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

Areas that formerly belonged to Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, pictured above, were opened to potential mining last week. (© IIP Photo Archive/Flickr Creative Commons)

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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5 things you should know about wetlands

Andean Geese flying in wetlands in the Uyuni region of Bolivia, above. (© Alejandro Loayza Grisi)

Wetlands — swamps, marshes and other water-saturated lands — link organisms in land and water in a way that allows them to coexist naturally.

Unfortunately, wetlands are rapidly being replaced for agriculture or urban development, which takes away some of the ecosystem services that these ecosystems provide for various species, including humans.

On World Wetlands day, take a look at five facts you might not know about these unique ecosystems.

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Hong Kong votes to ban sale of ivory

An elephant in the Mara North Conservancy in Kenya. (© Jon McCormack)

Hong Kong banned the sale of ivory on Wednesday, the latest blow to an illegal trade that has brought elephants to the brink of extinction.

The news came as lawmakers in the United Kingdom were considering a similar move, The Guardian reported earlier this month.

Lawmakers in Hong Kong voted for a bill that would abolish the ivory trade by 2021, following China’s complete ban on ivory sales that went into effect at the end of last year, The Associated Press reported.

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Fact check: Trump quip on Arctic ice melts under scrutiny

Breioamerkurjokull glacier region, Iceland, above. (© Art Wolfe/

U.S. President Donald Trump answered questions about climate change on the television program “Piers Morgan” on Sunday. Vexing scientists around the world, Trump declared the world’s ice caps are “setting records” — a sentiment directly at odds with the latest research that proves much of the world’s ice is melting.

“If the ice caps were going to melt, they would be gone by now, but now they’re setting records. They’re at a record level,” Trump said. “Look — it used to not be climate change — it used to be global warming. Right? That wasn’t working too well because it was getting too cold all over the place.”

One person who has had a front-row view to the melting Arctic ice: former president of Iceland (and current Lui-Walton Distinguished Fellow at Conservation International) Ólafur Grímsson. Under his leadership, Iceland embraced its role on the world stage as a living example of both the impacts of climate change and the promise of climate action.

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To protect its precious water, Bogotá looks to the Big Apple

Bogotá, Colombia, pictured above, is home to more than 8 million residents. (© Maria Doerr)

When it comes to water, Latin American cities can learn a lot from the Big Apple.

Faced with the challenge of securing a clean and cost-effective supply of water for 8 million people, authorities in New York did something that at the time seemed revolutionary: Rather than build costly water filtration systems, they protected the natural watersheds that provided the city’s water.

Now, New York City drinks what is often called the “champagne of drinking water,” supplied and filtered by a vast watershed of rivers and reservoirs that lie hundreds of miles outside the city in the Catskill Mountains.

Nature plays no less of a role for 45 million people in three of Latin America’s largest cities. About 7 percent of Latin Americans live in Bogotá, Colombia; Mexico City; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil — and the precious water they drink comes from the forests and mountains in their outskirts.

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

Snow covers the permafrost in the Canadian Arctic, above. Rapidly melting permafrost could spell disaster for the climate, a new study finds. (© Conservation International/photo by Sterling Zumbrunn)

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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In snowy Davos, climate is talk of the town

The mountains outside Davos, Switzerland, above. Unusually high snowfalls there have made their mark on the World Economic Forum, taking place this week. (©Williams Poznan/ Flickr Creative Commons)

World leaders gathered in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the World Economic Forum. The “unprecedented” amount of snow on the ground — 159 cm (63 inches) of snow fell over six days, an amount the city only experiences once every 20 years — set the stage for something unexpected: talks about climate change.

French President Emmanuel Macron — who made international news in 2017 when he offered beleaguered U.S. climate scientists a new home in France — made a tongue-in-cheek comment during the forum. Saying “When you arrive here and see the snow, it could be hard to believe in global warming,” Macron’s remarks were interpreted as poking fun at U.S. President Donald Trump and his recent tweet, claiming that the cold temperatures in the U.S. were evidence against global warming.

Despite disagreements, with the notable exception of President Trump world leaders made time in Davos to discuss building resilience against future environmental risks and transitioning to clean energy.

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Peru establishes new national park in the Amazon

The new protected area contains areas with untouched forests deep in the Amazon. (© Joseph King/Flickr Creative Commons)

The government of Peru this week established a new national park in the Amazon amid a rise in illegal mining there.

Across the Peruvian Amazon — a swath of rainforest that covers roughly 60 percent of the country illegal mines are poisoning the rivers with mercury and threatening the health of indigenous communities, David Hill of the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

There are, however, pockets of pristine forest that have been spared.

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Illegal fishing threatens the ‘aquarium of the world’

Playa San Nicolás in the Gulf of California. (© José Eugenio Gómez Rodríguez)

The narrow sea sandwiched between the Baja California peninsula and the Mexico mainland was once nicknamed the “aquarium of the world” by ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau. The Gulf of California is home to a wealth of marine life, and today serves as a source of fascination for scientists as well as scuba divers.

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