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Health Benefits of Coconut Oil

Health Benefits of Coconut Oil | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, weight loss, maintaining cholesterol levels, stress relief, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure,...
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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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500 Students Fall Ill at Posh Chinese School From Toxic Waste Dumped Nearby ("sounds familiar?")

500 Students Fall Ill at Posh Chinese School From Toxic Waste Dumped Nearby ("sounds familiar?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Almost 500 teenagers at an affluent high school near Shanghai had been diagnosed with a litany of serious ailments caused by toxic waste

Late Sunday, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported that almost 500 teenagers at an affluent high school near Shanghai had been diagnosed with a litany of serious ailments, with the institution’s new campus located close to three former chemical plants that produced pesticides the presumed culprit. Angry parents brandishing signs bearing skulls and “Save the Children” slogans gathered outside the local government offices in Jiangsu province to demand answers to the questions they had been asking for several months, ever since serious symptoms — such as rashes, coughs and headaches — were first reported. The outrage mushroomed online, where a forum on the scandal had garnered more than 40 million views and 100,000 comments on China’s Twitter-like microblog Weibo by time of publication. “Again and again I tell people our country is very good, and to grow to this level in just a few decades is not easy, and when there is a problem we should work together to overcome it,” wrote one Weibo user. “But now I feel it is too late to do anything. Those people have killed our country.”

According to the CCTV investigation, 641 of the 2,451 students at Changzhou Foreign Language School’s were examined by doctors, of whom 493 were diagnosed with myriad debilitating conditions. On Tuesday, though, school officials began to refute allegations of cancer and leukemia initially reported by the powerful state broadcaster — somewhat curiously, considering the high-profile exposé must at some level have been sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party.

Bert Guevara's insight:
What can citizens do when the government has other economic priorities? Who is the government serving in this case?
Warning to the Philippine government: cases like this are not far fetched in many parts of our country, beginning with illegal garbage dump sites and illegal mining practices.

“Our children are born to be poisoned by tainted milk, the smell of excessive pollution in the air, eating we don’t know what in synthetic food,” posted one Weibo user. “Because our hearts are patriotic, we love every inch of land here, but [the government] does nothing.”
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The Sea Cucumber’s Vanishing Act | Hakai Magazine ("nothing can survive man's over-exploitation")

The Sea Cucumber’s Vanishing Act | Hakai Magazine ("nothing can survive man's over-exploitation") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Coastal communities don’t always realize their sea cucumbers are targets of a voracious, international fishery until it’s too late.

While much of the Western world forgets about them or regards them with disgust because of their slimy, squishy texture, sea cucumbers are a delicacy in many parts of Asia, often known as bêche-de-mer. They exist all over the world—from the poles to the tropics and from coastal shallows to the deep ocean floor—in a spectrum of sizes, textures, and colors. Of roughly 1,700 species, 66 are targeted for food.

Overfishing of sea cucumbers may be a modern problem, though the fishery itself is more than 1,200 years old. Sea cucumbers have been harvested since as early as 800 CE. In the 1700s, Indonesians traveled as far as Australia to harvest sea cucumbers for trade with Chinese merchants. Demand dropped off during the Second World War due to global unrest, but it rebounded with a vengeance in the late 20th century, explains Hampus Eriksson, a fisheries scientist for the international nonprofit research organization WorldFish. “With China opening up its doors to the global economy in the 1980s, it just took off.” Serving sea cucumbers at Chinese family celebrations and business banquets has become an almost expected show of prosperity, he says. For decades, the regional fishery was enough to meet consumers’ needs, but that’s no longer the case. Demand driven by China’s red-hot economy and growing wealthy class has forced the fishery out across the globe. Today, an international sourcing network has emerged. The fishery has grown from 35 countries in 1996 to 83 countries in 2011, shipping to Hong Kong and then on to China, Japan, and other parts of Asia.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Anything in nature cannot survive the onslaught of human over-exploitation. You can label it as GREED. Such is the plight of the sea cucumber.

"As officials and conservationists soon found out, Hawai‘i was only the latest in a long string of coastal communities hit hard by a global sea cucumber fishery that has grown into a voracious, fast-moving, highly organized—and, at times, devastating—industry."
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The World’s Largest Fish Are Missing ("where have all the large fishes gone? hiding? or overfished?")

The World’s Largest Fish Are Missing ("where have all the large fishes gone? hiding? or overfished?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Researchers say the biggest whale sharks have disappeared over the past two decades, raising concerns about the long-lived giant fish.

