School teaches love and respect for the environment New Pittsburgh Courier The mission of The Environmental Charter School (ECS) at Frick Park is to educate each student to high academic learning standards using a themed curriculum that will foster...
We believe that it is our responsibility to build an active, engaged and thoughtful citizenry—not just graduate students.We strongly commit to building systems thinkers, and use the platform of environment and ecology explore complexity, diverse perspectives and various disciplinary ways to engage or explore a problem. Ecological literacy is more than tree hugging or understanding the power of an invasive speciesin an ecosystem. ECS recognizes that the world is more complex and the successful education experiencemeans more than simply preparing students with content.
We know that humans need content, yet require opportunities to create, innovate, share and think critically.Coupled with an intensity for believing that culture is as important as a curriculum frameworkand a thinking-centered learning space, ECS dares to do “school” differently, and build extraordinary little people into extraordinary big people.
Tsunami-Blocking Mangroves Lure Carbon Investors: Southeast Asia Bloomberg Replanted mangrove trees in Southeast Asia are getting credit for protecting against deadly tsunamis and typhoons such as Haiyan in the Philippines and cutting greenhouse...
Mangrove regeneration in Northern Samar, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of the worst-hit Philippine city of Tacloban, helped minimize damage from the Nov. 8 storm, according to the Trowel Development Foundation, which oversaw the plantings. On Indonesia’s Sumatra island, where a 2004 tsunami killed 170,000 residents, companies including Danone and Credit Agricole SA (ACA) have put up about $4 million in exchange for tradable carbon offsets tied to the reforestation.
Mangroves have twisted webs of roots above ground that absorb carbon dioxide linked to climate change and help protect coasts from tidal surges such as the one that killed at least 3,900 people when Typhoon Haiyan swamped the Philippines this month. The storm, one of the strongest to make landfall, has gripped UN climate talks in Warsaw this week, with a Philippine delegate tearfully calling for action to slow climate change.
“Had we not protected the mangrove trees against illegal cutting and had we not planted the areas surrounding the fish farms with native mangrove species, the super typhoon would have destroyed everything that the poor fisherfolks established,” Leonardo Rosario, a development consultant on the Northern Samar project, said by e-mail on Nov. 19.
The voluntary fasting by a member of the Philippine delegation, to accompany its call for urgent climate action in the Warsaw Conference, has gained a lot of adherents to its cause. Now, many delegates are riding on the call by also voluntarily fasting to convey the urgency.
Ahead of the World Forum on Natural Capital, Tim Smedley speaks to Julia Marton-Lefèvre about the role of business in conservation
The Bonn Challenge, for example, is a commitment to restore 150m hectares of lost forests and degraded lands worldwide by 2020. In natural capital terms, this is estimated to be worth $85bn per year. "Degraded land has no economic value whatsoever", explains Marton-Lefèvre. "It arguably even has negative value because it takes up space in countries that could otherwise be used. If we restore it people can live there, farm and fish – it's the livelihood benefits that we have estimated would bring $85bn to countries. That doesn't even include the health benefits."
Marton-Lefèvre's favourite example of natural capital working in practice comes from Vietnam, where "planting and protecting nearly 12,000 hectares of mangroves cost just more than $1m but saved annual expenditures on dyke maintenance of well over $7m. And that only accounts for coast maintenance: mangroves are also nurseries for fish, meaning livelihoods for fishing and source of nutrients ... "
Science World Report Critically Endangered Yangtze Finless Porpoise Faces Threats from River Noise Science World Report There may be another threat to the Yangtze finless porpoise, one of the most endangered species in the world.
So what did they find? It turns out that porpoises are sensitive to sound nearly equally around their heads. That's a sharp contrast to bottlenose dolphins and beluga whales, which exhibit a substantial 30 to 40 decibel difference in sound sensitivity from their jaw to other parts of their head.
So what does this mean exactly? Because of the Yangtze's finless porpoise's morphology, it's very likely that the animal hears omni-directionally. This means that it may have difficulty discerning signals among a clutter of constant noise. This, in turn, could make it difficult for the species to navigate and hunt.
"In a noisy environment, they'd have a hard time hearing their prey or their friend," said Mooney in a news release."It makes it more difficult for them to conduct basic biological activities such as foraging, communicating and navigating in the river."
The findings reveal a little bit more about the risks that the finless porpoise faces. Moving forward, the research could help inform conservation decisions and might allow scientists to better preserve this species into the future.
