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A dramatic picture taken by Michael Nolan has been...

A dramatic picture taken by Michael Nolan has been... | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A dramatic picture taken by Michael Nolan has been dubbed the face of Mother Nature crying on a canvas of melting ice and cascading water on a Norwegian Glacier. Randy Schutt discovered this amazing photo which shows a crying face in an ice cap located on Nordaustlandet, in the Svalbard archipelago of Norway. The tears of this natural sculpture were created by a waterfall of glacial water cascading from one of the face’s eyes, thus painting an alarming picture warning the world about the effects of global warming. Michael Nolan is a marine photographer and environmental lecturer. He has captured this picture while on an annual voyage to observe the glacier and surrounding wildlife. It’s best to quote Nolan’s words on this:

“This is how one would imagine mother nature would express her sentiments about our inability to reduce global warming. It seemed an obvious place for her to appear, on a retreating ice shelf, crying.”

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World’s first self-driving taxis debut in Singapore ("the robotic era has begun; drivers replaced")

World’s first self-driving taxis debut in Singapore ("the robotic era has begun; drivers replaced") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
The service will start small — six cars now, growing to a dozen by the end of the year. The ultimate goal, say nuTonomy officials, is to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018, which will help sharply cut the number of cars on Singapore’s congested roads. Eventually, the model could be adopted in cities around the world, nuTonomy says. 
For now, the taxis only will run in a 2.5-square-mile business and residential district called “one-north,” and pick-ups and drop-offs will be limited to specified locations. And riders must have an invitation from nuTonomy to use the service. The company says dozens have signed up for the launch, and it plans to expand that list to thousands of people within a few months. 
The cars — modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics — have a driver in front who is prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in back who watches the car’s computers. Each car is fitted with six sets of Lidar — a detection system that uses lasers to operate like radar — including one that constantly spins on the roof. There are also two cameras on the dashboard to scan for obstacles and detect changes in traffic lights. 
The testing time-frame is open-ended, said nuTonomy CEO Karl Iagnemma. Eventually, riders may start paying for the service, and more pick-up and drop-off points will be added. NuTonomy also is working on testing similar taxi services in other Asian cities as well as in the U.S. and Europe, but he wouldn’t say when. 
“I don’t expect there to be a time where we say, ‘We’ve learned enough,’” Iagnemma said. 
Doug Parker, nuTonomy’s chief operating officer, said autonomous taxis could ultimately reduce the number of cars on Singapore’s roads from 900,000 to 300,000. 
Bert Guevara's insight:
Although there will still be a person inside the car, it will not need a driver. The time is coming when taxi drivers will no longer be needed.

“We face constraints in land and manpower. We want to take advantage of self-driving technology to overcome such constraints, and in particular to introduce new mobility concepts which could bring about transformational improvements to public transport in Singapore,” said Pang Kin Keong, Singapore’s Permanent Secretary for Transport and the chairman of its committee on autonomous driving."
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Tiny house, tiny footprint: Recycled materials boost the appeal ("put man in limited place in nature")

Tiny house, tiny footprint: Recycled materials boost the appeal ("put man in limited place in nature") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Tiny houses have become the darlings of budget-minded minimalists, and Ryan Mitchell's book, "Tiny Houses Built with Recycled Materials," explores them.

Contrary to their moniker, tiny houses have left a big mark over the past decade. Typically ranging from 100 to 400 feet, these cozy dwellings have solidified themselves as the architectural darlings of budget-minded minimalists. 

Our obsession with simplicity aside, one of the most enduring reasons why people are so attracted to the idea of tiny houses is because of how ecologically friendly they can be. This is especially true for homes that are constructed from recycled materials like old flooring, salvaged barn wood and reclaimed shipping pallets. One of the most well-known tiny house evangelists is Ryan Mitchell, who started the blog This Tiny Life after building his own ecologically responsible tiny home in 2013. 

"[Tiny] homes are built with a purpose: to pare down on space and possessions in order to focus on the important things in life," Mitchell writes. "While many want tiny houses to be confined in a neat box, the truth is a tiny house, at its core, is about breaking preconceived notions of what a house is."

There are a few defining principles that unite all of these humble abodes, however. An effective use of physical space and a smart, intuitive design is vital for meeting the basic needs of residents, but perhaps most importantly, these charming little homes should act as a vehicle for the lifestyle that the inhabitants wish to pursue. Sometimes the "vehicle" part is taken quite literally — after all, there are quite a few tiny houses making their way across the country hitched to the back of cars!

Bert Guevara's insight:
"The biggest part of the appeal is the DIY mentality. People are building their own homes and coming up with designs that are far more original and creative and have more personality than what is normally considered a home." 
— James Galletly of The Upcyclist
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In 70 Years, The Earth Could Be Too Hot For Summer Olympics ("climate will change nature of sports")

In 70 Years, The Earth Could Be Too Hot For Summer Olympics ("climate will change nature of sports") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Finding a suitable location for the Olympics is about to get really difficult.

As a host city, Rio de Janeiro has seen its share of problems in preparing for and hosting the 2016 Olympic Games, from collapsing infrastructure to terrible pollution. But preliminary results of an ongoing study published Friday in the journal Lancet warn that infrastructure and security issues could be dwarfed by another huge problem for potential host cities in coming years: it could become simply too hot and humid for many cities to host the games at all.

The study, written by a group of U.S. and Australian researchers, looked at how global climate change would affect the viability of host cities in 2085. In less than eighty years, the researchers concluded, only eight cities in the Northern Hemisphere — outside of Western Europe — will have a cool enough climate to host the summer games. No cities in Latin America or Africa would be viable hosts for the games, and only three North American cities — Calgary, Vancouver, and San Francisco — would qualify. 