In a new study published Wednesday in the journal Royal Society Open Science, researchers at the University of Western Australia raised concerns about where the world’s largest whale sharks have gone, as the size of the biggest sharks observed in recent years pales in comparison with those recorded more than a decade ago. Whale sharks measuring between 43 and 49 feet were observed in oceans around the world in 1995, from India to Belize. In more recent years, reports have shown that aside from two populations of adult female sharks in the East Pacific, most locations consisted only of juvenile sharks measuring less than 23 feet in length.

“The majority of whale sharks seen at Ningaloo were juveniles with mean lengths of around six meters (20 feet),” Sequeira said in a statement. “Given the fact that the fish reach maturity when they are about nine meters long (29 feet), it prompts the question: Where are the adults?”

The answer remains a mystery, because researchers still don’t have a firm grasp on the species’ global populations or why they sometimes gather in groups close to shore. There are also knowledge gaps in understanding how often whale sharks breed and how many offspring they produce. Study coauthor Mark Meekan of the Australian Institute of Marine Science suggests tagging and satellite tracking some of the larger whale sharks left around Ningaloo to learn more about their population and where they roam.

Bert Guevara's insight:
"The answer remains a mystery, because researchers still don’t have a firm grasp on the species’ global populations or why they sometimes gather in groups close to shore. There are also knowledge gaps in understanding how often whale sharks breed and how many offspring they produce. ...
“Understanding the whereabouts of the biggest whale sharks will also help us understand how human activity, such as industrial developments, fisheries, and boat strikes, might impact the animals,” Meekan said.
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What Do the Birds and the Bees Have to Do With Global Food Supply? ("pollinators crucial to survival")

What Do the Birds and the Bees Have to Do With Global Food Supply? ("pollinators crucial to survival") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

A new report from the United Nations suggests that the loss of certain pollinating species could threaten the planet’s food supply.

Birds do a lot for us—beyond being easy on the eyes, their assistance in the pollination process helps ensure that we humans have enough food to eat. But more pollinating insects, birds, and other animals are going extinct today than ever before, according to a report released last week by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), an international conservation task force. And without immediate action to protect those species, it warns, the global food supply could be decimated. About 16.5 percent of bird and mammal pollinators (that includes bats, marsupials, monkeys, lemurs and rodents) are currently threatened with extinction, while more than 40 percent of pollinating insects—especially bees and butterflies—are similarly threatened, according to the task force of about 80 experts, which met in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to release the report.

The loss of these creatures would have a reverberating effect on the Earth’s plant life—animals pollinate nearly 90 percent of the world’s plants and at least 75 percent of food crops, according to IPBES. Crops used for biofuels, fibers, craft and construction materials, medicine, and livestock feed are also dependent on pollinators to successfully reproduce. The decimation of these animals may limit the availability of crops that depend on pollination, such as apples, broccoli, and almonds, and make humans more dependent on crops that don’t require pollination, such as corn and carrots, or those that can be pollinated by wind and water, such as tomatoes and eggplant. “To maintain the wide variety

Bert Guevara's insight:
Pollinating birds are losing their habitats because of unbridled land development that has no concern for the birds and the bees. This trend will affect our food supply. Find out why.

"Worldwide, there are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds, according to the U.S. Forest Service, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. The birds help fertilize plants in the same way as any other pollinator—by transferring pollen (via their bills) from one flower to another as they flit between plants feeding on nectar. Bird pollination mainly occurs in tropical regions, where they help pollinate a few food crops, including bananas, papaya and nutmeg."
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CineversityTV's curator insight, March 23, 11:12 AM
Pollinating birds are losing their habitats because of unbridled land development that has no concern for the birds and the bees. This trend will affect our food supply. Find out why.

"Worldwide, there are about 2,000 species of pollinating birds, according to the U.S. Forest Service, including honeycreepers, honeyeaters, sunbirds, and some parrots. The birds help fertilize plants in the same way as any other pollinator—by transferring pollen (via their bills) from one flower to another as they flit between plants feeding on nectar. Bird pollination mainly occurs in tropical regions, where they help pollinate a few food crops, including bananas, papaya and nutmeg."
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DENR launches app to monitor conservation areas ("outsmarting the outlaws via mobile apps")

DENR launches app to monitor conservation areas ("outsmarting the outlaws via mobile apps") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now using a web-based mobile application  to monitor protected and conservation areas nationwide.

Called Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System (LFBPS), the mobile app would enable park rangers and planners to access critical information in real time, and share information about what they find in the field. 

