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The myth of renewable energy | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The sun and wind may be practically inexhaustible, but "renewable" energy isn't. Solar, wind, and geothermal power are not fundamentally different from other energy technologies that consume finite natural resources.
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The science of why you really should listen to science and experts ("it's how we control biases")

The science of why you really should listen to science and experts ("it's how we control biases") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
All humans are biased. But some humans are less biased than others.

It’s no secret that Americans have trouble with scientific authority. We are, after all, a country nearly half composed of creationists who think humans have been around for only 10,000 years or less.

And experts don’t just suffer at the hands of religious and political ideologues — they also get flak from their own presumed academic allies. A group of scholars sometimes dubbed “postmodernists” — no longer trendy, but they were in the 1990s — has delighted in pointing out that scientific experts themselves nourish all kinds of biases, and can be quite closed-minded in their own way.

But just as it was once academically fashionable to dis experts, the worm is now turning, and many are now standing up for them again. And to that trend, we can now add empirical evidence in experts’ favor, thanks to a fascinating new study out by Yale law professor and science communication researcher Dan Kahan and a team of researchers and legal scholars (including one judge).

Nonetheless, the study also found that judges polarized quite predictably, along ideological lines, in their views on the issues of climate change and marijuana legalization. So it isn’t that judges aren’t political — it’s just that in certain cases where they are applying learned expertise, that expertise supplants any gut political leanings.

“Judges of diverse cultural outlooks—ones polarized on their views of the risks of marijuana legalization, climate change, and other contested issues — converged on results in cases that strongly divided comparably diverse members of the public,” the study concluded. (It wasn’t so kind to law students, though: “Students enjoy an immature form of the professional judgment that fully trained and experienced lawyers possess,” the researchers observed.)

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

In the hi-tech age of information, the ability to extract wisdom is best exercised by people who have the "expertise." Sometimes, the ability to filter biases is best exercised by those with more experience.

"The conclusion of all of this research, then, is that there really does seem to be something called “expertise.” Moreover,  there are certain habits of mind learned by experts — especially those possessed of the right, nuanced personality disposition — that render them quite good guides to reasoning about topics where for non-experts, political passions get in the way.

"So experts really do exist, and they really are different from non-experts. Now, all we have to do is listen to them."

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Ex-Cebu mayor, 7 others indicted for illegal mining ("the sad reality of public officials cashing in on illegal mining")

Ex-Cebu mayor, 7 others indicted for illegal mining ("the sad reality of public officials cashing in on illegal mining") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
MANILA -- The Office of the Ombudsman ordered on Tuesday the filing of charges against former Mayor Avelino Gungob Sr. and seven job order employees of Consolacion, Cebu for illegal mining of limestone quarried in November 2009. Gungob, Glecerio Galo, Leonardo Capao, Joeboy Dayon, Juanito Gerundio, Beda Comeso, Nicarter Yray and Dionito Mangilaya are facing a criminal charge for Theft of Minerals under Republic Act 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

An investigation revealed that members of the Cebu City Police Office have apprehended three municipal dump trucks driven by Gerundio, Comeso and Mangilaya loaded with limestone or diorite while Yray, Capao and Dayon were caught in the act of quarrying the minerals without permit.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that Gerundio and others were following the instructions of Galo who acted upon Gungob’s order to quarry and transport the minerals.

Section 43 of Republic Act 7942 requires a quarry permit before extraction of minerals can be done.

"Good faith in ordering the extraction of limestone for the purpose of completing municipal projects cannot absolve [Gungob, Sr.] of any criminal liability under the special law,” the Ombudsman said.

Gungob was also found guilty of simple misconduct and meted out the penalty of suspension without pay for three months with accessory penalties.

Bert Guevara's insight:

What a brazen display of abuse of authority to perform illegal mining! They even used municipal dump tucks for transport.

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Gov’t acts vs El Niño | Tempo - News in a Flash ("as usual, too little too late; same press release")

Gov’t acts vs El Niño | Tempo - News in a Flash ("as usual, too little too late; same press release") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
-*+The government has stepped up strategies to mitigate the impact of the El Niño phenomenon in farmlands and ensure a stable food production in the country.

Among the government relief measures are possible cloud seeding operations, release of rice varieties tolerant to drought, and initiatives on water management, according to Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.

“Patuloy na pinaiigting ng pamahalaan ang mga paghahanda upang labanan ang epekto ng El Niño sa bansa at masiguro ang katatagan ng produksyon ng pagkain, partikular ang palay, sa iba’t ibang bukirin at sakahan,” Coloma said.

“Kumikilos na ang iba’t ibang ahensya ng pamahalaan sa pangunguna ng Kagawaran ng Agrikultura upang bigyan ng karampatang tulong ang mga magsasaka at manggagawa sa kabukiran, tulad ng pamamahagi ng mga drought resistant na punla ng palay, maging ang pagsasaayos ng kanilang mga cropping season upang maiwasan ang mga tinaguriang disaster-prone na mga buwan alinsunod sa inilatag na El Niño mitigation and adaptation plan,” he added.

Coloma said the Agriculture department is working with the National Irrigation Administration to improve irrigation systems in the face of the decreasing water level in dams.

“Handa namang magpatupad ang pamahalaan ng iba pang mga hakbang, tulad ng cloud seeding operations kung kinakailangan, lalo na sa mga lugar na nakakaranas ng matinding panunuyo ng pananim,” Coloma said.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Why the (same) press releases, only now?

These proposals should have been started 6 months ago when El Niño was being anticipated by PAGASA.

"Among the government relief measures are possible cloud seeding operations, release of rice varieties tolerant to drought, and initiatives on water management, according to Presidential Communications Operations Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr."