But the original 500000 hectares of mangroves has whittled down to 100000 hectares or less, due to coastal development, land conversion, and reclamation.
Mangroves, trees, or shrubs that grow in saline coastal habitats are extremely efficient in sequestering or storing carbon, a base element of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.
They store up to 4 times more carbon than tropical rainforests, sequestering 3 to 4 tonnes of carbon per hectare per year. This is equivalent to the carbon emissions of two or 3 vehicles.
In other words, mangroves are crucial in capturing and storing carbon away from the atmosphere, where they would otherwise accumulate and contribute to global warming.
Adding to the gravity of these alarming figures is the fact that the region's mangroves have the highest biodiversity. South East Asia is also home to the most number of mangrove species in the world with 47 out of 70 known species present.
In the Philippines, the original 500,000 hectares of mangroves has whittled down to 100,000 hectares or less, said Pollisco, mainly due to coastal development, land conversion and reclamation.
Mary Robinson says governments must confront this harsh reality if runaway emissions are not to threaten the climate
World governments must get used to the idea of leaving fossil fuel reserves in the ground unexploited and unburned, one of the world's most senior diplomats has said, ahead of a landmark report on climate science to be unveiled this Friday by the Intergovernmental Panel onClimate Change (IPCC).
Robinson told the Guardian that governments would have to confront the harsh reality that much of their fossil fuel reserves, and accompanying economic value, would have to be left behind if runaway emissions were not to threaten the climate.
"There is a global limit on a safe level of emissions. That means major fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground. That has huge implications for economic and social development."
It would mean creating incentives for countries to look at other resources, as well as carbon pricing to penalise fossil fuel use, and most of all "political certainty" coming from global leaders.
Robinson said the world had a unique opportunity in the next two years, because the current millennium development goals expire in 2015, with replacement sustainable development goals in the offing, and the prospect of the Paris conference in the same year. "This is a key point a time, such a very important year."
Paradigm Shift Urgently Needed In Agriculture – UN Agencies Call for an End to Industrial Agriculture & Food System · Biodiversity, Community Projects, Compost, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, ...
Record breaking heat waves sweeping over both hemispheres this summer have put global warming back into the headlines, and with it, the problem of survival under climate change. The most urgent item on the agenda is how to produce food without adding even more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, which can also withstand the increasingly frequent extreme weather events.
It is generally acknowledged that industrial agriculture and our globalized food system is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, up to 50% if proper account is taken of emissions from land use change and deforestation, most of which are due to agriculture, and for food-related transport, processing, storage, and consumption (see Figure 1) . Nevertheless, it is also generally recognized that agriculture holds tremendous promise for mitigating climate change, and much else besides.
The solution for food security under climate change is a radical transformation of the agriculture and food system that would at the same time eliminate poverty, gender inequality, poor health and malnutrition. The 320 page TER — the work of 63 authors from organisations around the world — provides a coherent, closely argued case backed up by evidence from numerous case studies and surveys showing that these interrelated problems could all be solved by a paradigm shift away from the current industrial agriculture and globalized food system to a conglomerate of small, biodiverse, ecological farms around the world and a localized food system that promotes consumption of local/regional produce. The TER proposal is not dissimilar to that made in ISIS’ special report  Food Futures Now: *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free published in 2008, and in the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) , which resulted from a three-year consultative process involving 900 participants and 110 countries around the world. The same message was reinforced in several key publications from the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) [for example, 5, 6] and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme)  to name but a few.
Mangroves bring wildlife back to Senegal coast The Malay Mail Online Senegalese ecologist Haidar El Ali stands with militants asking for the reforestation of the mangrove in Tobor, on September 13, 2013.
“There has been nothing here since the 1960s and 70s. Replanting is bringing back the mangrove,” said Simeon Diatta, the chief of Diakene Diole village near the Guinea-Bissau border, pointing at riverside vegetation.
Since 2006, reforestation has revived 12,000 hectares (30,000 acres) of mangrove in Senegal — an area larger than the city of Paris — mainly in Casamance but also in the north and centre of the country, according to official figures.
“I am struck by the extraordinary success that this initiative represents,” French Development Minister Pascal Canfin said on a recent visit to Casamance, descriving the programme as “model for Senegal, Africa and the world”.
The swamps provide a nursery area for many marine species, most of which are important for food such as fish, crabs and shrimp.
