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.
The story: A group of scientists from Columbia University studied trees in El Yunque, Puerto Rico, to study Hurricane Maria’s impact on forests, Henry Fountain reported for The New York Times on Wednesday. The research will help scientists understand how the world’s forests could change as a result of an increase in the frequency and severity of storms due to climate change.
The big picture: Forests are a huge storehouse of carbon, removing 1 billion to 2 billion tons from the atmosphere each year. When a forest is damaged, the dead vegetation eventually decomposes, returning the carbon to the atmosphere. “Forests take a while to recover,” said Louis Verchot, a researcher with the International Center for Tropical Agriculture in Colombia. “And what initially recovers is not always what was there before.”
The story: The Global Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online pledged Wednesday to reduce wildlife trafficking across the members’ websites by 80 percent by 2020, Merrit Kennedy reported for NPR. The coalition was organized by Google and the World Wildlife Fund, and includes some of the world’s largest, wealthiest and most influential online marketplaces.
The big picture: The coalition said that when one company cracks down on illegal activity, traffickers often move to another seller that allows the illegal activity. The coalition hopes to stop that behavior. “We’ve realized that law enforcement on its own can’t handle this global surge in illegal trade in wildlife that’s happening online, and we recognize that the companies themselves are very keen to try and help solve the problem,” said Crawford Allan, senior director of TRAFFIC, a WWF-affiliated wildlife trade monitoring network.
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The story: Former New York mayor and vocal climate advocate Michael Bloomberg was tapped to become the U.N. special envoy for climate change, Somini Sengupta reported for The New York Times on March 5. Bloomberg will lead the U.N. Climate Summit in 2019 and promote the goals of the 2015 Paris climate agreement, according to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The big picture: President Donald Trump announced that the United States would pull out of the Paris Agreement last year. Despite this, Bloomberg said he is “convinced” the U.S. will reach the Paris targets. “My hope is that President Trump listens to his advisers and looks at the data and changes his mind,” Bloomberg said.
Morgan Lynch is a staff writer for Conservation International.
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