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Living on Earth: The Pope and the Sin of Environmental Degradation ("look forward to green encyclical")

Living on Earth: The Pope and the Sin of Environmental Degradation ("look forward to green encyclical") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Pope Francis has called environmental exploitation the sin of our time. He is working on an encyclical about humanity’s relationship with nature. Christiana Peppard, Assistant Professor of Theology, Science and Ethics at Fordham University and author of the book Just Water, discusses the Pope’s call to “care for God’s creation” with host Steve Curwood.

Well, one of the things that we’ve really seen with this papacy is that Francis is trying as hard as he can under the circumstances of his elevated post to remain pretty close to the ground. So he was known back when he was in Argentina for spending a pretty good amount of time in various impoverished communities. He’s known now for, you know, driving a relatively humble Pope-mobile and not wearing fancy Prada shoes, and living in not too fancy quarters in the Vatican.

I think that his experience in South America, seeing the ways in which extractive industries and environmental degradation often have negative impacts for people living in situations of poverty, has informed a lot of his comments on the economy and on ecology more broadly. But I also think he understands his role as a kind of moral compass. There has not yet been an encyclical explicitly about the environment. There have been encyclicals that deal with the environment, sort of at this nexus of social justice, environmental degradation and economic development. And environmental degradation really is one of the signs of the times that no moral leader, or in this case theological faith leader, can afford to ignore.

It is a really strong statement. I mean for a Pope to say that deforestation and ecological destruction are the sins of our times is really throwing down a gauntlet. It prompts Christians, especially in the U.S., to think about how we understand sin and how we understand responsibility. So much of Western moral tradition, whether theological or philosophical, has really been based upon a very individualistic paradigm wherein I commit some kind of action, usually intentionally, and it's seen as wrong or sinful. In some sense we can ascribe a clear cause, a clear effect—there’s someone who can repent for it, someone who is affected; there might be some mode of remediation. What's really interesting about applying the language of sin to environmental destruction is that there is not necessarily one person who is the sole cause of things. Causality is much more complex. It has to do with patterns of global economy, of governance, of incentive, of poverty, of the need for arable land and subsistence. And how we think about sin and in that context is complicated, and I appreciate that he's trying to complicate the picture.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The Catholic Church can be a valuable ally in clearing the air about eco-morality.

"While the Church may not be an expert in matters of policy, it is an expert in matters of humanity. The Vatican is not a policy-advocating arm, but at the same time, I think the Vatican has really started to throw its weight behind initiatives that can be seen to have global human relevance, and this tends to happen at the United Nations. I think the biggest example is actually with regard to the human right to freshwater."

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The prosecutor who lassoed deforestation ("we need more dedicated lawyers like him to save nature")

The prosecutor who lassoed deforestation ("we need more dedicated lawyers like him to save nature") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

In late January, reporters with Brazilian publication ((o))eco left on a journalistic expedition to the state of Pará. Their goal was to discover the origins and the main effects of the so-called “Zero Deforestation Beef Agreement” signed between the Federal Public Ministry and major slaughterhouses operating in the Amazon, which forced the slaughterhouses to fight deforestation in the farms where they bought cattle for slaughter.

Azeredo’s first step was to study the causes behind the clearing of the forest. Experts pointed to cattle ranching as a major culprit. Work by the NGO Institute of Man and Environment in the Amazon (Imazon), for instance, had shown that livestock accounted for 80 percent of total deforestation in the Amazon. 

“We spent one year and a half investigating business dealings of the livestock chain to be able to prove that the cattle produced on illegally deforested areas in the region was being sold in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and other major cities of Brazil,” Azeredo said. “And it was also being exported and used by major companies worldwide.”

The next step was to sue ranchers and slaughterhouses caught selling cattle raised on deforested land. Then the MPF sent more than 200 supermarket chains a “Recommendation” — a legal term for the warning that precedes a lawsuit — not to buy beef from suppliers that had caused illegal deforestation.

That was when Azeredo had an idea that even the staunchest ruralist opponents have recognized as brilliant. The state of Pará has about 250,000 ranches, and there are hundreds of supermarket chains with more than 80,000 stores spread across the country. But the link between those cattle ranches and the supermarkets is formed by just a few dozen medium and large slaughterhouse operators that are responsible for butchering the cattle and distributing the resulting “cattle products” – companies such as JBS, Bertin (later bought by JBS), Marfrig, and Minerva. 

Azeredo’s plan was to turn those slaughterhouse operators into guardians against deforestation.

Prosecutor Daniel Azeredo’s idea was simple and effective. The MPF had caught slaughterhouses buying deforestation cattle and applied fines totaling two billion Brazilian real (about $500 million). But an even more powerful instrument of pressure was the fear that buying illegal beef provoked in large supermarkets, such as Pão de Açucar and Walmart. With the possibility of being sued, they would rather avoid beef from Pará, which would be perhaps a fatal blow to the state’s slaughterhouses.

Bert Guevara's insight:
A brilliant lawyer made the right analysis of the deforestation problem and found a legal way to fight it. Read the long article to appreciate the strategy, which may be applied in other parts of the world.