“The climate could be so bad in 70 years that the Games will change forever,” Kirk Smith, a professor of public health at Berkeley, and co-author of the findings, told SFGate. “They might hold the Summer Games indoors, but can you imagine running an indoor marathon?”

But it’s not just the Summer Olympics that are threatened by climate change — previous studies have also raised the possibility that the Winter Olympics could be equally endangered by rising global temperatures.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Both Summer and Winter Olympics, and other international sporting meets, are losing choices for ideal venues because of the warming weather. 
(The Phil's own marathon runner melted in the homestretch, while 20 other top runners didn't finish at all in Rio.)

"With an increasing body of scientific literature warning that the viable number of Olympic sites could be seriously dwindling , the idea of hosting the Olympics in the same place each year seems more and more appealing. But before the International Olympic Committee takes over an empty island somewhere to create the Olympic Island, maybe someone should make sure it won’t eventually be underwater due to sea-level rise."
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Biodiversity is below safe levels across more than half of world's land –study ("rampant destruction")

Biodiversity is below safe levels across more than half of world's land –study ("rampant destruction") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Habitat destruction has reduced the variety of plants and animals to the point that ecological systems could become unable to function properly, with risks for agriculture and human health, say scientists

The variety of animals and plants has fallen to dangerous levels across more than half of the world’s landmass due to humanity destroying habitats to use as farmland, scientists have estimated. 

The unchecked loss of biodiversity is akin to playing ecological roulette and will set back efforts to bring people out of poverty in the long term, they warned. 

Analysing 1.8m records from 39,123 sites across Earth, the international study found that a measure of the intactness of biodiversity at sites has fallen below a safety limit across 58.1% of the world’s land. 

Under a proposal put forward by experts last year, a site losing more than 10% of its biodiversity is considered to have passed a precautionary threshold, beyond which the ecosystem’s ability to function could be compromised. 

“It’s worrying that land use has already pushed biodiversity below the level proposed as a safe limit,” said Prof Andy Purvis, of the Natural History Museum, and one of the authors. “Until and unless we can bring biodiversity back up, we’re playing ecological roulette.”

Researchers said the study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, was the most comprehensive examination yet of biodiversity loss. The decline is not just bad news for the species but in the long term could spell problems for human health and economies. 

“If ecosystem functions don’t continue, then yes it affects the ability of agriculture to sustain human populations and we simply don’t know at which point that will be reached,” said Dr Tim Newbold, lead author of the work and a research associate at University College London. “We are entering the zone of uncertainty.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Habitat destruction has reduced the variety of plants and animals to the point that ecological systems could become unable to function properly, with risks for agriculture and human health, say scientists.

"The study found that different types of habitat had lost more biodiversity where they were biomes that humans lived in, such as grasslands. Tundra and boreal forests, by contrast, were the least affected. The biggest cause of natural habitats being changed was due to agriculture, rather than urbanisation. 
"The study does come with some caveats. Foremost is that scientists cannot say exactly what a dangerous degree of biodiversity loss would be – it could be the 10% threshold agreed on, but the authors admit that as much as a 70% loss in variety could count as the safe limit."
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We Were Promised The Greenest Olympics Ever. We Got An Ecological Disaster. ("can't escape reality")

We Were Promised The Greenest Olympics Ever. We Got An Ecological Disaster. ("can't escape reality") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Eduardo Paes, Rio de Janeiro's mayor, leaves behind two legacies: one of a city languishing in pollution and another of a city on the forefront of climate action.

“Transforming cities is not easy — it is politically difficult — and I believe he has shown vision, and he should be judged in totality,” Dasgupta said. 

And yet, it’s almost impossible to extract Paes’ time as mayor of Brazil from the city’s Olympic aspirations, accomplishments, and disappointments. Brazil was announced as a finalist for hosting the 2016 games in January 2008 — nine months before Paes narrowly won the mayorship for the first time. Paes has never been mayor without the specter of the games hanging over his decisions, nor will he ever know what a tenure without an Olympic Games would feel like. He’ll step down as mayor in December, two months after the Olympic flame is extinguished. He’ll finish his tenure as C40 chair at the same time, fully exiting political life, in the wake of the largest event his city has ever seen. 

What kind of legacy will Paes leave behind? Certainly not one that exactly mirrors the promises officials made before Rio was awarded the bid — the bay is still filthy, new developments threaten to push out lower-income Cariocas, and the state of Rio is in the midst of an economic crisis that has crippled everything from law enforcement to health services. Some of these problems rest squarely on Paes’ shoulders; others don’t. To transform a city, especially one like Rio, where city, state, and federal government jockey for varying levels of control, is not easy. Countless cities have tried to use the Olympics as a catalyst for transformation. Almost all have failed. 

Beyond the borders of the Olympic Games, however, Paes leaves another legacy — that of a city which has begun to confront the climate crisis before it, a city that has a plan for the future that includes building resilience against climate change. That struggle is a long one and will extend far beyond Paes’ time as mayor, or likely even the next mayor’s tenure. To prepare for climate change, not unlike hosting an Olympic games, takes years of meticulous planning, methodical preparation, and dogged execution. Paes’ government has created a plan for Rio to face the coming climate crisis head on — Cariocas can only hope that this plan is executed more faithfully than the promises that preceded the Olympics.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The specter of environmental degradation hangs like a dead weight for every city that aims to move on with development. Mayors cannot continue to assume that they can have development without cleaning the environment. 
The Mayor of Rio will have to swallow a bitter pill when the 2016 Olympic Games begin.

