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'Music Is Our Universal Language': Celebrities Unite on Climate Action at Carnegie Hall Concert

Climate
Pathway to Paris

Pathway to Paris gave voice to the urgent issue of climate change on Sunday night at Carnegie Hall, celebrating the launch of its 1000 Cities initiative and the organization's three years of environmental advocacy. Founded by Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, Pathway to Paris orchestrated the event in partnership with the UN Development Programme and 350.org—bringing together a collection of artists, activists, academics, musicians, politicians and innovators to shine a light on 1000 Cities' imperative mission, supported by a Care2 petition which invites the world's cities to transition off of fossil fuels in a call to action.

The evening opened with powerful speeches and performances by Pathway to Paris founders and curators of the evening, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon, encapsulating the essence of Pathway to Paris. "Climate change is our unifying global concern," said Jesse Paris Smith. "It breaks down and defines the geographical borders and walls we have created, it unifies us all and urges us to realize our collective voice."


Flea performs.Pathway to Paris

"Music is our universal language. The power of music brings us together, showing how truly interconnected we all are. The Earth is our home, and our home is in danger. The signs are loud and clear, there is no longer time for borders and walls. Our hope is that by the end of this night, you will all be climate leaders." Foon went on to announce the new 1000 cities initiative. "We believe the solution lies within transforming our cities and communities," said Foon.

"This evening, Pathway to Paris is launching the 1000 Cities initiative, an initiative to unite the world to move above and beyond the targets outlined in the the Paris agreement. Tonight we are inviting 1000 cities around the world to become 100% renewable and transition off of fossil fuels by 2040 in order to make Paris real."

The evening's attendees enjoyed many once-in-a-lifetime moments, including R.E.M frontman Michael Stipe covering "Sunday Morning" by Velvet Underground, Patti Smith's retelling of Cat Stevens' "Where Do the Children Play" and Joan Baez dancing with Talib Kweli, who was backed on the bass guitar by Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Concert-goers were also asked to participate in the evening's events, as Bill McKibben paused the show for 60 seconds to allow attendees to write letters to Scott Pruitt, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Olafur Eliasson used Little Sun solar-energy lights to orchestrate a breathtaking illumination of Carnegie Hall, before revealing that each light used would be sent to Puerto Rico to help those still lacking power following Hurricane Maria. Tenzin Choegyal also invited 10 Himalayan elders to the stage during his set to sing in the beautiful hall.

Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon meet with Bill McKibben.Pathway to Paris

Heralded by Patti Smith's fierce cries of "it's decreed the people rule," the crowd ascended into a deafening chant as Stipe, Baez, Kweli, Cat Power, Tanya Tagaq, Tenzin Choegyal, Jesse Paris Smith and Rebecca Foon and the 3,000 people in attendance contributed their voices to "People Have the Power;" collectively reminding the world that we have "The power to dream, to rule and to wrestle the world from fools."

The festivities continued late into the night as concert-goers, VIPs and the evening's talent gathered together in celebration. Guests included Maggie Gyllenhall, Peter Sarsgaard, Ed Norton, Mario Batali and Nick Zinner of The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

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