"Prosecutor Daniel Azeredo’s idea was simple and effective. The MPF had caught slaughterhouses buying deforestation cattle and applied fines totaling two billion Brazilian real (about $500 million). But an even more powerful instrument of pressure was the fear that buying illegal beef provoked in large supermarkets, such as Pão de Açucar and Walmart. With the possibility of being sued, they would rather avoid beef from Pará, which would be perhaps a fatal blow to the state’s slaughterhouses."
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These Are the Most Inspiring Nature Photographs of 2016 ("simply awesome and original")

These Are the Most Inspiring Nature Photographs of 2016 ("simply awesome and original") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A selection of the best nature photographs from North American Nature Photography Association members submitted in 2016.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of Nature Photography Day. The North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) designated the day as a time to “promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and to explain how images have been used to advance the cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes locally and worldwide.” 

Here, we present a selection of the best nature photographs from NANPA members submitted in 2016. 

Every year, NANPA members submit images to be considered for the NANPA Showcase. Out of the approximately 2,600 images submitted for 2016, judges selected 250 to be published in the Showcase gallery in five categories: Mammals, Birds, Scapes, Altered Reality, and Macro, Micro and All Other Wildlife. 

If you’re feeling inspired, NANPA encourages you to explore the natural world with your camera today, read about the work of naturalists and pioneers in nature photography, and ask yourself how your images can bring positive change to the world. Enter their photo contest and you could even win a prize yourself!

Bert Guevara's insight:
Check out these beauties of nature before they disappear.
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Bangladeshi Inventor Creates Electricity-Free Air Conditioner Out of Plastic Bottles

Bangladeshi Inventor Creates Electricity-Free Air Conditioner Out of Plastic Bottles | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Bangladeshi inventor Ashis Paul has figured out how to repurpose plastic bottles into a low-cost, easy-to-make, electricity-free air conditioner that can help the country's poorest better tolerate the sweltering summer heat. 

 The science behind the Eco-Cooler is based on the idea that the bottleneck becomes a funnel that compresses and cools the air that runs through it by about five degrees, according to the Eco-Cooler website. It's the same principle that governs blowing air through pursed lips — the air comes out cooler despite the body's 98-degree-Fahrenheit temperature.

Via SustainOurEarth
Bert Guevara's insight:
Big ideas smart small. Check this out!
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Digging a bit deeper - Sustainable Food Trust ("soil must be treated as an ecosystem in own right")

Digging a bit deeper - Sustainable Food Trust ("soil must be treated as an ecosystem in own right") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Sustainable Food Trust, founded by Patrick Holden, is a global voice for sustainable food systems, aiming to empower communities with sustainable ideas, and push for government policy changes.

In what is possibly the first ever report on soil health by a UK Parliamentary committee, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has highlighted the threat to society and future food security if soils continue to be managed unsustainably. It calls for Defra to ensure that its upcoming 25-year environment plan puts soil protection at its heart. The report states that “we must move away from viewing soil merely as a growth medium and treat it as an ecosystem in its own right”, a view which lines up closely with the concerns of many farmers and campaigners in the UK and around the world. 

The report focuses on four aspects of soil health: contamination, soil carbon loss including peat, soil erosion caused by incentives to grow maize for energy generation instead of food production, and the lack of a national soil monitoring scheme to monitor nationwide trends in soil health adequately. 

The report leads on the issue of contaminated former industrial land, which in the UK covers an area of 300,000 hectares. It correctly criticises Defra’s decision to reduce funding for contaminated land remediation and calls for this funding to be restored. 

The committee received evidence from a large number of soil scientists and NGOs, including the Sustainable Food Trust. The SFT strongly endorses the report’s call for “action to improve soil organic matter”, particularly the acknowledgement of the importance of the Paris COP21 initiative – to increase soil carbon levels by 0.4% per year – to which the UK Government signed up. It also welcomes the committee’s recommendations on the need to do more to protect soils overall and soil biota and soil structure specifically.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Sustainable management of soil resources is at the heart of food security. Unfortunately, soil is being taken for granted.

"The report states that “we must move away from viewing soil merely as a growth medium and treat it as an ecosystem in its own right”, a view which lines up closely with the concerns of many farmers and campaigners in the UK and around the world. 
"The report focuses on four aspects of soil health: contamination, soil carbon loss including peat, soil erosion caused by incentives to grow maize for energy generation instead of food production, and the lack of a national soil monitoring scheme to monitor nationwide trends in soil health adequately."
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This World Environment Day, let’s spread the word on bringing an end to illegal wildlife trade. How and where do we start?

This World Environment Day, let’s spread the word on bringing an end to illegal wildlife trade. How and where do we start? | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 to raise awareness about environmental issues. This year’s theme is ‘Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade’. What does wildlife trade mean?

Whenever people sell or exchange wild animals and plant resources, it is called wildlife trade. International trade of wildlife that does not threaten their survival is legal, and is protected by the United Nations Convention called CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). Timber and seafood are the most important categories of wildlife trade. This is usually done to provide food, fuel, fodder, building materials and so on. But when done stealthily against local and international laws, it is termed as illegal wildlife trade. This is unsustainable and uncontrolled, and affects local ecosystems, often leading to the extinction of animals and plants. 

