To tackle environmental challenges, start with students

Arizona State University students and their sustainability float at the homecoming parade. (© Courtesy of ASU)

How do we live on this planet without exhausting the resources we need to survive?

Solving increasingly daunting planetary problems will require greater collaboration among researchers and practitioners on the ground to answer simple but invaluable questions: What is working? What isn’t? And how do we teach the next generation of scientists and practitioners?

A new partnership between Conservation International (CI) and Arizona State University (ASU) aims to answer these and other questions in forging a new approach to conservation and sustainable development. As part of the initiative, CI scientists will work as “professors of practice” alongside ASU professors, drawing in expertise from a broader mix of disciplines while filling the research-to-action gap.

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In case you missed it: 4 big stories from our world

Indo-Chinese tigers, pictured above in Cardamom Mountains, Cambodia. (© Conservation International/photo by Haroldo Castro)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares four stories from the past week that you should know about.

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3 things no one is talking about this Earth Day

Tarantula, pictured above, in Prey Lang, Cambodia. (© Jeremy Holden)

Every year on Earth Day, inboxes and social media feeds fill up with photos of furry animals, impressive national park scenes and pleas to finally — no, seriously — remember to take that reusable bag with you to the grocery store.

But enough of all that. Here instead are three things that no one is talking about this Earth Day.

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Want to fight climate change? Read these 3 books first

Climate change is causing sea ice to melt. This threatens the survival of species such as the leopard seal, pictured above, in Antarctica. (© Levi S. Norton)

Climate change can seem like an impossibly large problem — what can any one of us do?

The answer: More than you might think. Three recent books can help point the way: They have shaped my views on how to eat sustainably, what impact the products I buy have on climate change and how important social justice is to tackling environmental issues.

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Social media turns tide of ocean protection in Brazil

The Trindade-Martin Vaz Archipelago, pictured above, is the largest of the new protected areas in Brazil. (© Flavio Forner)

A recent move by the government of Brazil has created a haven for marine life in an area bigger than France and the United Kingdom — combined.

By establishing two new two marine protected areas (MPAs), Brazil expanded its network of protected waters from 1.5 percent to 24.5 percent of its exclusive economic zone (a country’s coastal waters, to which they claim absolute rights over economic activities and natural resources).

The new protected areas, it seems, have social media to thank.

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In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

French Grunts, Squirrelfish, Blue Tang and soft coral, pictured above, on a shallow reef in the Bahamas. (© Jeff Yonover)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

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To save marine habitats, conservationists find natural ally: surfers

A surfer rides a wave in Fiji. (© Reniw-Imagery)

Across the globe, hundreds of areas with world-class surfing waves also contain a variety of diverse marine species.

Those waves mean big money — generating an estimated US$ 50 billion in economic activity from surfers.

But beneath those waves is something that’s also extremely valuable: a wealth of marine life.

For conservationists looking to protect these areas, it seemed natural to appeal to the people who greatly value them. Surfers make powerful advocates for the ocean, according to Scott Atkinson, senior technical adviser for Conservation International’s Hawai‘i Program and Coral Triangle Initiative. Recently, Human Nature caught up with Atkinson — a surfer himself — who spoke about a new partnership between CI and the Save The Waves Coalition to mobilize the surfing community to help protect marine areas.

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3 new scientific discoveries you should know about

A humpback whale, pictured above, in Tonga. (© Conservation International/photo by Michael Donoghue)

From following whales around the globe, to checking to ensure that money does make a difference, new scientific discoveries are made every day.

Here, Conservation International scientists prove that donations and funding for environmental projects do work and whales’ pasts can influence the future decisions they make.

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‘My Africa’ field notes: Portraits of hope for Africa’s elephants

Rescued elephants at Reteti Elephant Sanctuary. (© Ami Vitale)

Editor’s note: On April 20, Conservation International will release its new virtual reality film, “My Africa,” at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York, with a world release on April 30. The film tells the story of a young Samburu woman in Kenya whose community is working to save elephants, reknitting an ancient coexistence between people and wildlife. In anticipation of the launch, Human Nature is highlighting stories about the people, places and wildlife of “My Africa.”

At the Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya, photographers working with Conservation International and its partners capture remarkable scenes that remain seared into our minds. The sanctuary is the first elephant orphanage in Africa owned and operated by the local community, which provides income and jobs for the region. Through a partnership with Conservation InternationaI, Reteti focuses on rescuing injured and orphaned elephants and returning them to the wild when possible in a world where elephants are threatened by ivory-seeking poachers and other forms of conflict.

Here are some of our favorite photos taken at the sanctuary, with stories about the elephants and the caregivers who look after them.

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