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Inside the war to save Africa's elephants - CNN.com ("a tusk for a tusk; a war to save")

Inside the war to save Africa's elephants - CNN.com ("a tusk for a tusk; a war to save") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Ninety-six elephants are killed each day in Africa. But this group of park rangers in Chad are ready to die to protect their herd from destruction.

"Conservation is war," they say, and nowhere is that clearer than in Zakouma National Park.

Every day, in this remote wildlife refuge in the Salamat region of southeastern Chad, park rangers risk their lives to protect elephants that have managed to survive the poaching massacres of the last decade.

Before the Labuschagnes and African Parks took over the 3,000-plus-square-kilometer area, the territory suffered huge losses.

In 2002, an estimated 4,300 elephants lived in Zakouma. A decade later that figure had plummeted by 90 percent, most of them slaughtered by poachers for their ivory. The elephants were in danger of being wiped out.

About 450 elephants make Zakouma their home today -- roughly half the entire elephant population of Chad, says the park's field operations manager Darren Potgieter. It's a far cry from the 50,000 elephants that roamed the country's savannahs and scrublands 50 years ago.

The statistics for the region are equally dire. As recently as 1970, Potgieter says, 300,000 elephants roamed a Texas-sized area that included southern Chad, eastern Central African Republic, southwestern Sudan, and northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Today, only small pockets of elephant populations remain, and they remain under threat.

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

96 elephants are killed every day in Africa. These men are willing to die to make it stop. But why?

 

"Poaching, shrinking habitats, human-animal conflict, war and a seemingly insatiable appetite for ivory in Asia -- particularly in China -- have all contributed to the disappearing populations of elephants and many other species. Zakouma is no exception."

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Woman builds 186 sq. ft. modern tiny home to bypass unaffordable housing market ("real estate effect")

Woman builds 186 sq. ft. modern tiny home to bypass unaffordable housing market ("real estate effect") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Tired of renting and of roommates, this Vancouver woman decided to get a relatively spacious tiny home custom-built instead.

Faced with this dilemma, Mori got a tiny home builder, John McFarlane of Camera Buildings, to build her a custom-designed tiny house. Mori spent about CAD $39,000 (USD $30,995) to create a home that is well-lit, and packed with lots of transformer furniture for her and her two cats. A sense of financial security -- without having to shell out a fortune for a condo -- was her top priority, as Mori told The Province:

Basically, I was looking for some kind of housing security in Vancouver — which we all know is hard to find — and also not having a lot of money to go out and buy something. I was having to seriously think about looking at what’s going to happen to me.

It's one of the better designed tiny homes we've seen: the elongated layout, with the galley kitchen to one side, and the full wall of slatted windows to the other side, makes it feel much more spacious. The home has two levels, with the entry, closet and kitchen on the lower level, and up a couple of steps is the mezzanine, which has a lovely workspace, another closet and a 6-foot by 27-inch washroom with shower and composting toilet (the kitty litter box is in here too, with kitty poo smells vented out with the help of a computer fan).

One of the best parts of the design is the awesome pull-out bed, which is hidden under the mezzanine level. It solves that head-conking problem with conventional tiny home gabled roofs, with the exposed steps also serving as extra storage.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The housing backlog is further strained by rising real estate prices all over the world. Architecture can beat the real estate monster by designs such as this.

"Punctuating it with a lot of adorable Japanese knick-knacks, Mori loves her new home so far and has dubbed it "Thousand Crow." It's currently parked on rented land in an RV park, but Mori can easily move it anywhere she wants to in the future -- one of the perks of living tiny."

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Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Deaths Pose More Risks, Euro Group Says ("where will man be w/o bees?")

Pesticides Linked to Honeybee Deaths Pose More Risks, Euro Group Says ("where will man be w/o bees?") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
The finding could have repercussions on both sides of the Atlantic for the companies that produce the chemicals, which are already banned in Europe.

An influential European scientific body said on Wednesday that a group of pesticides believed to contribute to mass deaths of honeybees is probably more damaging to ecosystems than previously thought and questioned whether the substances had a place in sustainable agriculture.

The European Commission in 2013 banned the use of three neonicotinoids— clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam — on flowering plants after a separate body, the European Food Safety Authority, found that exposure to the chemicals created “high acute risks” to bees.

Pesticides are thought to be only one part of the widespread deaths of bees, however. Other factors are believed to include varroa destructor mites, viruses, fungi and poor nutrition.

A growing body of evidence shows that the widespread use of the pesticides “has severe effects on a range of organisms that provide ecosystem services like pollination and natural pest control, as well as on biodiversity,” the report’s authors said.

Predatory insects like parasitic wasps and ladybugs provide billions of dollars’ worth of insect control, they noted, and organisms like earthworms contribute billions more through improved soil productivity. All are harmed by the pesticides.

 


Bert Guevara's insight:

When a choice has to be made, it has to be for the long-term future. Obviously, neonicotinoids are for the short term. The survival of bees will far outweigh the immediate agricultural benefits of using these "bee-killing" pesticides.

"Neonicotinoids are absorbed by a plant so that the neurotoxic poison spreads throughout its tissues, including the sap, nectar and pollen. Far more deadly to insects than to mammals, they do not discriminate between harmful pests and beneficial pollinators.

"But the pesticides are also among the most effective insecticides available to farmers. Proponents argue that they are essential to food security, and note that many of the chemicals they replaced were worse in important respects."

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Leave mangrove forests, squatters told ("the long-term survival of cities demands respect for nature")

Leave mangrove forests, squatters told ("the long-term survival of cities demands respect for nature") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
A majority of these encroachments are in Colaba and Cheetah Camp reserved mangrove forests.

To save mangrove forests — the last of the untouched green spaces in the city — the mangrove cell has issued over 700 eviction notices to illegal structures inside the forests.

