compiled to measure the impact of current emissions trends on future temperature levels worldwide. The report says, by 2030, global emissions could reach 56 metric gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year. Previous scientific studies have identified 42 metric gigatons as the threshold at which warming will exceed a 2C increase over pre-industrial temperatures, which is the scenario on which the Paris climate deal was constructed. Related: Historic Paris climate deal on track to activate before year’s end Since the historic international climate accord was signed last December by representatives of 197 nations, just 94 have ratified the agreement as of October 4, 2016. While this surpasses the participation milestone that activates the agreement, it doesn’t determine how quickly those nations will make the necessary changes to slow climate change. Although the world is “moving in the right direction,” said UNEP chief Erik Solheim, it’s not enough. “If we don’t start taking additional action now,” he added, “we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy.” Via The Guardian Images via Pixabay and Christopher Michel/Flickr

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UN warns of 3C global temperature increase without swift and aggressive global leadership

This electricity-free LED lamp is powered by living bacteria

November 3, 2016 by  
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Dutch designer Teresa van Dongen has unveiled a fascinating LED pendant lamp that is powered by living, electrochemically-active bacteria. Called “Spark of Light,” this lamp builds on van Dongen’s previous work harnessing bioluminescent bacteria. The lamp is completely self-contained, and can operate without a plug or batteries. However, the organisms within do need to be fed to continue producing light. The spherical lamp is made of four separate compartments containing the bacteria . As long as they’re happy and healthy, these microorganisms constantly give off small electrical currents. An electrode within each section captures these currents and powers the LEDs in the center of the light. Van Dongen explained in an interview with Dezeen that as long as a teaspoon of acetate is added to the fluid within the lamp every two weeks, the light will continue to glow without any additional electricity, 24 hours a day. Every few months, the vessels within the lamp must be cleaned and refilled with tap water, salt, and vitamins. Related: The Electricity-Free Biobulb Uses Bacteria to Glow in the Dark The Spark of Life is just the latest zero-electricity lighting product van Dongen has developed. It should come as no surprise that she studied biology before deciding to pursue a design education in Eindhoven. With any luck, this innovative lamp will soon be available as a consumer product and not just a prototype. The pendant was showcased last month during 2016 Dutch Design Week. + Teresa van Dongen Via Dezeen

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This electricity-free LED lamp is powered by living bacteria

Solar-powered Vreugdenhil office earns BREEAM-NL Outstanding for its low energy footprint

November 3, 2016 by  
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Triangular in plan, Vreugdenhil’s new head office is built like a work of art that eschews hard corners for rounded edges for a sculptural appearance. Curved glazing wraps around the building to let in copious amounts of natural light that reflect off the mostly white interior surfaces. The office’s most eye-catching feature is the grand spiraling staircase that wraps around a live tree in the center and ascends a light-filled triangular atrium . The office spaces that branch off of the staircase are flexible and designed to encourage employees to socialize and collaborate. Related: Zaha Hadid Architects renovate a derelict fire station into Antwerp’s new BREEAM-rated port headquarters In addition to incorporating natural light to minimize dependence on electricity, the energy-efficient building also includes an intelligent climate control system, a 170-panel solar array system, rainwater collection reused to flush the toilets, and a thermal energy storage system that heats and cools the building. The new office’s comfortable and attractive environment is also aimed to help the company reach its 2020 target to reduce the absenteeism rate to below 4%. + Maas Architecten Via ArchDaily Images via Maas Architecten

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Solar-powered Vreugdenhil office earns BREEAM-NL Outstanding for its low energy footprint

Dear U.N. Secretary-General: We need ‘polycentric networks’

November 2, 2016 by  
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A Yale undergraduate student embeds the Sustainable Development Goals within modern academic political theory.

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Dear U.N. Secretary-General: We need ‘polycentric networks’

Dangerously low biodiversity levels could trigger ecological recession, researcher warns

July 15, 2016 by  
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Biodiversity has dropped dangerously low across more than half of the world’s land surface, according to a new report published in the journal Science . The study, led by researchers from University College London, the Natural History Museum, London, and the United Nations Environment Programme’s World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), found that 58 percent of the Earth’s land, which is home to 71 percent of the human population, has surpassed a safe limit for biodiversity loss, threatening long-term sustainable development efforts. “It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit,” said Professor Andy Purvis of the Natural History Museum, London, one of the study’s authors. “Decision-makers worry a lot about economic recessions, but an ecological recession could have even worse consequences — and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we’re at risk of that happening. Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing ecological roulette.” Related: One in five plants on Earth are at risk for extinction The authors of the report analyzed 2.38 million records for 39,123 plant and animal species at 18,659 sites across the planet, finding that grasslands, savannas and shrublands have experienced the most biodiversity loss, followed by forests and woodlands. The safe limit is defined as a 10 percent reduction in the Biodiversity Intactness Index (BII), a measure put forward last year by ecological experts updating the planetary boundaries framework. Dr Tim Newbold, the study’s lead author and a research associate at University College London, suggested that ecological restoration efforts might be needed because if ecosystem functions begin to break down, it could impact the ability of agriculture to sustain human societies. “The greatest changes have happened in those places where most people live, which might affect physical and psychological wellbeing,” said Newbold. “To address this, we would have to preserve the remaining areas of natural vegetation and restore human-used lands.” + Report: Has land use pushed terrestrial biodiversity beyond the planetary boundary? A global assessment Via Science Daily Images via Wikimedia

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Dangerously low biodiversity levels could trigger ecological recession, researcher warns

What happened to the U.N.’s $100 million green development fund?

May 10, 2016 by  
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In its seventh year, progress for the United Nations fund has been slow. What will it take to fulfill the GCF’s promise?

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What happened to the U.N.’s $100 million green development fund?

3 radical shifts required to hit the Paris climate goals

May 10, 2016 by  
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It will take more than a 21st century grid makeover to reach a 2-degree world, including a rethinking of energy supply and demand.

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3 radical shifts required to hit the Paris climate goals

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