By Danielle Nierenberg, Katherine Walla and Hayly Hoch
This holiday season, we're highlighting 12 children's books that will educate and inspire future eaters, food producers and innovators. From stories exploring community gardens and ugly vegetables, to tales about feeding a hungry stranger and slaying "the climate dragon," these books discuss deep topics in a personalized and fun way. Happy holidays!
1. Amelia's Road by Linda Jacobs Altman, illustrated by Enrique O. Sanchez
Amelia's Road follows Amelia Luisa Martinez, a young girl who lives in a family that travels around the country as migrant farmworkers. Although her day-to-day is characterized by long work days, unfamiliar schools and bleak cabins, she one day finds an old tree that becomes a special place for her. Amelia's Road offers children a chance to reflect on the experiences of migrant farmworker families.
2. Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington
This book tells the story of Annie, a young apple farmer. As she picks, sorts and sells her apples, she enlists the help of readers with some small, challenging activities such as counting, object-naming and money counting. Author Monica Wellington includes her personal recipes for applesauce, applesauce cake and apple muffins.
3. Community Soup by Alma Fullerton
Author Alma Fullerton tells the story of a young Kenyan girl, Kioni: her herd of goats followed her to school and began destroying the school's garden. Kioni and her friends join together to find a creative solution, making a tasty vegetable soup and saving Kioni's goats. Community Soup offers readers an uplifting story about the power of communal projects.
4. Green Green: A Community Gardening Story by Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba, illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Through charming rhymes, this book tells the story of a city's dwindling green space—and the neighborhood children who inspire the community to recover it. Authors Marie Lamba and Baldev Lamba playfully highlight the power of collaboration among people of any age who want to improve their communities.
5. Little Seeds by Charles Ghigna, illustrated by AG Jatkowska
As one of a four-part My Little Planet series, Little Seeds follows three children that celebrate spring by planting a seed. Readers find that while it is fun to garden, it is also fun to take care of the planet by doing activities like planting seeds.
6. Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollak
In Our Community Garden, Audrey Aubergine and her friends describe their favorite activities at their community garden. Together, the children get excited about everything from getting their hands dirty to exploring the bugs on their plants. The story offers children of all ages an opportunity to learn about the possibilities that can result from people who join to work—and have fun—together.
7. Plants Feed Me By Lizzy Rockwell
This book celebrates the plants that grow all around us: the trees, roots, bushes and stems that nourish our communities. Author Lizzy Rockwell takes readers to the farm, orchard and community garden to discover the various parts of plants humans eat, revealing food's beauty.
8. Stone Soup, a classic tale
Originally a French tale from the early 18th century, Stone Soup tells the story of a hungry man who approaches the house of a woman seeking food. While the woman turns him away for begging, the man tricks her into cooking by showing her a stone that makes soup with simply fire and a pot of water. The man tricks the woman by asking her to add vegetables and herbs throughout the process, ending with a fantastic soup for everyone to enjoy.
9. That's Not Fair! / ¡No Es Justo! by Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca, illustrated by Terry Ybáñez
Authors Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca tell the true story of Emma Tenayuca, a young Mexican-American girl in San Antonio in the 1920s. After watching her community work unreasonably long hours for low wages and struggle with hunger, Emma begins to advocate for Mexican-American workers, eventually leading 12,000 in a struggle for justice. The story offers parents a starting point to talk about each individual's role in making a more just food system.
10. The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
Authored and illustrated by Peter Brown, this book celebrates a discovery of a love for gardening. The main character, Liam, discovers a struggling garden, brings it back to life, and finds his efforts have a city-wide impact. The story opens the door for a conversation around the importance of green spaces in urban settings and the power of a single green thumb.
11. The Ugly Vegetables by Grace Lin
Author and illustrator Grace Lin tells the story of a young girl tending an ugly garden—one that lacks colorful flowers and stunning butterflies, yet produces the tastiest vegetables. Once the girl's mother harvests the vegetables for a tasty Chinese soup, the young gardener learns that everything has value: including ugly vegetables. Lin tops off the story with her recipe for ugly vegetable soup.
12. What's On Your Plate: Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, illustrated by Christiane Engel
This book, written by Whitney Stewart and illustrated by Christiane Engel, takes young readers around the globe, introducing them to new tastes and flavors in countries like Brazil, Ethiopia, Japan, Morocco and more. Each section includes an easy recipe for children to cook with a parent for an interactive way to learn about the diversity of ingredients each country and the role of culture in cuisine.
Bonus: Slaying the Climate Dragon by Kate Marvel
Although not a book (yet), this short story authored by Kate Marvel is a wonderful resource for starting a conversation with young children on climate change. The story's open ending allows space for youth to brainstorm the ways they can join the good fight to slay "the climate dragon."
A pygmy rabbit rescued from a breeding site in Beezley Hills, Washington, eats owl clover in its new enclosure. Kourtney Stonehouse, WDFW
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Mark Hertsgaard
What follows are not candidate endorsements. Rather, this nonpartisan guide aims to inform voters' choices, help journalists decide what races to follow, and explore what the 2020 elections could portend for climate action in the United States in 2021 and beyond.
