The Southwest’s protracted drought has put a strain on an already arid environment. Photograph by Wild Horizon via Getty
Our thanks to Rachel Monroe:
How Native Americans Will Shape the Future of Water in the West
Tribal nations hold the rights to significant portions of the Colorado River. In the increasing drought, some are showing the way to sustainability.
As a child, Stephen Lewis heard stories about a river that, for the most part, no longer flowed. “How I grew up was that it was a theft, that it was stolen from us,” he told me late last year. “There was what we used to call the Mighty Gila River, and now it was just pretty much dry. There was no water.” Continue reading
Savegre Lodge, Costa Rica
The American west has told the rewilding story from multiple perspectives, and this book to the right makes a special place for the she-wolf in that story, according to this review in Inquisitive Biologist:
The wolves reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995 are some of the best-studied mammals on the planet. Biological technician and park ranger Rick McIntyre has spent over two decades scrutinizing their daily lives, venturing into the park every single day. Where his previous books focused on three notable alpha* males, it is ultimately the females that call the shots and make the decisions with lasting consequences. This book is a long overdue recognition of the female wolf and continues this multigenerational saga. Continue reading
Parque Nacional Tikal, Guatemala
ILLUSTRATION BY SARAH ANGÈLE WILSON
Bicycle love has been a minor but notable theme in our pages over the years. In more recent years their relationship to electricity has become the focus of more stories, like this one:
Electric bicycles are catching on—and their lithium-ion batteries are catching fire. Why is so little being done about it?
Fires and overheating accidents attributed to lithium-ion batteries killed 19 people in the United States in 2022, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. In New York City alone, six people died in these uniquely fast-burning infernos. Experts say poorly made batteries, like those often found on cheaper e-bike models, are the primary culprit. So why is it still so easy to purchase them? Continue reading
Hassan Machlab, a country manager with ICARDA in Lebanon, stands in the middle of a field with newly planted grains at the ICARDA research station, Dec. 21, 2022. Dalia Khamissy for NPR
Protecting plant species’ futures with seed banks grows greater in importance as time passes, because challenges to the planet multiply. We appreciate updates like this one by Ruth Sherlock and colleagues at National Public Radio (USA):
How ancient seeds from the Fertile Crescent could help save us from climate change
Chickpea grains are tested for various diseases at the ICARDA research station, Dec. 21, 2022. Dalia Khamissy for NPR
TERBOL, Lebanon — Inside a large freezer room at the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, tens of thousands of seeds are stored at a constant temperature of minus-4 degrees Fahrenheit. After being threshed and cleaned, the seeds are placed inside small, sealed foil packets and stored on rows of heavy, sliding metal shelves.
Barley grains stored at the ICARDA research station. Dalia Khamissy for NPR
Some of them may hold keys to helping the planet’s food supply adapt to climate change.
The gene bank can hold as many as 120,000 varieties of plants. Many of the seeds come from crops as old as agriculture itself. They’re sown by farmers in the Fertile Crescent region, where cultivation began some 11,000 years ago. Other seeds were deposited by researchers who’ve hiked in the past four decades through forests and mountains in the Middle East, Asia and North Africa, searching for wild relatives of wheat, legumes and other crops that are important to the human diet. Continue reading
Robert Waldinger, MD has a way with words, and ideas, and life experience, judging by his discussion with Sam Harris. This topic is not typical of most of the content we link to, but for a Tuesday in early 2023 it is as worthwhile as anything we can think to share. Click the image of the book to go to the website where its author introduces it:
Eight decades. Three generations. Thousands of lives.
The Harvard Study of Adult Development is an extraordinary scientific endeavor that began in 1938 and is still going strong (Waldinger is the fourth director, and Schulz its associate director). For over eight decades, the study has tracked the same individuals and their families, asking thousands of questions and taking hundreds of measurements—from brain scans to blood work—with the goal of discovering what really makes for a good life.
Through all the years of studying these lives, strong relationships stand out for their impact on physical health, mental health, and longevity. Waldinger and Schulz boil it down simply:
“Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”
Savegre Lodge, Costa Rica
A pod of dolphins just outside New York harbor. Carsten Brandt/Getty
Our thanks to Oliver Milman, Mother Jones and the Climate Desk collaboration for this, and we hope the frolicking continues:
“We’ve come a long way.”
Dolphins have been spotted frolicking in New York City’s Bronx River, an encouraging sign of the improving health of a waterway that was for many years befouled as a sewer for industrial waste. Continue reading
Parque Nacional Tikal, Guatemala
Heat pumps use electricity to compress a refrigerant, raising its temperature. IEA
Heat pumps have only been a passing reference occasionally in these pages, but today they are the focus, thanks to Paul Hockenos in Yale e360:
In Europe’s Clean Energy Transition, Industry Turns to Heat Pumps
With soaring gas prices due to the Ukraine war and the EU’s push to cut emissions, European industries are increasingly switching to high-temperature, high-efficiency heat pumps. Combined with the boom in residential use, the EU is now hoping for a heat pump revolution.
An industrial heat pump at the Mars Confectionery in Veghel, the Netherlands. GEA
The Wienerberger brickworks in Uttendorf, Austria, in the Tyrolean Alps, has always required a steady stream of 90 degree C (194 degree F) heat to dry its construction blocks. This process would have been an expensive proposition for the company after Russia cut gas exports to Europe, as it was for most of Europe’s energy-intensive construction industry. But four years ago, Wienerberger — the largest brick producer in the world — made an investment in the future that is now paying off: it replaced Uttendorf’s gas-fired boiler with an industrial-scale heat pump, which whittles the factory’s energy bill by around 425,00 euros a year. Continue reading
Samburu Nature Reserve, Kenya
‘The only way to ensure that money is going into a farmer’s pocket is to buy directly from farmers.’ Illustration: Rita Liu/The Guardian
We have been avid readers on the topic of chocolate for almost as long as we have been sharing articles on this platform:
The sweet spot: is ethical and affordable chocolate possible?
It is possible to pay farmers a premium while selling single-origin chocolate at a cheaper price – but it means companies have to transform the way it’s made
Is it possible to make an ethical chocolate bar that’s also affordable? Tim McCollum, the founder of the bean-to-bar chocolate brand Beyond Good, says the answer is yes – but you have to transform the way it’s made. Continue reading
On the outskirts of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southwestern China, 6 November 2006. Photo by stringer/Reuters
Aeon was a regular source of excellent ideas and information during our first few years, and we are happy to see it again:
Maize is arguably the single most important crop in the world and is rivalled only by soybeans in terms of versatility. That said, it is, along with sugar cane and palm oil, among the most controversial crops, proving particularly so to critics of industrial agriculture. Although maize is usually associated with the Western world, it has played a prominent role in Asia for a long time, and, in recent decades, its importance in Asia has soared. For better or worse, or more likely for better and worse, its role in Asia seems to be following the Western script. Continue reading
Outskirts of Bangalor, Karnataka