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Bonn climate talks end in discord and disappointment

Bonn climate talks end in discord and disappointment | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Climate crisis is not caused by lack of options and solutions, but lack of political action, says Greenpeace spokeswomanThe latest round of international climate change talks finished on Friday in discord and disappointment, with some participants...

 

The fortnight-long talks in Bonn followed an unexpected last-ditch agreement in December at a meeting in Durban, when countries resolved to spend the next three to four years thrashing out the terms of a new global treaty on climate change and emissions cuts, which would come into force from 2020. Such a treaty would follow on from the Kyoto protocol and from the Copenhagen pledges made at a 2009 summit, in which both developed and developing countries agreed for the first time jointly to curb emissions by 2020. Those pledges do not have the legal force of a full treaty, however, and have been shown in a variety of studies to be inadequate to stave off dangerous levels of climate change.

 

One of the main tasks for the fortnight-long meeting in Bonn was to flesh out a programme of work towards a new post-2020 treaty. That has been partially achieved, but participants said more needed to be done to draft a clear negotiating timetable. The last major international treaty on the climate that had full legal force - the Kyoto protocol - took five years to negotiate, so the current round of talks will be on a tight deadline if they are to finish in a fully drafted agreement by the end of 2015, as planned.

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Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return?

Apocalypse Soon: Has Civilization Passed the Environmental Point of No Return? | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Although there is an urban legend that the world will end this year based on a misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, some researchers think a 40-year-old computer program that predicts a collapse of socioeconomic order and massive drop in human...

 

... "the latest global data are tracking one of the most alarming scenarios, in which these variables increase steadily to reach a peak and then suddenly drop in a process called collapse. In fact, "I see collapse happening already," he says. "Food per capita is going down, energy is becoming more scarce, groundwater is being depleted." Most worrisome, Randers notes, greenhouse gases are being emitted twice as fast as oceans and forests can absorb them. Whereas in 1972 humans were using 85 percent of the regenerative capacity of the biosphere to support economic activities such as growing food, producing goods and assimilating pollutants, the figure is now at 150 percent—and growing."


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Tokyo soil so contaminated with radiation it would be considered nuclear waste in US

Tokyo soil so contaminated with radiation it would be considered nuclear waste in US | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

During a recent trip to Tokyo, Gundersen collected soil samples from a sidewalk, a children's playground, a rooftop, a patch of moss by the side of a road, and the lawn of a judicial building. After sending those samples in for testing, it was revealed that each one had high levels of radioactive cesium-134 (CS134) and cesium-137 (CS137), while three of the samples contained high levels of cobalt-60 (CO60). One of the samples also tested positive for uranium-235 (U235).

 

"[W]hen I was in Tokyo, I took some samples [...] and sent them to the lab," said Gundersen in a recent video report. "And the lab determined that all of them would be qualified as radioactive waste here in the United States and would have to be shipped to Texas to be disposed of."

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Sciency Thoughts: Earthquake beneath the English Channel.

Sciency Thoughts: Earthquake beneath the English Channel. | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

On Wednesday 23 May 2012, at slightly after 2.35 pm British Summertime (slightly after 1.35 pm GMT), an Earthquake was recorded by the British Geological Survey beneath the English Channel, roughly 70 km south of Eastbourne or 50 km west of Dieppe.

 

The depth of the quake was unclear, but it was recorded as measuring 2.2 on the Richter Scale. The quake is unlikely to have been felt by anyone, much less to have caused any damage or casualties. Potentially a quake this size underwater could create a small tsunami, but nothing seems to have been observed in this instance.

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A Coming Food Waste Revolution? | Innovation Management

A Coming Food Waste Revolution? | Innovation Management | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Food waste is a major and growing problem; it is also moving rapidly up policy, corporate and consumer agendas. Reducing food waste is a win: win solution several times over: saving the planet, people, resources and money.