"To prepare for climate change, not unlike hosting an Olympic games, takes years of meticulous planning, methodical preparation, and dogged execution. Paes’ government has created a plan for Rio to face the coming climate crisis head on — Cariocas can only hope that this plan is executed more faithfully than the promises that preceded the Olympics."
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Here’s Another Case For Switching To A Vegetarian Diet ("eating less meat means feeding more people")

Here’s Another Case For Switching To A Vegetarian Diet ("eating less meat means feeding more people") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

If we want to feed more people using less farmland in the future, we need to eat far less meat.

When it comes to the food we eat, there’s practically no such thing as a “guilt-free” diet — practically any food, unless you grow it yourself without using excessive pesticides or water, comes with nutritional, environmental or ethical consequences. 

But according to new research published last week in the Elementa journal, some diets fare far better than others when it comes to the important measure of how much agricultural land is required to produce the food they require. 

Specifically, diets that contained less meat tended to be far less land-dependent and, therefore, held the potential to feed a larger population on a per-square-foot basis. 

“A population eating less meat than we eat now would, generally, feed more people,” Christian Peters, Tufts University associate professor and the paper’s lead author, told The Huffington Post. He added, however, that’s only true to a certain point. 

The paper, authored by a team of Tufts researchers, considered the land requirements — or “food-prints”— of 10 different diet scenarios that ranged from one resembling the average American’s meat diet to a completely meat-free vegan diet. 

Perhaps surprisingly, the ovo-lacto and lacto vegetarian diets — which both include dairy products and, in the case of ovo-lacto vegetarians, eggs — showed the potential to feed a larger population than a vegan diet.

Bert Guevara's insight:
If we want to feed more people using less farmland in the future, we need to eat far less meat.

"So why is this important? As Peters noted, the bulk of the food Americans eat comes directly from agricultural production. As the global population increases additional agricultural output is needed, but with expanded farming comes environmental concerns. 
"Among these are increased greenhouse gas emissions, which are linked to methane production from livestock and improper manure storage on farms. These emissions have already been on the rise in recent years, according to the EPA. 
"Another issue is nutrient runoff from farms that use excessive fertilizer on their crops. This runoff can cause algal blooms like the “guacamole-thick” ones spotted in Florida recently or those that have grown into a Connecticut-sized dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico."
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Are seawalls the best answer to rising sea levels – or is retreat a better option? ("should we fight nature?")

Are seawalls the best answer to rising sea levels – or is retreat a better option? ("should we fight nature?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

While barriers are the most widely used method of protecting coastal homes and infrastructure in Australia, landscape architects must consider other options

Given their spectacular locations, the homes in the frontline of raging waves are usually valuable property. Attempts to fortify them are met with resistance from ecologists and other beach users, who say the houses should not have been built there in the first place. 

They object to seawalls because they stop the beach from being a dynamic system, in which wind and waves continually reshape the shore. Natural processes will usually redeposit much of the lost sand back on to beaches in the weeks after a storm. But where there is a seawall, heightened waves run up the shore and slam against it. The beach can’t move backwards, so the sand disappears.

But seawalls, like dykes, levees and berms, have been used across the world for centuries to protect homes and other assets. From Sydney to São Paulo to New York, a sea-level rise of even a few centimetres can threaten to swallow homes and highways, inundate sewage treatment plants, and contaminate water supplies. Whether faced with king tides or swelling rivers and lakes, planners in coastal and estuarine urban settings must find a way to brace against the impacts of climate change.

The row about whether a seawall should be built on a stretch of coast in Collaroy has raged since the shoreline of the northern Sydney suburb was subdivided more than 100 years ago. When the beach retreated during high seas, the then beach shacks were undermined. Records show major erosion occurred in 1920, seven shacks fell into the sea in 1945 and one was washed away in 1967. But, as Rissik says: “People forget and they build there again.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
There is a great debate on how to handle rising sea levels. 
Are seawalls the answer or not? 
In the first place, should beach houses really be there? 
Or should beach house designs be radically changed? 
Or is retreating an option?
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A cheap, simple experiment just found a very effective way to slow deforestation ("get paid for not cutting")

A cheap, simple experiment just found a very effective way to slow deforestation ("get paid for not cutting") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A "proof of concept" study shows that paying developing country landowners not to cut down their trees actually works.

In a convincing new study conducted in Uganda and based on a program sponsored in part by its government, a team of researchers have found an effective and affordable way to combat deforestation in a country showing some of the fastest tree loss rates in the world. How? The program simply paid owners of forest land not to cut down their own trees for either agricultural purposes or to sell them for timber. 

The research provides a positive model for protecting a forest region that is a hub for biodiversity, including serving as a key habitat for endangered chimpanzees. At the same time, it also validates the effectiveness of a “Payments for Ecosystems Services” program of the sort that could bolster the battle against global deforestation and its impact as a leading driver of climate change. 

More such programs could be supported under a broader United Nations initiative called REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries), in which richer countries and other international funders make payments to developing nations in exchange for protecting their vital trees. That quest that has only become more urgent after an explicit shout-out to the importance of combating deforestation, and REDD+, in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The value of forests are now being matched with "financial incentives" for local villagers not to cut trees for any reason. It has succeeded in test areas.
This can be matched in the Philippines with our "cash transfer" program. Get paid for not cutting -- a fair offer.