A majority of these encroachments are in Colaba and Cheetah Camp reserved mangrove forests. Mumbai city has 4,000 hectares of reserved mangrove forests, which is under the jurisdiction of the state forest department’s mangrove cell. Of these, around five hectares have been encroached upon and the cell is working on restoring them.

“These structures are mainly pre-existing ones, which were present on the land before the mangrove forest were transferred to the cell. But these are still illegal structures and we are trying to protect as much of the mangrove forest as we can,” said N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests, mangrove cell. The encroachments have around 90 families, according to officials.

Apart from hosting a variety of marine and avian species, mangrove forests act as a natural barrier against floods, protect the shoreline from soil erosion, and absorb almost eight times more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than any other ecosystem.

To rid the mangrove forests of all encroachments and regenerate them in the city by the year-end, the cell has intensified operations and has sought police protection for the demolition.

Bert Guevara's insight:

When co-existence is not possible, then a choice has to be made. In this case, environment takes priority. But deciding in favor of the environment is for man's general welfare.

"To rid the mangrove forests of all encroachments and regenerate them in the city by the year-end, the cell has intensified operations and has sought police protection for the demolition.

"In the next phase, the cell will construct fences and are working on a scheme to re-channelise tidal waters to these erstwhile encroached areas to promote regeneration of mangroves. “In places where such channelling is not possible, we will simply plant mangrove saplings after removing all the garbage and debris,” added Vasudevan."

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48 hours that changed the future of rainforests ("using the language of economics changed his mind")

48 hours that changed the future of rainforests ("using the language of economics changed his mind") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Inside the high-stakes negotiations with the world's largest palm oil corporation.

Glenn Hurowitz sat down for his Thanksgiving meal discouraged. He’d spent 2013 flying halfway around the world to cultivate a fragile relationship with Kuok Khoon Hong, CEO of the world’s largest palm oil corporation, Wilmar. Kuok was the linchpin, Hurowitz believed — a single person who might turn the entire palm oil industry around. Wilmar buys palm oil from 80 percent of the world’s suppliers. If Kuok committed to buying only from farmers who promised not to cut down the rainforest, it would set off a chain reaction that might save hundreds of species from extinction and squelch one of the world’s biggest sources of carbon emissions. But after months of progress, the signals he’d been getting from Kuok were not encouraging.

Hurowitz knew that wasn’t going to happen. Negotiations had been proceeding for years and had consistently failed to stop the chainsaws. He fired back an email with a picture of protesters holding banners outside the Kellogg’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Mich. (Kellogg’s bought oil from Wilmar.)

“Every one of your customers’ headquarters is going to look like this,” Hurowitz remembers writing. “This is an opportunity to distinguish yourself.” Then he waited. There was no immediate response from Kuok. “That was a good sign, because usually if he was mad he’d fire something right back.” Two hours later, Kuok sent an email telling Hurowitz they would talk over dinner.

Within 48 hours, Wilmar had signed a sweeping commitment that went further than any other company in the industry. Wilmar not only promised to stop cutting down forests; it pledged to ensure that all the farmers it bought from did the same.

Many other companies had insisted such a pledge was impossible. Yet one year later, every other major palm oil trader had followed Wilmar’s lead.


Bert Guevara's insight:

This conviction agrees with my personal style of environment advocacy -- keep the communication channels open and speak the right language and do not be prescriptive! There are many ways of engaging the enemy.

"This is a story about how change happens. It happens for big reasons: economic shifts, political winds, technological revolutions. But it also happens for small reasons: individual people making very personal choices."

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Pope Francis Says Protecting the Environment Is 'Ultimate Pro-Life, Pro-Poor ... - Christian Post

Pope Francis Says Protecting the Environment Is 'Ultimate Pro-Life, Pro-Poor ... - Christian Post | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Pope Francis is set to release an encyclical letter which calls the environment the "ultimate pro-life, pro-poor, pro-family" issue that Christians are called to engage in.

Catholic News Service reported that Pope Francis is finishing up his encyclical on the environment, set for publication early in the summer, which is set to build on the statements of his predecessors who have urged Christians to focus more on preserving and caring for the environment.

"When Pope Francis says that destroying the environment is a grave sin; when he says that it is not large families that cause poverty but an economic culture that puts money and profit ahead of people; when he says that we cannot save the environment without also addressing the profound injustices in the distribution of the goods of the earth; when he says that this is 'an economy that kills' — he is not making some political comment about the relative merits of capitalism and communism," Cardinal Turkson said about the upcoming encyclical.

"He is rather restating ancient biblical teaching."

Francis said in a speech in the Philippines in January: "We need to see— with the eyes of faith — the beauty of God's saving plan, the link between the natural environment and the dignity of the human person," Francis said in a speech in the Philippines in January.

In December, Francis said at the major U.N. climate change summit in Peru that the consequences of environmental change represent a "serious ethical and moral responsibility." He warned that the time for action is running out, and said that "we can find solutions only if we act together and agree."

Francis urged a collective response that is free from political or economic influences, one that overcomes mistrust and promotes a culture of solidarity and dialogue.

The Vatican leader has also argued that people have an obligation to respect the natural order, comparing the traditional family unit with ecology.


Bert Guevara's insight:

A Holy Week message for reflection.

Similarly, Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his 2009 encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" that a lack of respect for the environment is related to a lack of respect for the natural family.

"If there is a lack of respect for the right to life and to a natural death, if human conception, gestation and birth are made artificial, if human embryos are sacrificed to research, the conscience of society ends up losing the concept of human ecology and, along with it, that of environmental ecology," he wrote.

