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Simbol Materials Plans to Extract Lithium From Geothermal Plants; the Philippines can do this too.

Simbol Materials hopes to extract lithium from geothermal energy plants and help turn the United States into a major exporter of the element.

 

Kung pwede talaga ito, jackpot ang Pilipinas kasi madami din tayong geothermal plants. Maganda sundan ito kasi ang lithium ngayon ay sa China lamang galing, at ito ay mahalaga sa paggawa ng mga modernong electronic gadgets.

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Invasive predators are eating the world's animals to extinction – and the worst is close to home

Invasive predators are eating the world's animals to extinction – and the worst is close to home | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Cats, rats, foxes and other mammal predators have been implicated in 60% of the world's animals extinctions.

Our study revealed that invasive predators are implicated in 87 bird, 45 mammal and 10 reptile extinctions — 58% of these groups’ contemporary extinctions worldwide. 

Invasive predators also threaten 596 species classed as vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List. Combined, the affected species include 400 birds, 189 mammals and 149 reptiles. 

Twenty-three of the critically endangered species are classed as “possibly extinct”, so the number of extinctions above is likely to be an underestimate. 

Until now, these shocking statistics have been unknown, and the heavy toll of invasive predators on native biodiversity grossly underappreciated. Species extinctions attributed to invasive predators include the Hawaiian rail (Zapornia sandwichensis) and Australia’s lesser bilby (Macrotis leucura).

We found that three canids (including the red fox and feral dogs), seven members of the weasel family or mustelids (such as stoats), five rodents, two primates, two mongooses, two marsupials and nine species from other families negatively impact threatened species. Some of these species, such as hedgehogs and brushtail possums, don’t immediately spring to mind as predators, yet they are known to prey on many threatened species. 

Feral cats threaten the most species overall (430), including 63 that have become extinct. This equates to one-quarter of all bird, mammal and reptile extinctions – making the feral cat arguably the most damaging invasive species for animal biodiversity worldwide.

Bert Guevara's insight:
This what happens when the world's balance of animal populations are disturbed -- extinction. Not only are these predators in our oceans, they are all over the lands as well.

"Our research, recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that these predators – cats, rats and foxes, but also house mice, possums and many others – have contributed to around 60% of bird, mammal and reptile extinctions. The worst offenders are feral cats, contributing to over 60 extinctions."
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Germany converting 62 unused military bases into nature preserves ("wise move to give back to nature")

Rare and threatened species will find reprieve in these new wilderness sanctuaries located west of the Iron Curtain.

Germany is converting 62 former military bases into wildlife preserves, encompassing more than 76,600 acres and offering a quiet reprieve for species living in the forests, meadows and marshes of the zones. These creatures include the lesser spotted eagle, middle spotted woodpecker, bats, beetles and other ecologically important species. 

"The fortified borderlands that separated communist and capitalist Europe became accidental nature reserves during the Cold War. Many of these areas are now part of the European Green Belt , a chain of habitats that runs from Norway to Turkey," reports The Huffington Post. 

"We are seizing a historic opportunity with this conversion — many areas that were once no-go zones are no longer needed for military purposes," said Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. "We are fortunate that we can now give these places back to nature."

Bert Guevara's insight:
Besides ocean conservation, there are land areas that are better left to nature. Man is better off maintaining a balance in land development for long term sustainability and biodiversity.
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Zimbabwe is dehorning its rhinos to curb poaching ("next gen may never see a complete rhino again")

Zimbabwe is dehorning its rhinos to curb poaching ("next gen may never see a complete rhino again") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

To help deter poachers, Zimbabwe has announced plans to surgically remove the horns of all 100-odd rhinos in its state parks.

In 2015, at least 1,338 rhinos were illegally killed for their horns across Africa. Of these 50 rhinos were killed in Zimbabwe. 

To help curb poaching, Zimbabwe has announced plans to dehorn the nearly 100 rhinos residing in its state parks. Private conservancies, which house some 600 additional rhinos, may also choose to dehorn their rhinos. 