"The result was that while forest cover decreased by between 7 and 10 percent in the “control” villages, it only dropped between 2 to 5 percent in the designated “treatment” villages, suggesting that the incentive payments were preventing a significant number of landowners from selling large trees for timber or charcoal, or chopping down forest to grow more crops."
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Why You Should Fear an "Ecological Recession" (the impact on humans unquantifiable but alarming")

Why You Should Fear an "Ecological Recession" (the impact on humans unquantifiable but alarming") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Human efforts to slow biodiversity loss are falling short across the globe, creating the potential for harm to future human development

Researchers behind study, published in the journal Science, found that human-caused pressures like land use change—the destruction of natural habitats often for timber, agriculture or residential developments—have cause biodiversity to fall to unsustainable levels more than half of the world’s surface. On average, human activity has driven away 15% of species that would have been present otherwise in locations across the globe, according to the study. 

“Decision-makers worry a lot about economic recessions,” said author Andy Purvis, a professor at the Natural History Museum in London in a press release. “But an ecological recession could have even worse consequences—and the biodiversity damage we’ve had means we’re at risk of that happening.”

Determining exactly what level of biodiversity loss can be sustained without damaging human wellbeing is a difficult challenge. Previous research has suggested that a decline of more than 10% in the number of species in a certain area could be a dangerous threshold, but even that study notes that the figure is far from certain. 

Healthy biodiversity plays a crucial role in a number of functions that support human life, including pollination and pest control, both of which support agriculture. Other vulnerable species—like some types of trees and plants—suck up carbon dioxide that would otherwise contribute to climate change.

“It is a tricky problem to say how much biodiversity loss is too much,” says Tom Oliver, an associate professor in landscape ecology, in an opinion piece accompanying the study. “However, we can be certain that inaction commits us to a future with substantial costs to human well-being.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Humans are creating an ecological bomb that may explode anytime. The adverse impacts of biodiversity loss are difficult to measure but will definitely affect our daily lives. In the meantime, the world is preoccupied with wars, terrorism, crime, politics, etc.

"A number of initiatives are underway to address biodiversity loss, including the 1993 Convention on Biological Diversity, an international treaty that establishes a framework for dealing with the issue. But, with biodiversity showing no signs of slowing—and other phenomena like climate change worsening the problem—change may not come soon enough."
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Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years ("we can't catch up w/ food production")

Earth has lost a third of arable land in past 40 years ("we can't catch up w/ food production") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Experts point to damage caused by erosion and pollution, raising major concerns about degraded soil amid surging global demand for food

New research has calculated that nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been lost at a rate that far outstrips the pace of natural processes to replace diminished soil. 

The University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, which undertook the study by analysing various pieces of research published over the past decade, said the loss was “catastrophic” and the trend close to being irretrievable without major changes to agricultural practices.

The continual ploughing of fields, combined with heavy use of fertilizers, has degraded soils across the world, the research found, with erosion occurring at a pace of up to 100 times greater than the rate of soil formation. It takes around 500 years for just 2.5cm of topsoil to be created amid unimpeded ecological changes.

“We aren’t quite at the tipping point yet, but we need to do something about it. We are up against it if we are to reverse this decline.” 

The erosion of soil has largely occurred due to the loss of structure by continual disturbance for crop planting and harvesting. If soil is repeatedly turned over, it is exposed to oxygen and its carbon is released into the atmosphere, causing it to fail to bind as effectively. This loss of integrity impacts soil’s ability to store water, which neutralizes its role as a buffer to floods and a fruitful base for plants.

Bert Guevara's insight:
We are taking our soil for granted and putting our future at risk. How else can we catch up with food production, with an ever increasing population, if good soil runs out?

"New research has calculated that nearly 33% of the world’s adequate or high-quality food-producing land has been lost at a rate that far outstrips the pace of natural processes to replace diminished soil. 
"The University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, which undertook the study by analysing various pieces of research published over the past decade, said the loss was “catastrophic” and the trend close to being irretrievable without major changes to agricultural practices."
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Bandila: Palawan, 'World's Best Island' sa ikalawang pagkakataon ("no to mining; yes to tourism")

Muling pinatunayan ng Palawan ang kanyang natatanging ganda. Sa ikalawang pagkakataon kasi, itinanghal itong "World's Best Island' ng isang internationa
Bert Guevara's insight:
Palawan can earn more for its people through tourism. There is no room for mining in this God-given jewel.

"Muling pinatunayan ng Palawan ang kanyang natatanging ganda. Sa ikalawang pagkakataon kasi, itinanghal itong "World's Best Island' ng isang international travel magazine. At maging ang Boracay at Cebu, pasok din sa listahan ng mga pinakamagagandang isla sa mundo."
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New multi-crop zero-till planter boosts yields and farming efficiency in Pakistan | CIMMYT 

New multi-crop zero-till planter boosts yields and farming efficiency in Pakistan | CIMMYT  | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A new planter that promotes dry seeding of rice, saves water and increases planting efficiency is being used increasingly in Pakistan’s Punjab Province.

A new planter that promotes dry seeding of rice, saves water and increases planting efficiency is being used increasingly in Pakistan’s Punjab Province. 

Many farmers in Punjab alternately grow rice and wheat in their fields throughout the year, and the province produces more than 50% of Pakistan’s rice and 75% of its wheat. 

Traditionally, rice planting involves transplanting 4-6-week old seedlings into puddled fields, a process that requires large amounts of water and labor, both of which are becoming increasingly scarce and expensive. Repeated puddling negatively affects soil physical properties, decreases soil aggregation and results in hardpan formation, which reduces the productivity of the following wheat crop. 

Sustainable intensification aims to increase the productivity of labor, land and capital. Conservation agriculture (CA) relies on practices such as minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and the use of crop rotation to maintain and/or boost yields, increase profits and protect the environment. It also helps improve soil function and quality, which can improve resilience to climate variability.

