Scientists discover 503 new species in 2020

January 4, 2021 by  
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A total of 503 new species were discovered by scientists at London’s Natural History Museum in 2020. According to the scientists, the COVID-19 pandemic did not stop the work of identifying new species at the museum. Although the museum remained closed to the public, scientists continued working behind closed doors, making findings and providing valuable information to the scientific community across the world. Tim Littlewood, an executive director of science at the museum , said that identifying new species can only be made possible by referencing already known species. The museum plays an important role in providing species references and continues to increase the number of known species annually by identifying new ones. Related: IUCN’s latest Red List update comes with good and bad news “Once again, an end of year tally of new species has revealed a remarkable diversity of life forms and minerals hitherto undescribed,” Littlewood said. “The Museum’s collection of specimens provide a resource within which to find new species as well as a reference set to recognize specimens and species as new.” In an article published by the Natural History Museum , Littlewood noted that a decline in biodiversity across the world calls for rapid action in identifying species. “In a year when the global mass of biodiversity is being outweighed by human-made mass it feels like a race to document what we are losing,” he said. As time passes, many species available in nature are driven to extinction before they are even discovered. According to a  United Nations Report , the native species of land-based habitats have decreased by at least 20% since 1900. The report also shows that about one-third of all marine mammal species are currently threatened. Among the 503 new species identified this year is the unique and critically endangered Popa langur monkey. “Monkeys are one of the most iconic groups of mammals, and these specimens have been in the collections for over a hundred years,” said Roberto Portela Miguez of the Natural History Museum. “But we didn’t have the tools or the expertise to do this work before.” For humanity to protect more species, it is important that we start by knowing which species exist. The work being done by the Natural History Museum lays the foundation for the protection of endangered species worldwide. + Natural History Museum Via EcoWatch Photography by Thaung Win via Natural History Museum

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Scientists discover 503 new species in 2020

UN warns that humans will lose their war against nature

December 7, 2020 by  
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Fiction writing students learn about the handful of archetypal plots, including man versus nature . Usually that means something like 127 Hours, where a hiker in Utah gets stuck in a slot canyon, or Life of Pi, where a man and a tiger try to survive being shipwrecked together. But a plot about humans who set out to ruin the water, air, soil and planet that sustained their life would just be stupid, right? But that is exactly what we are doing, according to UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who issued a statement last Wednesday condemning humanity for waging war against the environment and urging people to change their ways. Related: Biden and Harris gear up for a fight to slow climate change “We are facing a devastating pandemic , new heights of global heating, new lows of ecological degradation and new setbacks in our work towards global goals for more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development,” Guterres said, speaking from Columbia University in New York. “To put it simply, the state of the planet is broken.” In case you need examples, 2020 has provided plenty: Wildfires in California and the Amazon; devastating hurricanes in Central America, the Caribbean and the southern U.S.; soaring temperatures in the Siberian Arctic, which people usually think of as cold; and record-setting temperatures in Death Valley, which most people thought was too hot already. Even Norway had a glacier-melting heatwave. The oceans are getting hotter, and sea ice is melting. Carbon dioxide levels have already rebounded from their early lockdown lows. Against this horrific backdrop, Guterres has outlined three climate priorities: achieve global carbon neutrality by 2050; align global finance with the Paris Agreement’s commitment of limiting global warming to 1.5?C; and focus money and human efforts on developing ways to adapt to the changing climate and increase resilience for future shifts in climate. “Let’s be clear: human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help solve it,” Guterres said. “Making peace with nature is the defining task of the 21st century. It must be the top, top priority for everyone, everywhere.” Via CNN Image via NOAA

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UN warns that humans will lose their war against nature

Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash?