Did you know that between 1970 and 2000, wildlife species declined by 40 per cent? The main reasons for this are habitat destruction and illegal wildlife trade. 

Illegal wildlife trade is big business and estimated to be worth millions of dollars and is increasing. For example, rhino poaching in South Africa alone has gone up from 13 in 2007 to 1,004 in 2013 — that is a rise of 7700 per cent! 

You must have heard about the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks, rhinos for their horns and tigers for their skins and bones — all of these are part of the illegal wildlife trade. Additional reasons include exotic pet trade, use in traditional medicines, exotic food meat such as shark fin etc.

Bert Guevara's insight:
World Environment Day is celebrated on June 5 to raise awareness about environmental issues. This year’s theme is ‘Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade’.

"Did you know that between 1970 and 2000, wildlife species declined by 40 per cent? The main reasons for this are habitat destruction and illegal wildlife trade. 
"Illegal wildlife trade is big business and estimated to be worth millions of dollars and is increasing. For example, rhino poaching in South Africa alone has gone up from 13 in 2007 to 1,004 in 2013 — that is a rise of 7700 per cent!"
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Manure applications elevate nitrogen accumulation and loss ("why we still need to do composting")

Manure applications elevate nitrogen accumulation and loss ("why we still need to do composting") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Nitrogen (N) is an essential nutrient for plant growth, and nitrogen fertilization -- including the application of manures -- is a major management strategy in agriculture across the globe. However, the overuse and misuse of manures has resulted in the accumulation of surplus N in soil and its eventual migration to soil layers and groundwater. The authors of a new study found that the environmental risks of manure applications in high-input greenhouse environments may outweigh the benefits, and recommend that the role of manures be reexamined. 
The study, published in the November 2015 issue of HortScience, reports on a 3-year experiment conducted in greenhouse soil rotationally planted with cucumber or tomato and lettuce with and without manures. Scientists investigated the spatial (vertical) and temporal dynamics of nitrate, extractable organic nitrogen (EON), and total nitrogen in soil, and estimated the leaching-dominated N loss based on N balance in soil. 
Results showed that application of manures slowed acidification but accelerated salinization of the fertile greenhouse soil, and did not significantly enhance the aboveground fresh biomass and biomass N in most of the vegetable seasons during the 3-year experiment. The experiments also indicated that high-rate application of manures resulted in high accumulation of not only nonextractable N but also leachable N (including nitrate and EON), consequently intensifying leaching-dominated N loss. "Our study showed that enhanced accumulation of mobile N induced by excessive manure input could exceed the need of plant uptake but be subject to downward migration and leaching-dominated loss," the authors wrote. 
The researchers recommended that the role of manures in high-input agricultural ecosystems be reexamined to balance the economic benefit and the environmental risks of enhanced nitrogen loss.
Bert Guevara's insight:
Going organic is not a simple case of replacing chemical fertilizer with animal manure. Here are some scientific facts.

"Application of manures slowed acidification but accelerated salinization of fertile greenhouse soil, and did not significantly enhance aboveground fresh biomass and biomass N in most vegetable seasons. High-rate application of manures resulted in high accumulation of nonextractable N and leachable N, consequently intensifying leaching-dominated N loss."
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New York parks using goats as chemical-free weed control alternative ("ask grandpa how they did it back then")

New York parks using goats as chemical-free weed control alternative ("ask grandpa how they did it back then") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Goats, which naturally like weeds such as poison ivy and can eat up to 25 pounds a day, are cleaning up Prospect Park with no negative environmental impact

Later this week, Prospect Park has arranged a wine and cheese reception so the public can formally meet the goats, which range from Nubian to Angora and Pygmy breeds. Tickets have already sold out. While the press photographers jockey for space with toddlers, the goats seem unfazed by the attention, posing for photos or placidly dozing off in sunny spots on the hill. 

The impeccable behavior of the goats is no accident. The goats have to represent us in public, says Ann Cihanek – who owns the goats with her husband, Larry. 

The Cihaneks run Green Goats from their farm in Rhinebeck, New York, which rents goats for weed control in steep or difficult to weed areas. Goats naturally like weeds such as poison ivy, and a single goat can eat up to 25 pounds of roughage a day, Cihanek says. The goats provide a chemical-free weed removal service with no negative environmental impact. The Cihaneks have a number of clients, and the best behaved goats get to weed the historic Vanderbilt mansion in Hyde Park, New York, Cihanek says. 

The goats will live in Prospect Park until around September, with the Cihanek’s coming down to visit them at least twice a week. Visitors will get the chance to see the goats busy at work, though they will always be behind a fence to keep them munching on the areas that need weed clearance only.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Using goats for chemical-free weed control - old method, good idea! For the younger generation, it's a novel approach.

"While Prospect Park has never used goats before, the practice is actually catching on with everyone from Google to the congressional cemetery in Washington using goats for difficult weed clearance. Even Amazon has gotten in on the act, providing a goat rental service in some areas."
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Poor countries to bear brunt of climate change despite emitting least carbon dioxide ("injustice!")