 

The size of the problem:-


Estimates vary, but between one third and two fifths of all food produced worldwide, are wasted. In Europe and the US we are estimated to have ‘at our disposal’ twice the amount of food we need for actual nourishment, and we waste half of it. In the USA, about 40 million tonnes of food and in the whole of Europe about 89 million tonnes are wasted; more than enough to solve the problems of undernourished and starving millions around the world.

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Asia Reclaims Its Rice And Biodiversity With CORA 2012 ...

Asia Reclaims Its Rice And Biodiversity With CORA 2012 ... | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

From 22 May to 5 June 2012, 14 countries in Asia will band together for the COLLECTIVE RICE ACTION (CORA) 2012.

 

People’s organisations, farmers, rural women, and rice consumers from PR China, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Iran will be “Reclaiming Our Rice and Biodiversity!” – the theme for CORA 2012.

 

22 May is the International Day for Biological Diversity and 5 June is World Environment Day. “These are particularly relevant dates as our rice heritage and biodiversity has been severely eroded since the Green Revolution in the 1960s and the advent of genetically engineered crops in the last two decades. Many communities depend on biodiversity for their sustenance and livelihood. It is time we reclaimed our right to a safe and biodiverse environment, especially at this time when communities need biodiversity the most to cope with the impacts of climate change,” says Sarojeni V. Rengam, Executive Director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP). The Save Our Rice Campaign of PAN AP has been coordinating the CORA campaign since 2007.

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Wetlands most threatened ecosystem

Wetlands most threatened ecosystem | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
South Africa’s wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem in the country, the National Biodiversity Assessment 2011 has found. (“@carinavr: Wetlands most threatened ecosystem in SA.

 

KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Gauteng were expected to have no natural vegetation outside of protected areas by 2050. Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa released the NBA 2011 in St Lucia on Tuesday.

 

Based on NBA 2011, the growth of agriculture, mining and urban sprawl were the main causes of a loss of natural vegetation in the three provinces, according to the presentation.

 

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Current Events: Indonesia forest moratorium won't meet climate pledge

Current Events: Indonesia forest moratorium won't meet climate pledge | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
JAKARTA, May 22-Indonesia's progress in reforming its forestry sector will not be sufficient to meet its pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2020...

 

Indonesia imposed a two-year moratorium on clearing forest last May under a $1 billion climate deal with Norway aimed at reducing emissions from deforestation, despite resistance from some government departments and from resource firms looking to expand in the archipelago.

 

Norway has been impressed by what Indonesia has achieved in terms of transparency in the forest sector and by a change towards being more pro-environment in policy debates around land use, said its environment minister, Bård Vegar Solhjell.

 

However, deforestation continues in areas not covered by the moratorium as well as illegally in the country's carbon-rich tropical forests and peatlands. Permits to clear land are often given out by local governors and there is a lack of central government enforcement.

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Investing in Ramallah's Children Key to Sustainability

Investing in Ramallah's Children Key to Sustainability | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Even as crippling unemployment, Israeli restrictions and lack of a cohesive government hinder Palestine’s economic growth, dependence on foreign aid does not help develop sustainable solutions in the long run. Ramallah City Hall, private companies and the Palestinian Authority are collaborating on an environmental education initiative for Ramallah’s youth, investing $52,000 in teaching 4,000 students in fourteen schools across the city.

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Fears grow for the Gambia as food insecurity increases

Fears grow for the Gambia as food insecurity increases | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Africa's smallest country is struggling with the combined effects of failed rains, rising food prices and poor harvests...

 

Patrick Ezeala, spokesman for Oxfam America in the Gambia, said there had been huge declines in the main food crops: rice (-79%), groundnut (-67%) and early millet (-53%). "Coupled with this production drop, food prices have gone higher than normal, surpassing the high food prices experienced during the 2008 global food crisis," he said. "The drop in production combined with rising prices suggests that seed insecurity will increasingly become a challenge for farmers."

 

A 50kg bag of rice costs at least $5 more than it did in 2011. Even though the Gambia has made tremendous progress in poverty eradication since 2003, at least 48% of its population live on little more than $1 a day. Almost 60% of its people have been affected by food shortages – 1 million of the 1.7 million population are in need – according to the agriculture ministry.

