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

Ankar Umayyad World Heritage Site.

Anjar Umayyad World Heritage Site, Lebanon. (© O. Langrand)

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.

  1. UK scientists turn coffee industry waste into electricity

Microbes can turn waste from coffee production into usable energy for coffee farmers.

The story: The 9.5 million tons of coffee produced each year globally leaves behind large amounts of liquid waste, whether that’s from washing the beans or the water-intensive process of creating instant coffee, Adam Vaughan of The Guardian wrote last Sunday. To more efficiently deal with this waste, scientists have created a type of fuel cell that allows microbes to digest the waste and produce small amounts of energy.

The big picture: Global demand for coffee is rising, but diseases such as coffee leaf rust and the effects of climate change are harming supply. Because of this, sustainability is a priority in coffee production, and these “microbe” fuel cells would allow coffee farmers to better dispose of the waste and harness energy from it in a win-win situation.

Read the story here.

  1. What’s at Stake in Brazil’s Election? The Future of the Amazon

The current front-runner for Brazil’s presidency has promised changes that could further alter the world’s climate.

The story: Jair Bolsonaro, a far-right candidate, has promised potentially harmful environmental policy changes during his campaign, Somini Sengupta reported Wednesday for The New York Times. These include pulling out of the Paris agreement, scrapping the Environment Ministry and allowing the agribusiness sector to expand further into the Amazon rainforest. Bolsonaro won 46 percent of the vote during the first round of voting; the runoff is October 28.

The big picture: A few years ago, Brazil was an environmental leader, pledging zero illegal deforestation by 2030 and sharp carbon emission reductions — but data from 2015 and 2016 show deforestation began rising again amid rising global demand of beef and soy, two of the country’s chief exports. Changes of the sort that Bolsonaro has vowed could substantially affect the global climate.

Read the story here.


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  1. The latest thing climate change is threatening is our history

Historic Mediterranean sites are in danger of drowning because of rising sea levels.

The story: About 40 historical sites, including parts of Venice and Carthage, could be underwater soon due to climate change, Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis of The Washington Post wrote Tuesday. Because of sea-level rise, many of these sites could be destroyed by a 100-year storm surge event — a storm that has a 1 percent change of occurring in any given year — according to the UNESCO World Heritage database.

The big picture: “Climate change is not a passing trend — it is here to stay, and it will impact all landscapes, including all natural World Heritage sites, fundamentally changing the way we understand and manage them,” according to UNESCO.

Read the story here.

Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International.

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Further reading


  1. Pingback: Protections for African wildlife face growing threat: a lack of money | Human Nature - Conservation International Blog

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