The treaty is meant to serve as a scaffold for future initiatives, and has the power to protect much of the ocean. Photograph by Philip Thurston / Getty
We thank Jeffrey J. Marlow, Assistant Professor of Biology at Boston University, once again; this time for an essay he just posted on the New Yorker’s website. The news in it is not new, but his take on it is:
The open ocean, which is home to millions of species and generates much of the oxygen we breathe, is a mostly lawless place. Nations have jurisdiction over waters near their coasts, but the high seas, which begin two hundred and thirty miles from shore, are a first-come, first-served domain: there’s little to stop someone from exploiting marine resources, whether plants and animals in the water or fossil fuels beneath the seafloor. Forty-three per cent of the planet’s surface is vulnerable to unregulated deep-sea drilling, overfishing, and bioprospecting. Continue reading →
On this map, exclusive economic zones are shown in white and high seas, or areas beyond national jurisdiction, are shown in light green.
For some historical context it helps to think of the many challenges that commons represent. But here and now, this deal is as important as it gets:
UN member states have forged a landmark deal to guard ocean life, charting a path to create new protected areas in international waters. Continue reading →
If you are in the mood for some basic questioning of the status quo, this book may be for you, according to Kirkus Review:
A thoughtful denunciation of the economic dogma that the market knows best.
“How did so many Americans come to have so much faith in markets and so little faith in government?” So ask Oreskes and Conway, continuing the line of research they began in their seminal 2010 book, Merchants of Doubt. Where that book focused on the co-optation of scientists to dispute the realities of climate change and the linkage of tobacco to cancer, this joins that co-optation to carefully planted “free market” fundamentalism that holds that any attempt to regulate business is a form of tyranny…
Ilulissat’s icy fjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of Greenland’s main tourist destinations even though its airport is currently too small to accommodate large jets. Carsten Snejbjerg for The New York Times
Setting limits at the outset, what a brilliant idea:
Greenland Wants You to Visit. But Not All at Once.
The Arctic island, renowned for its glaciers and fjords, is expanding airports and hotels to energize its economy, even as it tries to avoid the pitfalls of overtourism.
A sauna with a view of Nuuk and, at left, in the distance, the nearly 4,000-foot mountain Sermitsiaq. Inuk Travel
“The weather decides”: It could almost be the motto of Greenland. Visitors drawn to this North Atlantic island to see its powder blue glaciers, iceberg-clogged fjords and breathtakingly stark landscapes quickly learn to respect the elements, and they’re sometimes rewarded for it.
One cold December day, I was waiting for a delayed flight in Kangerlussuaq, a former U.S. military base just above the Arctic Circle, when a friendly Air Greenland pilot named Stale asked if I’d like to join him on a drive to the harbor to “pick up some musk ox heads.” The offer seemed very Greenlandic, so how could I refuse? Continue reading →
David Wallace-Wells has published a conversation, Greta Thunberg: ‘The World Is Getting More Grim by the Day’, in advance of the publication of the book to the right:
There is genuinely no precedent in the modern history of geopolitics for the climate activist Greta Thunberg.
Four and a half years ago, she began “striking” outside of Swedish parliament — a single teenager with a single sign. She was 15. In just a few months, she had made her mark at the United Nations climate conference in Poland: “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is,” she told the assembled diplomats and negotiators, “even that burden you leave to us children.” Continue reading →
Climate-change straight talk is crucially important as the occurrence of enormous, unnatural disasters coincides with a man-made flood of obfuscation. Photograph from Getty
We look for positive news on the environment without hiding the perils. Bill McKibben, as always, prefers straight talk in all such matters:
The U.N. Secretary-General’s Searing Message for the Fossil-Fuel Industry
Forget diplomatic language—it’s a moment for some home truths.
On Monday morning, at the United Nations, the Secretary-General delivered his annual report on priorities—a kind of State of the Planet address. If you’re struggling to remember the name of the current Secretary-General, it’s António Guterres, who came to the job after, among other things, serving as the Prime Minister of Portugal. We’re used to the idea that “diplomatic language” is filled with euphemisms—“a full and frank exchange of views,” and so on. Continue reading →
Among the arid lands where water from the Colorado River makes agriculture possible is the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation, which serves Mohave, Chemehuevi, Hopi, and Navajo peoples. More than 70,000 acres of alfalfa, cotton, potatoes, and other crops are being produced on the reservation. (Image credit: Ted Wood/The Water Desk, CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)
The Colorado River holds our attention for many reasons, but mostly now due to climate impact. Our thanks to Bob Henson at Yale Climate Connection for this:
Wet winter won’t fix Colorado River woes
“One year of good flows doesn’t mean we have a trend,” noted one expert.