“We want to send a message to poachers that they will not get much if they come to Zimbabwe,” Lisa Marabini, founder trustee and director of operations with Aware Trust Zimbabwe, one of the conservation groups assisting the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority in the dehorning program, told Reuters. “The park’s policy is to dehorn all the rhino.” 

Poaching of rhinos is fueled by demand from countries like China and Vietnam. Rhino horn, made of keratin, the same material as our fingernails and hair, has been used in traditional Chinese medicine. In Vietnam too, many people incorrectly believe that rhino horns can cure cancer or hangover. In fact, rhino horns can fetch about $100,000 in Vietnam’s markets.

“Dehorning is a strategy that has to be used in conjunction with intensive paramilitary protection,” Marabini said. “It is necessary to leave a small amount of living horn bed on the animal. However, to the poacher, the reward to risk ratio greatly decreases if he is risking his life poaching for a few 100 grams of horn on a dehorned rhino, versus a big horn weighing seven kilograms on an animal that has not been dehorned.” Despite not being foolproof, researchers have found that recently dehorned rhinos in some of Zimbabwe’s conservancies seem to have 29.1 percent higher chance of survival than horned animals. “That may not sound like much but it’s the difference between three rhino being killed a day and two rhino being killed a day,” Marabini said. “In our situation where every single rhino in the park is dehorned, and where this fact is publicized, and where there is a shoot-to-kill policy against armed poachers in protected areas, dehorning is a strong disincentive for the poachers to even think about coming into those parks.”Despite not being foolproof, researchers have found that recently dehorned rhinos in some of Zimbabwe’s conservancies seem to have 29.1 percent higher chance of survival than horned animals. “That may not sound like much but it’s the difference between three rhino being killed a day and two rhino being killed a day,” Marabini said. “In our situation where every single rhino in the park is dehorned, and where this fact is publicized, and where there is a shoot-to-kill policy against armed poachers in protected areas, dehorning is a strong disincentive for the poachers to even think about coming into those parks.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
Our children may think all rhinos do not have horns.

"Despite not being foolproof, researchers have found that recently dehorned rhinos in some of Zimbabwe’s conservancies seem to have 29.1 percent higher chance of survival than horned animals. 
“That may not sound like much but it’s the difference between three rhino being killed a day and two rhino being killed a day,” Marabini said. “In our situation where every single rhino in the park is dehorned, and where this fact is publicized, and where there is a shoot-to-kill policy against armed poachers in protected areas, dehorning is a strong disincentive for the poachers to even think about coming into those parks.”
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Why is Smart Farming Asia's big new trend? | GovInsider ("agri can't stagnate in a changing world")

Why is Smart Farming Asia's big new trend? | GovInsider ("agri can't stagnate in a changing world") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Asian governments are investing massively in this... field.

GovInsider has gathered the cutting-edge and, yes, the cool, to highlight how countries in the region are ploughing ahead in this once old-fashioned sector.

1. Australia

Robots in Australia are milking cows. In Camden, south-west of Australia, the FutureDairy prototype can milk up to 90 cows an hour.

2. Japan

Japan is looking at robots to automate crop farms and pick fruits. 

3. Malaysia

Malaysia is leveraging sensor and data in farms, and aims to increase farming productivity by 20% in the next five years.

4. Philippines

Philippines has teamed up with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to use drones to scope out where agricultural land is most vulnerable to natural disasters. The government will use this to better prepare for disasters and adapt agricultural plans accordingly.

5. South Korea

Sejong City is encouraging startups to develop smart farming solutions, in a joint collaboration between the ICT ministry and SK group, a large conglomerate in the country.

6. Thailand

Thailand is piloting the use of big data analytics in farming. “The Ministry of Agriculture wants data to help them provide solutions to farmers,” Sak Segkhoonthod, Chief Executive of Thailand’s E-Government Agency told GovInsider. The ministry can then advice farmers on what types of crops to harvest to ensure the stability of food prices.


Bert Guevara's insight:
Aside from the hi-tech gadgets, smart farming has to do with changing the rules on the weather due to climate change.