Poor countries to bear brunt of climate change despite emitting least carbon dioxide ("injustice!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
New findings published in Environmental Research Letters show that the poorest fifth of the global population will be the first to experience more frequent heat extremes -- despite cumulatively emitting the least amounts of CO2. 
Countries including those in the Horn of Africa and West Africa are likely to be worst affected. 
The study is the first to examine the link between cumulative CO2 emissions and more frequent hot days. 
Dr Manoj Joshi from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences said: "Many of the poorest people in the world live in tropical latitudes, while many of the world's wealthiest people live in mid-latitude climates. 
"We know that low latitude regions have much less variability in day-to-day temperatures when compared with the mid-latitudes, which means the 'signal' of climate change emerges quite quickly, and because of this, the frequency of extreme hot days increases rapidly too." 
Lead author Luke Harrington, a PhD student at the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (NZCCRI), said: "Previous studies have shown a link between rising global temperatures and increases in the frequency of local heat extremes, while others have shown a clear relationship between the total amount of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere and rising temperatures.
"This study is the first to use climate models to simulate the end-to-end link between cumulative CO2 emissions and people experiencing more frequent hot days." 
The team used state-of-the-art climate models to estimate cumulative CO2 emissions and subsequent changes to extreme local daily temperatures over the 20th and 21st century.
Bert Guevara's insight:
Poor nations to get hit with the brunt of extreme weather, even if they do not emit as much carbon. The sad part is that poorer citizens, like Filipinos, have less coping mechanisms.
The irony is that we are still building more than 20 coal-fired power plants, thinking that we are emitting less than industrialized countries.

"Our results show much fewer cumulative emissions are required for the poorest fifth of the global population to experience a robust increase in the number of extreme hot days, when compared with the wealthiest population quintile."
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Big Oil Abandons $2.5 Billion in U.S. Arctic Drilling Rights ("low oil prices make drilling unviable")

Big Oil Abandons $2.5 Billion in U.S. Arctic Drilling Rights ("low oil prices make drilling unviable") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

After plunking down more than $2.5 billion for drilling rights in U.S. Arctic waters, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ConocoPhillips and other companies have quietly relinquished claims they once hoped would net the next big oil discovery.

After plunking down more than $2.5 billion for drilling rights in U.S. Arctic waters, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, ConocoPhillips and other companies have quietly relinquished claims they once hoped would net the next big oil discovery. 

The pullout comes as crude oil prices have plummeted to less than half their June 2014 levels, forcing oil companies to cut spending. For Shell and ConocoPhillips, the decision to abandon Arctic acreage was formalized just before a May 1 due date to pay the U.S. government millions of dollars in rent to keep holdings in the Chukchi Sea north of Alaska. 

The U.S. Arctic is estimated to hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, but energy companies have struggled to tap resources buried below icy waters at the top of the globe. 

Shell last year ended a nearly $8 billion, mishap-marred quest for Arctic crude after disappointing results from a test well in the Chukchi Sea. Shell decided the risk is not worth it for now, and other companies have likely come to the same conclusion, said Peter Kiernan, the lead energy analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit. 

"Arctic exploration has been put back several years, given the low oil price environment, the significant cost involved in exploration and the environmental risks that it entails," he said.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The math has changed and the environment wins.

"There are only so many companies that are going to be interested in the Arctic," he said by phone. "To the extent they are, they can look at other jurisdictions. With regulatory uncertainty and price uncertainty, you start looking at other opportunities -- and you re-rank what your longer term, more frontier prospects look like. That’s what’s happening."
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Floating urban greenhouse produces clean energy and organic food ("a cool concept, an eco barge!")

Floating urban greenhouse produces clean energy and organic food ("a cool concept, an eco barge!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Salt & Water created the ambitious Eco Barge, a multifunctional floating greenhouse that generates clean energy and grows organic food on the Danube River.

With land costs skyrocketing in cities, it’s more important than ever to take creative space-saving approaches to urban design. That’s why design studio Salt & Water created the ambitious Eco Barge, a multifunctional floating greenhouse that generates clean energy and grows organic food on the Danube River. In addition to producing energy and food, the floating structure could also serve as a platform for education and community building.

Salt & Water designed the conceptual Eco Barge as an eco-friendly learning hub for the citizens of Belgrade. The floating structure comprises a greenhouse with vertical gardens on one end and a small building on the other. Solar panels and wind turbines generate renewable energy and power a water-efficient irrigation system that provides moisture to the plants using recycled water.

“This eco barge was designed as a place where citizens of Belgrade could get acquainted with vertical gardens, special kinds of irrigation systems and alternative ways of growing organic food in urban areas with usually limited space,” wrote the designers.

Bert Guevara's insight:
We should be ready for anything now-a-days. When land becomes too expensive or too dangerous, living on a self-sustaining barge may make sense.

"The floating structure comprises a greenhouse with vertical gardens on one end and a small building on the other. Solar panels and wind turbines generate renewable energy and power a water-efficient irrigation system that provides moisture to the plants using recycled water."
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Kenya Burns Over 100 Tons of Ivory Tusks to Protest Poaching ("ivory useless if not on elephants")

Kenya Burns Over 100 Tons of Ivory Tusks to Protest Poaching ("ivory useless if not on elephants") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

It's believed to be the largest stockpile ever destroyed

Kenya’s president set fire Saturday to 105 tons of elephant ivory and more than 1 ton of rhino horn, believed to be the largest stockpile ever destroyed, in a dramatic statement by this East African country against the trade in ivory and products from endangered species. 