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PH needs P392B to carry out biodiversity action plan – UNDP | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines

PH needs P392B to carry out biodiversity action plan – UNDP | Manila Bulletin | Latest Breaking News | News Philippines | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) said the government needs between P336 billion and P392 billion to implement the Philippine Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan (PBSAP).

The UN agency has placed a yearly budget for the PBSAP at P34 billion.

The Philippine government crafted the PBSAP in partnership with the UNDP with the objective to restore and rehabilitate by 2027 the country’s biodiversity.

Citing UNDP environmental and business specialist Lorenzo Cordova, the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD), noted that “the [Philippine] government will need a funding of P336 billion to P392 billion with an annual budget requirement of P34 billion” for the PBSAP.

Lorenzo said one-half of the amount will go to forestry and terrestrial ecosystems, 20 percent for inland and wetlands, while the rest of the budget will go to the coastal and marine and urban ecosystem.

PCAARRD also stressed that owing to the limited budget there is a need to either prioritize the projects or look for funds from external sources.

PCAARRD described the PBSAP as “the country’s contribution to the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAP), which require countries to prepare a national biodiversity strategy that will be mainstreamed to the planning and activities of involved sectors.”

Of the government agencies, it was said the DENR and the Department of Agriculture (DA) have the biggest budget for biodiversity projects.

In the case of PCAARRD, the agency said it will look into the NBSAP’s priority areas “and to determine how these relate to the Council’s Industry Strategic Plan on biodiversity” as well as determine venues for complementation in funding priority projects.

Bert Guevara's insight:

It is sad that long-term plans like this often get low priority in budget allocations. If ever they get funded, it is another story if the money is spent properly. Biodiversity programs need serious focus from both the private and public sectors.

"Lorenzo said one-half of the amount will go to forestry and terrestrial ecosystems, 20 percent for inland and wetlands, while the rest of the budget will go to the coastal and marine and urban ecosystem."

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With Fins Now Off Many Menus, A Glimmer of Hope for World’s Sharks by Ted Williams: Yale Environment 360

With Fins Now Off Many Menus, A Glimmer of Hope for World’s Sharks by Ted Williams: Yale Environment 360 | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
For decades, the slaughter of sharks – sought after for their fins and meat – has been staggering. But bans on finning and new attitudes in Asia toward eating shark fin soup are leading to optimism about the future for these iconic ocean predators.

Sharks can’t bounce back like other fish. Most give birth to dog-size litters, and those that lay eggs don’t spew big numbers. Sandbar sharks mature at age 16, then bear eight to 12 pups every other year at most. Embryos of the sand tiger swim around in each of two uteri, attacking and consuming siblings until only two survive. Duskies don’t mature until age 20, then deliver three to 16 pups every third year. 
The shark crisis began with the economic boom in China and other East Asian nations. Before that most Asians couldn’t afford shark fin soup. 
The slaughter has been staggering. Many countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East aren’t involved in global management treaties and, even if they were, lack resources to keep track of what shark species get killed in what quantity. Some countries with those resources are “playing games, cooking the books, and fishing illegally,” to borrow the words of shark biologist Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. 

Global fin trade is declining. During the last two years China, Hong Kong and Malaysia have banned shark fin soup at government functions. Five hotel chains have promised not to serve shark fin soup, and 26 airlines have agreed not to transport fins. WildAid reports that at least 76,000 people in Malaysia and 70,000 people in Hong Kong have signed its “I’m FINished with Fins” pledge.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Sharks are still being killed, although in lesser quantities now, it seems. Are you still ordering shark-fin soup?

"The good news has encouraged and inspired, but it seems also to have created some Pollyannaism. Marine scientist Demian Chapman of New York State’s Stony Brook University says the decline in fin traffic is real but that it’s exaggerated by the media. “Rerouting from Hong Kong to Vietnam might account for some of it,” he submits. And, while a study published in the April 2015 issue of Biological Conservation demonstrated that global fin trade has dropped by about 25 percent over the last decade, co-author and shark expert Shelley Clarke warns that the demand for shark meat is increasing."

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The Fate of Trees: How Climate Change May Alter Forests Worldwide ("trees may not recover fast enough")

The Fate of Trees: How Climate Change May Alter Forests Worldwide ("trees may not recover fast enough") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
By the end of the century, the woodlands of the Southwest will likely be reduced to weeds and shrubs. And scientists worry that the rest of the planet may see similar effects

From a tree's perspective, excessive heat may be as deadly as lack of water. To photosynthesize, a tree opens pores in its leaves called stomata and inhales CO2. Solar-charged chemical reactions then transform the CO2 into carbohydrates — the raw stuff of leaves and wood. During this process, a fraction of the tree's internal water supply evaporates through its stomata, creating the negative pressure that pulls water from the soil into the tree's roots, through its trunk and up to its canopy. But heat juices the rate at which trees lose moisture, and that rate escalates exponentially with temperature — so small temperature increases can cause a photosynthesizing tree to lose dangerous amounts of water. "Forests notice even a one-degree increase in temperature," says Williams.

In the death scenario, the sky sucks water from the leaves faster than it can be replaced by water in the soil, and the resulting partial vacuum fatally fractures the tree's water column. If a tree closes its stomata to avoid this, shutting down photosynthesis, it risks starvation. Ultimately, the tree's cellular chemistry will fail, but it will often die before that, as its defenses fall; the complexly toxic sap that repels predatory insects dries up. Many insects can detect diminished sap levels within tree bark by scent — they smell drought stress and pheromonally broadcast news of deteriorating tree health. Other defenses – against microbes, for example — may also be compromised. A hotter climate generally means more insects. It also means more, and more intense, wildfires.

