A cyclist in Berlin, Germany. HENDRIK WIEDUWILT VIA FLICKR
Thanks to Yale E360 for Berlin Looks to Create Car-Free Zone Larger Than Manhattan, a snapshot of the city’s fewer cars campaign, with links to further details in related stories by the Guardian and Fast Company:
Berlin’s regional parliament is considering creating a car-free zone in the German capital in response to a concerted push from a local advocacy group. Continue reading
Interior detail of “Earth Poetica,” which is a huge globe created out of plastic waste. Amit Elkayam for The New York Times
The challenge of plastic is a topic that goes back a decade in our pages. We have featured artisanal plastic upcycling initiatives that we have supported entrepreneurially, as well as articles about other artisanal initiatives.
Today, in the same vein: Israeli Artist Turns Plastic Pollution Into ‘Earth Poetica’.
Beverly Barkat in her Jerusalem studio assembling “Earth Poetica,” a huge globe, from plastic waste. Its permanent home will be a building at ground zero in Manhattan. Amit Elkayam for The New York Times
In Beverly Barkat’s quest to connect people with nature, she found that environmental waste could be a powerful medium.
JERUSALEM — When the Jerusalem artist Beverly Barkat began to create an artwork for the lobby of a building in the new World Trade Center complex overlooking ground zero in Lower Manhattan, she aimed to come up with something architecturally site specific and impactful, large enough to connect with the space but not so enormous as to disconnect from the observer.
Barkat had a stark message to convey. Years earlier, she said, she had been struck by an image of children scavenging on a once-beautiful beach awash in plastic waste. Continue reading
Over the decades, Leakey inspired countless scientists and activists through his books and talks. Photograph by William Campbell / Getty
We do not normally link to obituaries, but since I felt compelled to recently, this one seems a must also. Nearly two years ago we linked to a profile of Richard Leakey and the author of that profile has written a moving postscript:
On the night of January 2nd, I got a text from Paula Kahumbu, the Kenyan conservationist. “Dear friends, sad news,” she wrote. “Richard Leakey just passed away at his home in Kona Baridi.” Leakey, the renowned paleoanthropologist and wildlife conservationist, had been her mentor—a mercurial, controversial advocate for African wildlife, whose tumultuous career was central to Kenya’s history in the past half century. Continue reading
An album made entirely of endangered bird sounds beat Taylor Swift on a top 50 chart, which is as it should be:
A red-tailed black cockatoo is seen sitting on a branch with the moon behind it. The bird is one of more than 50 featured on the album Songs of Disappearance that features the sounds of many of Australia’s endangered birds. Byron Hakanson/Birdlife Australia
For most of December, Adele had the top-selling album in Australia, followed by Ed Sheeran, and then there was a collection of absolute bangers that took everyone by surprise.
Songs Of Disappearance is an entire album of calls from endangered Australian birds. Last month, it briefly perched at No. 3 on the country’s top 50 albums chart – ahead of Taylor Swift. Continue reading
Forest clearance in Indonesia. Palm oil production in the country, which is one of the world’s largest producers, has been linked to deforestation. Photograph: Ulet Ifansasti/Greenpeace
Smouldering peatland following a suspected land clearance fire in Kampar, Sumatra, in 2019. Photograph: Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images
Palm oil has a dirty history. It causes havoc, to put it politely. May we all do our part to elect civic leaders with a keen sense of responsibility for devastation in other parts of the world, and get them to take action to reduce it. We thank Patrick Greenfield for his reporting in this article titled The UK city taking a stand on palm oil in the fight against deforestation:
A growing number of towns and villages are following Chester’s lead in helping local businesses to eradicate deforestation-linked oil from their supply chains
Orangutans, tigers, Sumatran rhinos and many other threatened species are affected by habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict that stems from palm oil plantations. Photograph: Vier Pfoten/Four Paws/Rhoi/REX/Shutterstock
From mince pies and biscuits to lipstick and soap, palm oil grown on deforested land in south-east Asia will have been hard to avoid this Christmas. The vegetable oil is found in almost half of all packaged products in UK supermarkets, according to WWF.
But a growing number of towns and cities are trying to use only sustainable palm oil, helping orangutans, tigers, Sumatran rhinos and many other threatened species. Continue reading
The writer, left, with Nadeem Perera and Ollie Olanipekun. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian
When we managed our first lodge I came to understand that widening the audience of bird appreciation could strengthen commitment to conservation. A dozen years later, when Seth began working at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, focused on celebrating urban birds, I knew that when he returned to work with us he would be bringing valuable knowhow.
When we started this platform for sharing news and personal stories related to our work, birds became a daily feature.