In the nearby village of Diakene Ouolof, resident Mariama Tine said “everything was dead” before the replanting programme began.
“The mangroves stopped the advance of salt and we were able to recover rice fields. There were no fish here before but we are starting to get a lot of them, along with oysters and ark clams,” she said.
Biodiversity-friendly project launched Sun.Star THE municipality of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental recently launched a model biodiversity-friendly livelihood project covering the timberlands under the Biodiversity Partnership Project (BPP) of...
THE municipality of Governor Generoso in Davao Oriental recently launched a model biodiversity-friendly livelihood project covering the timberlands under the Biodiversity Partnership Project (BPP) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The project is dubbed as "Almaciga Resin Production Project," which aims to reduce poverty, generate livelihood and conserve biodiversity.
The selection of Almaciga tapping as biodiversity friendly investment by the United Nations Development Programme is an offshoot of the consultants' scoping activity in the municipality last February.
Furthermore, the selection was also anchored on convergence of the municipal thrust for sustainable poverty reduction program, DENR's thrust for responsible as well as sustainable forestland community management and the BPP as a strategy to capacitate local planners and developers to mainstream biodiversity conservation in the land uses, particularly the production and agricultural landscape, surrounding the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which will then serve as another layer of protection for this important protected areas.
RIO DE JANEIRO, Aug 25 (IPS) - It took Brazil four decades to overcome food insecurity and earn a place as a major global food supplier. Now its experiences will contribute to the evidence base for a new initiative that seeks ...
The current challenge for Brazil is to promote another revolution integrating agricultural and forestry systems.
"The country still has 60 percent of its natural virgin forests, and we want to keep them that way, by managing them intelligently. No other country has an agricultural sector that is moving so determinedly towards sustainability as Brazil," he added.
There are no "magic solutions" that can be applied everywhere, so what is needed is a new approach in which scientists and farmers work together, he told Tierramérica.
Ann Tutwiler, the new director general of Bioversity International, stressed the need to solve "multiple equations".
The aim of the new initiative is "to look at different solutions that can help solve more than one equation, both local and global. We can identify production practices that can conserve biodiversity, reduce environmental impact and maintain or improve yields. We can identify crops that will improve nutrition and provide ecological services," Tutwiler told Tierramérica.
"Our initiative is based on studies backed by the best existing science in terms of both agricultural technologies and environmental considerations, including climate change, the decarbonisation of the agricultural sector, and changes in the use of fertilisers, of which the most harmful are nitrogen fertilisers," he said.
Save our Food Biodiversity Slow food Biodiversity is our insurance policy for the future, allowing plants and animals to adapt to climatic changes, attacks by parasites and disease, or the unexpected.
Biodiversity is our insurance policy for the future, allowing plants and animals to adapt to climatic changes, attacks by parasites and disease, or the unexpected. A system that is biologically varied is endowed with the antibodies to counter dangerous organisms and restore its own equilibrium. A system based on a limited number of varieties, on the other hand, is very fragile. The small-scale farmers, shepherds, fishers that know and respect the fragile balance of nature are the earth’s last true custodians. If biodiversity disappears, together with wild flora and fauna, many domesticated plants and animal breeds will also disappear. Today 60% of the world’s food is based on just three cereals: wheat, rice and corn. Not on the thousands of rice varieties selected by farmers, once cultivated in India and China, or on the thousands of varieties of corn that used to be grown in Mexico, but on the few hybrid varieties selected and sold to farmers by a handful of multinationals. Slow Food’s mission has always been focused on the defense of biodiversity: domesticated, edible biodiversity. Meaning not just pandas and polar bears, but also Gascon chickens and Alpago lambs; not just edelweiss and rainforests, but also violet asparagus from Albenga and traditional Swiss plum orchards. Biodiversity is not some abstract concept. It’s all around us, and it’s endangered too.
200 mangrove trees planted in Masantol Sun.Star MASANTOL -- Some 200 mangrove trees and 300 nipa palm saplings were planted in this town over the weekend by two groups from Japan, in line with their mangrove reforestation project.
The planting activity was led by the Mirai Ni Kibou Foundation and the Rotary Club of Ashikaga East from Japan, in cooperation with their Kapampangan counterpart, the Quota International of Pampanga.