At the hottest, lowest edge of the local ponderosa pine range, where trees already lived at the limit of what they could tolerate, the future seemed to have arrived. "Watching those trees die, I was aware I was also watching that species' geographic distribution change," Williams told me. "It looked slow to me, but on the time scales that these trees work on, the transition was a flash, like a border being suddenly constructed, and the few unlucky ones on the wrong side being sentenced to death."

Bert Guevara's insight:

The scenario is not good when damaged or lost forests are not replanted or reforested in time. Climate change aggravates the problem. Read this splendid article and find out why.

"That's a critical question, because forests cover more than a quarter of the planet's land, and they help stabilize the climate by pulling immense quantities of CO2 out of the air. Of the 36 billion metric tons of CO2 humans emit annually, about 50 percent rises into the atmosphere and about 25 percent falls into the oceans, but around the time that Williams began deriving the FDSI and McDowell was clinically enfeebling trees, no one knew exactly how much of the remaining 25 percent forests drank in.

"The answer turned out to be virtually all of it."

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Garry Rogers's curator insight, March 17, 11:09 AM

Continued harvest (logging and livestock grazing)  will work with wildfires to remove long-lived species.  This is already visible in arid regions.

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In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, global CO2 emissions have stalled, but ("it didn't decrease")

In 2014, for the first time in 40 years, global CO2 emissions have stalled, but ("it didn't decrease") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
While that's encouraging, it shouldn't lead the world to lose focus in its fight against global warming.

New data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) is showing that last year, for the first time in four decades, global CO2 emissions have "stalled," remaining at about 32 billion tonnes, the same number as in 2013. "This is both a very welcome surprise and a significant one," said IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol. "It provides much-needed momentum to negotiators preparing to forge a global climate deal in Paris in December: for the first time, greenhouse gas emissions are decoupling from economic growth."

But while that's encouraging, it shouldn't lead the world to lose focus in its fight againstglobal warming. The reason is simple: While the rate has stopped increasing, it doesn't mean that the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will stop increasing. 

All that the IEA news about 2014 means is that last year, we didn't open the faucet more, it just keeps filling the tub at the same rate as in 2013.

Said like that, it doesn't sound so great, uh? But it's still a good sign. I'd much rather see the rate stabilize, and eventually start to go down than to keep going up as it has been for decades. Hopefully it's an early sign that we are decarbonizing our civilization, andturning more to clean sources of energy.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The situation merely stopped increasing, but the emissions continued at the same rate, as in 2013. It's like a 20-second timeout in basketball.

"An important factor could be that China's coal consumption fell in 2014, driven by their efforts to fight pollution, use energy more efficiently and deploy renewables.

"Efforts to reduce emissions elsewhere will have played a role, but there are also more random factors such as the weather and the relative price of oil, coal and gas." 

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7 Products You Didn’t Know Come from Trees ("one of God's greatest gifts to man expands usefulness")

7 Products You Didn’t Know Come from Trees ("one of God's greatest gifts to man expands usefulness") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Forests give us so much—fresh air, clean water, wildlife and tranquil surroundings. But—as some of you probably know—the trees that grow in these forests also provide us with many products we use in our everyday life. From paper towels and toilet paper, t

While almost everyone knows that wood and paper products come from trees, folks may not be as aware that many other products we use on a daily basis come from trees. We often forget the wooden handles from our brooms and the containers that hold our ice cream also come from the forest.

WWF is working to address the threats to forests so we can sustain nature’s diversity, benefit our climate and support human well-being—including continuing to responsibly produce products that come from trees. Those products are easy to find. They have the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label. The label means the product was created with material from a responsibly-managed forest. The FSC—which WWF helped create nearly 20 years ago—has the best standards for assessing which forests are properly managed.

Next time you use the following products, take a moment to think about the amazing trees that helped create them, or helped them get their start:

Bert Guevara's insight:

Did you know that these items came from trees?


1. Latex Rubber Gloves

2. Sponges 

3. Wine Corks

4. Chewing gum

5. Car wax

6. Hair Dye

7. Chocolate

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Launch of Largest Global Citizen Consultation on Climate and Energy ("reaching out to masses on the ground")

Launch of Largest Global Citizen Consultation on Climate and Energy ("reaching out to masses on the ground") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
On June 6, beginning at dawn in the Pacific Islands and ending at dusk in the West Coast of the United States, citizens around the world will take part in the largest ever public consultation on climate change and energy.
 This unique World Wide Views Day is in support of an ambitious new, universal climate change agreement that the nations of the world will conclude under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, in December.
Organizers Make Final Preparations to Bring t…

Next week in Paris, on April 13 and 14, national organizations in the World Wide Views Alliance will meet at the European Space Agency HQ to discuss and continue their preparations for the main event.

On the day itself, June 6, groups of hundreds of citizens reflecting the demographic diversity of their countries will attend day-long meetings to discuss climate change and energy issues, express their views and make up their minds about what they want their governments to do to ensure a sustainable future.

The results from the global event will be ready in June, giving everyone from policy makers to businesses, from civic leaders to investors a unique and timely insight into the views of citizens worldwide on the key issues that governments need to address in order to reach an effective new climate change agreement.

The results from World Wide Views will also be presented at the Paris COP21 UNFCCC climate change conference. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the of the UNFCCC, said:

"We are very excited that the World Wide Views on Climate and Energy is being organized and happy to collaborate with such an important initiative. Bringing forward the views and the voices of citizens from across the globe can only contribute to a positive new universal climate agreement in Paris in December. In supporting this unique and novel approach, we believe we are also making an important contribution to Article 6 of the Convention as it relates to education and public awareness."

Bert Guevara's insight:

Do you want to take part in a global consultation on climate and energy using the web on June 6. World Environment Day?

 

"This is the third time that partners in the World Wide Views Alliance have organized a global citizen consultation, but World Wide Views on Climate and Energy is on track to be the largest ever. Partners around the world are still signing up and over 50 countries are expected to participate. 