Uhuru Kenyatta put a flame to the biggest of 11 pyres of ivory tusks and one of rhino horn in a chilly afternoon. Overnight torrential rains that stopped midday had threatened to ruin the event and created a mud field around the piles inside Nairobi National Park. 

“A time has come when we must take a stand and the stand is clear … Kenya is making a statement that for us ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” he said. 

The stacks of tusks represent more than 8,000 elephants and some 343 rhinos slaughtered for their ivory and horns, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service. 

Kenya will push for the total ban on trade in ivory at the 17th meeting of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species to be held in South Africa later this year, said Kenyatta.

Kenya decided to destroy the ivory instead of selling it for an estimated $150 million. Some critics had suggested that the money raised from the ivory sales could be used to develop Kenya and protect wildlife. But Kenyatta said that Kenya wants to make the point that ivory should not have any commercial value.

Bert Guevara's insight:
“A time has come when we must take a stand and the stand is clear … Kenya is making a statement that for us ivory is worthless unless it is on our elephants,” he said. ...
"Kenya decided to destroy the ivory instead of selling it for an estimated $150 million. Some critics had suggested that the money raised from the ivory sales could be used to develop Kenya and protect wildlife. But Kenyatta said that Kenya wants to make the point that ivory should not have any commercial value."
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See Prize-Winning Photos from the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards ("be reminded of what is out there")

See Prize-Winning Photos from the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards ("be reminded of what is out there") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The annual contest highlights some of the best works in bird photography.

Each year, Audubon magazine hosts the annual Audubon Photography Awards. The contest highlights some of the best works in bird photography, and pays tribute to the delicate winged creatures that grace the skies. 

For the 2016 Audubon Photography Awards, a panel of five judges—including last year’s Grand Prize winner, wildlife photographer Melissa Groo—evaluated nearly 7000 submissions from more than 1700 competitors. Today, the magazine announced its five top winners. 

The selected photographs will run in Audubon magazine and Nature’s Best Photography magazine, and will also be displayed within the 2016 Nature’s Best Photography Exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. In the meantime, check out the winning shots along with some honorable mentions below. For more information, visit Audubon’s website for full anecdotes from each photographer about their photo.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Magnificent photos of nature's beauty should remind us of what man is destroying everyday because of his disregard for the other species in the planet.
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Our Children's Trust Press Conference at Federal Court ("kids sue gov't to protect their rights")

http://world.350.org/eugene/ Twenty-one youth Plaintiffs attended a hearing on March 9, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon to advocate for their constitutional right

The plaintiffs’ sued the federal government for violating their fundamental constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by taking actions that permit, encourage and otherwise enable continued exploitation, production and combustion of fossil fuels.

Bert Guevara's insight:
These kids are sending an important message and are fighting for the “most important lawsuit on the planet right now.”

“We firmly believe the court will view this as an egregious instance where the federal government intensified the danger to our plaintiffs’ life, liberty and property,” said plaintiffs’ attorney Phil Gregory with Cotchett, Pitre, & McCarthy. “This case places indisputable climate science squarely in front of the federal courts, requesting an order forcing our government to cease jeopardizing the climate system for present and future generations.”
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Land Degradation Neutral World ("beyond real estate dev't is soil sustainability")

SDG 15: Life on Land. On 25 September 2015, 193 countries came together in New York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs.

This year’s World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on 17 June (first declared by the United Nations in 1994) advocates the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded land and contribute towards achieving the SDGs. 

Without a long-term solution, desertification and land degradation will not only affect food supply but lead to increased migration and threaten the stability of many nations and regions. This is why world leaders made land degradation neutrality one of the targets of the SDGs, saysUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.


Bert Guevara's insight:
Protect Earth. Restore Land. Engage People. 

17 June 2016: Land in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) touches everyone. The food we eat, the clothes we wear and the houses we live in all stem from land resources. Achieving land degradation neutrality is therefore key in order to “leave no one behind” as proclaimed in the SDGs. 
This year’s World Day to Combat Desertification (WDCD) on 17 June (first declared by the United Nations in 1994) advocates the importance of inclusive cooperation to restore and rehabilitate degraded land and contribute towards achieving the SDGs. 
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Fireflies are disappearing. Here’s why — and what you can do to help ("casualty of urbanization & CC")

Fireflies are disappearing. Here’s why — and what you can do to help ("casualty of urbanization & CC") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Experts worry human activity is causing a decline in the world's 2,000 species of fireflies.

But now, fireflies are disappearing on a much larger scale. For years, The New York Times noted in 2014, scientists have “been warning that the world’s estimated 2,000 species of fireflies are dwindling.” And it’s not because of awful kids. 

The problem, as always, is other human behavior, including the use of pesticides and artificial lighting and the destruction of firefly habitat. Fireflies — or lightning bugs — thrive in meadows, woods, and along bodies of water, all of which are shrinking because of our sprawl. Urbanization, it seems, is killing the firefly.