"Countries in the region are boosting their farming manpower with robots, drones and sensors; it’s widespread, and getting increasingly popular in the industry. It’s healthier to think of them as helpers, rather than threats to manual jobs – after all, they work so we can reap the fruits of their labour."
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PHL’s greening program, a global model for inclusive reforestation ("it's sad that corruption killed it")

PHL’s greening program, a global model for inclusive reforestation ("it's sad that corruption killed it") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
The country’s greening program was among the case studies of progress towards inclusive green growth highlighted by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), which is holding a week-long global forum here. 
“A global model for inclusive reforestation is possible,” the Seoul-based international organization said in a paper. 
The paper said the Philippine NGP proves that ambitious targets combined with inclusive processes on the ground can deliver “impressive land-use greening and greater-than-expected results”, by including communities whose livelihoods are most affected. 
The GGGI believes the stronger processes and explicit inclusion targets to match environmental ones can take NGP even further in the Philippines. 
“But the level of environmental and social progress – compared with previous, less inclusive initiatives – is a laudable success and a model to be recommended,” it said. 
The Philippine government initiated a USD650-million massive forest rehabilitation program that aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares across the country from 2011 to 2016. The level of planting even exceeded planned annual targets in 2011 to 2013. 
Apart from its reforestation goal, the NGP was designed to promote inclusion by helping provide alternative livelihood activities for marginalized upland and lowland groups. 
A study has indicated that the greening program had employed 1.18 million people from upland and rural communities in reforestation activities as of 2013. 
“In circumstances where major tree-planting programs are often top-down impositions on local development, the NGP strove to combine ambitious green objectives with effective, equitable and sustainable social benefits,” added the paper released by GGGI. 
Bert Guevara's insight:
This is the case of a good program that was shot by corruption.
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A new era of collaboration for sustainable agriculture ("this model should happen worldwide

A new era of collaboration for sustainable agriculture ("this model should happen worldwide | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Business has the opportunity to draw attention to issues that matter to their business and customers. Today, a handful did just that and announced their commitment to sustainable agriculture.

Over the past several months, I’ve spent countless hours representing Environmental Defense Fund in a room with Cargill, General Mills, Kellogg Company, Monsanto, PepsiCo, The Nature Conservancy, Walmart, and World Wildlife Fund. This group makes up the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative (MRCC) – a diverse coalition working to reduce the environmental impacts of commodity row crop production (i.e., corn, soy, wheat, etc.) throughout the Upper Mississippi River Basin. 

This isn’t just good news for the planet. Implementing on-the-ground solutions that reduce fertilizer pollution and improve soil health can also result in higher yields for farmers, reduced risk of supply chain disruptions for food companies and retailers, reduced air and water pollution, and improved transparency for consumers. 

Farmers and food companies need fertilizer to grow their ingredients, but fertilizer in excess of the amount crops need can lead to water and air pollution and wasted money for farmers, who spend approximately half of their input costs on fertilizer. 

Each year, fertilizer runoff contributes to an aquatic dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico – an area the size of Connecticut that so devoid of oxygen, marine life cannot survive. And excess nitrogen fertilizer can lead to nitrates contaminating drinking water and water supplies – posing serious health risks to infants in particular. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
Big industries wake up to sustainable agriculture! Countries who are still ignoring the threat of unsustainable agricultural practices should wake up before the problem becomes more expensive to remedy.
Actually, the technologies are simple and the models are existing. Effective collaboration is needed.

"Farmer organizations, environmental groups, food companies, state and local watershed organizations, and many others share these common goals – and much work is already underway. 
"That’s why the MRCC isn’t reinventing any wheels. It’s shining a spotlight on an important environmental issue that is often overlooked, while helping support and scale the various technical and regional sustainability efforts already in place. 
"When leading companies collaborate around a common goal, both business and the planet will thrive."
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'The Mother of All Risks': Insurance Giants Call on G20 to Stop Bankrolling Fossil Fuels

'The Mother of All Risks': Insurance Giants Call on G20 to Stop Bankrolling Fossil Fuels | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Warning that climate change amounts to the "mother of all risks," three of the world's biggest insurance companies this week are demanding that G20 countries stop bankrolling the fossil fuels industry.Multi-national insurance giants Aviva, Aegon, and Amlin, which together manage $1.2tn in assets, released a statement Tuesday calling on the leaders of the world's biggest economies to commit to ending coal, oil, and gas subsidies within four years.