"The initiative has received France’s official COP21 label, and French President François Hollande praised it in his yearly speech to the French constitutional bodies, last January.

"The project is initiated by the Danish Board of Technology Foundation, Missions Publiques, the UNFCCC Secretariat and the French National Commission for Public Debate in partnership with World Wide Views."

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BusinessWorld | Manila Bay study could start by end-Sept. 2016 ("science will now guide approvals")

BusinessWorld | Manila Bay study could start by end-Sept. 2016 ("science will now guide approvals") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
THE CONSULTANCY that will bag the contract to produce a comprehensive study of the Manila Bay area, which will serve as the guide for future reclamation projects, will likely be allowed to start actual work on the ground as early as the third quarter of 2016, said the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA).

“We’re already mapping out the next steps with our bids and awards committee. This is preparatory to the issuance of the Request for Proposals (RFP) within the last quarter of the year,” PRA Assistant General Manager for Reclamation and Regulation Joselito D. Gonzales said in a recent phone interview.
The agency had said in January that it will commission the project, which will cover Manila Bay’s north shore in Pampanga down to Cavite. It will be bid out to consultancy firms with experience in reclamation and environmental study.
The project’s output will serve as a decision support system (DSS) in the form of a computer program that the PRA will use to “counter-check” proposed reclamation projects.
“If someone proposes to reclaim a portion of the area, we will find out -- in one click of a button -- what will be its effects on Manila Bay. Will there be flooding? What will be the water flow?” Mr. Gonzales explained in a separate interview at the PRA office recently in Makati City.
The DSS, described as a “very high-tech” and “extraordinary kind of procurement,” will also have an environmental component and hydrological modeling, and will provide the socioeconomic profile of the settlers and the fisherfolk in the area involved, among others.
After the issuance of an RFP, the deadline for submission of bids will be set within 30 to 60 days, said Mr. Gonzales. It will be followed by the awarding of contract “at least three months from the submission of bids.”
“We will follow the maximum allowable time under the procurement law. It depends on prospective bidders if they will request for extension... to meet eligibility requirements, such as if a foreign firm still needs to scout for a local partner, and we will evaluate reasonably,” he said.
“If all goes well, then conservatively, we can issue the notice to proceed by the end of third quarter or up to the fourth quarter next year,” Mr. Gonzales added.

Bert Guevara's insight:

As the two sides to the Manila Bay reclamation issue trade arguments, maybe this project may introduce more scientific bases into the debates and produce sound decisions.

"The project’s output will serve as a decision support system (DSS) in the form of a computer program that the PRA will use to “counter-check” proposed reclamation projects.
“If someone proposes to reclaim a portion of the area, we will find out -- in one click of a button -- what will be its effects on Manila Bay. Will there be flooding? What will be the water flow?”

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Unique Earth Day Traditions To Start As A Family (earth day everyday, everywhere, for every one")

Unique Earth Day Traditions To Start As A Family (earth day everyday, everywhere, for every one") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
When trying to raise young stewards of the planet, it's never too early. Here are 4 unique Earth Day traditions you can start this year as a family.

1. Think outside the tree

Many people choose to plant a tree to honor Earth Day, and this is an honorable and beneficial tradition, of course, especially if your city or town organizes a tree-planting event at a local park. However, your family can take this idea to another level by starting a garden on Earth Day that can be tended to by the entire family year round. 

2. Start a neighborhood or school recycling program

Spearhead a block-wide or even school-wide recycling initiative by going door to door as a family to enlist neighbors who are willing to cans, glass or plastic water bottles. Or speak with your kids’ school administration about placing recycling bins in the classrooms and cafeteria.

3. Make a green pact - as a family

Bond through your earth-friendly efforts by make a concerted effort to "go green" as a family this Earth Day. Gather together and decide which go-green tasks most interest each member of the family.

4. Make an earth friendly dinner

Little kids may not fully understand the significance of Earth Day, but they can certainly be part of a simple family tradition this April 22 — a special meal. Bring the family together for dinner honoring Earth Day. The ingredients of this meal should be conscious of the environment in any way possible. For example, make a meatless meal or use ingredients bought entirely from a local farmers market. Instead of scraping remnants into the trash or even thecompost heap, turn the leftovers into a second creative meal for the following night. This Earth Day meal can be the very beginning of a new tradition to make every meal just a little bit more earth-conscious.

Bert Guevara's insight:

April 22 is International Earth Day.

"Learning how to be green not just on Earth Day but every day is a wonderful way to bond with your family while making a very beneficial impact on our planet day after day."

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17 Cotabato villages affected by drought ("no escaping el niño's wrath; whole country drying up!")

17 Cotabato villages affected by drought ("no escaping el niño's wrath; whole country drying up!") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

The Cotabato City Agriculture Office on Friday said more than P15 million worth of crops have been damaged due to drought.

The city has been suffering from the dry spell since January.

Seventeen villages were affected by the dry spell, with 245 farmers and 319 hectares of rice and corn fields affected by the drought.

Agriculture Secretary Proseso Alcala is schedule to visit Cotabato City on Saturday to launch the "Ulat sa Bayan Peace Caravan Campaign."

Alcala will conduct an ocular inspection on the newly-built "state of the art" halal slaughterhouse in Barangay Tamontaka, Cotabato City. The project is worth P33 million.

A farmers' forum will also be conducted in the area to identify the problems encountered by farmers and fisherfolks in the city.

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

For 2015, agriculture in the Philippines will suffer from drought brought about by the El Niño phenomenon. This kind of dry news will continue. Cloud seeding can only offer a "band aid" solution.

