Science, entrepreneurship, conservation and innovation converge at this amazing open source summit with events in multiple Smithsonian locations ranging from New York City, Washington DC and Panama City.
Frequent contributor to this site Phil Karp, will participate in a forum on Restoring Nature. The synergy of forum subjects with our interest in wild foods and our work in conservation focused hospitality makes us wish we were there.
Earth Optimism celebrates a change in focus from problem to solution in the area of global conservation with an unprecedented gathering of thought leaders, scientists, environmentalists, artists, civic leaders and international media.
The global conservation movement has reached a turning point. Continue reading
How is it that an Administration as disorganized as Donald Trump’s has been so methodical when it comes to attacking the environment? PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE RAEDLE / GETTY
I committed myself to not name the name, because it adds fuel to a flame that is already out of control. But if you have read any of the posts in our model mad series the name is clearly implied. Plenty of others name so well that it is best just to link their work. One of the best namer of names when it comes to our environment, and failure to protect it, is Elizabeth Kolbert. She occasionally points out that we do not simply fail to protect, but willingly allow the named to dismantle critical protections. We are sadly impressed that Dame Doomsday doesn’t disappoint with her latest contribution:
Next week, millions of Americans will celebrate Earth Day, even though, three months into Donald Trump’s Presidency, there sure isn’t much to celebrate. A White House characterized by flaming incompetence has nevertheless managed to do one thing effectively: it has trashed years’ worth of work to protect the planet. As David Horsey put it recently, in the Los Angeles Times, “Donald Trump’s foreign policy and legislative agenda may be a confused mess,” but “his administration’s attack on the environment is operating with the focus and zeal of the Spanish Inquisition.” Continue reading
We have been suggesting that the model mad behavior in these particularly odd times is not to fight fire with fire, but to fight it with effective extinguishers. There are plenty of creative, as well as otherwise enlightened approaches you should consider. Here’s another. If what you hear out of the White House is infuriating you, consider what this Whitehouse has to say:
Sheldon Whitehouse is a politician with a great name, a bad haircut, and a pissed-off attitude. The second-term Democratic junior senator from Rhode Island has built his career around two seemingly unrelated issues—climate change and money in politics—and he’s just written a book to demonstrate how intimately connected they turn out to be. Continue reading
We have shared a couple times in the past about the seed vault, but just now it has come to our attention again in this press release from last month, provided by The Crop Trust, which reminds us of the meta-agriculturalist Cary Fowler, whose 2009 Ted talk is worth another quarter hour after a quarter hour on the short film above:
MAJOR DEPOSIT TO WORLD’S LARGEST SEED COLLECTION IN THE ARCTIC OVERSEEN BY THE CROP TRUST | GOPRO SUPPORTS CROP TRUST WITH NEW VIDEO AND PLEDGE DRIVE
SVALBARD, NORWAY – 22 February 2017 – A major seed deposit critical to ensuring global food security was made to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic Circle today. Continue reading
America led the world in reducing carbon pollution in 2016, with a decline of three per cent. But the Trump Administration’s plans suggest that current trends are about to shift. PHOTOGRAPH BY KAYANA SZYMCZAK / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX
Thanks to J. B. MacKinnon for this post on the New Yorker website about the relationship between things we know to be true, things we want to be true, and things which may seem like wishful thinking (for which Santa Claus might be the only hope if we cannot adhere to the sanity clause of our compact with the planet):
On March 17th, the International Energy Agency announced that 2016 marked the third year in a row that global carbon emissions had stayed at the same level while the world’s economy grew. This three-time repeat has put to rest any lingering suspicions of gremlins in the data. Something new is happening. The global economy has now grown nearly ten per cent without any increase in the annual CO2 emissions that are the principal human contribution to climate change. In the parlance of sustainability, growth and emissions appear to have “decoupled.” Continue reading
South Africa’s indigenous Nguni cattle via Flickr
Thanks to Emma Bryce at Anthropocene for this summary on how preserving climate-resilient cattle breeds can boost Africa’s food security:
Black cohosh is a valuable commercial medicinal plant, used to treat symptoms of menopause. TOM POTTERFIELD/FLICKR
Thanks to Nancy Averett at Yale360 for this:
In southern Appalachia, botanist Joe-Ann McCoy is collecting the seeds of thousands of native plant species threatened by climate change. But in this job-scarce region, she also hopes to attract an herbal products company to cultivate the area’s medicinal plants. Continue reading
Thanks to the Guardian for this series of videos:
Every day, the sun kickstarts mini power plants in about 942,000 homes around America. We are of course talking about solar energy – and in 2017, it’s never been cheaper to invest in it for your home. The Guardian looks at key tips for installing solar panels and why now is the time to switch
How to install solar panels at home
Newly bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef near Palm Island in February. Photograph: Australian Marine Conservation Society
We could not have said it better:
As the Great Barrier Reef faces the return of coral bleaching, why are Mantra, Accor and Marriott still silent on Adani? Continue reading
STEVE PROEHL/GETTY IMAGES
Thanks to Wired for a story whose title starts The Government’s Green Energy Incubator Fights for Survival and is worth the read:
LIKE MANY FEDERAL employees, Eric Rohlfing will be watching President Trump on Tuesday night as he addresses a joint session of Congress. Specifically, the chemist will be listening carefully for clues to his future employment status. Rohlfing is the leader of a unique science and technology start-up agency tucked inside the Department of Energy, and he and his staff have been trying to convince the new administration to keep it alive. Continue reading
“For some environmental problems that are truly localized, there is little argument against a state approach,” said Stavins. “However, for environmental problems that are interstate … and for a global commons problem, such as climate change, the federal government really should take the lead.” File photo by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
We are thankful to the Harvard Gazette for this summary of Professor Stavins by Alvin Powell:
The Senate’s confirmation of former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has alarmed environmentalists.
In Oklahoma, Pruitt prided himself on fighting the agency he will now run, with his website describing him as “a leading advocate against the EPA’s activist agenda.” He sued the agency to fight regulation and expressed doubt about the human causes of climate change, though he moderated those views in his confirmation hearings.
Robert Stavins is the Albert Pratt Professor of Business and Government at the Harvard Kennedy School, director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, and a past member of the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. The Gazette asked him about the EPA’s future under Pruitt. Continue reading
This post on the New Yorker website from some months ago caught our attention but we resisted linking it here for some reason now forgotten. But it should be read by anyone interested in conservation and climate change. The title is provocative, no doubt attractive to deniers but instead meant to raise attention on an issue we are sure most people of all walks of life, and all around the world have reason to be concerned about:
By Michelle Nijhuis
In January of this year, James Watson, an Australian scientist who works for the Wildlife Conservation Society, noticed an image that had been tweeted by a friend of his, a physician in Sydney. With a chain of progressively larger circles, it illustrated the relative frequency of causes of death among Australians, from the vanishingly rare (war, pregnancy and birth, murder) to the extremely common (respiratory disorders, cancer, heart disease). It was a simple but striking depiction of comparative risk. “I thought, ‘Why hasn’t anyone done something like this for the rest of nature?’ ” Watson recalled.
The answer was that, until recently, nobody had the data. While many scientists have studied the vulnerability of individual species or groups of organisms (corals, say, or birds) to extinction, only in 2010 did ecologists, conservationists, taxonomists, and naturalists begin to more comprehensively assess the threats posed to species of all kinds—an effort to assemble what the biologist E. O. Wilson has called a “barometer of life.” Continue reading
We cannot help wondering, with the political upheavals in the USA and Europe, what will become of our commitments to take care of serious environmental issues, and specifically climate change; we are looking forward to this debate on the Intelligence Squared podcast, and will post a reminder when the podcast drops:
It was historic. The 2015 Paris climate agreement saw every member country of the UN pledge to cut its carbon emissions to zero by the second half of this century and keep global warming at well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
There’s just one problem. To reach this goal the world would need to shut down all of its coal-fired power stations by 2025 and ditch the combustion engine entirely by 2030. To reach its own targets, the UK will need to decarbonise the vast majority of its electricity supply within a mere 15 years. Eliminating fossil fuels this way is going to be extremely challenging. An extra lever is needed to reach the Paris climate targets. But from where? Continue reading
What a decent man, we say every time we see news of Jimmy Carter. This story is no exception, and we especially appreciate the example he is setting with this action:
PLAINS, Ga. — The solar panels — 3,852 of them — shimmered above 10 acres of Jimmy Carter’s soil where peanuts and soybeans used to grow. The panels moved almost imperceptibly with the sun. And they could power more than half of this small town, from which Mr. Carter rose from obscurity to the presidency. Continue reading