Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

August 19, 2019 by  
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What melts faster than an ice cream cone on a sweltering summer day? Greenland’s ice sheet. In July, the world’s second biggest ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice and increased sea levels by about half a millimeter. On August 15 alone, Greenland’s ice sheet had a major meltdown, losing 11 billion tons of surface ice to the ocean, scientists reported. While it’s not unusual for Greenland’s ice sheet to melt during the summer, it usually starts at the end of May but began weeks earlier this year. Meteorologists reported that July has been one of the hottest months around the world ever recorded. For instance, global average temperatures for this July are in line with and possibly higher than July 2016, which holds the current record, according to preliminary data reported by the Copernicus Climate Change Programme . Related: Iceland will unveil monument for the first glacier lost to climate change According to Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist with Danish Meteorological Institute , Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July, enough to fill nearly 80 million Olympic swimming pools. Mottram told CNN the expected average of ice melt this time of year would be between 60 and 70 billion tons. What could it mean? All this wacky weather may ultimately result in one of Greenland’s biggest ice melts since 1950. With the melt season typically lasting to the end of August, Mottram said the ice sheet could see substantial melting; however, it might not be as much as in recent weeks. Melting ice isn’t the only issue facing the Arctic, as the area has also experienced wildfires , which scientists said could be because of high temperatures. Since June, Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has observed more than 100 intense wildfires in the Arctic Circle. The recent wildfires and ice melt in the Arctic Circle could be strong indicators of more climate change -related issues ahead. Via CNN Image via NASA

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Greenland’s ice sheet lost 197 billion tons of ice in July

IPCC on land use: What do the latest warnings mean for businesses?

August 12, 2019 by  
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The headlines have been filled today with stark warnings from scientists about the state of the world’s land masses — how will this impact the business community?

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IPCC on land use: What do the latest warnings mean for businesses?