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Want to fix the climate? First, we have to change everything ("a call to take the plunge into new paradigm")

Want to fix the climate? First, we have to change everything ("a call to take the plunge into new paradigm") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Gar Alperovitz worked within the systems that helped pass civil rights legislation and launch Earth Day. Today, he says, those systems are closed for business.

Helping head this up is the historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz, 78, former legislative aide to Sen. Gaylord Nelson, who helped spur Earth Day into reality in the late 1960s. Alperovitz was around for that and also the halcyon era of the 1960s and ’70s when Congress was able to pass effective civil rights and environmental legislation. More recently, he helped start the Democracy Collaborative, “a research center dedicated to the pursuit of democratic renewal, increased civic participation, and community revitalization.”

With the Next System, Alperovitz is hoping to shepherd discussions around what new systems and institutions can be created to help heal what political and corporate systems have desecrated. He also seeks to elevate the new systems that are already in place but could use some scaling up.

One major focus of the project is on expanding business models that grant company ownership to workers. It’s actually similar to the kind of thinking behind what Jay-Z is seeking for Tidal: granting musical artists the opportunity to help generate more wealth for themselves, rather than companies, when we stream their music online. It’s a sign that people aren’t only waking up, but are also trying to do something about the fact that current business models aren’t empowering laborers.

If millionaires like Jay-Z are the wrong example for this, then consider instead what Cesar Chavez sought to achieve for farmworkers: more rights, better compensation, ownership. These are the kinds of discussions Alperovitz wants to build upon through the Next System.

“Sophisticated discussions,” though, said Alperovitz, when I met with him at his home in D.C. last month. “No slogans.”

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is how to think OUT OF THE BOX. We need people who are willing to come out and feed another Earth Day movement. Read this article and check if you can make the paradigm shift in your own life.

"Today’s political economic system is not programmed to secure the wellbeing of people, place and planet. Instead, its priorities are corporate profits, the growth of GDP, and the projection of national power. If we are to address the manifold challenges we face in a serious way, we need to think through and then build a new political economy that takes us beyond the current system that is failing all around us. However difficult the task, however long it may take, systemic problems require systemic solutions."

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World's Tallest Buildings Will Purify The Environment ("designing with nature is good architecture")

World's Tallest Buildings Will Purify The Environment ("designing with nature is good architecture") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Two of the world's tallest buildings will purify the environment. To be built in Wuhan, China, the buildings will clean the air and water around them.

Designed by London-based Chetwoods Architects in partnership with HuaYan Group, the project is to consist of two buildings, representing the male and female dual aspects of Chinese culture. The taller ‘Feng’ tower will have 100 floors for residential living, offices and retail space and the slightly smaller ‘Huang’ tower will contain what is described as “the world’s tallest garden.”

The eco-aspects of the super-skyscraper include a complex mechanical system to simultaneously filter Wuhan’s water, collect solar, wind and hydrogen power, provide produce from a massive vertical garden, harvest rainwater, and boil biomass. In other words, it is intended to become the region’s “lungs,” purifying the air and water around it.

Chetwoods Architects’ founder Laurie Chetwood said: “In China, if you come up with a slightly mad idea, it’s almost not mad enough. It’s the opposite of the UK. It was blatantly iconic. They wanted to take the Eiffel Tower experience on a stage further. It doesn’t just stand there and become an iconic symbol of Wuhan. It has to do a job. We’ve applied as many environmental ideas as we possibly could to justify the shape and the size of them.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

They should start teaching these concepts in architecture and engineering schools. The world needs bright and daring ideas.

"The eco-aspects of the super-skyscraper include a complex mechanical system to simultaneously filter Wuhan’s water, collect solar, wind and hydrogen power, provide produce from a massive vertical garden, harvest rainwater, and boil biomass. In other words, it is intended to become the region’s “lungs,” purifying the air and water around it."

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10 crazy things Republicans said that are not April Fools' jokes ("don't let politicos mess w/science")

10 crazy things Republicans said that are not April Fools' jokes ("don't let politicos mess w/science") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Unfortunately, GOP politicians actually believe this stuff.

1. “The best thing about the Earth is if you poke holes in it oil and gas come out.” — Former Rep. Steve Stockman (Texas)

2. “The big thing we are working on now is the global warming hoax. It’s all voodoo, nonsense, hokum, a hoax.” — Former Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.)

3. “Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rainforests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?” — Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.)

4. “The government can’t change the weather. I said that in the speech. We can pass a bunch of laws that will destroy our economy, but it isn’t going to change the weather.” — Sen. Mark Rubio (Fla.)

5. “The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over. Man will not destroy this Earth.” — Rep. John Shimkus (Ill.)

6. “It wasn’t just a few years ago, what was the problem that existed? It wasn’t global warming, we were gonna all be an ice cube. We’re not ice cubes.” — Rep. Jeff Miller (Fla.)

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is an example of why I believe that science should be left to scientists and politics should be left to politicians.

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Leaders of European cities make pledge to tackle climate change ("preferential buying policy will make a change")

Leaders of European cities make pledge to tackle climate change ("preferential buying policy will make a change") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Representatives of 30 cities gather in Paris to sign declaration that will also commit them to use their €10bn purchasing power to buy eco-friendly

Leaders and representatives of 30 European cities will gather in Paris on Thursday to declare their commitment to “clean” policies to fight climate change.

Officials will also sign a declaration agreeing to use their collective purchasing power – estimated at around €10bn (£7.4bn) a year – to buy eco-friendly.

The gathering comes eight months before Paris hosts the United Nations climate change conference, known as COP21, aimed at achieving a binding, universal and international agreement on climate for the first time in more than 20 years of UN negotiations.