They’re not only being harmed directly by human development, but indirectly by the effects of human-caused climate change. Invasive species that thrive in a warmer climate and drought destroy even more of their habitat.

Bert Guevara's insight:
When was the last time you saw a firefly? Have your kids seen one lately or never?

"The problem, as always, is other human behavior, including the use of pesticides and artificial lighting and the destruction of firefly habitat. Fireflies — or lightning bugs — thrive in meadows, woods, and along bodies of water, all of which are shrinking because of our sprawl. Urbanization, it seems, is killing the firefly."
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From Floating Food Forests to Vacant Lot Crops, Urban Farming Is Taking Root Across America

From Floating Food Forests to Vacant Lot Crops, Urban Farming Is Taking Root Across America | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

More than 1,500 community gardens have been started on vacant land in Detroit alone in recent years.

A growing movement is spreading throughout U.S. cities that is feeding people, providing jobs, and helping the environment—urban farming. 

This is a lot bigger than putting some tomato and zucchini plants in your backyard. These are local efforts, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, to convert vacant land in America’s cities into small farms. 

Sometimes it’s not even vacant land. In New York City, for instance, there are plans this summer for a floating food forest on a barge going up and down the Hudson River that will let people come and pick produce—for free. 

Other urban farms are on rooftops. Some are along traffic median strips. Some are indoor vertical farms. Some are mobile farms that go from vacant lot to vacant lot, moving when land is developed and the garden must move to another open spot. Others are intensive hydroponic and aquaculture operations. And some stretch over acres of urban land, like a project in Seattle that invites residents to work together to plant and harvest—all for free.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Sadly, the trend in Metro Manila is to use vacant lots as parking lots, dump sites and squatting areas. Let's wake up to the fact that urban dwellers need edible landscaping more than those in the rural areas. 
If we are fighting hunger, this is the right way to go.

"This is a lot bigger than putting some tomato and zucchini plants in your backyard. These are local efforts, city by city, neighborhood by neighborhood, to convert vacant land in America’s cities into small farms."
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A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment – report ("bring back the balance")

A switch to ecological farming will benefit health and environment – report ("bring back the balance") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The world needs to move away from industrial agriculture to avoid ecological, social and human health crises, say scientists

A new approach to farming is needed to safeguard human health and avoid rising air and water pollution, high greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss, a group of 20 leading agronomists, health, nutrition and social scientists has concluded. 

Rather than the giant feedlots used to rear animals or the uniform crop monocultures that now dominate farming worldwide, the solution is to diversify agriculture and re-orient it around ecological practices, says the report (pdf) by the International panel of experts on sustainable food systems (IPES-Food). 

The benefits of a switch to a more ecologically oriented farming system would be seen in human and animal health, and improvements in soil and water quality, the report says. 

The new group, which is co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter, former UN special rapporteur on food, and includes winners of the World Food prize and the heads of bio-science research groups, accepts that industrial agriculture and the global food system that has grown around it supplies large volumes of food to global markets. 

But it argues that food supplies would not be greatly affected by a change to a more diverse farming system. 

The group’s members, drawn from rich and poor countries with no affiliations to industry, say that industrial agriculture’s dependence on chemical fertilisers, pesticides and antibiotics to manage animals and agro-ecosystems, has led to ecological, social and human health crises.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Biodiversity is the new name of the agricultural game. 

“Today’s food and farming systems led systematically to negative outcomes and vulnerabilities. Many of these problems can be linked specifically to the industrial-scale feedlots and uniform crop monocultures that dominate agricultural landscapes, and rely on chemical fertilisers and pesticides as a means of managing agro-ecosystems,” the group says. 
"In place of an intensive global food system they propose that agriculture diversifies production and optimises biodiversity to build fertile, healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods.
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Remarkable Forest Hotel Takes Green Architecture to a Whole New Level

Remarkable Forest Hotel Takes Green Architecture to a Whole New Level | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Mountain Forest Hotel in Guizhou, China's Wanfeng Valley is a carbon-sucking, sky-high marvel created by Milan-based architect Stefano Boeri.

Boeri is the visionary behind similar plant-covered structures, such as Bosco Verticale in Milan and The Tower of the Cedars in Lausanne, Switzerland that features trees and plants on every floor. 

“It’s a symbol of restitution,” Boeri told TIME of the Mountain Forest Hotel that’s opening fall 2017. “Buildings have to take care of nature.” 

The 31,200-square-meter development was designed in collaboration with Chinese artist and interior designer Simon Ma for the Hong Kong-based Cachet Hotel Group. In addition to rooms and suites, additional hotel amenities will include two restaurants and lounges and recreation facilities such as a swimming pool, spa and a fully equipped fitness center. 

The developers point out on their website that the hotel was inspired by the site’s original topography and ecosystem, which is also known as the Forest of Ten Thousands Peaks. 

“The design aims to restore the landscape, by reconstructing a former existing hill that was flattened years ago, in this way emulating the past and present hills,” Boeri’s group said. 