"Climate change in particular represents the mother of all risks—to business and to society as a whole. And that risk is magnified by the way in which fossil fuel subsidies distort the energy market," said Aviva CEO Mark Wilson. "These subsidies are simply unsustainable." 

According to a recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), fossil fuel companies receive an estimated $5.3tn a year in global subsidies—a figure that included, as the IMF put it, the "real costs" associated with damage to the environment and human health that are foisted on populations but not paid by polluters. 

Tuesday's declaration is being issued as leaders prepare to convene for the 11th G20 summit, which is being held in Hangzhou, China on September 4-5 under the theme: "Toward an Innovative, Invigorated, Interconnected, and Inclusive World Economy." 

"We're calling on governments to kick away these carbon crutches, reveal the true impact to society of fossil fuels and take into account the price we will pay in the future for relying on them," Wilson added. 

Indeed, insurance companies are increasingly shouldering many of the costs associated with a warming planet, whether it be from extreme weather damage or reimbursing farmers for lost crops.

Bert Guevara's insight:
If these 3 insurance giants are singing the same tune, then G20 leaders must listen to them.

"These subsidies fuel dangerous climate change," said Whitley. "If we are to have any chance of meeting the 2°C target set at the Paris climate summit then governments need to start a program of rapid decarbonization. The finance sector recognizes the importance of moving away from fossil fuels, governments need to realize they may be the only ones left not moving."
"In the past seven years, we’ve seen historic climate progress across the U.S. and around the globe," said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune. "But while the world moves forward toward a 100 percent clean energy economy, G20 leaders have remained stagnant, with the world waiting on empty promises."
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Pope Proposes Care for the Environment As a New Work of Mercy ("earth is an immense pile of filth")

Pope Proposes Care for the Environment As a New Work of Mercy ("earth is an immense pile of filth") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Pope Francis is proposing adding care for the environment to the traditional, Gospel-inspired seven works of mercy that Christians are called to perform.

Pope Francis is proposing adding care for the environment to the traditional, Gospel-inspired seven works of mercy that Christians are called to perform. 

Francis made the proposal in a message Thursday to mark the church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which he instituted last year in a bid to highlight his green agenda. 

Officials say the proposal is the logical extension of Francis’ landmark and controversial ecological encyclical issued last year. The world’s first Latin American pope called for a revolution to correct what he said was a “structurally perverse” economic system in which the rich exploited the poor and turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

Bert Guevara's insight:
The world’s first Latin American pope called for a revolution to correct what he said was a “structurally perverse” economic system in which the rich exploited the poor and turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

"Pope Francis is proposing adding care for the environment to the traditional, Gospel-inspired seven works of mercy that Christians are called to perform."
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Solar Cost Hits World's New Low, Half the Price of Coal ("what's keeping you from shifting?")

Solar Cost Hits World's New Low, Half the Price of Coal ("what's keeping you from shifting?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Solar Cost Hits World's New Low, Half the Price of Coal

Chile awarded a contract to sell solar power for $29.10 per megawatt hour (MWh), the lowest ever across the planet.

This surpasses the record set in May of a $29.90 per MWh bid in Dubai for an 800 megawatt (MW) solar project. 

"This is the lowest price ever seen, for any renewable technology," an analyst told Bloomberg. The low price is possible due to the rapid fall in cost of solar technology and the 12 MW solar plant's location in the ideal conditions of Chile's Atacama Desert.


Bert Guevara's insight:
$29.10/MW -- This surpasses the record set in May of a $29.90 per MWh bid in Dubai for an 800 megawatt (MW) solar project.

"This is the lowest price ever seen, for any renewable technology," an analyst told Bloomberg. The low price is possible due to the rapid fall in cost of solar technology and the 12 MW solar plant's location in the ideal conditions of Chile's Atacama Desert."
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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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Russia's Red River Another Sad Chapter for One of the Most Polluted Cities on Earth ("human wreck!")