Snowpack has been running well above average this winter across the Colorado River watershed. It’s a rare bright spot after 23 years of grinding megadrought brought the driest conditions in 1,200 years to the basin that supplies 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and Mexico. Continue reading →
A refrigerator factory in 2018 in Xingfu, China, an area that defied restrictions on ozone-depleting CFC-11 until a government crackdown. Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
Any time we see even the slightest sign of meaningful change, it is worth pausing, noting it, and getting back to work:
Restoration of the Ozone Layer Is Back on Track, Scientists Say
Rogue emissions from China of ozone-depleting chemicals had threatened to delay recovery by a decade. But the emissions were stopped, according to a U.N.-backed report.
The protective ozone layer in the upper atmosphere could be restored within several decades, scientists said Monday, as recent rogue emissions of ozone-depleting chemicals from China have been largely eliminated. Continue reading →
A woman walks along a cliff top near Lake Powell, the second biggest reservoir in the U.S., where climate-change-driven drought continues to lower water levels. Photograph by David McNew / Getty
The management of water in the western USA has been an occasional topic in these pages and Rachel Monroe adds to our understanding:
In mid-December, I drove to Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, to see its infamous bathtub ring. The bathtub, in this metaphor, is Lake Mead, on the border between Nevada and Arizona; the ring is a chalk-white coating of minerals that its receding waters have left behind. The Southwest, which includes the Colorado River Basin, has been in a protracted drought since 2000; climate change has made it worse. Continue reading →
Laurence D. Fink, who runs BlackRock, has urged companies to adopt socially conscious practices. Winnie Au for The New York Times
We have no access to Mr. Fink’s motives or those of the firm he runs, or to how he and his colleagues make decisions–only to some of the actions they have taken. Our view on him and his firm may be simplistic, in that we respect their initial leadership on ESG but fault them now for not doing more. Even if they have only been virtue-signaling, and even if they fall short on true virtue, what they have done is obviously much better than those who are wrong on climate change:
Right-wing officials are attacking BlackRock for overstepping. Those on the left say the world’s biggest asset manager is not doing enough.
Environmental, social and governance — or E.S.G. — investing, “to some degree, is a smoke screen,” said Tariq Fancy, a former BlackRock executive. Chloe Ellingson for The New York Times
It was a clarion call to chief executives everywhere.
In 2018, Laurence D. Fink, the longtime chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, urged corporate leaders to assess the societal impact of their businesses, embrace diversity and consider how climate change could affect long-term growth.
“Companies,” Mr. Fink wrote in his annual letter to chief executives, “must ask themselves: What role do we play in the community? How are we managing our impact on the environment? Are we working to create a diverse work force? Are we adapting to technological change?” Continue reading →
A rooftop solar installation in Yokohama, near Tokyo. COCREATR VIA FLICKR
Our hats off to Japan’s largest city for this requirement:
Tokyo is mandating that all new homes in the city be built with rooftop solar panels starting in 2025. Continue reading →
The opening plenary of the U.N. biodiversity conference in Montreal. Photograph by Andrej Ivanov / AFP / Getty
We continue, as a species, to document our impact on other species. The warning signs keep getting clearer. It is not pleasant reading, but it is documented for a reason; it is about us. It is about our responsibilities. Our thanks, as always, to Elizabeth Kolbert:
Can the U.N. Save the World from Ecological Collapse?
At this week’s summit, delegates will consider ambitious new conservation targets—even though the old ones have yet to be achieved.