Dry seeding of rice (DSR), a practice that involves growing rice without puddling the soil, can save up to 25 percent of the water needed for growing the crop and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. However, the old fluted roller drills used for DSR do not guarantee uniform plant-to-plant spacing and break the rice seeds, requiring farmers to purchase more seed than otherwise needed.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Like I said, we have to rewrite our agriculture textbooks and re-educate our farmers. Have you heard of "dry seeding of rice"?
The Philippines has its SRI.

"Dry seeding of rice (DSR), a practice that involves growing rice without puddling the soil, can save up to 25 percent of the water needed for growing the crop and reduces greenhouse gas emissions."
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'Healing' detected in Antarctic ozone hole - BBC News ("still bad but actions taken are correct")

'Healing' detected in Antarctic ozone hole - BBC News ("still bad but actions taken are correct") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Researchers say they have found the first clear evidence that the thinning in the ozone layer above Antarctica is starting to heal.

The scientists said that in September 2015 the hole was around 4 million sq km smaller than it was in the year 2000 - an area roughly the size of India. 

The gains have been credited to the long term phasing out of ozone-destroying chemicals. 

The study also sheds new light on the role of volcanoes in making the problem worse.

One finding that puzzled researchers was the October 2015 reading that showed the biggest ozone hole on record over Antarctica. 

The scientists believe that a key contributor to the record hole was volcanic activity. 

"After an eruption, volcanic sulphur forms tiny particles and those are the seeds for Polar Stratospheric Clouds," Prof Solomon told Science in Action. 

"You get even more of these clouds when you have a recent major volcanic eruption and that leads to additional ozone loss." 

"Until we did our recent work no-one realised that the Calbuco eruption in Chile, actually had significantly affected the ozone loss in October of last year." 

The study has been hailed as "historically significant" by some other researchers in the field. 

"This is the first convincing evidence that the healing of the Antarctic ozone hole has now started," said Dr Markus Rex from the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. 

"Right now the state of the ozone layer is still really bad, but I find it very important that we know the Montreal Protocol is working and has an effect on the size of the hole and that is a big step forward."

Bert Guevara's insight:
Even if the signs show positive trends, there is no reason to relax. The ozone hole is still there, although no longer growing - so they say.

"Right now the state of the ozone layer is still really bad, but I find it very important that we know the Montreal Protocol is working and has an effect on the size of the hole and that is a big step forward."
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Should we all follow in footsteps of Italy's 1st 'vegetarian city'? ("less meat is good for planet")

Should we all follow in footsteps of Italy's 1st 'vegetarian city'? ("less meat is good for planet") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Meat is central to Italy's tradition of fine dining. But this could be about to change, in one part of the country at least.

Though Appendino's idea was ridiculed by many on social media, recent trends suggest that more and more of us – especially the younger generation – have felt the need to switch to a vegetarian, or at least flexitarian, diet. A 2014 study by Mintel found that the number of vegetarians in the UK has risen to a record high of 12% of the population (20% among 16-24 year olds). Americans, meanwhile, are eating about 20lbs less meat per person per year than they were 10 years ago. 

Even in Turin, the number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants has climbed to 30, according to Corriere Della Sera. 

This shift could partly be attributable to recent health warnings over excessive meat consumption. Late last year, the World Health Organization ranked processed meats alongside smoking as a cause of cancer.

It's noteworthy that among the Turin mayor's reasons to turn vegetarian is "to protect the environment". The impact of meat consumption on the environment is considerable. The FAO, for example, estimates that domesticated ruminants (such as sheep and cows) release 100 million tonnes of methane into the atmosphere every year. 

Beef is particularly harmful, as it requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions. There is also concern over the amount of land, grain and water required to raise cattle. 

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,” said Professor Tim Benton from Leeds University in a study published in the National Academy of Sciences. Meanwhile, another study suggests that a shift towards a more plant-based diet could reduce food-related emissions by between 29-70%.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Take part in climate mitigation by eating less red meat - it's that simple.

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,” said Professor Tim Benton from Leeds University in a study published in the National Academy of Sciences. Meanwhile, another study suggests that a shift towards a more plant-based diet could reduce food-related emissions by between 29-70%."
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Jaw-Dropping Photo of Orion Nebula Is Loaded With Beauty and Packed With Science ("see it yourself")

Jaw-Dropping Photo of Orion Nebula Is Loaded With Beauty and Packed With Science ("see it yourself") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A new photo of the Orion Nebula is gorgeous, and unveils a mystery about how stars are born.

At a distance of 1,300 light-years—just 13,000 trillion kilometers, which is close on a galactic scale—the Orion Nebula is one of the most magnificent objects in the sky. It’s so luminous that you can see it by eye even in mildly light-polluted areas, and when you use binoculars you can tell it’s not a star, but something fuzzy and big, hinting at its true nature. That nature comes into clarity when the nebula is photographed using a telescope. That reveals it to be an immense cloud of gas and dust, light-years across, a factory for creating stars, colorful and spectacular.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Have you looked up at the stars lately? Take a break from looking down on your gadget or cellphone, and look up.
Although you may be partially blinded by the bright street lights and billboard lights, you can see the stars on a clear night sky. But nothing can look like this new picture, seen from a telescope, but also visible through binoculars.
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Red alert for habagat: DSWD activates Virtual Operations Center ("getting better in handling disasters")

Red alert for habagat: DSWD activates Virtual Operations Center ("getting better in handling disasters") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

'Information is power, and we want this power to be used by Filipinos so they themselves can find means to prepare for calamities and help themselves immediately when calamities strike,' says DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo.