Quota Pampanga president Germinia Villanueva said the event was aimed at promoting the reforestation of much of the coastline and marshes of Masantol, both as an effort to combat climate change and to protect the eco-system of the area.
The project is also seen as a way of creating a natural barrier for coastal villages here against storms and storm surges. She added the mangrove trees provide spaces for breeding of fish and other aquatic life.
Mirai Ni Kibou Foundation president Joseph Ang said the groups decided to plant nipa as a source of income for the local communities living around and near the mangrove forests here.
Mangrove forests serve as breeding grounds for marine life and also help in the balance of marine ecosystemsand protection of coastline from erosion.
Negotiators meeting in Poland have agreed a way forward on curbing deforestation.
A package of measures has been agreed here that will give "results-based" payments to developing nations that cut carbon by leaving trees standing.
One observer told the BBC that this was the "signature achievement" of these talks.
Deforestation accounts for about 20% of global emissions of carbon dioxide.
Earlier this week the UK, US, Norway and Germany agreed a $280m package of finance that will be managed by the World Bank's BioCarbon fund to promote more sustainable use of land.
Now negotiators have agreed a package of decisions that will reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus pro-forest acitivities (known as Redd+).
The conference agreed a "results based" payments system that means that countries with forests will have to provide information on safeguards for local communities or biodiversity before they can receive any money.
'Green architecture' could be the solution to global warming that everyone is looking for - people just need to get on board.
Believe it or not, ‘green architecture’ has the potential to sustain the health of millions in the future. Or at least that’s its mission. Studies show that by the year 2050, our world’s population is expected to exceed nine billion. With that information in mind, our world must find new ways of adaptation. By that year, buildings will need to meet a demand for high indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for growing populations, especially in developing nations and other urban locations. Why is this necessary? Well, the quality of a building’s environment is closely measured, just like the well-being of those who occupy this work or living space. By using this information to work towards a positive impact for the future, decisions on plans for eco-friendly and energy efficient buildings will help to create better quality living for indoor populations around the world, while also connecting humans to the nature that surrounds them.
Citizens need to be stewards of environment, says Pickersgill Jamaica Observer KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Robert Pickersgill, said on Thursday that Jamaica's ability to withstand the effects of future...
"... stressed the need for citizens to become dedicated “stewards” of environmental preservation by, among other things, planting more trees.
He noted that forest preservation is necessary to safeguard Jamaica against the impact of weather-related activities such as hurricanes, the overall effects of climate change and land slippages, among other occurrences.
“The loss of forest cover, not just here in Jamaica, but worldwide, presents a ‘clear and present danger’ to our survival,” he said. “Our forests are (also) directly related to our livelihoods as they provide medicines, wood, water, and almost every natural (provision) around us.”
In this regard, Pickersgill urged that the nation act with urgency to implement measures that will preserve the island’s forests, adding that “one of the best ways is to plant more trees”.
Most comprehensive climate change review to date warns of risks to children, with Unicef arguing that children have been largely left out of the debate so far
Children will bear the brunt of the impact of climate change because of their increased risk of health problems, malnutrition and migration, according to a new study published on Monday. And food prices are likely to soar as a result of warming, undoing the progress made in combating world hunger.
They are expected to warn that climate change is almost certainly caused by human actions, and that it will lead to a global temperature rise likely to top 2C, with related effects including the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap and glaciers, a rise in sea level by nearly 1 metre by the end of this century and more extreme rainfall in parts of the globe.
Unicef argues that, although children are more vulnerable to the effects of global warming, they have been largely left out of the debate. "We are hurtling towards a future where the gains being made for the world's children are threatened and their health, wellbeing, livelihoods and survival are compromised … despite being the least responsible for the causes," said David Bull, Unicef's UK executive director. "We need to listen to them."
Unicef estimates that 25 million more children will suffer malnourishment because of climate change, with a further 100 million suffering food insecurity, where they and their families are on the verge of running out. Children among the 150-200 million people estimated to have to flee their homes because of climate change will suffer more than adults because of their relative lack of resources and higher vulnerability to disease. In heatwaves, likely to grow more intense and frequent under climate change, babies and small children are more likely to die or suffer heatstroke because they find it difficult to regulate their body heat.
Assessing the future of water for agriculture MIT News Strzepek and his colleague Brent Boehlert of Industrial Economic, Inc. of Cambridge wrote a commentary on the future threats to water availability for agriculture.