Olanipekun’s favourite bird is the ‘beautifully majestic’ barn owl. Photograph: Fletch Lewis/Getty Images
So Rebecca Liu’s story ‘It’s not just a white thing’: how Flock Together are creating a new generation of birdwatchers has various meanings for me. I can relate to the author’s novice sense of wonder as much as I can to Mr. Olanipekun’s decisive mention of the barn owl, featured frequently in our pages, as a favorite:
The nature collective was set up to encourage more people of colour to enjoy nature. Here, they take our writer on a spotting trip through the wildlands of north-east London
Through birding, Ollie Olanipekun (left) and Nadeem Perera are hoping to encourage children and young people to deepen their understanding and love for the environment. Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi/The Guardian
I have lived in cities all my life. My childhood did not involve any education in the outdoors. It would be fair to say my knowledge of birds doesn’t go much further than the varieties mentioned in Old Macdonald Had a Farm. So when I arrive at east London’s Walthamstow Wetlands on a cloudy November day to meet Ollie Olanipekun and Nadeem Perera for an afternoon of winter birdwatching, I am already apologetic for all that I do not know. Continue reading
The Shoshone Museum documents the town’s scrappy past as a mining community.
When Alex Ross, a music critic, wanders from criticism to commentary or into especially unexpected territory, it is always for good reason. He clearly has a love of desert ecosystems. His most recent publication intersects desert ecosystem with a deserted mining community. It reaches me just after yesterday’s link to a model for improving the prospects of a coal extraction community, so there is something in the air:
For mile after mile along California State Route 127, a two-lane desert road, there are no services, no homes.
Next services 57 miles” reads a sign at the southern end of California State Route 127, which goes from the Mojave Desert town of Baker up to the Nevada border, skirting the edge of Death Valley National Park. It’s one of those two-lane desert roads that slices across the landscape like a never-ending airport runway. There’s an extended stretch that consists of a long downward slope followed by an equally long ascent. If you’re driving at night, the headlights of cars coming in the opposite direction float above one another in midair, like planes waiting to land. But cars are infrequent. For mile after mile, there are no services, no homes. Continue reading
The former coal miner Gary Webb, right, with his cousins Darrell Davis and Ernie Dials, in Lovely, Ky. Mr. Webb supports the planned solar farm. “It’s good for climate change,” he said. “Anything that helps is good.” Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times
The photograph above speaks to the humanity of coal mining culture in a time when the world is trying to wind down its use of coal. It is not fair, in so many ways, that miners seem to have so few options; but a way forward will be found. The billboard in the photo below may suggest otherwise, but opportunities for those miners are not likely to include coal. Thanks to Cara Buckley for this vivid portrait of a place historically focused on extraction, its people who are in need of a better future, and the tensions that come with making that better future happen:
In Martin County, Ky., where coal production has flatlined, entrepreneurs are promising that a new solar farm atop a shuttered mine will bring green energy jobs.
A billboard advertising mining jobs in Inez, Ky. By last count, the county had just 26 miners left. Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times
MARTIN COUNTY, Ky. — For a mountain that’s had its top blown off, the old Martiki coal mine is looking especially winsome these days. With its vast stretches of emerald grass dotted with hay bales and ringed with blue-tinged peaks, and the wild horses and cattle that roam there, it looks less like a shuttered strip mine and more like an ad for organic milk.
The mountain is poised for another transformation. Hundreds of acres are set to be blanketed with solar panels in the coming year, installed by locals, many of them former miners. Continue reading
From left to right, SEM image of raw cotton and Natural Fiber Welding’s CLARUS® cotton. COURTESY OF NATURAL FIBER WELDING
We look forward to hearing more as they progress:
Toward the end of his life, E. O. Wilson called for setting aside half of the world’s surface as untouchable.Photograph by Steven Senne / AP
When I read the obituary of E. O. Wilson published in the New York Times, written by one of the science writers we link to the most frequently, it was full of surprises–I had not been aware of the many controversies cited.
I was also surprised to see no mention of biophilia, the concept that first drew my attention to the scientist’s work.
Tom Lovejoy spent most of the past forty years trying to preserve the Amazon rain forest.Photograph by Lev Radin / Shutterstock
Then, this morning, I read the tribute by another of our favorite writers, and had a different surprise: we have featured stories referring to conservation biologist Tom Lovejoy only four times previously. It seems a fitting way to start a new year by correcting an old mistake.
Thanks to Elizabeth Kolbert for Honoring the Legacy of E. O. Wilson and Tom Lovejoy:
Eurythenes atacamensis, a giant new crustacean endemic to the Peru-Chile ocean trench, identified by scientists in 2021. Photograph: Weston et al 2021
The work of species discovery continues, even as extinction continues unabated:
‘Hell herons’, metallic beetles, tiny shrimp – scientists have been busy describing unusual creatures despite Covid restrictions
Two newly described species of spinosaur dinosaurs discovered on the Isle of Wight, named ‘hell heron’ and ‘riverbank hunter’. Photograph: Anthony Hutchings
Six new dinosaurs, an Indian beetle named after Larry the cat, and dozens of crustaceans critical to the planet’s carbon cycle were among 552 new species identified by scientists at the Natural History Museum this year.