November 17, 2020 by  
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Is ‘net-zero’ greenwash? Joel Makower Tue, 11/17/2020 – 02:11 This year, there has been much ado about zero. It’s becoming hard to read the green media, or even the mainstream media, without seeing new net-zero commitments from companies, governments, institutions and others. Indeed, “net-zero” is the new “zero waste” — remember way back in 2019 when everyone was making that commitment? — which is the new “100 percent renewable,” which is the new “ISO 14001 certified,” and on and on, all the way back to when announcing a LEED-certified building was widely considered to be media-worthy . Now, net-zero is the flavor of the month. Global net-zero commitments doubled in less than a year and commitments by companies more than tripled, rising from 500 at the end of 2019 to more than 1,500 by September. In addition to net-zero companies, there are also net-zero buildings , communities , products , farming , factories , supply-chains , even ships . One large financial institution set forth a commitment to net-zero client emissions . There’s also net-zero water and waste . There are net-zero-committed oil companies , utilities and airlines . Earlier this year, the United Nations formed a Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance of institutional investors. The Trump administration even has funded the development of net-zero coal plants . You can’t make this stuff up. So, you’d think all this talk about “zero” would add up to something, right? It’s hard to know, according to a new report, ” Navigating the nuances of net-zero targets ,” by the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab . You’d think all this talk about ‘zero’ would add up to something, right? Not neccessarily. As the report notes, net-zero commitments vary widely in terms of their metrics and transparency, among other things. That is, no single standard governs the way net-zero is defined or measured, or even how it should be communicated. For example, companies may refer to becoming “carbon negative” or “climate positive”; or that they seek to achieve “net-zero” or “net-negative” emissions or “deep decarbonization”; or that they plan to become “emissions-free” or achieve “zero emissions”; or that they are committed to a “1.5 degrees C pathway.” It’s not just language. Another issue is the lack of standardization about goals. For example, according to the report, some companies aim to fully decarbonize their own operations along with those of their supply chain, while others have no target for reducing their own emissions. Net-zero goals range from commitments to reduce emissions by a specific percentage by a target year, which are reported through platforms such as CDP, to more general announcements of net-zero ambition. Target practice And then there’s the issue of target dates — and, even more so, interim targets. Setting 2050 as the year for achieving net-zero emissions (or some other goal) is one thing — that date aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement — but that 30-year horizon is a bit far off to enable reasonable accountability, perhaps deliberately so. What progress can we expect to see in, say, 2025 or 2030? Relatively few companies have committed to such accountability: Only 8 percent of companies’ net-zero targets include interim targets to chart a decarbonization pathway, according to the NewClimate Institute and Data-Driven EnviroLab report, which notes, “Interim targets offer clarity and guidance on how particular targets should be implemented. They provide the transparency necessary to ensure accountability.” Reliance on offsets is yet another issue. Some experts have deemed it appropriate for companies to invest in emissions offsets once they have made all of the other appropriate emissions reductions — such as through efficiency measures or by buying green energy — but offsetting one’s emissions without really cutting them is another thing altogether. According to the report, only about half of the companies and one-quarter of the subnational governments “are transparent about their intention to use offsets for their net-zero targets. The number of actors that explicitly rule out using offsets is limited.” Moreover, it added: “Without a radical transformation of the offsetting market and the types of activities it supports, offsetting cannot be considered an equivalent alternative to an actor’s own emission reductions in 2020.” Even that’s not the end of the issues that companies need to consider. Getting to “zero,” it turns out, is no small thing. And it will loom larger in the coming months, as calls for increased corporate ambition grow, the United States (presumably) rejoins the Paris Agreement, governments edge closer to putting a price on carbon or creating other market mechanisms — and the ravages of a changing climate continue to be felt around the world. Increasingly, the makers of all those net-zero commitments will need to demonstrate that they truly are making significant progress, and fast. I invite you to follow me on Twitter , subscribe to my Monday morning newsletter, GreenBuzz , and listen to GreenBiz 350 , my weekly podcast, co-hosted with Heather Clancy. Pull Quote You’d think all this talk about ‘zero’ would add up to something, right? Not neccessarily. Topics Commitments & Goals Climate Change Net-Zero Featured Column Two Steps Forward Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