At 5 pm on Saturday, August 13, as soon as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) raised the alert level to red, the corresponding alert light in the operations center of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) was turned on. 

This signalled the agency's heightened response to the southwest monsoon or habagat using its new Virtual Operations Center (VOC). The online platform was launched just last August 3 by the Disaster Response and Management Bureau (DReaMB) at the DSWD central office. 

Thanks to the VOC, DReaMB Director Felino Castro V could still monitor and gather reports from the field and social media on Saturday, while he was at the NDRRMC operations center. 

The data that the DSWD needs to send assistance was at Castro's fingertips, and these information are also accessible to the public.

Overnight, as the monsoon rains continued to pound the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon, and Calabarzon, Castro's team monitored various efforts to evacuate residents from low-lying and flood-prone areas. 

The VOC indicated that the DSWD was prepared to respond if affected areas needed additional help. The agency had around P900 million on standby for the purchase of emergency relief supplies. The online platform also showed that the agency prepared 540,000 family packs for distribution to affected families. 

By 6 am on Sunday, August 14, the VOC posted a situational report showing that at least 79 evacuation centers were opened in affected areas in Luzon, serving 3,888 families. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
Internet technology is now maximized by DSWD for disaster preparedness and response. Check this out; you may be the next beneficiary.

"Through the VOC, the DSWD said it is making available to the public information on the agency's disaster preparedness and response efforts. Technology, in this case, is being used to promote transparency and good governance. 
"Information is power, and we want this power to be used by Filipinos so they themselves can find means to prepare for calamities and help themselves immediately when calamities strike," Taguiwalo said. 
The online platform also includes the following features: 
•Hazards information from NDRRMC partner agencies 
•Exposure datasets from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) and the DSWD's list of poor families 
•Predictive analytics for humanitarian response"
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Nature: A Better, Faster, Cost-Effective Answer for Climate Resilience? ("nature-based structures better")

Nature: A Better, Faster, Cost-Effective Answer for Climate Resilience? ("nature-based structures better") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Living shorelines and nature-based solutions reduce climate-related risks to communities and infrastructure, says the Nature Conservancy.

As sea-levels rise and weather-related threats continue to increase, opportunities emerge for people and local governments to build “living shorelines.” These natural or nature-based structures are designed to reduce risk to communities and infrastructure from flooding and storm surge, while often providing the ecosystem benefits of habitat.

Currently, it’s much faster for property owners in many parts of the country to get a permit for sea walls, bulkheads and other so-called gray infrastructure than it is to get a permit for the construction of nature-based systems since there is an existing nationwide permit that covers some of those activities. If the Army Corps moves forward with the new category, though, permits to build living shorelines could be issued in a quarter of the time it takes under the current model.

The economic implications of extreme weather events are felt across the country. Ninety-six percent of the total U.S. population lives in counties where federally declared weather-related disasters have occurred since 2010. Meanwhile, average flood losses in the U.S. have increased steadily to nearly $10 billion annually, driving the National Flood Insurance Program $24 billion into debt. 

To counter these risks and rising costs, we need solutions that are better, cheaper, and smarter. Notably, some of our best solutions are also greener. Nations, communities, and businesses are re-examining natural systems and their potential to meet economic, environmental, and safety needs. We are asking, increasingly: How can we tap nature’s solutions to secure and sustain safe, prosperous coastal communities and healthy ecosystems?

Bert Guevara's insight:
Learn from me. -- Nature

"As sea-levels rise and weather-related threats continue to increase, opportunities emerge for people and local governments to build “living shorelines.” These natural or nature-based structures are designed to reduce risk to communities and infrastructure from flooding and storm surge, while often providing the ecosystem benefits of habitat. ...
"To counter these risks and rising costs, we need solutions that are better, cheaper, and smarter. Notably, some of our best solutions are also greener. Nations, communities, and businesses are re-examining natural systems and their potential to meet economic, environmental, and safety needs. We are asking, increasingly: How can we tap nature’s solutions to secure and sustain safe, prosperous coastal communities and healthy ecosystems?"
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Mexican village uses fireflies to halt deforestation by logging industry ("tourism income is better")

Mexican village uses fireflies to halt deforestation by logging industry ("tourism income is better") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Camp spaces in Piedra Canteada park, a rural cooperative near Nanacamilpa, sold out weeks in advance to see thousands of the fireflies light up the night

Business was slow for years. Then in 2011, community members realized the millions of fireflies that appear between June and August could draw tourists from larger cities where few people have seen them in significant numbers. Indeed, around the world, deforestation and urban growth are threatening the more than 2,000 species of fireflies with extinction. 

Five years later, the park’s cabins and camp spaces are sold out weeks in advance, with the attraction especially popular among families with young children and couples seeking a romantic setting. 

“The amount of fireflies you see is impressive,” said Carlos Landa, a Mexico City native who visited Piedra Canteada this week. “Something that I also find quite impressive is their synchronicity: to turn off and turn on, that is something really spectacular. It’s like Christmas in the forest.”

The cooperative of 42 families still cuts some trees, but has preserved over 1,560 acres (630 hectares). 

“We log, we live from the forest, from cutting trees, but in an orderly way,” said Rueda Lopez, one of the cooperative’s founders. “It’s like a garden, you have to remove the branches yourself, the dry parts, the parts with diseases to really grow.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
This destructive logging town is now a tourism destination because of the millions of fireflies that appear between June and August. The forest is now a reservation that brings the needed income to its residents. Everybody wins!

