Sunrise at the Hempstead Plains on Long Island, New York. STEVE PFOST / NEWSDAY RM VIA GETTY IMAGES
Thanks to Yale e360’s Janet Martinelli:
Amid the Sprawl, a Long Island Prairie Makes a Quiet Comeback
Tucked into quintessential suburbia, the Hempstead Plains Preserve is a small sliver of the grassland that once covered a vast area of Long Island. New research shows that thoughtfully planted yards and gardens can bolster the biodiversity in such urban wildland fragments.
Volunteers remove invasive Chinese bushclover from the Hempstead Plains Preserve at Nassau Community College. FRIENDS OF HEMPSTEAD PLAINS
The Hempstead Plains Preserve is a place where you can imagine the presence of creatures past. Birdfoot violets, now gone, once colored the landscape with a wash of purple in spring. The heath hen, a large grouse that went extinct 90 years ago, performed its elaborate courtship dances on the Plains.
On a late afternoon in October, the slanting autumn sun lit up in a blaze of gold the grasses and wildflowers on this narrow, 19-acre sliver of land — almost all that is left of the tallgrass prairie that once covered more than 50 square miles at the heart of Long Island, New York, a fish-shaped island that stretches east into the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading
Leaving aside the question of why so many of the world’s most important historical artifacts are in London, rather than where they originated, the curator in the video above is charming. And the man in the photo just below to the right is his counterpart in the place where this particular artifact originated. My interest in board games is much less well informed, but like Mr. Mofaq I have an interest in their revival, so Deb Amlen’s article in the New York Times is appreciated:
Hoshmand Mofaq, an Iraqi artist, pondered his next move on one of the Royal Game of Ur boards he designed. Mr. Mofaq is part of a group who hope to popularize and return the game to the Iraqi people as part of their cultural heritage. Shwan Mohammed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The Royal Game of Ur: How to Play the Oldest Board Game on Record
For 4,600 years, a mysterious game slept in the dust of southern Iraq, largely forgotten. The passion of a museum curator and the hunger of young Iraqis for their cultural history may bring it back.
It is the end of a long, hot day of selling your wares in a market in ancient Mesopotamia, around 2,400 B.C., and you are looking for a way to unwind.
Netflix will not be invented for another four and a half millenniums, but as luck would have it, a pub lies ahead in the distance. A beer and a round of the Middle East’s favorite game is just the thing to pick you up. The thrill of the game is irresistible: It is impossible to predict who will win in this race to get your pieces to the end of the board, even in the last few moves.
One of the boards of the Royal Game of Ur excavated in the 1920s, on display at the British Museum. The British Museum, via Commons.wikimedia.org
You sit down across from your opponent, who offers you the first turn. You pick up the four-sided dice and shake them in your fist. Maybe this time the rumored fortunetelling aspect of the game will bless you with a spate of good luck and prosperity. Continue reading
Harvard Forest (pictured) was included in a study that looks at how New England forests can be better utilized in the fight against climate change.
Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer
We had no clue how much forest area that region has, nor how much capacity to absorb carbon that would translate to:
New England forests, new strategies can offset most regional emissions over 30 years, report says
Study, led by Harvard ecologist, lays out five policies to boost levels of absorption as six states lower emissions
A major new report suggests that with a handful of strategies New England’s 32 million acres of forests, which cover about three-quarters of the region, could eventually come close to absorbing 100 percent of all the carbon produced by the six states. Continue reading
Note: Green areas show land that is mostly covered by trees, based on an analysis of satellite imagery. Source: Jefferson Fox, Jamon Van Den Hoek, Kaspar Hurni, Alexander Smith and Sumeet Saksena.By Pablo Robles
We have shared plenty of stories about Nepal, but until now no story about Nepal involving trees or forests. We welcome this one:
The community forests in Khairahani, Nepal, stretching over several tree-capped hills in March. Karan Deep Singh/The New York Times
How Nepal Grew Back Its Forests
An effort decades in the making is showing results in Nepal, a rare success story in a world of cascading climate disasters and despair
KANKALI COMMUNITY FOREST, Nepal — The old man moved gingerly, hill after hill, cutting dry shrubs until he was surrounded by trees that had grown from seedlings he had planted two decades ago. He pointed to a row of low peaks above the Kathmandu valley that were covered with dense foliage. Continue reading
Farmer Norm Welker on his land in Starke county, Indiana, where a solar power field is being constructed. Photograph: Taylor Glascock/The Guardian
Our thanks to Oliver Milman, as ever, and the Guardian, as always, for this story from the front lines of getting it done in spite of opposition:
One of Connie Ehrlich’s anti-solar billboards in Winamac, Indiana. Photograph: Taylor Glascock/The Guardian
‘It’s got nasty’: the battle to build the US’s biggest solar power farm
A community turns on itself over the aptly named Mammoth solar project, a planned $1.5bn power field nearly the size of Manhattan
When proposals for the largest solar plant ever conceived for US soil started to gather pace – a plan that involves spearing several million solar panels into the flat farmland of northern Indiana – something in Connie Ehrlich seems to have snapped. Continue reading
After providing some of the deepest gloom, one of the environmental journalists we respect for not flinching or sugar-coating is singing a new tune, at least on this day:
A New Climate Reality Is Coming Into View
By David Wallace-Wells
Photographs by Devin Oktar Yalkin
Captions by Charley Locke
You can never really see the future, only imagine it, then try to make sense of the new world when it arrives Continue reading
(Photo credit: Foreground book photos courtesy of Patagonia)
We already long-respected the company for plenty of good reasons; now one more:
Hope and action: The mission of Patagonia Books
Philanthropy has been a part of Patagonia Books’ mission and operations from the beginning, says Director Karla Olson.
