Sustainability

The Uncertain Role of Extractive Reserves in Conservation
November 26, 2012 04:25 PM - Worldwatch Staff, Worldwatch Institute

During the 1980s, Brazilian rubber tapper Chico Mendes was a prominent activist for the preservation of the Amazon region. He urged his government to set up reserves for rubber tappers and was instrumental in creating various organizations and unions for his peers. In 1988, Mendes was murdered by a rancher intent on logging the site of a future reserve. Partly in response to the international media outcry, Brazil created the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve, consisting of 980,000 hectares of land protected for forest-dependent indigenous inhabitants.

Initiative Raises Money to Keep Oil Companies out of Ecuador
November 26, 2012 12:52 PM - Jeremy Hance, MONGABAY.COM

The Yasuni-ITT Initiative has been called many things: controversial, ecological blackmail, revolutionary, pioneering, and the best chance to keep oil companies out of Ecuador's Yasuni National Park. But now, after a number of ups and downs, the program is beginning to make good: the Yasuni-ITT Initiative has raised $300 million, according to the Guardian, or 8 percent of the total amount needed to fully fund the idea. The program, which is the first of its kind, proposes to leave an estimated 850 million barrels of oil untouched in Yasuni National Park if donors worldwide compensate Ecuador for about half of the worth of the oil: $3.6 billion. The money would keep oil companies out of 200,000 hectares known as the Ishpingo-Tambococha-Tiputinin (ITT) blocs.

Climate Change Impacts in New England
November 25, 2012 07:44 AM - ScienceDaily

In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is poised to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, spread wildlife diseases and tree pests, and change timber resources. And, according to a new BioScience paper just released by twenty-one scientists, without long-term studies at the local scale -- we will be ill-prepared to predict and manage these effects. Following an exhaustive review of more than fifty years of long term data on environmental conditions at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest, located in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the paper's authors arrived at a sobering conclusion: current climate change models don't account for real life surprises that take place in forests.

Forests worldwide near tipping-point from drought
November 24, 2012 08:19 AM - Editor, MONGABAY.COM

Forests worldwide are at "equally high risk" to die-off from drought conditions, warns a new study published this week in the journal Nature. The study, conducted by an international team of scientists, assessed the specific physiological effects of drought on 226 tree species at 81 sites in different biomes around the world. It found that 70 percent of the species sampled are particularly vulnerable to reduction in water availability. With drought conditions increasing around the globe due to climate change and deforestation, the research suggests large swathes of the world's forests — and the services they afford — may be approaching a tipping point.

Climate change predicted to hit poorest hardest
November 20, 2012 07:01 AM - EurActive

All nations will suffer the effects of a warmer world, but the world's poorest countries will suffer most from food shortages, rising sea levels, cyclones and drought, the World Bank’s new report on climate change says. Under new World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, a former scientist, the global development lender has launched a more aggressive stance to integrate climate change into development. "We will never end poverty if we don't tackle climate change. It is one of the single biggest challenges to social justice today," Kim told reporters on Friday [16 November].

What History Teaches Us About Our Environmental Challenges
November 19, 2012 07:05 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

It seems that the environmental challenges we face are truly daunting. That we may never be able to survive them, even if we do our best to do so. A study by MIT professor Susan Solomon says it's often helpful — and heartening — to look to the past. Solomon points out that recent decades have seen major environmental progress: In the 1970s, the United States banned indoor leaded paint following evidence that it was poisoning children. In the 1990s, the United States put in place regulations to reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide — a move that significantly reduced acid rain. Beginning in the 1970s, countries around the world began to phase out leaded gasoline; blood lead levels in children dropped dramatically in response.

Idea that we have reached "Peak Oil" incorrect
November 18, 2012 07:18 AM - Population Matters

A report by theInternational Energy Agency reminds us that the peak oil idea has gone up in flames, and that the truly global implications of the 2012 report lie in the warning that we must leave most of our fossil fuels in the ground, writes Damian Carrington writes on the Guardian’s Environment Blog. Given the bubbling cauldron of violence that the middle East so frequently and regrettably is, the prospect of the US outstripping Saudi Arabia as the world’s biggest oil producer in the next decade is deeply striking. The redrawing of the geopolitical map may cool some tensions and perhaps spark others. But the truly global implications of the International Energy Agency’s flagship report for 2012 lie elsewhere, in the quietly devastating statement that no more than one-third of already proven reserves of fossil fuels can be burned by 2050 if the world is to prevent global warming exceeding the danger point of 2C. This means nothing less than leaving most of the world’s coal, oil and gas in the ground or facing a destabilised climate, with its supercharged heatwaves, floods and storms.

Can Overfished Tuna be Saved?
November 17, 2012 07:42 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

We love Tuna! We love to eat Tuna! And the great Tuna are being seriously overfished. Attempts to remedy this situation have not been effective to date. Now the University of Hawaii has come up with a new approach that holds promise. A fish modelling study has found that marine zoning in the Pacific Ocean, in combination with other measures, could significantly improve numbers of heavily overfished bigeye tuna and improve local economies. Scientists working at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC, Noumea, New Caledonia) and Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS, Toulouse, France), have found that a network of marine zones in the Pacific Ocean could be a more effective conservation measure than simply closing relatively small areas to some types of fishing. These marine zones, where different fishing activities are allowed in different areas, may have significant and widespread benefits for bigeye tuna numbers.

US Military Takes Part in Reducing Ecological Footprint
November 16, 2012 09:51 AM - Richard Matthews, Global Warming is Real

In an effort to enhance American security and address climate change, the U.S. military is diminishing its footprint. The military is producing cleaner power, reducing energy consumption, managing water and minimizing waste. Their efforts encompass vast numbers of vehicles, ships, planes, buildings, lands, and other facilities. A major impetus for these efforts is Executive Order 13514, "Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance," which President Obama signed on October 5, 2009. It mandates a 30 percent reduction in energy usage by federal agencies.

How the Worm Can Help Landfills and Sustainable Farming
November 16, 2012 09:15 AM - Jan Lee, Triple Pundit

High in the northern mountains of Guatemala, near the ancient city of Quetzaltenango, there's an unusual new venture that is helping transform the way local communities think about the garbage they throw into landfills. It's also reforming the way people think about nature's most industrious ecologist: the worm. María Rodriguez, founder of Byoearth is teaching women the value of the red wiggler worm and the use of vermicomposting to support sustainable farming. It's a concept she believes in passionately and is having increasing success selling to both local farmers and non-profit aid organizations throughout Latin America.

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