But the fireflies are now the main source of income. 
“We have reduced our wood production, you can say by 60 or 70% to preserve the forest and have better amount of tourism,” said sawmill manager Salvador Morale.
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UN News - On first International Day, UNESCO calls for protection of mangrove ecosystems

UN News - On first International Day, UNESCO calls for protection of mangrove ecosystems | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Mangroves are rare and vital ecosystems that help to protect coastlines and mitigate the effects of climate change, but their survival is being jeopardized, the United Nations cultural agency said today, calling for greater preservation efforts as the international community marks the first ever International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem.

26 July 2016 – Mangroves are rare and vital ecosystems that help to protect coastlines and mitigate the effects of climate change, but their survival is being jeopardized, the United Nations cultural agency said today, calling for greater preservation efforts as the international community marks the first ever International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem. 

“Mangroves are rare, spectacular and prolific ecosystems on the boundary between land and sea. They ensure food security for local communities. They provide biomass, forest products and sustain fisheries. They contribute to the protection of coastlines. They help mitigate the effects of climate change and extreme weather events,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a message to mark the Day. 

“This is why the protection of mangrove ecosystems is essential today. Their survival faces serious challenges – from the alarming rise of the sea level and biodiversity that is increasingly endangered. The earth and humanity simply cannot afford to lose these vital ecosystems,” she added. 

Mangroves – ecosystems located on the interface of land and sea in tropical regions – can play an important role in reducing vulnerability to natural hazards and increasing resilience to climate change impacts, by acting as a form of natural coastal defense. However, mangroves are disappearing three to five times faster than overall global forest losses, with serious ecological and socio-economic impacts, UNESCO said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Before the next generation misses the chance to appreciate the value of mangrove ecosystems, because they have been converted to fishponds or beach resorts, let us spread the word.

“On this first International Day for the Conservation of the Mangrove Ecosystem, UNESCO's message is clear. Taking forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development means forging new sustainable pathways to development in harmony with the earth. This means preserving all mangrove ecosystems,” said Ms. Bokova. 
"UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves has 86 sites out of 669 that include areas of mangroves. Many are in developing countries and Small Island Developing States – such as La Hotte Biosphere Reserve in Haiti and the island of Principe in Sao Tome and Principe, as well as the Can Gio Mangrove in Viet Nam."
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SLIDESHOW: Land won back from mining ("victory of the people vs irresponsible mining")

SLIDESHOW: Land won back from mining ("victory of the people vs irresponsible mining") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The people of Sta. Cruz, Zambales have reason to celebrate the change in government from President Aquino to President Duterte.

The people of Sta. Cruz, Zambales have reason to celebrate the change in government from President Aquino to President Duterte. 

New Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has suspended several large-scale mining operations in Sta. Cruz and other nearby municipalities. 

The closure order came after the Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan on June 21, 2016. The writ is a legal remedy that implores the state to protect the right of the people to a healthy environment. 

But behind the sweet victory of the people against large-scale mining is a bitter reality that Sta. Cruz town will never be the same again. Damage has already been done to the ecology: mountains have been exhausted, and marine life has been disturbed. 

The diverse ecology is now scarred, and this is evident not just in the environment but in the lives of the people of Zambales. 

This initial victory was won through the collective efforts of anti-mining advocates and the people of the province. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
This is a major victory for the people of Zambales. 
After winning a Writ of Kalikasan from the Supreme Court in June 2016, the DENR issued suspension orders to several mining companies for their destructive mining operations.

"The people of Sta. Cruz, Zambales have reason to celebrate the change in government from President Aquino to President Duterte. New Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has suspended several large-scale mining operations in Sta. Cruz and other nearby municipalities. 
"The closure order came after the Supreme Court issued a Writ of Kalikasan on June 21, 2016. The writ is a legal remedy that implores the state to protect the right of the people to a healthy environment."
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Meet 10 Bizarre and Beautiful Creatures from the Deep ("rare species that live far away from humans")

Meet 10 Bizarre and Beautiful Creatures from the Deep ("rare species that live far away from humans") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Photos and gifs of deep sea creatures from one of the last relatively pristine marine ecosystems on the planet.

On July 10, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Okeanos Explorer completed a 69-day, 3-stage expedition of previously unknown and poorly understood deepwater habitats. 

The first leg, exploring the southern half of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, wrapped up on May 11. See some of their incredible finds here: 10 Stunning Undersea Creatures From the Deepwater Exploration of the Marianas 

This last leg explores the northern half of these protected marine areas. Scientists captured images and video of many of the incredible creatures that live at these extreme depths, some of them never seen before or found thriving in unexpected places. 

Due to its remote location, this area remains one of the “last relatively pristine marine ecosystems on the planet,” reports NOAA.

Bert Guevara's insight:
10 awesome life forms from the deep that you have never seen before.
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Tree Management Plans are Essential for Sustainable Cities ("for short and long term care")

Tree Management Plans are Essential for Sustainable Cities ("for short and long term care") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

For the greener cities of the future, a tree management plan for the urban environment becomes a practical discipline that includes tree planting, selection, protection and care. The overall management of trees could be seen as a more collective resource. Let's take San Francisco, for example.

Without a detailed and comprehensive vision for what you want to accomplish, the future of the street trees of your city will be uncertain. You have to create a long-term plan that will look at the health of the trees and how it will impact the neighborhood. Without ongoing urban tree planting efforts, your city will lose its natural beauty. As stated before, San Francisco has around 105,000 trees, and they pride themselves on being a green city, but unfortunately, they also have one of the smallest tree canopies of any large city within the United States. They have 17 percent fewer trees than Chicago, 21 percent fewer than Los Angeles and 24 percent fewer than New York City. What's worse is that they are on the decline. With the new plantings not keeping pace with tree mortality and tree removals, there is plenty of space being opened. Do not let your city lose that lustrous look that trees can provide.