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The International Day for Biological Diversity - 22nd May 2012 | Conservation | The Earth Times

The International Day for Biological Diversity - 22nd May 2012 | Conservation | The Earth Times | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The International Day for Biological Diversity falls on 22nd May each year. This year the theme is Marine Biodiversity. The challenges facing marine biodiversity are unprecedented and only concerted world-wide action can avert its complete collapse.

 

The picture is bad, but until now nobody knew quite how bad. In an effort to assess the true picture, a group of around 65 ocean experts and scientists have been collaborating to produce an Ocean Health Index that will establish a new world standard of measurement.

 

The first Index will be released early in June 2012 and indicators will be recalculated annually or whenever new data becomes available. This will hopefully bring home to people the desperate nature of the problems facing marine diversity, but the answer is in the hands of world decision makers who must urgently take positive and dramatic action to improve ocean governance and health.

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Swedes take up more space than we’d like to think

Swedes take up more space than we’d like to think | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

The average human on Earth uses about 2,7 hectares of land for their consumption. The average person in Qatar, however, requires about 11,6 hectares to sustain his or her lifestyle, while in Sri Lanka it is down at about 1,2 hectares per person. And the footprints keep getting bigger in the rich countries and smaller in the poor ones.

 

Sweden, with its 5,7 global hectares used per persons, achieves a 13:th place in this race. It’s far from worst, but still about the double of the average person on Earth – and a lifestyle that would require three whole planets if everyone were to live like us.

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Multi-sector groups join forces to plant mangroves - The Philippine Star » Business Features » Agriculture

Multi-sector groups join forces to plant mangroves - The Philippine Star » Business Features » Agriculture | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

According to Dr. Dicky Simorangkir, international expert of the ACB-GIZ Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, “Mangroves are one of nature’s best ways of combating  climate change because of their high capacity for sequestering carbon and their ability to limit the effects of sea level rise and extreme weather events linked to global warming. Conserving and restoration of mangrove areas should therefore be a high priority. We can benefit from the vast wealth of experiences and learning in mangrove conservation and restoration in the Philippines and other countries of the ASEAN and if these activities are continuously supported, we have a better chance of improving the region’s adaptive capacity to climate change.”

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America's falling carbon-dioxide emissions: Some fracking good news

America's falling carbon-dioxide emissions: Some fracking good news | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The International Energy Agency has just released some data that green-minded fans of shale gas should appreciate.

 

The importance of coal in America’s energy mix has indeed tumbled since 1997, from almost half of electricity generation to just 36.7% in February, according to America's Energy Information Administration (see chart). This has come about mostly because of an increase in the use of natural gas (from 21.6% to 29.4% over the same period) rather than renewable energy (from 8.3% to 12.1%).

 

However, the numbers may not be welcome among all environmentalists, some of whom tend to loathe shale gas because of the “fracking” process through which it is released from rock formations. Some greens claim that fracking contaminates the air and groundwater and can even cause earthquakes (although there is no evidence linking fracking to increased seismic activity, according to the US Geological Survey).

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Current Events: Fukushima radiation higher than first estimated

Current Events: Fukushima radiation higher than first estimated | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
TOKYO May 24 (Reuters) - The radiation released in the first days of the Fukushima nuclear disaster was almost 2-1/2 times the amount first estimated.

 

Tepco, set to be nationalised in July in exchange for a Japanese government bailout, estimated meltdowns at three Fukushima reactors released about 900,000 terabecquerels of radioactive substances into the air during March.

 

That was 2-1/2 times the amount of the first estimate by Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in April last year and about 17 percent more than the highest estimate provided by the government safety agency.

 

The estimate was based on measurements suggesting the amount of Iodine-131 released by the nuclear accident was three times higher than previous estimates, the utility said in the report.

 

 

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Catching Cans Instead Of Cod

Catching Cans Instead Of Cod | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
In the French Rivieria, it’s not uncommon to see a mustached fisherman hauling up his nets at the end of the day. The uncommon part would come in seeing what he’s catching: cans, bags, and plastic trash from the sea.

