In the fifth century B.C., the playwright Sophocles begins "Oedipus Tyrannos" with the title character struggling to identify the cause of a plague striking his city, Thebes. (Spoiler alert: It's his own bad leadership.)
People’s Recklessness<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjg3NTI2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDI5MTM2NH0.7tbR8Hlv8vL4QpGDh9WmnOImDHdqIz5lJtDzzPl_PVs/img.jpg?width=980" id="1dde5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a73b702a0f3e72f5388420dd9070c6fb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The Spartan general Lysander orders the walls of Athens be destroyed, as part of the Athenian capitulation to Sparta. The Illustrated History of the World / Wikimedia Commons<p>Myths help their audiences understand the causes of things. As narrative theorists like <a href="http://markturner.org/lm.html" target="_blank">Mark Turner</a> and specialists in memory like <a href="https://www.harpercollins.com/9780062237903/pieces-of-light/" target="_blank">Charles Fernyhough</a> emphasize, people learn how to behave from stories and concepts of cause and effect in childhood. The linear sequence of before, now and after communicates the relationships between things and how we, as human beings, understand our own responsibility in the world.</p><p>Plague stories provide settings where fate pushes human organization to the limit. Human leaders are almost always crucial to the causal sequence, as Zeus observes in Homer's "Odyssey," saying, as I've translated it, "Humans are always blaming the gods for their suffering / but they experience pain beyond their fate because of their own recklessness."</p><p>The problems humans create go beyond just plagues: The poet Hesiod writes that the top Greek god, Zeus, showed his disapproval for bad leaders by burdening them with <a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Hes.+WD+240&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0132" target="_blank">military failures as well as pandemics</a>. The consequences of human failings are a refrain in the ancient critique of leaders, with or without plagues: The "Iliad," for instance, describes rulers who "<a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Hom.+Il.+22.104&fromdoc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0134" target="_blank">ruin their people through recklessness</a>." The "Odyssey" phrases it as "<a href="https://sententiaeantiquae.com/2017/02/22/shepherd-of-the-host/" target="_blank">bad shepherds ruin their flocks</a>."</p>
Devastating Illness<p>Plagues were common in the ancient world, but not all of them were blamed on leaders. Like other natural disasters, they were frequently blamed on the gods.</p><p>But historians, like Polybius in the second century B.C. and Livy in the first century B.C., also frequently recount epidemics striking armies and people in swamps or cities with poor sanitation. Philosophers and physicians also searched for rational approaches — <a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0248:text=Aer.:section=2&highlight=epidemic" target="_blank">blaming the climate</a>, or <a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.01.0084:book=12:chapter=45&highlight=plague" target="_blank">pollution</a>.</p><p>When the historian Thucydides recounts how a plague with alleged origins in Ethiopia hit Athens in 430 B.C., he <a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0200%3Abook%3D2%3Achapter%3D49" target="_blank">vividly describes patients suffering a sudden high fever</a>, shortness of breath and an array of sickly discharges. Those who survived the sickness had endured such delirious fevers that they might have no memory of it all.</p><p>Athens as a state was unprepared to meet the challenge of that plague. Thucydides describes the futility of any human response: Appeals to the gods and the work of doctors — who died in droves — <a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0200%3Abook%3D2%3Achapter%3D47" target="_blank">were equally useless</a>. The disease wreaked havoc because the Athenians were massed within the city walls to wait out the Spartan armies during the Peloponnesian War.</p><p>Yet despite the plague's terrible nature, Thucydides insists that the worst part was the despair people felt from fear and the "<a href="http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0200%3Abook%3D2%3Achapter%3D51" target="_blank">horror of human beings dying like sheep</a>."</p><p>Sick people died of neglect, of the lack of proper shelter and of disease spreading from improper burials in an unprepared and overcrowded city, followed by looting and lawlessness.</p><p>Athens, set up as a fortress against its enemies, brought ruin upon itself.</p>
Making Sense out of Human Flaws<p>Left out of plague accounts are the names of the multitudes who died in them. Homer, Sophocles and Thucydides tell us that masses died. But plagues in ancient narratives are usually the beginning, not the end of the story. A plague didn't stop the Trojan War, prevent Oedipus' sons from waging civil war or give the Athenians enough reasons to make peace.</p><p>For years after the ravages of the plague, Athens still suffered from in-fighting, toxic politics and selfish leaders. Popular politics led to the disastrous <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicilian_Expedition" target="_blank">Sicilian Expedition</a> of 415 B.C., killing thousands of Athenians — but still Athens survived.</p><p>A decade later, the Athenians again broke into civil factions and eventually prosecuted their own generals after a naval victory in <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arginusae" target="_blank">406 B.C. at Arginusae</a>. In 404 B.C., after a siege, Sparta defeated Athens. But, as we learn from Greek myth, it was — again — really Athens' leaders and people who defeated themselves.</p>
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Large swarms of locusts have ravaged crops in East Africa, prompting authorities in Somalia to declare a national emergency, making it the first country in the region to do so, as Al Jazeera reported.
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- Climate Crisis Brings India's Worst Locust Invasion in Decades - EcoWatch ›
Organic farmers in Africa face an arduous journey getting cropland certified, limiting exports and frustrating farmers who say ecological practices could increase food security while protecting the land.