When Yvon Chouinard, the founder of the outdoor wear and gear giant Patagonia, announced his decision to donate his $3-billion company to the newly established nonprofit Holdfast Collective for the purpose of combating climate change, Yale Climate Connections was both impressed and curious. Continue reading
Patagonia has become more politically active, going so far as to sue the Trump administration in a bid to protect the Bears Ears National Monument. Laure Joliet for The New York Times
We have mentioned this company multiple times in our pages over the years, because we take inspiration from it, the same way we have taken inspiration from the example set by Chuck Feeney. It is worth noting that I also value everything I have ever bought from Patagonia. The day of this blizzard in New York I took an old beat up backpack in to see if they could repair it in the nearby shop; instead, they gave me a new one.
Good quality products, combined with good service, make the good environmental values of the company all the better:
“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” said Mr. Chouinard. Meridith Kohut for The New York Times
Mr. Chouinard filmed an announcement for his employees at home in Wyoming. By giving away the bulk of their assets during their lifetime, the Chouinards have established themselves as among the most charitable families in the country. Natalie Behring for The New York Times
A half century after founding the outdoor apparel maker Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, the eccentric rock climber who became a reluctant billionaire with his unconventional spin on capitalism, has given the company away.
Rather than selling the company or taking it public, Mr. Chouinard, his wife and two adult children have transferred their ownership of Patagonia, valued at about $3 billion, to a specially designed trust and a nonprofit organization. They were created to preserve the company’s independence and ensure that all of its profits — some $100 million a year — are used to combat climate change and protect undeveloped land around the globe. Continue reading
Picking up where I left off yesterday, this group of photos captures the essence of my morning walk. Destination: the Botanic Gardens on the campus of Cornell University. The photo above is from one of the main campus roads, looking down onto my destination. Continue reading
On my final morning of this visit to the Cornell campus I started a walk at sunrise. I discovered that parking lots around campus now have learning embedded in them. Continue reading
A delivery robot makes its rounds at Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town in Japan.Credit: Yoshio Tsunoda/AFLO/Alamy
Frustrated but determined leadership on environmental challenges facing urban constituencies is worthy of our attention and even admiration, even if “smart cities” can be problematic terminology. Nature magazine offers this snapshot from Japan:
Houses equipped with solar panels in Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town.Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty
Why Japan is building smart cities from scratch
Purpose-built sustainable communities can boost energy efficiency and support an ageing population.
By 2050, nearly 7 out of 10 people in the world will live in cities, up from just over half in 2020. Urbanization is nothing new, but an effort is under way across many high-income countries to make their cities smarter, using data, instrumentation and more efficient resource management. Continue reading
The Treefest walks are part of a £14.5m research quest investigating how to secure public benefits from forested landscapes. Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian
When is a walk in the woods more than just a walk? One answer might be biophilia, for starters. Our thanks to Miles Richardson for his work and to Patrick Barkham, as per his usual breadth of attention, for bringing another important story to our attention:
Research project aims to discover how age, size and shape of woodlands affect people’s happiness and wellbeing
Miles Richardson is gathering data from the Treefest research walks to examine how biodiverse spaces benefit wellbeing. Photograph: Fabio De Paola/The Guardian
How happy do you feel right now? The question is asked by an app on my phone, and I drag the slider to the space between “not much” and “somewhat”. I’m about to start a walk in the woods that is part of a nationwide research project to investigate how better to design the forests of the future.