In a joint statement signed by 26 European mayors, including London’s Boris Johnson, city representatives said they hoped combining forces to favour green and low-carbon industries for procurement contracts would have a “leverage effect on the private sector that very often aligns its own requirements with the public sector”.

“[The] time has now come for European capitals and metropolises to pool our efforts to tackle climate change. This requires a closer dialogue between cities through a more regular exchange of expertise and good practices,” they declared.

The mayors will arrive at Paris’ city hall in electric Autolib’ cars, from the city’s car-sharing service, decorated in the colours of their country.

The summit comes a week after Paris was declared the most polluted city on the planet after a choking cloud almost obscured its most symbolic monuments including the Eiffel Tower and left the city of light looking more like the capital of smog.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The money trail goes a long way in influencing climate change policies and actions. Commercial activity will always respond to where the money is.

This decision of government leaders to purchase only "eco-friendly" products gives a positive incentive for climate action.

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The bizarre way that we justify actions that waste energy and are bad for the environment

The bizarre way that we justify actions that waste energy and are bad for the environment | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Meet the rationalizations that researchers have dubbed "compensatory green beliefs."

These ideas — the notion that one good health-related behavior justifies or offsets a bad one – are called “compensatory health beliefs” in the research literature. And they appear to be common — and often, pernicious. Studies have linked this mode of thinking to adolescents having a harder time quitting smoking, people being less likely to get a flu shot and, of course,breaking diets.

This idea that we can “justify” a little bad with an intended good and thereby balance the scales — or that after doing something bad, we can cleanse our sins with something good — seems to be a very human thing. It’s classic rationalization and self-justification. It lessens cognitive dissonance, making us feel better.

We don’t know the extent to which this actually happens. But in a recent study in the journal Environment and Behavior, a group of researchers at Derby and Sheffield universities in the UK began an effort to change that. They set out to try to measure what they called “compensatory green beliefs” and how they affect behaviors. Their results suggested that these beliefs certainly might be something to worry about.

What’s more, the study also found statistical relationships between endorsing compensatory beliefs and not only being less environmentally conscious, but also engaging in fewer green behaviors, such as driving a more fuel-efficient car. Indeed, endorsement of these compensatory beliefs also showed a link with being a skeptic of climate change and being less concerned about the problem.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Being green is not simply a game of offsetting a negative with a positive action and feeling good about it.

"This style of thinking might seem trivial and all too human. But think of what would happen if everybody thought they could trade off one environmental plus for one environmental negative — that one green “A” offsets one “F” — and followed through on that logic. It’s hard to see how the consequence could be anything other than this — a world that, overall, consumes more energy and suffers more environmental consequences."

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Study reveals value of zoos and aquariums in boosting biodiversity understanding ("it's educational")

Study reveals value of zoos and aquariums in boosting biodiversity understanding ("it's educational") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it
Zoos and aquariums around the world have a crucial role to play in helping people understand how they can protect animals and their natural habitats, new research from the University of Warwick, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and Chester Zoo has found.

Dr Jensen, who is an internationally recognised expert on public engagement with wildlife, explained: "Zoos and aquariums are in a unique position to contribute to the goal of raising understanding of biodiversity conservation. Indeed the majority have an institutional and, in some cases, legal commitment to public education.

"But because these establishments tend to be viewed as providers of entertainment by the public, it has been unclear to what extent zoos' educational messages are effective and, as there has been no previous global evaluation of their impact, it has been impossible to assess their importance on this scale - until now."

The study found there was an increase in respondents demonstrating some positive evidence of biodiversity understanding from pre-visit (69.8%) to post-visit (75.1%). Researchers also found an increase in respondents who could identify something they could do to help protect biodiversity from pre-visit (50.5%) to post-visit (58.8%).

"For the first time, there is strong evidence that many people leave these attractions not just with greater awareness but also a better understanding of biodiversity and conservation," added Dr Jensen.

"But the challenge for zoos and aquariums now is how to use these findings to directly improve the conservation of biodiversity, because it's important to remember that an increase in knowledge does not necessarily lead to a change in behaviour.

"The next equally important step should be to build on this knowledge to promote pro-conservation behaviour and social change."

Bert Guevara's insight:

Let's bring more kids and adults to visit them.

"The United Nations has a target that everyone should be aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably by 2020 at the latest.

"Our findings highlight that zoos and aquariums have an extremely important role to play if this goal is to be reached and if we are to eventually reverse the loss of biodiversity on the planet."

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8 ways you’re killing the environment without even realizing it ("discover and do something about it")

8 ways you’re killing the environment without even realizing it ("discover and do something about it") | Earth Citizens Perspective | Scoop.it

Many everyday items that we take for granted have a significant impact on Mother Earth. Here are a few humble household supplies that hurt the envorinment more than you’d expect:

 

1. Anti-bacterial soap ... Research shows that small quantities of triclosan persist after being flushed down the drain, and even after water is treated at sewage plants.

 

2. Lawn mowers Mowing the lawn is actually terrible for the environment. According to a Swedish study, a lawn mower produces nearly the same amount of oily air pollution as a 100-mile car trip.

 

3. Tea bags Most of the tea brewed in America is made with tea bags, which means that an average tea drinker consuming 5 cups a day gets through about 13 sq meters of perforated paper every year.

 

4. Plastic bottles About 50 billion bottles of water are consumed every year,

 

5. Microbeads Found in everything from toothpaste to exfoliating face washes and body scrubs, microbeads actually wreak havoc on the environment.

 

6. Disposable razors

 

7. Paper cups

 

8. Wooden chopsticks from restaurants About 3.8 million trees are torn down to produce a staggering 57 billion disposable pairs of chopsticks every year, ...

Bert Guevara's insight:

In case you aren't aware yet, simple things we do and use everyday pose a problem to the environment. Read and find out.

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