February 8, 2012

Team Earth

Conservation International’s stunningly beautiful online magazine Team Earth has launched a new issue (#4 of a series), and it’s full of both amazing photos and stories of good news for the planet.

A family from a floating village, Prek Toal, on Tonle Sap lake in Cambodia.

You can read about the projects they help fund and focus on:  slowing deforestation, preserving healthy, adaptive ecosystems, and bringing oft-ignored indigenous groups to the forefront of political and economic decisions that affect them and their traditional lands.  This issue focuses on a life-giving lake in Cambodia (replete with floating houses!) and how CI is helping the people of Papua New Guinea  preserve their forests, as well as a look forward to the next Copenhagen climate summit.

It always warms our heart to see the good work that so many conservation-oriented organizations are doing in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government ministries all over the world.  CI is a terrific advocate for all of us who want to respect the Earth’s breathtaking diversity and the sustainability of its resources.

We laugh that these kinds of online treats are what naughty sites are for others.  If it’s wrong, we don’t want to be right. ; )

 


January 19, 2012

Simple measures could go a long way

Anyone who follows news about climate change knows that carbon dioxide is the primary cause of trapped heat in the Earth’s atmosphere which causes temperatures to rise.   But a group of our scientific colleagues have published a study which says simple, low-cost ways to cut methane and soot (a.k.a. “black carbon”) emissions could slow rising temperatures, boost crop production, and save lives.

The Washington Post covered the study, which found that

[J]ust 14 interventions — such as eliminating wood-burning stoves, dampening emissions from diesel vehicles and capturing methane released from coal mines — would offer big benefits.

This is, of course, easier said than done, considering that three billion people — nearly half the world’s population relies on stoves that send soot into the air. (We’ve seen these kinds of stoves all over Central and Latin America in our studies; a New York Times article several years ago reported that soot in developing countries is responsible for up to 18% of global warming.

This solar cooker is an inexpensive and wood-saving alternative for preparing food.

Solar cookers, such as the one pictured above, are a great alternative, but are occasionally slow to catch on with traditonally-minded villagers who prefer the familiarity of a fire.

Other practices touted by the study include plowing agricultural waste under in developing nations, instead of burning it, as is customary practice, which would cost next to nothing.

Our colleagues (an international team of 24) ran computer simulations that showed cutting methane and soot in the air would slow global warming by almost one degree Fahrenheit by the mid-2100s.  And better air quality would help prevent lung and cardiovascular diseases, saving “anywhere from 700,000 to 4.7 million lives annually.”  Not to mention ocean, plant, and animal life (ahem).

Even if all these practices were immediately implemented, CO2 would still be the world’s biggest problem, and the majority of greenhouse gas emissions come from China, the U.S., India, and the European Union.

And that may be the most difficult change of all to implement.

 


December 14, 2011

Change By Us

“Hey NYC!  How can we make our city a greener, greater place to live?”

That’s the question that Change By Us wants you to help answer.  It’s an interactive place to share and read ideas on an interactive bulletin board, create or join a project, and reach out to a network of local leaders to get your idea heard.

Their homepage is a colorful electronic “bulletin board” where you can put your idea on a Post-It.  You can search other people’s ideas and projects, or start your own.

I think every city should have something like this.  The hard part is getting people to do stuff, right?  Sigh.  I know I’m only in high school, but I feel like it’s OK for me to say that in a jaded voice.

Later, Tater (tots).

 


December 14, 2011

L.A. Urban Rangers

When many people (including Angelenos) think of L.A., they think of smog and unending stretches of traffic.  But one playful group of artist-environmentalists wants to open its neighbors’ eyes to the natural wonders of the City of Angels.

How do they do it?

The Los Angeles Urban Rangers develop guided hikes, campfire talks, field kits, and other interpretive tools to spark creative explorations of everyday habitats, in our home megalopolis and beyond.

Join their mailing list, check out their toolbox, or take a peek at their field site projects and find out about how easy it is to engage with some pretty amazing nature in Los Angeles.


December 14, 2011

My spiritual cousins, The Birdwatchers

This sounds like a pretty neat group art exhibit about observing nature.  It’s called “The Birdwatchers.”  Opened not too long ago in some fancy gallery in New York City.  It’s gonna be going on until January 22nd.

On display. Makes you think.

First off, did you know that people who’re bird watchers actually call themselves “Birders”?  Well, they do.  Insider jargon, I guess.

The equivalent doesn’t really work for ship spotting, because then I’d be calling myself a “shipper,” which really just reminds me of a FedEx label.  Not much romance in that.

Anyhoo, I liked something they said about their art show:

Artists have always used nature, as subjects of inspiration or objects of manipulation. Art that engages nature can establish connections to a wide range of scientific, historical and philosophical concepts. Advances in biological and telecommunication technology make our interference with natural systems both sophisticated and substantial, modifying the way we look at and represent nature. It is human nature to compare, describe, and sort in order to form our own explanations of the world. We strive to acquire better understanding, prognostication, and control of our surroundings. But is there a purpose to observation if action is not taken?

Interesting points.

That said, I wish somebody would make an art exhibit called “Ship Spotters.”  Maybe they could serve some nice piping hot Sanka and make everybody wear slippers as they walked around.

I can dream…

 

 

 


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