Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In this feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.
On Friday, the Trump administration released the U.S. National Climate Assessment. Its findings are concrete and dire, Chris Mooney (@chriscmooney), Juliet Eilperin (@eilperin) and Brady Dennis (@brady_dennis) reported in The Washington Post. Read more here.
The story: The report, which is mandated by law every years, affirmed “that climate change is driven almost entirely by human action, warns of potential sea level rise as high as 8 feet by the year 2100, and enumerates myriad climate-related damages across the United States that are already occurring,” according to the Post.
The big picture: The report’s findings stand in contrast to the administration’s efforts to minimize climate science, and could have major implications for U.S. environmental law and policy. “I think this report is basically the most comprehensive climate science report in the world right now,” one of the report’s authors told the Post.
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A new study found that protecting tropical forests between 2000 and 2012 reduced the same amount of carbon dioxide emissions as a 29 percent cut in global deforestation rates, John C. Cannon (@johnccannon) reported for MongaBay. Read more here.
The story: Two ecologists examined what would have happened to atmospheric carbon levels if forests in parks and reserves in South America, Asia and Africa — representing more than 20 percent of all tropical forests — had been cut, Cannon writes. Using statistical models, the researchers then estimated how much how much carbon such deforestation would have released.
The big picture: Scientists knew that protected areas reduce deforestation rates, especially in the tropics, but until now, the precise impact these forests have on keeping carbon out of the atmosphere had not been clear. The study provides more precise evidence of the role of nature in combating climate change.
The story: Connections had been found between the clearing of tropical forests and the virus, but the new study found a lag between the clearing of trees and a disease outbreak. “Statistically we found a very strong link between forest loss two years before an outbreak occurring,” said lead author John Fa of the Center for International Forestry Research. “So there is two-year lag between trees being cut down and Ebola taking hold in that location.
The big picture: Being able to establish a time period for forest loss could lead to early warning systems for Ebola outbreaks, and satellite imaging can enable pinpointing of vulnerable areas, Fa told The Guardian.
Bruno Vander Velde is CI’s editorial director.