Russia's Red River Another Sad Chapter for One of the Most Polluted Cities on Earth ("human wreck!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Norilsk Nickel​, the world's largest nickel manufacturer, admitted responsibility for turning Daldykan River in Russia bright red. For the city of Norilsk,

The city of 175,000, which was founded in 1935 as a slave labor camp, was named one of the world's most polluted places on Earth by the Blacksmith Institute. WikiTravel advises potential visitors that "a substantial stay could jeopardize your health." 

Norilsk owes its unfortunate accolade and its economy to some of the largest deposits of nickel on Earth. Mining began in the 1930s, and by 1953 was producing 35 percent of the Soviet Union's total nickel output, 12 percent of its copper, 30 percent of its cobalt and 90 percent of its platinum group metals. Today, it produces 20 percent of the world's nickel and 50 percent of its palladium. 

Norilsk Nickel's 1942 Plant, named for the year it began operations, produced about 120,000 metric tons (132,000 U.S. tons) a year. The plant was decommissioned on Aug. 26.

The company, headquartered in Moscow, which recently rebranded itself as Nornickel, issued a statement Monday attributing the Daldykan River event to abnormally heavy rains in the region that caused a dam containing tailings to overflow. 

"Short-term river color staining with iron salts presents no hazards for people and river fauna," the statement declares. 

Others are not so sure. Greenpeace Russia spokesman Alexei Kiselyov told Agency France-Presse (AFP), "You can't just say that it's no big deal." He noted that the remote area made any investigation more difficult and that the company controls access to the area. The Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has opened an investigation.

Bert Guevara's insight:
This is an example of irresponsible mining and industrialization that is killing its people. Who got rich in the process?

"The now-shuttered plant was responsible for more than 4 million tons of cadmium, copper, lead, nickel, arsenic, selenium and zinc released into the atmosphere every year. The effects of decades of pollution are stark. Vegetation can't grow within a 20-mile radius. Acid rain covers an area the size of Germany. Heavy metal pollution is so great that the soil itself can be mined. 
"Life expectancy is 10 years less than in other regions of Russia, the risk of cancer is two times higher and respiratory diseases are widespread," reports the Daily Mail. The city's polluted air may be responsible for 37 percent of child deaths and 21.6 percent of adult mortality."
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10 more mines recommended for suspension – DENR ("audit teams see a lot of technical violations")

10 more mines recommended for suspension – DENR ("audit teams see a lot of technical violations") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Senior Undersecretary for Environment Leo Jasareno says the names of the 10 mines will be disclosed after evaluation

Audit teams of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have recommended the suspension of 10 more mines, according to a top environment official. 

"The audit teams have recommended for suspension 10 more mines. This is for evaluation by the DENR," Senior Undersecretary for Environment Leo Jasareno told Rappler in a text message on Thursday, September 22. 

He added that more information, including the names of the 10 mines, will be disclosed after the evaluation, which may be on Monday, September 26. 

To date, the DENR has already suspended the mining operations of 10 firms: 

- BenguetCorp Nickel Mines 

- Incorporated Eramen Minerals Incorporated 

- LNL Archipelago Minerals Incorporated 

- Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation 

- Berong Nickel 

- Citinickel 

- Claver Minerals 

- Ore Asia Mining Development Corporation 

- Mt Sinai Mining Exploration and Development Corporation 

- Emir Mineral Resources Corporation 

During the DENR's budget hearing at the House of Representatives on September 5, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez revealed her department had completed its audit on all existing mines in the country. 

She vowed then to "definitely" suspend more mining operations, including large-scale ones, based on "technical" reasons that are "backed by scientific data." 

Bert Guevara's insight:
10 more mining companies miss the cut - looking forward to suspension of operations.

"During the DENR's budget hearing at the House of Representatives on September 5, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez revealed her department had completed its audit on all existing mines in the country. 
"She vowed then to "definitely" suspend more mining operations, including large-scale ones, based on "technical" reasons that are "backed by scientific data."
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India: Street kids publish newspaper to raise awareness ("tabloid is their voice for world to care")

India: Street kids publish newspaper to raise awareness ("tabloid is their voice for world to care") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Balaknama newspaper, run and produced by street children in Delhi, tells stories of injustice kids suffer daily.