See the forest for more than the trees why reforestation isn’t working

August 6, 2019 by  
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We can all agree planting a tree is good for the environment — right? According to a recent study in Nature , the global crusade for reforestation as a remedy for climate change is largely missing the mark. So where did it go wrong? The new evidence reveals that most of the countries with large-scale tree-planting programs are actually developing tree plantations, which might help the economy but fail to sequester the carbon that the countries originally pledged to. The Bonn Challenge promises 350 million hectares of trees In 2011, the international Bonn Challenge was announced as an ambitious plan to plant 150 million hectares of trees by 2020. In 2014, more than 100 nations signed on under the New York Declaration of Forests, increasing the target to 350 million hectares by 2030. Unlike many lofty development goals, most countries are actually on track to exceed their promises, at least at first glance. In fact, the world actually has more forest cover now than it did in 1982. So, what’s the problem? Related: The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan Well, the majority of countries have been using the incentives and global momentum to back monoculture farms and counting trees that will be logged within years in their Bonn Challenge totals. According to the assessment, 45 percent of trees planted were species that will be quickly harvested for paper production. Another 21 percent were tree farm species, like fruits, nuts and cocoa . Only 34 percent of trees planted were part of so-called “natural forest,” even though the original intention of the Bonn Challenge was that all hectares planted should be natural forest. “Policymakers are misinterpreting the term forest restoration [and] misleading the public,” argued the study authors, Simon Lewis of Leeds University and Charlotte Wheeler from Edinburgh University. While agroforestry trees do provide important benefits to the environment and economy, monoculture plantations (especially when farmers clear natural forests for crops) fail to provide anywhere close to the same benefit in terms of sequestration and biodiversity . The value of natural forest A general definition of a natural forest is a “multilayered vegetation unit dominated by trees, whose combined strata have overlapping crowns, and where grasses are generally rare.” In general, a natural forest will store up to 40 times more carbon than a plantation that is harvested every decade. Related: How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being More than just trees , forests are important and intricate ecosystems. They are home to incredible biodiversity and provide sanctuary and habitat for thousands of species. They are also critical to the climate, because forests maintain rainfall and prevent desertification. Because clouds accumulate over forests, places that have destroyed all of their major forests often experience low rainfall, drought, desertification and other climate-related issues. Reforestation pledges around the world Even before the Bonn Challenge, China launched a massive reforestation program in response to flooding along the Yangtze River. Despite over two decades of reforestation, the report claims that 99 percent of all trees planted have been within monoculture plantations. Related: Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says In Niger, after years of complying with foreign and government extension officers who advised farmers to remove trees, farmers have finally argued that native trees serve an important purpose right where they are. Trees stabilize soil, produce nitrogen, buffer strong wind and improve organic matter in the soil. As a result of the farmers’ knowledge, deforestation has decreased, although the majority of farmers now wisely plant trees that will supplement their incomes rather than simply sequester seemingly abstract carbon. Yale Environment 360 reported that in Brazil, up to 82 percent of the forest restoration work is developing monoculture plantations and not natural forests. How to plant a forest? “Get out of the way.” According to National Geographic’s investigative article, “ How to regrow a forest: Get out of the way ,” even specific efforts by the U.S. Forest Department to plant natural forests have not worked the way they were intended to. For ease of planting and eventual use as lumber, the Forestry Department had a long-term tradition of planting native trees in neat rows at 12-foot gaps. Though the majority of trees were then left to develop into natural forests, the meticulous spacing has since exacerbated fire risk. The Department now opts for more irregular spacing and species biodiversity. Although it is more time- and cost-intensive, it ends up saving the department in firefighting costs later. Similarly, in Canada, a study found that a government campaign to drain wetlands thought to be smothering spruce trees caused a fire that destroyed 2,400 homes in 2016. Under the pretense of growing larger trees to store more carbon, peatlands were systematically destroyed. However, it is now recognized that peatlands ultimately store enormous amounts of carbon naturally and were more resilient to fires. “If you take the perspective that no matter what, more trees are better, that’s going to have unintended consequences,” said Sofia Faruqi from the World Resource Institute. “In the case of the West Coast, restoration may mean removing trees from the landscape.” Turning over a new leaf on reforestation pledges According to Faruqi, policies must acknowledge both what kind of tree is planted and how the tree “jibes with the larger health of the forest, the amount of water available or the needs of local people.” As we approach the start of the United Nation’s declared Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, many forestry experts agree that reforestation solutions must be localized — both at a national level and at the individual forest level. While the need for income, especially sustainably sourced income, is paramount, cash crop trees should be planted in addition to the 350 million acres of natural forest. Tropical forests are particularly important, because they have the potential to capture more carbon than any other forest type in the world. In many equatorial regions, where there are large amounts of land available and a high need for economic stimulation, healthy tropical forests can provide jobs, support indigenous traditions and capture an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 2 billion cars off the road every year. Blanket pledges of specific tree planting targets have not worked and leave the door open for damaging misinterpretation. More research and awareness is needed to understand the importance of different ecosystems and more priority given to protecting and keeping natural ecosystems intact. The idea that any tree planted helps is simply outdated and misleading. A quote by American poet, environmentalist and farmer Wendell Berry sums it up nicely: “Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.” + Nature Via Yale Environment 360 and National Geographic Images via Michael Benz , Marc Pell , Jesse Gardner , Janusz Maniak , Steven Kamenar and Zoer Ng

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See the forest for more than the trees why reforestation isn’t working

Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

August 2, 2019 by  
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On land, the world is tuning in for Shark Week celebrations, but out in the oceans, the reality for sharks is much more grim. A recent update of the digital database maintained by the Animal Welfare Institute indicates that almost 200 restaurants across the country offer shark fin soup and other shark products despite being banned in more than 12 states. Shark fins are festive delicacies, especially for East Asian communities, but the practice of removing fins from sharks is an abusive tradition condemned by conservationists and animal rights activists around the world. “The United States is a major producer, exporter and trade stop for shark fins,” said Cathy Liss, president of Animal Welfare Institute. “Clearly, the existing patchwork of state laws and uneven enforcement have failed to shut down a lucrative billion-dollar industry. When shark fin soup is on the menu, so is animal cruelty.” Related: Shark fins still being sold in US restaurants amid ban California has the highest number of restaurants offering shark dishes (59 restaurants) despite a full ban on shark fin possession, sale, trade or distribution in 2013. New York passed a similar ban in 2014 but still has 19 restaurants that offer shark products. Bans are also pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Approximately 73 million sharks are killed every year just to harvest their fins. The practice often includes the capture of sharks and the bloody removal of their fins while they are still alive. The sharks are then tossed back in the water, where their chances of survival are nearly impossible. This widespread method is considered inhumane and cruel because of the suffering that the sharks endure during and after the removal of their fins. Despite their reputation, sharks are absolutely essential for healthy marine ecosystems . According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all species of warm-water flat sharks are considered critically endangered except for one. This year, Canada passed a national ban on shark imports and exports, but in the U.S., legislation is still on a limited state-by-state level. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via Alondav