Volunteers are being sought to record their feelings before and after eight walks on a free app, Go Jauntly, which could reveal what kind of treescapes most benefit our wellbeing and mental health. Continue reading
Illustration by James Clapham
With all the problems created by the status quo business practices and economic models, alternatives for organizing business are worthy of our consideration. Nick Romeo offers a look into the challenges facing the most important worker-owned company in the world:
Jorge Vega Hernández, a mechanical engineer working in northwestern Spain, returned from a business trip and started to feel sick. It was March, 2020—the beginning of the pandemic—and so he called a government help line. Continue reading
An aerial view of people standing around the sinkhole in Santa María Zacatepec, a small town in central Mexico. The opening, almost perfectly circular, grew to be longer than a football field. Photograph by Jose Castañares / AFP / Getty
Really, as in, can you not control yourselves? We asked the same of Nestle a couple times in the past:
Dom Phillips (center), seen here taking notes as he talks with Indigenous people, reported regularly for the Guardian. Photograph by Joao Laet / AFP / Getty
Only one article by Dom Phillips in our pages, and not a single mention of Bruno Pereira seems wrong, to say the least. As a rule obituaries are not our thing in these pages, but we have made exceptions.
Bruno Pereira was among the many senior officials and veteran experts at FUNAI who had gained a reputation for a robust defense of the agency’s guidelines in the Javari. Photograph by Daniel Marenco
From the moment that Dom Phillips and Bruno Araújo Pereira vanished, on June 5th, in the Brazilian Amazon, there were suspicions of foul play. Phillips was a British freelance journalist dedicated to environmental issues, and Pereira, his friend and guide, was a prominent Brazilian Indigenous-affairs expert.
Photograph by Nelson Almeida / AFP / Getty
He was assisting Phillips with research for a book, tentatively titled “How to Save the Amazon.” Continue reading
A horse and rider pull a tourist boat through the Iberá marshes
When we have linked to stories about conservation and efforts to rewild in the Southern Cone, it has been a mix of big cats and the efforts of Doug and Kris Tompkins. Our thanks to Patrick Greenfield and the Guardian for taking these themes long form:
El Impenetrable national park, home to thousands of charismatic plants, flowers and animals, including jaguars.
How to rewild a country: the story of Argentina
It began with a philanthropic couple buying a swamp but has become one of the world’s boldest experiments in restoring degraded habitats, bringing wildlife and landscapes back from the brink
The return of the jaguar
It took about three seconds for piranhas to devour part of her left foot, biologist Deborah Abregü recalls, as we sit waiting for pizzas to cook on an open fire in Argentina’s El Impenetrable national park. Continue reading
Muley Point in Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Mark Holm for The New York Times
After plenty of contention, a move in the right direction, at last:
In a Return to the Land, Tribes Will Jointly Manage a National Monument
Five Native American tribes will work with the Bureau of Land Management to plan and conserve Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, officials said.
Bears Ears National Monument, whose red-rock landscape sprawls across more than 1.3 million acres in southeastern Utah, will be managed jointly by the federal government and Native American tribes in what administration officials said represents a “one-of-a-kind” model of cooperation. Continue reading
Maggie Carter, a Starbucks barista in Knoxville, Tenn., keeps a stack of union cards with her. Audra Melton for The New York Times
We wrote one time previously about the Starbucks union drive, wondering why Starbucks is against it. We know the typical corporate reasons, but Starbucks has represented itself as atypical. So, we wanted to know. And in related news, the company’s efforts to keep unionization at bay has a new leader. Today we consider a related question, this time from workers’ perspective:
Jaz Brisack became a barista for the same reasons that talented young people have long chosen their career paths: a mix of idealism and ambition.
Most weekend mornings, Jaz Brisack gets up around 5, wills her semiconscious body into a Toyota Prius and winds her way through Buffalo, to the Starbucks on Elmwood Avenue. After a supervisor unlocks the door, she clocks in, checks herself for Covid symptoms and helps get the store ready for customers. Continue reading
Illustration by Michael Dunbabin; Source photograph by Kevin Winter / Getty
Alan Alda was not likely to appear in our pages before, even though we knew about this work that he has been doing starting some years ago. Not likely because celebrity is more often than not a distraction. But this conversation is worth sharing, because we care about science, and effective communication about science:
Few actors inspire the warm fuzzies like Alan Alda. At eighty-six, he’s still the platonic ideal of “nice dad”: the type of guy you’d find in a cardigan, reading a copy of the Sunday Times in an armchair. But the popular image of Alda doesn’t cover the remarkable breadth of his career. Continue reading
The Pantanal wetlands in Brazil. MARKUS MAUTHE / GREENPEACE
There is not much that has happened in Brazil in the last few years that I would consider good environmental news.
YALE ENVIRONMENT 360
So one more urgency is at risk of getting lost in all the rest (which may be part of a strategy). But making it easier to extract the extracted from the center of the continent is akin to adding fuel to a very big fire:
A Waterway Project in Brazil Imperils a Vast Tropical Wetland
The Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, has been battered in recent years by agricultural development, drought, and fire. Now, a push to turn the region’s key river into a waterway for soybean-laden barges threatens to alter the natural flows of this iconic ecosystem.
It takes 14 hours for Lourenço Pereira Leite to reach his fishing spot.
He and his brother-in-law chug along in a simple one-engine motorboat, towing their traditional fishing canoe behind them. Continue reading