 

20,000 tons of litter is dumped each year into the North Sea, KIMO reports, and of that, 70% ends up on the seabed, while 15% floats on the surface and 15% washes up on beaches. Plastic bags are the worst offender. They break down into tiny pieces and poison fish, birds, and wildlife, causing the death of 100,000 marine mammals and 1,000,000 birds worldwide each year.

 

KIMO says that the trash isn’t just hurting wildlife, it’s also hurting the bottom line of those who work in the fishing industry, to the tune of $50,000 per boat each year through contamination of catches, broken gear, and fouled propellers. Currently only the proportion that washes ashore is targeted by cleanup and awareness campaigns. These fishermen are going for the deep stuff--and making an impact. So far, they are hauling up 100 tons of litter per year.

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The Hard Rain Project Whole Earth exhibition – in pictures

The Hard Rain Project Whole Earth exhibition – in pictures | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

Fifty years ago, Bob Dylan wrote 'A hard rain's gonna fall'. Today Hard Rain speaks to us not of bombs but of other types of planetary death, says the Hard Rain Project. The idea came to Hard Rain's Mark Edwards when he was lost in the Sahara desert. He was rescued by a Tuareg nomad who then played him the song. As Dylan piles image upon image, Edwards had the idea to illustrate each line of the song – to show humanity's head-on collision with nature.

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Call for preservation of Mizoram's biodiversity - Sevensisters Post

Call for preservation of Mizoram's biodiversity - Sevensisters Post | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

 Zodin Sanga, Aizawl (May 22): Terming Mizoram’s rich biodiversity, which is part of the Indo-Burma global biodiversity hotspot, as the state’s priceless possession, environment & forest minister H Rohluna on Tuesday made a clarion call for its protection.

 

Principal chief conservator of forests SS Garbyal, who also spoke on the occasion, said that India is one of the biodiversity-richest countries and the Northeast region is fortunate to have India’s richest biodiversity hotspots. He said biodiversity is one of the most neglected treasures. ”However, advanced countries have been making judicious and sustainable use of their forest resources. They earn huge profit from their resources without destroying them,” he said and called on experts in Mizoram to use their knowledge in conserving the rich biodiversity.


”The more we have biodiversity-based developments, the more benefited will the poor be.” he said. “The biodiversity of both animal and plant species are core to the survival of life; yet many of the world’s biodiversity is already destroyed or facing extinction,” he said. He stressed on the need to protect the biodiversity from four major threats, viz. hunting, deforestation, foreign species and climate change.

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Nations need food security goals

Nations need food security goals | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The biggest environmental summit for a decade needs to deliver meaningful progress on global food security sustainable agriculture, say researchers.

 

CGIAR, the world's largest publicly funded research body, has published a seven-point "call to action" plan. Ahead of the Rio gathering, scientists are calling for an improved commitment to deliver nutrition security and lessen the need to aid.

 

Agriculture is estimated to provide jobs for 40% of the world's population. In its statement, CGIAR said: "Faced with environmental degradation, climate change... and a world population that is continuing to climb, it is critical for farm and natural resources management and policies to play a more central role in shaping the broader development and environmental agendas."

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Selective Logging May Be Only Way Left to Conserve Tropical Forests

Selective Logging May Be Only Way Left to Conserve Tropical Forests | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it

"We aren't advocates for logging," he said. "We're just acknowledging that it is a reality - and that within that reality, there is a way forward."

 

The study found that on average, 85 to 100 percent of the animal and plant species diversity present before an initial harvest remained after the forests were selectively logged. Forests also retained 76 percent of their carbon after an initial harvest.

 

The authors concede that the reports they analyzed could be overly optimistic portrayals of forest health. They nevertheless maintain that even moderately well-managed forests provide valuable benefits, and that badly managed forests can recover many of their most valuable attributes over time.


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The Secrets Behind San Antonio’s Water Conservation Success

The Secrets Behind San Antonio’s Water Conservation Success | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
San Antonio is something of a poster-child for smarter water use in Texas.

