Rising emissions, unstable markets, plant annihilation: 3 big stories you might have missed

Oil drill in Los Angeles, California. (© VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm)

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. Erratic weather boosts energy demand, denting climate goals: BP

Extreme temperatures from climate change caused increased energy consumption and carbon emissions in 2018.

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How an unheralded US law could help protect Africa’s forests

Elephants walk through a clearing in the Vumbura Plains, Okavango Delta, Botswana. (© Jon McCormack)

How do you protect the world’s last large source of arable land, minerals and fossil fuels while supporting a population projected to more than double in 40 years?

It’s a question countries across the African continent are answering as they balance explosive growth with protecting the natural world — the wildlife, forests and fresh water that underpin their economies.

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Biblical floods, polluting cruise ships, tracking seals: 3 big stories you might have missed

Young southern elephant seal in Antarctica. (© Conservation International/photo by Russell A. Mittermeier)

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. After a biblical spring, this is the week that could break the Corn Belt

Record-breaking flooding in America’s “breadbasket” threatens prime planting season.

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Amid din of global climate debate, silence is golden

Young mangroves at sunset. (© Matthew D Potenski 2011/Marine Photobank)

With “stop the climate apocalypse” at the top of her to-do list, Shyla Raghav hit pause — or, rather, the mute button. At a silent retreat last month, Conservation International’s head of climate change eschewed technology and media in favor of meditation for 12 hours a day.

At the end of the 10 days, she emerged with a renewed sense of optimism and commitment to the very real, very immediate problem of what on Earth we’re going to do to stop climate change.

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Traveling this summer? Airline offers way to offset impact

Alto Mayo Protected Forest

The purchase of certified carbon offsets protects forests and benefits local communities, including the Alto Mayo Protected Forest in Peru, pictured above. (© Conservation International/photo by Bailey Evans)

As millions of people gear up for summer plane travel, how many are choosing to offset the carbon dioxide produced from their flights?

According to new research, not many.

Less than half of the world’s major airlines give passengers the opportunity to offset their air travel emissions, the BBC found. And when airlines do offer the option, people aren’t taking them up on it, with fewer than 1 percent of passengers choosing to pay more.

With more than 4 billion people boarding an airplane every year, those emissions add up. Continue reading

New protected area in Amazon announced

giant anteater

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla). (© Luciano Candisani/iLCP)

A sprawling corner of the Amazon basin has been designated a protected area.

Last week, the Bolivian municipality of Ixiamas issued a law establishing the Bajo Madidi Municipal Conservation and Management Area in the country’s northwestern region, near the Peruvian border. At 15,300 square kilometers (5,900 square miles), the protected area is larger than the U.S. state of Connecticut.

As important as the size of this area is what is in it.

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Albino pandas, deforestation in Brazil, explaining extinction: 3 big stories you might have missed

Giant panda

Giant panda at Bifengxia Panda Reserve, China. (© Martha de Jong-Lantink)

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. White panda is spotted in China for the first time

An albino giant panda was captured on camera in a nature reserve in China this April.

The story: This is the first reported sighting of an albino panda, Tiffany May reported for The New York Times last week. Albinism, which causes a lack of melanin in the skin and eyes, can cause sensitivity to sunlight and make animals easier for predators to spot in the wild, but this panda seems to be doing well, researchers say. Continue reading

Protected areas see recent rise in legal rollbacks: study

Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest, São João da Ponta, Pará, Brazil. (© Flavio Forner)

Rollbacks of legal protections to protected areas are on the rise, a new study finds, threatening to accelerate forest loss and carbon emissions.

The study, published in the journal Science, is the largest to examine legal changes to protected areas on a global scale. The researchers revealed that while these changes have been happening for decades, there has been an uptick in recent years.

Protected areas — places set aside to conserve nature — are a critical conservation tool, but their effectiveness can be reduced when protections are removed, typically to allow for resource extraction, infrastructure and industrial agriculture. Continue reading

Business in a changing climate, pollution loopholes, fishing bans: 3 big stories you might have missed

Bangladesh

A local man pulls his boat to shore in Bangladesh. (© Rod Mast)

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. The best and worst countries for business: Global upheaval edition

A resilience index that assesses the risk of doing business in different countries has  included climate change in its data for the first time.

The story: This is the first year that the index included environmental resilience in its analysis — a nod to how climate change is already impacting the global economy, Eillie Anzilotti reported for Fast Company last week. The countries that offer companies the most resilient business environments are Norway, Denmark and Switzerland thanks to their low natural disaster exposure, low government corruption, high business transparency and strong and productive workforces. Continue reading

Forest carbon credits ‘worse than nothing’? There’s more to this story

Forest in Kenya

Cloud forest on top of the Chyulu Hills, Iltilal, Kenya. (© Charlie Shoemaker)

More than 3,000 people in the United States had a heart transplant last year.

This life-extending procedure crossed from the theoretical to the experimental to the commonplace thanks to decades of research and experimentation — and failure.

So has it gone with one of the signature ideas for tackling the climate crisis.

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