Sexual abuse, torture, drug addiction, harassment at the hands of thugs and policemen sums up life of street children in India. Delhi’s Balaknama newspaper - the Voice of Children, which is run by the street children has been working to highlight the plight of fellow youngsters. 

The editor of Balaknama, 17-year-old Shambhu, washes cars during the day for a living. "This newspaper is our voice to tell people, about what we go through and that even our lives matter," Shambhu tells Al Jazeera. "People usually don't care about street children. Whether they are beaten up, raped or even disappear, it hardly creates a flutter." 

The newspaper has four main reporters and 64 news gatherers who go around collecting the stories. They are known as "Baatooni" - the talkative ones. Unable to write their own copies, the Baatooni relate the stories to the main reporters who put them in writing for the issue. 

The bilingual newspaper is the size of a tabloid with 5,000 copies published in Hindi and 3,000 in English. An NGO called Chetna funds the printing of the newspaper. 

"Whatever goes into publishing is our brainchild and editorial is fully independent," Shambhu says, adding that the that the NGO only plays a financial role. 

Most of the children associated with Balaknama are rubbish collectors and do not attend school. Others take menial jobs at railways, bus stations, and roadside cafes. The reporters visit them at their workplaces to get their stories. 

Bert Guevara's insight:
This blighted situation may as well be here in the slums of the Philippines. They need a voice, otherwise their existence is almost unheard or unnoticed. Maybe you will just hear about them in the news as dead suspects.

"Sexual abuse, torture, drug addiction, harassment at the hands of thugs and policemen sums up life of street children in India. Delhi’s Balaknama newspaper - the Voice of Children, which is run by the street children has been working to highlight the plight of fellow youngsters."
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Vanishing Act: What’s Causing Sharp Decline in Insects and Why It Matters by Christian Schwägerl

Vanishing Act: What’s Causing Sharp Decline in Insects and Why It Matters by Christian Schwägerl | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Insect populations are declining dramatically in many parts of the world, recent studies show. Researchers say various factors, from monoculture farming to habitat loss, are to blame for the plight of insects, which are essential to agriculture and ecosystems.

"The decline is dramatic and depressing and it affects all kinds of insects, including butterflies, wild bees, and hoverflies," says Martin Sorg, an entomologist from the Krefeld Entomological Association involved in running the monitoring project.

Declines in insect populations are hardly limited to Germany. A 2014 study in Science documented a steep drop in insect and invertebrate populations worldwide. By combining data from the few comprehensive studies that exist, lead author Rodolfo Dirzo, an ecologist at Stanford University, developed a global index for invertebrate abundance that showed a 45 percent decline over the last four decades. Dirzo points out that out of 3,623 terrestrial invertebrate species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature [IUCN] Red List, 42 percent are classified as threatened with extinction. 

"Although invertebrates are the least well-evaluated faunal groups within the IUCN database, the available information suggests a dire situation in many parts of the world," says Dirzo.

Scientists cite many factors in the fall-off of the world’s insect populations, but chief among them are the ubiquitous use of pesticides, the spread of monoculture crops such as corn and soybeans, urbanization, and habitat destruction.

Scientists have described 1 million species of insects so far, and estimate that at least 4 million species worldwide are still unrecorded. For people living in areas with ample wilderness and a plethora of biting mosquitoes that carry malaria and other diseases, a decline in insect populations might seem like an outlandish concern. But in areas with intensive industrialized agriculture, the drop in insect populations is worrying.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Even in the Philippines, insects are not given much value. They are regarded as pests - to be eradicated.

"The decline is dramatic and depressing and it affects all kinds of insects, including butterflies, wild bees, and hoverflies," says Martin Sorg, an entomologist from the Krefeld Entomological Association involved in running the monitoring project. ...
"Scientists cite many factors in the fall-off of the world’s insect populations, but chief among them are the ubiquitous use of pesticides, the spread of monoculture crops such as corn and soybeans, urbanization, and habitat destruction."
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Turn Your Phone Into an Early Warning System ("easy to set up; you'll never know when you'll need it")

Turn Your Phone Into an Early Warning System ("easy to set up; you'll never know when you'll need it") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Mobile alerts and free tools can notify you and help you prepare for emergencies including extreme weather, natural disasters and other crisis situations.