In 2021, researchers described previously unknown species across the tree of life, from a pair of giant carnivorous dinosaurs known as spinosaurs – nicknamed the “riverbank hunter” and “hell heron” – to five new snakes that include the Joseph’s racer, which was identified with the help of a 185-year-old painting. Continue reading
The book is not new, but it is new to us. Ben Taub has brought to our attention this stunning portraiture that, like most great photography, makes you wonder how the artist got the composition just so:
Francisco Diaz Ramos, 44, Marissa Reyes, 32, and Jan Paul, 29, run the Güakiá Colectivo Agroecólogico, an 11 acre farm in Dorado, Puerto Rico. Photograph: Angel Valentin/The Guardian
When we look at these young farmers and the work they are doing we see a greener future.
A farmer prepares the land at the El Josco Bravo argoecology farm in the Toa Alta mountains. Photograph: Nina Lakhani/The Guardian
Thanks to Nina Lakhani and The Guardian for this story:
The island imports 85% of its food but these three farms are part of the agroecology movement that seeks food sovereignty and climate solutions
A hydroponics greenhouse at Frutos del Guacabo is used to grow a range of herbs and greens quickly and without soil. Photograph: Nina Lakhani/The Guardian
Puerto Rico was once a thriving agricultural hub thanks to its tropical climate, rich biodiversity, and sustainable farming traditions.
Today, less than 2% of the workforce is employed in agriculture and tens of thousands of acres of arable land sit idle. Meanwhile 85% of the food eaten in Puerto Rico is imported, grocery prices are among the highest in the US and last year two in five people experienced food insecurity. “Unemployment is brutal, prices are brutal, migration from the island is brutal,” said Denise Santos, who runs Puerto Rico’s food bank. Continue reading
MacKenzie Scott never featured in our many posts about the fortune she suddenly found herself with. She wants to give that fortune away, fast. So, she is a person of interest to us, for all kinds of good reasons. But not so fast, the Economist’s semi-charitable subtitle, the charity-industrial complex, seems to say introducing the article below about advisors to givers:
They direct philanthropic billions around the world
OVER THE past 18 months, the world has heard a lot about MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist formerly married to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. She has given generously to charities on the frontline of the pandemic, including food banks, schools and children’s health programmes. Relatively unknown, however, is the consultancy that has helped distribute almost $9bn on Ms Scott’s behalf: the Bridgespan Group. Continue reading
A tapir in Braulio Carrillo national park, near San José. Costa Rica’s policy of paying citizens to protect and restore ecosystems is credited with reversing deforestation rates, which threaten the species. Photograph: Michiel van Noppen/2021 Wildlife Photographer of the Year
The stories we use the title Really to highlight are among the heavies. Too much malfeasance, too often. Reading stories about Costa Rica‘s remarkable achievements related to the environment never gets old:
Billionaires, princes and prime ministers are among those keen to learn from the Central American country, which has long put nature at the heart of its policies
If there had been a popularity contest at Cop26, the Costa Rican president, Carlos Alvarado Quesada, would have been a clear winner. Leonardo DiCaprio, Jeff Bezos, Boris Johnson and Prince William all wanted to speak with the leader of the tiny Central American country, eager to bask in its green glow. Continue reading
A ranger, on the lookout for illegal poachers and loggers, logs an early-morning report before returning to the Koh Kong ranger station.
When we first learned of it, we wondered why this concept was not implemented in more locations with similar poaching problems. Now we see it:
Deep in the Southern Cardamom Mountains, former loggers and poachers have assumed new roles as protective rangers and ecotourism guides. Can their efforts help preserve a vast stretch of wilderness?
We were seated near a lush river in the Southern Cardamom Mountains, huddled over a lunch of chicken and rice, when the tip came in via text message: Someone had passed along the location of a poaching camp. Continue reading
Wood artisans take remainders leftover after the creation of larger artifacts, and recycle them by tumbling until smooth. An excellent alternative to polished stones, these “renewable pebbles” are available in the Authentica shops in Costa Rica.
We have been offering options on how to spend, while visiting Costa Rica, in ways that benefit the environment here. Small potatoes, but it is what we do.
Much more important for the planet as a whole, and for all humanity inhabiting it, is spending, or rather investing, that can have truly global impact. Robinson Meyer, a staff writer at The Atlantic, and author of the newsletter The Weekly Planet, has this useful guide for citizens of the USA:
Allison Bailey / NurPhoto / AP
A New Estimate of the ‘Most Effective’ Way to Fight Climate Change
Climate-concerned donors should focus on helping to pass climate policy, not offset their emissions, an advisory group says.
On a dollar-for-dollar basis, where will your money do the most to fight climate change? Continue reading
It is often said that the world now needs a Second Green Revolution. Illustration by Derrick Schultz
Elizabeth Kolbert continues exploring the potential costs and benefits of mankind’s attempted mastery over nature:
This story begins about two billion years ago, when the world, if not young, exactly, was a lot more impressionable. The planet spun faster, so the sun rose every twenty-one hours. The earliest continents were forming—Arctica, for instance, which persists as bits and pieces of Siberia. Most of the globe was given over to oceans, and the oceans teemed with microbes. Continue reading