“Symbiosis is the goal. Sustainability not only depends on energy conservation, but on a wider biodiversity. The symbiosis between man, architecture and nature is the real sustainability.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
We’ve heard of vertical gardens but what about vertical forests?


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Barcelona is turning its streets into "citizen spaces" ("superblocks idea in 1867 now making sense")

Barcelona is turning its streets into "citizen spaces" ("superblocks idea in 1867 now making sense") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The city's iconic chamfered blocks will become superblocks the size of small towns.

In 1867 an unknown engineer in Barcelona, Ildefons Cerdà, essentially invented urbanism with his General Theory of Urbanization. His ideas were extreme and unprecedented; he wanted gardens in the middle of each block, equal access to services for the rich and the poor, and wider streets. Marta Bausells, writing in the Guardian, describes his success and prescience:

Eixample remains a prominent part of Barcelona’s image today: the octagonal blocks, chamfered in the corners, were his unique idea to deal with traffic, allowing drivers to see more easily what was happening to the left and right. Cars hadn’t even been invented yet – but when Cerdà discovered railways: “He realised there would be some sort of small machines moved by steam that each driver could stop in front of their house,” Permanyer explains. Even today, this design makes traffic circulation infinitely easier in Eixample.

Alas, that traffic circulation is almost too easy. Now the roads are full of cars, pollution and noise. In most cities, there are main arteries and quieter side streets, but in Barcelona they are almost all the same.

The objectives are ambitious; by implementing these strategies at once, the city wants to reduce car use by 21% over the next two years and increase mobility by foot, bike and public transport. Superblocks will be complemented by the introduction of 300km of new cycling lanes (there are currently around 100km), as well as an orthogonal bus network that has already been put in place, whereby buses only navigate a series of main thoroughfares.


Bert Guevara's insight:
So now they are going to be turned into “superblocks” with a hierarchy of streets, with each superblock surrounded by higher speed streets where cars and trucks can travel at 50 km/hr (About 30 MPH) while within the blocks, cars and trucks are limited to a measly 10 km/hr or 6 MPH- really a crawl.
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Palawan is Conde Nast poll’s best island in the world ("Boracay 15th; Cebu 19th; more fun in Phil")

Palawan is Conde Nast poll’s best island in the world ("Boracay 15th; Cebu 19th; more fun in Phil") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Manila Bulletin, the nation's leading newspaper, brings you the latest news and current events in the Philippines and abroad daily, since 1900.

Palawan topped Conde Nast Traveler’s annual poll, Reader’s Choice Awards 2015, with a rating of 85.937. The clean-and-green western Philippine island also received the same accolade in 2014; winning the poll two years in a row. 

128,000 took part of last year’s poll. Two other idyllic Philippine islands were included in the Top 20 list: Boracay, placing 15th with a rating of 80.856; and Cebu, placing 19th with a rating of 80.404. 

The travel magazine has, once again, invited travelers to cast their votes for the 2016 poll. Pollsters are advised to give their choices through cntraveler.com/vote on or before June 1 at 11:59 pm (EST). 

The full results of the 2016 poll will be announced in November. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
Be a local tourist and enjoy the best of the Philippines!
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Heatwave shuts more than 250 Malaysian schools: reports ("a new cause for no classes - heat wave!")

Heatwave shuts more than 250 Malaysian schools: reports ("a new cause for no classes - heat wave!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) - More than 250 Malaysian schools were closed on Monday due to a heatwave brought on by the El Nino weather phenomenon which is severely affecting food production and causing chronic water shortages in many countries.

Authorities ordered schools in the states of Perlis and Pahang to shut after temperatures soared above 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over a 72-hour period, according to local reports. 

The education ministry said the decision was made to protect the health of some 100,000 students, the official news agency Bernama reported. 

The sweltering heat in Malaysia has reportedly slowed vegetable production, leading to price hikes. 

Paddy fields and rubber plantations have been also been affected by the severe temperature rise. 

January and February 2016 smashed global temperature records, the World Meteorological Organization said in March, attributing the highs to the "unprecedented" advance of climate change. 

Many parts of Asia have been affected by the strong El Nino dry spell which has also hit agriculture in Thailand and the Philippines. 

El Nino is triggered by a warming in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. It can cause unusually heavy rains in some parts of the world and drought in others. 

But Malaysia's Meteorological Department said the current heatwave was expected to ease soon. 

"The worst is over because the inter-monsoon season started last week and more rain is expected," director-general Che Gayah Ismail told AFP.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Typhoons and flooding were the main weather causes of class suspensions in the Philippines. Now, a new trend may add another cause - heat waves!
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Five islands just completely disappeared due to rising sea levels ("due to sea level rise & erosion")

Five islands just completely disappeared due to rising sea levels ("due to sea level rise & erosion") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Rising sea levels and erosion have caused five islands in the South Pacific to completely disappear, researchers have said.

A further six islands have been partially destroyed by erosion and the phenomenon is already causing human displacement, pushing people out of their coastal communities and further inland.

Researchers, writing in The Conversation, said that while rumours and speculation have abounded about problem for some time, their study had now produced the first scientific evidence for land being lost to the seas. 