Green urban planning has importance because it will help to make your city more beautiful. In addition, if you are in the real estate business, the trees in a neighborhood can increase the number of ADL forms that are filled out. Street and park tree management should be the first element considered with managing an urban forest. Without an adequate plan for action, taking care of your city's urban forests will not prove effective. Before you begin, you want to establish and clarify your key objectives and priorities. After you have done that, you can communicate with the rest of your team and set a guideline that becomes a healthy resource for everyone to take advantage of. Without clear objectives at the beginning of the planning process, you do not know what you are attempting to accomplish.

Bert Guevara's insight:
If we fully understand the value of trees, especially in a city, then they should have a TREE MANAGEMENT PLAN. What is that all about?

"Whenever designing the plan, you want to address the key players of your plan. You should have both short-term and long-term goals for both the street and park trees because this will keep your city stay green and lushly beautiful for years to come. Examining these issues is important because what affects one group of stakeholders may not affect another group of people. Therefore, you want to uncover the shared elements that will tie each group together for better understanding and development."
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'Shocking images' reveal death of 10,000 hectares of mangroves ("the worst kind of mangrove dieback")

'Shocking images' reveal death of 10,000 hectares of mangroves ("the worst kind of mangrove dieback") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Ten thousand hectares of mangroves are dead across a stretch of coastline reaching from Queensland to the Northern Territory, and an international mangrove expert believes it is linked to climate change.
Bert Guevara's insight:
Really bad! This 10k hectare mangrove dieback coincided with what happened in the space of a month late last year -- the coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef. What's happening to Australia?

"We're talking about 10,000 hectares of mangroves were lost across this whole 700 kilometre span," Dr Duke said. 
"It's not only unprecedented, it's extensive, it's severe and it's noticeable. 
"I have not seen such imagery anywhere before, from all over the world. I work in many places around the world and I look at damaged mangroves as part of my work all the time. These are the most shocking images of dieback I've ever seen."
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Anti-coal activist murdered in the Philippines ("another attempt to silence the environment defenders")

Anti-coal activist murdered in the Philippines ("another attempt to silence the environment defenders") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

On July 1, two gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed anti-coal activist, Gloria Capitan, inside her karaoke bar in Mariveles, Bataan in the Philippines.

On July 1, two gunmen on motorcycles shot and killed anti-coal activist, Gloria Capitan, inside her karaoke bar in Mariveles, Bataan in the Philippines. 

Capitan, 57, sustained three gunshot wounds, two in the neck and one in the arm, local media reported. Her eight-year-old grandson reportedly suffered injuries from a stray bullet that grazed his arm. 

Capitan was a president of Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Mamamayan ng Lucanin, a community-based organization, and she led her community in a series of protests against pollution from an open coal storage facility close to her neighborhood, and demanded its permanent closure. The storage facility is run by Sea Front Shipyard Services, Inc, a subsidiary of Limay Bulk and Handling Terminal. Capitan also fought actively against the expansion of coal plants in Bataan province. 

“If this is a message to silence other anti-coal activists like her, then they are mistaken,” Val De Guzman, a campaigner for the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice, said in a statement. “Because on the ground where Ate Glo’s [Capitan’s] body fell, where the blood from her body flows more anti-coal activists will sprout. Instead of silencing us, it will only strengthen our convictions, that the evil menace of coal must end. And we will persevere in this fight and see to it that our children and the children of our children will be free from it.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
“Gloria Capitan, like many other environmentalists killed before her, sacrificed her life to defend the rights of the powerless and vulnerable,” Ramon San Pascual, Director of Health Care Without Harm (HCWH)-Asia, said in a statement. 
“Her murder demonstrates how abuses to our environment cause insurmountable damages not only to our surroundings but to people’s lives, especially the poor. Whilst defending people’s environmental and human rights, the irony is that defenders themselves need to be protected. 
At the end of the day, Capitan’s death and many others’ underscore the need for our government, especially the new administration, to protect them from the very harms from which they selflessly protect us.”
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Greener cities the key to happier, healthier, stress-free lives ("people need touch of nature daily")

Greener cities the key to happier, healthier, stress-free lives ("people need touch of nature daily") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A 'daily dose of nature' via green open spaces and roof gardens is needed to support people's wellbeing, a new study says.

People are biologically wired to need to be close to nature, with more green open spaces and roof gardens needed to support their wellbeing, a new study says. 

A lack of access to greenery could play a role in stress and overall poor health, with experts calling on architects and urban planners to provide more green, open spaces in built-up areas. 

Curtin University professor Peter Newman, author of the paper Biophilic Architecture: Rationale and Outcomes, said including vegetation as part of building design has been absent in many cities and needs to be given more prominence.

"What biophilic designers see as the missing evolutionary element in modern cities is the need to re-establish an innate connection to nature in everyday life," he said. 

He added that a "daily dose of nature" - as originally prescribed by Tim Beatley, a US professor in sustainable communities - was necessary for people's mental wellbeing. 

"As biological beings, humans have not adapted physiologically, emotionally, or psychologically to the current sterile urban technological cities," he said. 

"This mismatch, where the environment that humans occupy is so removed from the one in which humans have evolved, could be the disjuncture that has led to much of modern stress and mental health issues." 

Bert Guevara's insight:
The highest value of real estate is reached when people can live in a stress-free, close-to-nature setting, and not merely in maximized built-up areas.
We need to see more greens!

"In an increasingly urbanising world, small, short-lived public green spaces such as pop-up parks may be counted among the few options that human city-dwellers in dense urban areas will have to engage with nature."
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