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We earthlings have been blessed with some pretty spectacular images from space in recent months. There was the "Blue Marble" image, the dark side of the moon, up close images of the sun, the moon and Pluto and the plumes of smoke from wildfires raging in the Western U.S. and Canada.
Astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS) have been able to capture some great images. Check out these 10 mesmerizing photos of Earth taken from space:
1. Hurricane Danny
Current ISS Commander Scott Kelly snapped this picture of Hurricane Danny as the ISS passed over the central Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Danny was a Category 3, the first of the 2015 hurricane season, which made landfall in the Caribbean.
According to Upworthy, NASA teams up with local aid agencies to help provide drinking water to water-stressed places such as Oman. NASA "discovers previously untapped water sources and provides these at-risk areas with water purification technology used onboard the ISS," according to Upworthy.
Commander Kelly took this photo as the ISS passed over Australia in October 2015. It's just one of a 17-photo series on the Land Down Under.
4. British Columbia, Canada
Astronaut Tim Peake, who joined the ISS team in December 2015, has wasted no time taking stunning pictures of planet Earth. He captured this image of British Columbia's Coast Mountains on Jan. 5.
5. The Aurora Borealis
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, are "the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere," according to the Northern Lights Centre. "Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding."
6. Golden Aurora
The image shows cloud cover over England, the Baltic Sea and Persian Gulf with a golden aurora on the horizon.
Scott Kelly tweeted this image with the following comment: "Good morning #Manhattan! #bigapple #YearInSpace."
8. Lake Powell
Lake Powell is the second largest man-made reservoir by maximum water capacity in the U.S. after Lake Mead. However, it is now larger than Lake Mead in terms of water volume because of the high rates of water extraction and years of drought in the area.
According to Upworthy, some of the astronauts, such as Scott Kelly, even received training in photography before heading to space. It shows. These photos are incredible.
10. Space selfie
Notice the breathtaking image in Kelly's camera lens. Wow!
Tim Peake said it best in his Instagram post:
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Last week, the Peruvian Palm Oil Producers' Association (JUNPALMA) promised to enter into an agreement for sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil production. The promise was secured by the U.S. based National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in collaboration with the local government, growers and the independent conservation organization Sociedad Peruana de Ecodesarrollo.
The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
Leaked documents show that Jair Bolsonaro's government intends to use the Brazilian president's hate speech to isolate minorities living in the Amazon region. The PowerPoint slides, which democraciaAbierta has seen, also reveal plans to implement predatory projects that could have a devastating environmental impact.
Last week we received positive news on the border wall's imminent construction in an Arizona wildlife refuge. The Trump administration delayed construction of the wall through about 60 miles of federal wildlife preserves.