Q. What is the best way to get emergency weather alerts and information as quickly as possible on my phone? 

A. Unless you have disabled the feature, your smartphone is probably set to automatically receive free Wireless Emergency Alerts issued by government agencies. These messages can warn of extreme weather situations in your area, local emergencies that require some sort of immediate action or evacuation, and Amber Alerts regarding missing children. The system can also broadcast Presidential alerts in a national crisis. 

If you suspect the emergency alerts have been turned off on your device, check your settings. These controls may differ based on your version of Android, but try opening the Settings icon, tapping More under Wireless & Networks and looking for the Cell Broadcasts options. In recent versions of iOS, open the Settings app, tap Notifications and scroll to the bottom of the screen to Government Alerts to check if the options for Amber Alerts and Emergency Alerts are enabled.

If you are a Twitter user, you can sign up for Twitter Alerts that push out tweets or text messages from public agencies in emergency situations, including earthquakes or warnings related to the spread of the Zika virus. To sign up for Twitter Alerts, visit the site’s page of participating organizations and select the agencies you wish to use.

The Google Public Alerts system from the Google Crisis Response Team may also be useful for getting information before or during natural disasters. Available for desktop as well as mobile browsers, the Public Alerts map shows where emergencies are happening around the world, and offers links to traffic, weather, evacuation resources and more.

Bert Guevara's insight:
You'll never know when your phone can save a life or when you need to be saved from danger. Set up your phone now! There are many local apps available:
Project NOAH
AccuWeather
Twitter: PAGASA DOST, local radio stations: DZMM, DZBB, RadyoInquirer990AM, etc.
Google: Public Alerts

"The Google Public Alerts system from the Google Crisis Response Team may also be useful for getting information before or during natural disasters. Available for desktop as well as mobile browsers, the Public Alerts map shows where emergencies are happening around the world, and offers links to traffic, weather, evacuation resources and more."
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BusinessWorld | Forecast for power demand raised to 30,189 MW ("big rise from current 17,925 mw")

BusinessWorld | Forecast for power demand raised to 30,189 MW ("big rise from current 17,925 mw") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) expects the country’s demand for electricity in 2030 to reach 30,189 megawatts (MW), or nearly 70% more than the current dependable capacity being supplied by the country’s existing power plants. “From here on until 2030, we will be needing something like 30,000 megawatts,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told reporters after a Senate hearing on Wednesday that discussed, among others, the Philippine Energy Plan for 2016-2030. “We need to add around 1,100 MW per year, roughly that’s the number,” he added. The country has an existing dependable capacity of 17,925 MW, while a number of ongoing projects have committed to deliver 6,178 MW.

During the Senate hearing on Aug. 19, Mr. Cusi said the DoE’s “very raw study” had estimated the country’s demand by 2030 to grow by 10,191 MW more, assuming a gross domestic product growth forecast of 5% and a population growth of 1.5%.

The new estimate builds a case for new baseload power sources, which are currently supplied mostly by coal-fired power plants. It also includes the system’s reserve requirement. 

The DoE’s power demand projection has become crucial as this has prompted Mr. Cusi to look for more sources, including the 620-MW Bataan nuclear power plant, which remains idle since construction started in the ’70s.

“Baseload is the foundation,” Mr. Cusi said, citing figures that showed 73% of the committed projects and nearly 84% of the required capacity to be coming from reliable power resources that include coal-fired power plants, geothermal facilities, biomass and nuclear, which has now become an option.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The DOE is saying that we need new sources of 1,100 MW per year until 2030. This scenario opens the door to discussion of all power sources, which now includes the nuclear option.
What I fear is the desperate reaction of accepting anything just to meet the target, without clear assessment of long-term implications.
More coal plants means more carbon and water pollution.
Nuclear power is still having safety concerns in an earthquake country like ours, and the safe disposal of nuclear waste has not been solved, even in the US. Its viability is also a question.
Huge waste-to-energy facilities have a problem with guaranteed feed stock requirements.