Will the White House Turn Green?<p>Whether the White House changes hands is the most important climate question of the 2020 elections. President Donald Trump rejects climate science, is withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement, and has accelerated fossil fuel development. His climate policy seems to be, as he tweeted in January when rejecting a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposal to protect New York City from storm surges, "Get your mops and buckets ready."</p><p>Joe Biden, who started the 2020 campaign with a climate position so weak that activists gave it an "F," called Trump a "climate arsonist" during California's recent wildfires. Biden backs a $2 trillion plan to create millions of jobs while slashing emissions—a Green New Deal in all but name. Equally striking, his running mate, California Senator Kamala Harris, has endorsed phasing out fossil fuel production—a politically explosive scientific imperative.</p><p>The race will be decided in a handful of battleground states, five of which already face grave climate dangers: Florida (hurricanes and sea-level rise), North Carolina (ditto), Texas (storms and drought), Michigan (floods), and Arizona (heat waves and drought). <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/visualizations-data/ycom-us/" target="_blank">Public concern is rising</a> in these states, but will that concern translate into votes?</p>
Will Democrats Flip the Senate, and by Enough to Pass a Green New Deal?<p>With Democrats all but certain to maintain their majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Senate will determine whether a potential Biden administration can actually deliver climate progress. Democrats need to pick up three seats to flip the Senate if Biden wins, four if he doesn't. But since aggressive climate policy is shunned by some Democrats, notably Joe Manchin of coal-dependent West Virginia, Democrats probably need to gain five or six Senate seats to pass a Green New Deal.</p><p>Environmentalists, including the League of Conservation Voters, are targeting six Republicans who polls suggest are vulnerable.</p><ul><li>Steve Daines of Montana, who denies climate science</li><li>Martha McSally of Arizona</li><li>Thom Tillis of North Carolina</li><li>Susan Collins of Maine</li><li>Joni Ernst of Iowa (bankrolled by Charles Koch)</li><li>John James of Michigan (also a Koch beneficiary)</li></ul><p>Republican Senators are even at risk in conservative Kansas and Alaska. In both states, the Democratic candidates are physicians—not a bad credential amid a pandemic—who support climate action. In Kansas, Barbara Bollier faces an incumbent funded by Charles Koch. In Alaska, Al Gross urges a transition away from oil, though his openness to limited drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Preserve dims his appeal to green groups. He faces incumbent Republican Dan Sullivan, who receives an 8 percent lifetime voting record from the League of Conservation Voters.</p>
Will Local and State Races Advance Climate Progress?<h4>THE CLIMATE HAWKS</h4><p>Under Democratic and Republican leadership alike, Washington has long been a graveyard for strong climate action. But governors can boost or block renewable energy; the Vermont and New Hampshire races are worth watching. Attorneys general can sue fossil fuel companies for lying about climate change; climate hawks are running for the top law enforcement seats in Montana and North Carolina. State legislatures can accelerate or delay climate progress, as the new Democratic majorities in Virginia have shown. Here, races to watch include Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Colorado.</p><h4>THE CLIMATE POLICY MAKERS</h4><p>Perhaps the most powerful, and most overlooked, climate policy makers are public utility commissions. They control whether pipelines and other energy infrastructure gets built; they regulate whether electric utilities expand solar and energy efficiency or stick with the carbon-heavy status quo. Regulatory capture and outright corruption are not uncommon.</p><p>A prime example is Arizona, where a former two-term commissioner known as the godfather of solar in the state is seeking a comeback. Bill Mundell argues that since Arizona law permits utilities to contribute to commissioners' electoral campaigns, the companies can buy their own regulators. Which may explain why super-sunny Arizona has so little installed solar capacity.</p><p>In South Dakota, Remi Bald Eagle, a Native American U.S. Army veteran, seeks a seat on the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, which rules on the Standing Rock oil pipeline. And in what <em>HuffPost</em> called "the most important environmental race in the country," Democrat Chrysta Castaneda, who favors phasing out oil production, is running for the Texas Railroad Commission, which despite its name decides what oil, gas, and electric companies in America's leading petro-state can build.</p>
Will the Influencers Usher in a Green New Era?<h4>THE UNCOUNTED</h4><p>The story that goes largely under-reported in every U.S. election is how few Americans vote. In 2016, some 90 million, <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2018/08/09/an-examination-of-the-2016-electorate-based-on-validated-voters/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">roughly four out of every 10 eligible voters</a>, did not cast a ballot. Attorney Nathaniel Stinnett claims that 10 million of these nonvoters nevertheless identify as environmentalists: They support green policies, even donate to activist groups; they just don't vote. Stinnett's <a href="https://www.environmentalvoter.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Environmental Voter Project</a> works to awaken this sleeping giant.</p><h4>THE SUNRISE MOVEMENT</h4><p>Meanwhile, the young climate activists of the <a href="http://www.sunrisemovement.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Sunrise Movement</a> are already winning elections with an unabashedly Green New Deal message. More than any other group, Sunrise pushed the Green New Deal into the national political conversation, helping Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey draft the eponymous congressional resolution. In 2020, Sunrise has helped Green New Deal champions defeat centrists in Democratic primaries, with Markey dealing Representative Joe Kennedy Jr. the first defeat a Kennedy has ever suffered in a Massachusetts election. But can Sunrise also be successful against Republicans in the general elections this fall?</p><h4>THE STARPOWER</h4><p>And an intriguing wild card: celebrity firepower, grassroots activism, and big-bucks marketing have converged behind a campaign to get Latina mothers to vote climate in 2020. Latinos have long been the U.S. demographic most concerned about climate change. Now, <a href="https://votelikeamadre.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Vote Like A Madre</a> aims to get 5 million Latina mothers in Florida, Texas, and Arizona to the polls. Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayak, and Lin-Manuel Miranda are urging mothers to make a "pinky promise" to vote for their kids' climate future in November. Turning out even a quarter of those 5 million voters, though no easy task, could swing the results in three states Trump must win to remain president, which brings us back to the first category, "Will the White House Turn Green?"</p>
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By Tony Carnie
South Africa is home to around 1,300 of the world's roughly 7,100 remaining cheetahs. It's also the only country in the world with significant cheetah population growth, thanks largely to a nongovernmental conservation project that depends on careful and intensive human management of small, fenced-in cheetah populations. Because most of the reserves are privately funded and properly fenced, the animals benefit from higher levels of security than in the increasingly thinly funded state reserves.