 

“Our business model is to convince our customers to buy less of our product,” says Puente. Like the Plumbers to People program, an initiative to retrofit toilets. The cumulative effect of these conservation efforts was the conservation of more than 120,000 acre-feet of water — an $84 million savings over the course of last summer. ...

 

While conservation has certainly provided the basis for San Antonio’s water success, it isn’t the only factor. The city now meets approximately sixteen percent of its total water demand using recycled water. Big companies in the area, like Toyota and Microsoft, are now some of the largest consumers of these recycled water products.

 

 

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Does biodiversity make your skin itch?

Does biodiversity make your skin itch? | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
When we say that biodiversity is important, and that contact with nature is good for our mental and physical health, we are often expressing an intuitive sense that ‘it just must be’. A...

 

This is just one more bit of evidence, if more were needed, of the importance of biodiversity where we live. Of course conserving rainforest, tigers, rhino, the Alaskan wilderness and our own natural habitats and iconic species is critically important, but we can fixate on the wild and remote and spectacular, at a cost to the ordinary and the familiar in the places where we live. Biodiversity isn’t just something ‘out there’, it should be something here. It doesn’t have to be rare or threatened or specialist or spectacular to be important.

 

We need to plan green space and biodiversity back into urban areas. We need to make it accessible, not just as a place to visit but as spaces we live in and move through in the course of our everyday lives; we need to celebrate the ordinary and the familiar as well as the rare and strange. And let some of it at least, be wild and unruly.  We need street trees, parks, playing fields and lawns, but we also need new meadows, ponds and woods in and around villages towns and cities.

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French ban of Monsanto GM maize rejected by EU

French ban of Monsanto GM maize rejected by EU | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
The EU's food safety body ruled there is 'no specific scientific evidence' that the insect-resistant strain is harmful to health or the environment...

 

France's attempt to ban the planting of a Monsanto strain of genetically modified maize was rejected by the EU's food safety body on Monday. In response to scientific evidence submitted by France backing its bid to ban the GM maize, the European Food Safety Authority ruled that "there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment" to support a ban.

 

In 2008, France banned the the strain MON 810 following public protests against the GM maize, but this was overturned by a French court in 2011. However, in March the French government reinstated the ban, with the then agricultural minister Bruno Le Maire saying the move was "to protect the environment". ...

 

A spokesman for Europe's health commissioner, John Dalli, told the AFP news agency that the EU executive "will consider how to follow up on this ruling, though technically we could ask France to raise its ban [on the Monsanto strain]".

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Scientist calls for regulation of 'stealth chemicals'

Scientist calls for regulation of 'stealth chemicals' | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
Shanna H. Swan, a renowned scientist specialising in reproductive medicine,
has warned about the health effects of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs)
such as phthalates which can end up in food via pesticides or plastics.

 

So what can consumers do to protect themselves? For Dr Swan, there are simple precautions to take: "Do not use air fresheners, do not spray things in your house, do use clean cleaning products and so on."

 

But there are limits to what consumers can do, she says, because product labelling is not always detailed enough. "You can check the label on the lotion but you can’t check the label on your spaghetti sauce or on your bottle of milk and so on. So we need to give consumers the tools to make informed choices. And at this point we don’t have those tools."

 

She also has simple advice for consumers in their daily behaviour: "For example not to store in plastic, not to microwave in plastic." 

 

"What I tell people if you want to do the best you can – buy local produce, buy it unprocessed, buy it organic."

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Growing a Climate Resilient Food System

Growing a Climate Resilient Food System | The Glory of the Garden | Scoop.it
By 2050, an estimated 9 billion people will populate the planet—2 billion more people than today.

 

 ... "how can we make food sustainability a reality—reducing waste where it occurs and preventing hunger elsewhere? The solution is complex but involves elements of the following: improving resiliency to climate shocks and food price volatility, halting land degradation, boosting productive assets and infrastructure, and transforming the global food system at the global and local levels."

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