September 11, 2020 by  
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According to the United Nations’ United in Science Report 2020 , global temperatures could exceed the 1.5°C limit set in the Paris Agreement in the next decade. Global temperatures have been on a steady rise since the 1800s due to the effects of industrialization. According to the report, global temperatures have already risen by 2°F (1.1°C) since the late 1800s. Of greater concern is the fact that the last five years have been hotter than previous years. Although the high temperatures experienced in the last five years could be temporary, there is a cause for alarm if global warming continues at the current rate. According to the UN, the world has about a 25% chance of experiencing a year of temperatures hot enough to push global temperatures past the 1.5°C limit in the next five years. The report, released by the UN World Meteorological Organization, reinstates the importance of the Paris Agreement . In 2015, world leaders set two warming limits, with 1.5°C being the most stringent. The limits were set to mark temperature changes where human survival will be more difficult. Related: Wildfires have burned 2.3M acres across California this year The report has come at a time when the U.S. is experiencing record-setting temperatures and destruction. A Labor Day weekend heatwave led to several wildfires in California and burned a record amount of land across the state. Death Valley also hit 130°F last month, marking the highest temperature ever recorded on Earth. Fires are also burning in the Amazon and the Arctic. “Record heat, ice loss, wildfires, floods, and droughts continue to worsen, affecting communities, nations, and economies around the world,” wrote UN Secretary-General António Guterres in his foreward. The United in Science report highlighted more disruptions that are likely to occur in the coming years as a result of burning fossil fuels . The world should expect increased polar ice melting and rising sea levels. The only hope is for countries to drastically cut down the use of fossil fuels. Guterres said, “The solution to slowing down the rate of global temperature rise and keeping it below 1.5°C is for nations to dramatically cut emissions , with the aim of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.” + United in Science 2020 Via Huffington Post Image via Emilian Robert Vicol

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UN report shows global warming could pass 1.5C limit before 2030

Solving Food Waste and Hunger

September 9, 2020 by  
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Solving Food Waste and Hunger An estimated 1.3 billion metric tons of food is lost or wasted globally each year, according to the United Nations — about one-third of all the food produced for human consumption. Meanwhile, over 690 million people worldwide still went hungry in the last year. These two problems should seemingly solve themselves. Innovative circular economy models might be able to help.  Speakers Jasmine Crowe, CEO, Goodr Holly Secon Tue, 09/08/2020 – 22:37 Featured Off

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Combatting Desertification

July 1, 2020 by  
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The United Nations designates days of observance as educational tools … The post Combatting Desertification appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Maven Moment: The Fourth of July & Grandma’s Potato Salad

July 1, 2020 by  
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The Fourth of July was one of my favorite holidays … The post Maven Moment: The Fourth of July & Grandma’s Potato Salad appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Make Every Day World Oceans Day

June 29, 2020 by  
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World Oceans Day, declared by the United Nations as a … The post Make Every Day World Oceans Day appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Innovative food tracker uses app to help you live zero-waste

February 24, 2020 by  
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Industrial designers  Altino Alex  and  Savin Dimov  have just unveiled an innovative product geared towards helping families around the world reduce their food waste. The  Bubble Food Tracker  is an app-controlled food tracker that monitors products in your kitchen, keeping you aware of what you have in stock and your regular consumption habits, all to bring you closer to a  zero-waste lifestyle . Food waste  is one of the world’s most pressing issues. In fact, according to the  Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations , approximately one-third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year (around 1.3 billion tons) gets lost or wasted. And unsurprisingly, its fruits and vegetables that have the highest wastage rates of any food. Related: Supermarket happy hour reduces food waste Thankfully, ambitious and eco-conscious designers are beginning to put their thinking caps on when it comes to helping us all reduce our food waste. Industrial designers Altino Alex and Savin Dimov have just unveiled the Bubble Food Tracker, an innovative concept that makes it easier and more efficient to truly have a zero-waste kitchen. The Bubble is a smart, user-friendly and app-controlled tracker. When food items are placed in its capsule-like container, the information is sent directly to a smartphone. This way, people know, at the touch of the screen, no matter where they are, just what food products they already have in stock. The system is designed to take the guessing game out of shopping , enabling shoppers in the moment to avoid buying what they already have at home. Additionally, the Bubble regularly registers your eating habits, keeping track of which food products are consumed the most in the household and what is often left behind. This helpful tool allows families to work together to become more efficient about food shopping and to teach children about the true cost of wasteful food habits. + Altino Alex + Savin Dimov Via Yanko Design Images via Altino Alex

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How Thai Union rapidly pivoted to a greener business strategy

January 20, 2020 by  
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The Thai canned fish giant is moving beyond past criticism to lead the seafood industry towards a more planet-friendly future

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How Thai Union rapidly pivoted to a greener business strategy

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