Wildlife authorities will have speedy access to information on hundreds of protected species and resources which they can use in identifying and prosecuting wildlife crime. 

Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said technology and its applications, like the LFBPS, would allow the government to cope with the different challenges the environment faces. 

“We see it as a way for us to come up with better ways to reverse environmental degradation and biodiversity loss, and at a faster pace,” he said. 

It would provide accurate information about the status of protected areas covered by RA 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act. 

The system operates through a web-based, open-source software called “cybertracker” for the data collection interface and the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) for data analysis, mapping and report generation. 

Data can be transferred to Google maps and other tools for creation of actionable reports, which facilitate decision-making. Decision-makers at the regional and national level could easily access Lawin patrol reports generated at the field level.


Bert Guevara's insight:
It's the age of mobile apps and why not use it for protecting the environment? That's what the DENR is trying to do. We hope they succeed.

"Project Lawin was developed by the DENR and the Biodiversity and Watersheds Improved for Stronger Economy and Ecosystem Resilience (B+WISER) program of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 
 “It aims to improve the response mechanisms to address observed threats and ensures the sustainability of conservation efforts inside the country’s protected areas over the long-term with active support from local communities in the monitoring and enforcement of wildlife laws, especially in areas that are considered hotspots for timber and wildlife poaching,” Paje said.
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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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SEAL COMEBACK VIDEO GOES VIRAL ("the seals' version of 'occupy wall street'; beach off-limits to man")

SEAL COMEBACK VIDEO GOES VIRAL ("the seals' version of 'occupy wall street'; beach off-limits to man") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Have you seen the video that’s gone viral of tens of thousands of seals who pulled out off Cape Cod on Monomoy Island, part of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge? Even the National Wildlife Federation’s veteran wildlife experts were blown away. 

“What a fantastic reminder of how we share our coastline with beautiful animals like these,” says Curtis Fisher, regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center. “It’s also an amazing visual representation of how New England’s decades of work to restore wildlife and willingness to invest in protecting their habitat are paying off.”

Seals Have you seen the video that’s gone viral of tens of thousands of seals who pulled out off Cape Cod on Monomoy Island, part of Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge? Even the National Wildlife Federation’s veteran wildlife experts were blown away. “What a fantastic reminder of how we share our coastline with beautiful animals like these,” says Curtis Fisher, regional executive director at the National Wildlife Federation’s Northeast Regional Center. “It’s also an amazing visual representation of how New England’s decades of work to restore wildlife and willingness to invest in protecting their habitat are paying off.” 

As NOAA details: “The Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank shelf regions in particular are essential summer feeding grounds for large whales including humpback, fin, sei, minke, and North Atlantic right whales; smaller toothed whales including harbor porpoise, short-beaked common dolphin, Atlantic white-sided dolphin, offshore bottlenose dolphin, short-finned and long-finned pilot whales, and seal species including harbor and gray seals. 

The numbers of harbor and gray seals on the U.S. NES LME have increased in recent years where some seals are present year-round (Figure 7.2), though they migrate within and outside of the NES. These seal populations eat a wide variety of fish and invertebrates, and despite controversy over consumption of Atlantic cod, they tend to primarily consume small pelagic fish, hakes and flatfish.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Wow! Watching this video is like a watching a sci-fi flick where man is outnumbered by nature. These seals have made the coastline off-limits to man!
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America's Appetite For Organic Food Triggers Natural Farming Boom ("the trend will soon reach us")

America's Appetite For Organic Food Triggers Natural Farming Boom ("the trend will soon reach us") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

There's been a 300 percent increase in certified organic operations since 2002.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Monday that the number of certified organic producers jumped by almost 12 percent from 2014 to 2015 — the highest rate increase since 2008. “A powerful local and regional food movement is growing inside the United States,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wrote in a lengthy post Monday on Medium, “a movement that directly connects consumers with how, where and by whom their food is grown.” Vilsack called organic food “one of the fasting growing segments of American agriculture.”

The U.S. has 21,781 certified organic growers — 300 percent more than in 2002, when the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began keeping track, the federal agency said in a release. Worldwide, there are more than 31,000 certified organic operations. The United States’ organic retail market is worth more than $39 billion, up from $35 billion two years prior. In 2014, organic food represented about 5 percent of the nation’s total sales — up from 1 percent in 1997, according to a survey by the Organic Trade Association.

The agriculture debate today often pits organic products against those that have been genetically engineered. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are often developed for their resistance to pesticides, allowing farmers to use more pesticides on their crops. But pesticides have come under increased scrutiny in recent years from those concerned about their safety and environmental impact.