The lost islands ranged in size from one to five hectares and supported dense tropical vegetation that was at least 300 years old. 

"They were not just little sand islands," lead study author Simon Albert told AFP news agency. 

In addition, Nuatambu Island, home to 25 families, has lost more than half of its habitable area, with 11 houses washed into the sea since 2011, according to the study, which was published in Environmental Research Letters.

The researchers believe similar problems are expected across much of the Pacific after 2050 as a result of human-induced sea-level rises. In all but the most optimistic scenarios for greenhouse gas emissions, many Pacific islands will experience long-term rates of sea-level rise similar to those already experienced in the Solomon Islands.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The disappearance of islands will be common news in the future. So will many coastal areas be eroded by rising sea levels. Living by the sea has now become risky.

"Numerous communities have been displaced and fragmented by the threat from rising seas, and generations-old settlements have been abandoned in favour of moving further inland."
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Stunning Early Entries of the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest

Stunning Early Entries of the 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer Contest | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest has officially launched, in search of the most “awe-inspiring diversity of the world’s pe…

The 2016 National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest has officially launched, in search of the most “awe-inspiring diversity of the world’s people, places and cultures.” George Stone (the editor-in-chief of National Geographic Travel) says, “Our Travel Photographer of the Year program is a way to show that our readers are among the world’s best travelers and photographers. We are passionate about visual storytelling and we hope that our contest will inspire our global audience to explore the planet and use photography to tell amazing stories.” 

We’re excited to see the best of 2016, which will be announced later this year. For now, entries are being accepted until May 27, 2016 at 12 PM EDT. The grand prize winner will earn the prestigious title of 2016 Travel Photographer of the Year, as well as a seven-day Polar Bear Photo Safari for two at Churchill Wild–Seal River Heritage Lodge, a National Geographic Unique Lodge of the World. All of the other winners, in each of the three categories—Nature, Cities, and People—have a variety of prizes for First, Second, and Third Place.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Time to view some amazing photos.
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60M people worldwide hit by El Niño – UN ("filipino farmer families starving & getting restless")

60M people worldwide hit by El Niño – UN ("filipino farmer families starving & getting restless") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The 2015-2016 El Niño was one of the most powerful on record, and has caused significant damage across 13 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific

The 2015-2016 El Niño was one of the most powerful on record, and has caused significant damage across 13 countries across Africa, Asia, Central and South America and the Pacific, sending malnutrition levels spiraling and leading to greater spread of diseases. 

In addition to the some 60 million people directly affected by El Niño, "there will be millions more who are at risk," O'Brien said, following a meeting in Geneva with representatives of affected countries and aid organizations. 

Floods and failed rains caused by El Niño have sparked a dramatic rise in the number of people going hungry in large parts of Africa, with some 32 million people in the southern part of the continent alone in need of some form of assistance. 

Ethiopia, which is experiencing its worst drought in half a century, is considered "ground zero" in the crisis, with some 10 million people in need of aid, Care International Secretary General Wolfgang Jamann said. 

But getting aid to all those in need is no easy task.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Drought-stricken families have not yet even received any aid and the threat of La Niña is just around the corner.

"The UN estimates that at least $3.6 billion is required to meet critical needs for food and agricultural support, as well as health and emergency water and sanitation needs linked to El Niño, and O'Brien warned that figure was likely to rise. ...
"Making matters worse, the communities still reeling from the impact of El Niño are likely to get slammed again later this year by a return swing of the pendulum with its opposite number, La Niña.
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175 states sign landmark Paris deal on climate change ("let's go past the paperwork & start working")

175 states sign landmark Paris deal on climate change ("let's go past the paperwork & start working") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

UNITED NATIONS — The historic agreement on climate change marked a major milestone on Friday with a record 175 countries signing on to it on opening day. But world leaders made clear more action is needed, and quickly, to fight a relentless rise in global temperatures.

"The world is in a race against time," U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his opening speech. "The era of consumption without consequences is over." 

"Today you are signing a new covenant with the future. This covenant must amount to more than promises," he said. 

The agreement will enter into force once 55 countries representing at least 55 percent of global emissions have formally joined it, a process initially expected to take until 2020. 

But following a host of announcements at the signing event, observers now think it could happen later this year.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry said the signing of the agreement had to be followed by a recommitment by world leaders to actually win the "war" against carbon emissions that are making the world hotter every year. 

Putting the deal into economic terms, he said, "the power of this agreement is what it is going to do to unleash the private sector" to define the new energy of the future and set the global economy on a new path to growth and development that preserves the environment. 

Academy Award-winning actor Leonardo Dicaprio, a U.N. messenger of peace and climate activist, captured the feelings of many when he said: "We can congratulate each other today, but it will mean absolutely nothing if the world's leaders gathered here go home and do nothing."

Bert Guevara's insight:
"The latest analysis by the Climate Interactive research group shows the Paris pledges put the world on track for 3.5 degrees Celsius of warming. A separate analysis by Climate Action Tracker, a European group, projected warming of 2.7 degrees Celsius. ....
"If we do get it right, we will launch a new wave of dynamic innovation and growth in the medium-term," Stern said. "The consequences of getting it wrong are unthinkable.
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