The Red List of Threatened Species might best be described as a lack-of-progress report. Continue reading →
Big cats at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park, a private sanctuary featured in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King. FIGHT4ANIMALRIGHTS VIA WIKIPEDIA
Big cats do not belong in cages, and certainly do not deserve to be treated as domestic pets. We assumed there were already clear and strict rules in place:
U.S. to Curb Private Ownership of Big Cats
The U.S. is set to enact a new law that prohibits private citizens from obtaining lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, and other big cats as pets. Continue reading →
Corals in the waters of the Ras Mohammed National Park in the Red Sea near Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, home to one of the only reefs in the world that can tolerate heat. Sima Diab for The New York Times
Our thanks to Jenny Gross and Vivian Yee reporting from Egypt:
Attendees of the United Nations climate conference took breaks from negotiations to see the corals for themselves.Credit…Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
The Red Sea’s Coral Reefs Defy the Climate-Change Odds
As warming waters devastate coral around the world, the sea’s stunningly colorful reefs have been remarkably resilient. But pollution, mass tourism and overfishing put them at risk.
SHARM El SHEIKH, Egypt — The vast majority of the world’s coral reefs are likely to be severely damaged in the coming decades if the planet keeps warming at its current rate. Continue reading →
Fridays for Future protest calling for money for climate action at Cop27. Photograph: Peter de Jong/AP
If you wonder what our youth are up to, take a look at what the Guardian’s team of Fiona Harvey, with Adam Morton and Patrick Greenfield is reporting from Sharm el-Sheikh:
Cop27: EU agrees to loss and damage fund to help poor countries amid climate disasters
Change in stance puts spotlight on US and China, which have both objected to fund
A breakthrough looked possible in the deadlocked global climate talks on Friday as the European Union made a dramatic intervention to agree to key developing world demands on financial help for poor countries. Continue reading →
A shale gas drilling rig in St. Marys, Pennsylvania. AP PHOTO / KEITH SRAKOCIC
We thought the science of fracking’s dangers was already sufficiently clear, and now this (read Jon Hurdle’s entire story at Yale e360):
Two decades after the advent of fracking, a growing number of studies are pointing to a link between gas wells and health problems, particularly among children and the elderly. Researchers are now calling for new regulations restricting where wells can be located.
Almost 20 years after the adoption of hydraulic fracturing began to supercharge U.S. production of oil and gas, there’s growing evidence of a correlation between the industry’s activities and an array of health problems ranging from childhood cancer and the premature death of elderly people to respiratory issues and endocrine disruption. Continue reading →
Brazil’s president-elect, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, at a rally in July. ANDRESSA ANHOLETE / GETTY IMAGES
We can only hope the answer is yes:
With Lula Back, Can Brazil Turn the Tide on Amazon Destruction?
With his return as Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is promising to reverse the alarming rate of deforestation in the Amazon. But as he heads to key UN climate talks, his ambitious plans to achieve “zero deforestation” will need to find international support.
A forest fire burns near the author’s home in Altimira, Brazil last month. JON WATTS
The month before Brazil’s October 30 presidential election was the most brutal of Jair Bolsonaro’s term as president. Landowners rushed to illegally clear forest while they could rely on the impunity that had been a characteristic of the Bolsonaro era. From my home in Altamira, I could see flames on the other side of the Xingu River from a blaze large enough to generate its own lightning. Most other days in September and October, my asthmatic lungs tightened and the horizon was shrouded in haze as a consequence of the rushed burn-off. 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 →
Old State Route 105 ends abruptly at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, after coastal erosion took out the road near the Shoalwater Bay Reservation in Tokeland, Wash.
We have often thought consulting those who have been on the land longest is a good idea, so this story is heartening:
Here’s Where the U.S. Is Testing a New Response to Rising Seas
Native American tribes are competing for the first federal grants designed to help move communities away from high water and other dangers posed by climate change.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is building a dune to protect the Shoalwater Bay Reservation.
SHOALWATER BAY INDIAN RESERVATION, Wash. — The van carrying tribal officials veered off the coastal highway, away from the Pacific and onto a dirt path hidden by cedar and spruce trees. After climbing an old logging road, it emerged into a clearing high above the Shoalwater Bay Indian Reservation, half a square mile of oceanfront that’s disappearing fast.
The tribal leaders want to relocate to the remote hilltop where they were standing, despite its uneven terrain. “If you can believe it, this is the most suitable land we have for building,” said Quintin Swanson, treasurer of the 471-member tribe. Moving up the mountain could cost half a billion dollars, he said.
As climate change gets worse, tribes like Shoalwater Bay are being squeezed between existential threats and brutal financial arithmetic. Consigned to marginal land more than a century ago by the United States government, some tribes are now trying to relocate to areas better protected from extreme weather yet lack the money to pay for that move. Continue reading →