All I am saying is that short-sightedness will get us into more trouble in the future.
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Nearly 15% of Earth's Land Is Now Protected — but Not Enough ("key biodiversity areas left out")

Nearly 15% of Earth's Land Is Now Protected — but Not Enough ("key biodiversity areas left out") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Nearly 15% of land on Earth is now protected, though some key areas needed for biodiversity have been left out, according to a report

Nearly 15% of land on earth is now protected, though some key areas needed to preserve biodiversity have been left out, according to a new report. 

Scientists behind the report, released by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the U.N. Environment Program, say the globe now has more than 200,000 protected areas that cover 7.7 million sq. mi. These areas are sprinkled across the globe but most concentrated in South and Central America, particularly in the Amazon rainforest. 

Despite progress, the report shows that four out of five regions most crucial to protecting global biodiversity — known as key biodiversity areas — remain unprotected. These sites contain several endangered species, species that live only in a very small area or highly threatened habitats.

Biodiversity, a measure of the number of different plant and animal species living in a given area, plays an important role in a number of functions that support human life including pollination, pest control and keeping climate-change-causing carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. A recent study in the journal Science found that human activity has driven away 15% of the species that would have been present in various locations.

Bert Guevara's insight:
We have done much in terms of quantity, but key biodiversity areas are still vulnerable.

“Conservation is critical not just for one particular spot, one particular park, one particular lake,” Obama said in a speech shortly after protecting the area. “It’s critical for our entire ecosystem.”
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Beware coffee drinkers! ("enjoy coffee now as it is still plenty & cheap; climate may change that")

Beware coffee drinkers! ("enjoy coffee now as it is still plenty & cheap; climate may change that") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Climate Change Could Cut Coffee Production by 50% ...

Climate change could reduce global coffee production 50 percent by 2050, endangering the livelihoods of more than 120 million of the world's poorest people.

According to a new report, rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns are already impacting coffee crops from Africa to Central America and the effects will worsen in the coming decades. Coffee is the second most valuable commodity exported by developing countries, worth $19 billion worldwide. For consumers, reduced production would mean lower quality and higher prices.

Bert Guevara's insight:
After all the hype about coffee nutritional benefits, we may have a problem with supply in the near future.

"Climate change could reduce global coffee production 50 percent by 2050, endangering the livelihoods of more than 120 million of the world's poorest people."
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WB-backed project to provide solar power to 40,000 families ("poor Mindanao homes are recipients")

WB-backed project to provide solar power to 40,000 families ("poor Mindanao homes are recipients") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
The World Bank and LGU Guarantee Corp. have signed a $15.8-million grant agreement to provide 40,000 families in remote areas with access to solar power. 
The Access to Sustainable Energy Project is supported by the Global Partnership on Output-Based Aid (GPOBA) with a $3-million donation, $12.8 million from the European Union and an additional contribution from the Department of Energy. 
The project aims to provide electricity to poor households in isolated areas. 
The project will focus on conflict-affected Mindanao, where poverty is “disproportionately high” and over a quarter of the population lives without electricity, according to the World Bank.
“The solar packages will ensure not only lighting but will also provide households with energy efficient appliances such as television, radio, phone chargers and fans,” she added. 
The World Bank said the project builds on long-term advisory work it has undertaken for the Philippine government. 
This includes support in setting up the policy and regulatory framework for establishing an Output-Based Aid Solar Energy Facility to provide output-based subsidies that make energy affordable for poor households.
“GPOBA is proud to support the government’s vision of making access to off-grid electrification affordable to the poor using this results-based approach,” the World Bank said.
Bert Guevara's insight:
Renewable energy in Mindanao for the poorest towns will go a long way in uplifting their lives. It is sad to hear that the power situation in Mindanao is so volatile, that the people miss the opportunity to be productive, causing them to languish in poverty.

"The project will focus on conflict-affected Mindanao, where poverty is “disproportionately high” and over a quarter of the population lives without electricity, according to the World Bank."
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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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