Vincent van der Merwe at a cheetah translocation. Endangered Wildlife Trust
Under Pressure<p>Cheetah populations elsewhere in Southern Africa have not prospered over the past 50 years. In Zimbabwe, cheetah numbers have crashed from 1,500 in 1975, to just 170 today. Botswana's cheetah population has held steady at around 1,500 over the same period, but illegal capture for captive breeding and conflicts with farmers and the growing human population are increasing. In Namibia, there were an estimated 3,000 cheetah in in 1975; roughly 1,400 remain today.</p><p>In contrast, South Africa's cheetah numbers have grown from about 500 in 1975 to nearly 1,300 today. Van der Merwe, who is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Cape Town's Institute for Communities and Wildlife in Africa (iCWild), says he's confident that South Africa will soon overtake Namibia and Botswana, largely because the majority of South African cheetahs are protected and managed behind fences, whereas most of the animals in the neighboring countries remain more vulnerable on mainly unfenced lands.</p><p>Wildlife researchers Florian Weise and colleagues have reported that private stock owners in Namibia still trap cheetahs mainly for translocation, but there are few public or private reserves large enough to contain them. Weise says that conservation efforts need to focus on improving tolerance toward cheetahs in commercial livestock and game farming areas to reduce indiscriminate trapping.</p><p>Van der Merwe says fences can be both a blessing and a curse. While these barriers prevent cheetahs and other wild animals from migrating naturally to breed and feed, they also protect cheetahs from the growing tide of threats from humanity and agriculture.</p><p>To simulate natural dispersion patterns that guard against inbreeding, the trust helps landowners swap their animals with other cheetah reserves elsewhere in the country. The South African metapopulation project has been so successful in boosting numbers that the trust is having to look beyond national boundaries to secure new translocation areas in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique.</p><p>Cheetah translocations have been going on in South Africa since the mid-1960s, when the first unsuccessful attempts were made to move scores of these animals from Namibia. These relocations were mostly unsuccessful.</p>
Charli de Vos uses a VHF antenna to locate cheetahs in Phinda Game Reserve. Tony Carnie for Mongabay
Swinging for the Fences<p>But other wildlife conservation leaders have a different perspective on cheetah conservation strategy.</p><p>Gus Mills, a senior carnivore researcher retired in 2006 from SANParks, the agency that manages South Africa's national parks, after a career of more than 30 years in Kalahari and Kruger national parks. He says the focus should be on quality of living spaces rather than the quantity of cheetahs.</p><p>Mills, who was the founder of the Endangered Wildlife Trust's Carnivore Conservation Group in 1995, and who also spent six years after retirement studying cheetahs in the Kalahari, says it's more important to properly protect and, where possible, expand the size of existing protected areas.</p><p>He also advocates a triage approach to cheetah conservation, in which scarce funds and resources are focused on protecting cheetahs in formally protected areas, rather than diluting scarce resources in an attempt to try and save every single remaining cheetah population.</p><p>"People have an obsession with numbers. But I believe that it is more important to protect large landscape and habitats properly," Mills said.</p><p>He suggests that cheetahs enclosed within small reserves live in artificial conditions: "It's almost like glorified farming."</p><p>"In the long run we have to focus on consolidating formally protected areas," he added. "Africa's human population will double by 2050, so cheetah populations in unfenced areas will become unsustainable if they are eating people's livestock."</p>
Scientists are on the brink of scaling up an enzyme that devours plastic. In the latest breakthrough, the enzyme degraded plastic bottles six times faster than previous research achieved, as The Guardian reported.
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