Bert Guevara's insight:
The accelerating trend towards organic food only supports what the natural food movement has been saying all along. The current trend in chemical-based agriculture is unsustainable and unhealthy.

"The U.S. has 21,781 certified organic growers — 300 percent more than in 2002, when the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service began keeping track, the federal agency said in a release. Worldwide, there are more than 31,000 certified organic operations."
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France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels ("an attempt to green cities")

France decrees new rooftops must be covered in plants or solar panels ("an attempt to green cities") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

All new buildings in commercial zones across the country must comply with new environmental legislation

Rooftops on new buildings built in commercial zones in France must either be partially covered in plants or solar panels, under a law approved on Thursday. 

Green roofs have an isolating effect, helping reduce the amount of energy needed to heat a building in winter and cool it in summer.

They also retain rainwater, thus helping reduce problems with runoff, while favouring biodiversity and giving birds a place to nest in the urban jungle, ecologists say. 

The law approved by parliament was more limited in scope than initial calls by French environmental activists to make green roofs that cover the entire surface mandatory on all new buildings. 

The Socialist government convinced activists to limit the scope of the law to commercial buildings. 

The law was also made less onerous for businesses by requiring only part of the roof to be covered with plants, and giving them the choice of installing solar panels to generate electricity instead. 

Green roofs are popular in Germany and Australia, and Canada’s city of Toronto adopted a by-law in 2009 mandating them in industrial and residential buildings.

Bert Guevara's insight:
Let us convince our local and national leaders to try this legislation for urban areas, to make cities more habitable.
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Plants boost extreme temperatures by 5°C ("the choice of plant species affect climate impact")

Plants boost extreme temperatures by 5°C ("the choice of plant species affect climate impact") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
"We often underestimate the role of vegetation in extreme temperature events as it has not been included in enough detail in climate models up until this point," said lead author Dr Jatin Kala from Murdoch University. "These more detailed results are confronting but they help explain why many climate models have consistently underestimated the increase in the intensity of heatwaves and the rise in maximum temperatures when compared to observations." To get their results the researchers looked at data from 314 plant species across 56 field sites. In particular, they investigated stomata, small pores on plant leaves that take in carbon dioxide and lose water to the atmosphere. Previously, most climate models assumed all plants trade water for carbon in the exactly same way, ignoring experimental evidence showing considerable variation among plant types. By not accounting for these differences, models have likely over-estimated the amount of water lost to the atmosphere in some regions. If plants release less water there is more warming and a consequent increase in heat wave intensity. The study is unique because, for the first time, it used the best available observations to characterise different plants water-use strategies within a global climate model. "These world-first results will have significant impact on the development of climate models around the world," said one of the study's authors, Prof Andy Pitman, Director of the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science at UNSW.
Bert Guevara's insight:
"Previously, most climate models assumed all plants trade water for carbon in the exactly same way, ignoring experimental evidence showing considerable variation among plant types. By not accounting for these differences, models have likely over-estimated the amount of water lost to the atmosphere in some regions. 
" If plants release less water there is more warming and a consequent increase in heat wave intensity."
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March for trees set for March 21 ("international day of forests cries out for more trees for the planet")

March for trees set for March 21 ("international day of forests cries out for more trees for the planet") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Environmental protection advocates in and near Baguio City will paint their faces with colorful artworks depicting Mother Nature while they march through the entire stretch of the famous Session Road on March 21.

Environmental protection advocates in and near Baguio City will paint their faces with colorful artworks depicting Mother Nature while they march through the entire stretch of the famous Session Road on March 21. 

The parade will be in solidarity with all other environmental advocates around the world celebrating the International Day of Forests. 

In Baguio, it will be a walk for the trees in celebration of their contribution as well as to protest all forms of tree cutting, according to event organizer Michael Bengwayan. 

The parade, which is expected to be joined by local artists and officials, will end at the Malcolm Square where a program will be held to urge the public to respond to the 2015 Paris Agreement which intends to lower carbon emission by 2050. 

The March 21 parade is expected draw hundreds – the largest gathering in the city related to environmental protection and advocacy in almost four years. The last march related to environmental conservation was on April 2012, when over a thousand people marched along Session Road to protest the uprooting of trees by the SM City Baguio at the Luneta Hill. 

The Cordillera region has among the largest remaining forest covers in the country. Unfortunately, however, it is slowly diminishing due to urbanization and expansion of agricultural lands, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Bert Guevara's insight:
The call to save our forests is everyone's concern. What can you do on March 21 to sound the call?
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