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Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

Holiday Inn hotels will phase out mini shampoo bottles

August 1, 2019 by  
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The owner of Holiday Inn, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), has pledged to do away with the convenient but wasteful mini shampoo and soap bottles that are a staple in its 843,000 guest rooms. IHG owns more than 5,600 hotels around the world and announced that it will phase out the small plastic bottles and opt for bulk-sized containers for all its hotels by the end of 2021. According to the corporation, it uses over 200 million mini plastic bottles every year. Keith Barr, CEO of IHG, said, “Switching to larger-size amenities across more than 5,600 hotels around the world is a big step in the right direction and will allow us to significantly reduce our waste footprint and environmental impact as we make the change.” Related: Companies pledge $1.5 billion to reduce plastic waste IHG is the first global hotel corporation of its size to make this promise. According to Barr, the announcement is also related to the national and local governments’ inability to pass stricter sustainability regulations. “We collectively as an industry have to lead where governments are not necessarily giving the leadership to make a difference.” In addition to its interest in sustainability, the corporation’s board is also looking to attract more customers who are increasingly concerned about the environment. According to a survey sponsored by Hilton, a third of customers researched the company’s sustainability policies before booking a room. As a result, Hilton announced a pledge to cut its carbon footprint in half and double its investments in social good. In addition to eliminating the small plastic bottles, IHG is working to phase out plastic straws by the end of 2019. A similar pledge was also made by the company’s competitor, Marriott International. At least a third of IHG’s properties have already started using the bulk-sized toiletry dispensers, and the rest are working on the transition. The full phase-out will be completed by 2021. + IHG Via NPR Image via Melanie

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Holiday Inn hotels will phase out mini shampoo bottles

Indian cafe offers food for trash, then turns the waste into roads

July 29, 2019 by  
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The city of Ambikapur in India’s Chhattisgarh state is launching a “garbage cafe” where anyone can eat healthy meals in exchange for collecting trash. The cafe will be centrally located in the city’s busiest bus terminal and is owned by the Municipal Corporation. Although such cafes exist in other cities around the world, the plastic trash collected for Ambikapur’s cafe is unique, because it will go directly into asphalt to pave the city’s roads. The practice of melting plastic and incorporating it into paving materials is not new in India. In fact, the government mandated that all urban areas utilize plastic waste in their roads in 2015, but most have yet to follow orders. The city of Ambikapur has one such road so far, and there are an estimated 100,000 kilometers of plastic roads throughout India . The innovative chemical process is led by professor Rajagopalan Vasudevan, but it has also been replicated and modified by engineers around the world, including the plastic-producing giant Dow Chemical . “At the end of the day, plastic is a great product. It lasts for long, which is a problem if it’s a waste product, but not a problem if we want it to last,” said engineer Toby McCartney, whose company produces recycled plastic pellets that are mixed into roads. According to McCartney, plastic roads last three times longer than conventional roads and need less maintenance. They are more resistant to flooding and less likely to get potholes. McCartney also promises his prototype does not break down into microplastics or enter ecosystems. With an initial budget of just about $7,000 USD, the cafe is a triple-win for the government’s goals to address food insecurity , clean up the roads and improve infrastructure. Via Vice Image via Rajesh Balouria

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Indian cafe offers food for trash, then turns the waste into roads

Forestry sector cultivates SDG action plan

July 29, 2019 by  
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Roadmap is the latest in a series coordinated by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

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Forestry sector cultivates SDG action plan

Eco-Friendly Travel Tips for the Summer

July 26, 2019 by  
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The travel industry is the fastest growing in the world … The post Eco-Friendly Travel Tips for the Summer appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eco-Friendly Travel Tips for the Summer

Reimagining commerce through products with purpose

July 5, 2019 by  
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What if every act of design and production made the world a better place?

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Reimagining commerce through products with purpose

Bill McDonough, Jeff Hogue and Katrin Ley: Circularity is in our jeans

July 3, 2019 by  
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Learn about how C&A created the most circular jeans in the world certified to Cradle to Cradle Gold level.

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Bill McDonough, Jeff Hogue and Katrin Ley: Circularity is in our jeans

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