Strzepek and his colleague Brent Boehlert of Industrial Economic, Inc. of Cambridgewrote a commentary on the future threats to water availability for agriculture. Their research shows that by 2050 population growth, increasing water use, extreme weather and rising temperatures will significantly threaten water resources. “Unfortunately, unless broad changes are made to the way environmental and water resources are governed, we predict conflicts over water for agriculture will increase significantly by the middle of the twenty-first century,” Strzepek says. In their report, Strzepek and Boehlert recommend a series of water governance measures that can be used to better manage and allocate water for agriculture. Policy and management measures include assigning an economic value to water resources to encourage efficiency, switching to more sustainable and drought resistant crops, improving rain-fed irrigation infrastructure, and more equitably distributing water resources. “There is no one-size fits all solution to this problem,” says Strzepek. “But it is important — and essential — that water planning efforts be coordinated and integrated across sectors to prepare for a changing climate in the future.”
The growing number of gluten-free foods crowding grocery shelves may leave you wondering if there’s a health advantage to going gluten-free.
The short answer: No, unless you are among the two million people in the United State withceliac disease. Once thought to be rare, this autoimmune disorder affects about one in 133 people. If you have an immediate family member with the disease—a parent or sibling—you are at slightly increased risk to have celiac disease too.
Those with celiac disease can’t tolerate gluten—a common protein found in wheat, rye, barley and triticale, a cross between wheat and rye. If someone with celiac disease eats foods with gluten, they can suffer a range of digestivesymptoms, including bloating, pain, gas, diarrhea, constipation and vomiting. That’s because eating gluten activates their immune system to attack the lining of their small intestine because it considers the gluten to be a dangerous, foreign invader akin to bacteria or viruses.
Here’s the interesting part: Not everyone with celiac disease displays the classic symptoms. In fact, adults are less likely to show the classic symptoms and instead may experience unexplained anemia, fatigue, arthritis, itchy skin rashes and more.
Also, people with type 1 diabetes have an increased risk of having celiac disease without the classic symptoms. There’s growing evidence that people with fibromyalgia may also be at increased risk for celiac disease.
So, there’s no nutritional advantage to reach for gluten-free products unless you have celiac disease. But if you think you might be one of those who could have this disorder without symptoms, it’s worth talking to your health professional.
local knowledge Ethiopia_1sm Local knowledge is proving a valuable starting point in adapting Ethiopian farming systems to climate change and ensuring greater productivity to combat food insecurity. A new technical paper ...
The aim is to use this information to guide interventions that will build more intensive and climate-resilient systems. “Farming in Ethiopia is already severely affected by land degradation, a shortage of fodder for livestock and soil loss leading to lower productivity,” explains Aster Gebrekirstos, a scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre. “The future impacts of climate change will require these farming systems to be intensified but also sustainable.”
“For any future interventions to be successful, it will be vital to match the right components and management practices with current production systems and ecosystems.”
The researchers found distinct variation in farmers’ knowledge at different sites which was generally associated with the extent of land degradation, local management practices and constraints faced by the farmers.
Among the recommendations in the technical paper is to ensure that the valuable knowledge held within farming communities is taken into account when designing local interventions for sustainable intensification. “Farmers must be involved in decision-making when it comes to any interventions,” emphasizes Gebrekirstos. Because local knowledge can be location-specific and dependent on ecological and socio-economic situations, the authors of the technical paper advise against applying one intervention across a large area.
Latino families filed suit to force the Environmental Protection Agency to prevent discriminatory pesticide practices that allow children to be exposed to high levels of harmful chemicals.
A group of California parents are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to protect students at Latino in public schools in California. In Oxnard, Calif., the schools are near crop fields where methyl bromide and other fumigants are sprayed. In 1999, Garcia and other parents filed a complaint with the EPA regarding high levels of harmful pesticides. The EPA did find high levels of exposure, according to the Garcia complaint: "EPA found Latino schoolchildren in California suffered disparate adverse effects from the application of methyl bromide between 1995 through 2001. EPA found both short-term and chronic exposures above EPA’s threshold of concern. EPA kept the preliminary finding secret and did not inform Garcia, the other complainants, or the general public of the discrimination finding." Instead, the EPA entered in a voluntary agreement with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation that did not remedy the problem, the parents argue. The new lawsuit is being filed on Garcia's behalf by the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, California Rural Legal Assistance Inc., Farmworker Justice and The City Project.