Fighting Hunger<p>Conventional farming uses artificial fertilizers and pesticides, some of which kill wildlife and may damage human health, particularly in countries where they are poorly regulated or overused.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/why-biodiversity-loss-hurts-humans-as-much-as-climate-change/a-48579014" target="_blank">A landmark report on biodiversity</a> published by UN-backed scientists last year found that converting land for intensive agriculture is one of the biggest drivers of wildlife loss and degradation of nature — and that this, in turn, endangers the global food system through the less of healthy soil, clean waterways and <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/insect-apocalypse-dying-ecosystem-species-loss-a-52160360/a-52160360" target="_blank">insects that pollinate plants</a>.</p>
Access to Finance<p>The area of organic farmland in Africa has doubled in the last decade to 2.1 million hectares, FiBL data shows, with the biggest organic centers in North and <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/feeding-east-africa-locals-skeptical-of-gm-crops/a-42385062" target="_blank">East Africa</a> and the crops they grow enjoyed the world over. In Kenya, nuts and coconuts dominate organic output. In Tunisia it is olives. Ethiopia and Tanzania are big coffee-growers, while in Uganda, home to the most organic producers in Africa, the crop of choice is cacao.</p><p>Despite some successes, farmers such as Nashera and Koleta, in Kenya, are caught in a bind between domestic markets not willing to pay a premium for organic food and wealthier regions to which they cannot export without expensive certification. A survey of African farmers by UNCTAD in 2016 found that a quarter of stakeholders thought access to finance had gotten more restrictive in the last five years. Only 13 percent said it had become more efficient.</p><p>But the industry is held back by more than just money, said Okisegere Ojepat, CEO of trade association Fresh Produce Kenya. A lack of crop-specific research and equipment, including understanding of weather patterns and pest control, is keeping farmers from innovating. Pushing for more organic farming without building technical capacity would not be sustainable in the long run, said Ojepat. "It is a double-edged sword."</p><p>Organic farmers looking to reach markets abroad are trying short-term fixes. To reduce the cost of certification — which requires paying auditors from Europe and North America to fly in and inspect farms — organic farmers could apply to be certified together, said Claire Nasike, founder of environmental educational charity the Hummingbird Foundation and an agroecologist at Greenpeace Africa, which has trained a network of farmers who are now applying to be certified as a group.</p><p>"The farmers are able to hold each other accountable," said Nasike. "If one person messes it up, the entire group's certification is cancelled."</p>
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The U.S. is the wealthiest country to make an appearance on a list ranking the 10 nations with the most pollution-related deaths, The Guardian reported Wednesday.
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- Air Pollution Linked to 30,000 U.S. Deaths in One Year - EcoWatch ›
There's no question that 2019 was a wakeup call on the climate crisis. Everything from devastating extreme weather events and seeing the planet's hottest month in recorded history to increasingly dire scientific reports coming out seemingly each week removed any doubt that this global emergency is rapidly escalating. We could hardly blame someone for feeling discouraged.
Unprecedented Public Awareness and Action<p>Our biggest source of optimism this year? The incredible number of people around the world that stepped up for our climate. These highlights make us believe that one day we'll look back at 2019 as a historic turning point for the movement.</p><p>1. With an estimated <a href="https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/9/20/20876143/climate-strike-2019-september-20-crowd-estimate" target="_blank">4 million attendees</a> in over 163 countries, the Sept. 20 climate strike — the biggest climate demonstration in history — saw more people calling for climate action at once than ever before. </p><div id="8f386" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="7HH1AE1577557618"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1175094173818589184" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">NYCs massive #ClimateStrike march has begun, from Foley Sq down Centre St to Chambers St across to Broadway... and… https://t.co/PGdw3PE3mT</div> — Gale A. Brewer (@Gale A. Brewer)<a href="https://twitter.com/galeabrewer/statuses/1175094173818589184">1568999257.0</a></blockquote></div>
Game-Changing Media Coverage<p>8. Whether calling it a <a href="https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/why-do-we-call-it-climate-crisis" target="_blank">crisis</a>, an emergency or a breakdown, this year <a href="https://www.thenation.com/article/climate-crisis-covering-climate-now/" target="_blank">news sources started covering climate change like never before</a>.</p><p>Why now? Partly thanks to collective efforts by media groups to finally do this story justice. Take the <a href="https://www.coveringclimatenow.org/partners" target="_blank"><em>Covering Climate Now</em></a> global journalism initiative, for example. Co-founded by The Nation and Columbia Journalism Review, this project includes more than 350 outlets worldwide reaching a combined audience of over a billion people. Now that's the kind of climate coverage the world needs. </p><p>9. This December, climate activist Greta Thunberg was named Time magazine's <a href="https://time.com/person-of-the-year-2019-greta-thunberg/" target="_blank">person of the year</a> — a distinction that highlights the importance of climate leadership today. What's more, earlier this year Greta was nominated for the <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/14/greta-thunberg-nominated-nobel-peace-prize" target="_blank">Nobel Peace Prize</a> — perhaps the most widely recognized humanitarian award in the world. This gives us optimism not just because we're happy to see Greta receive the recognition she deserves, but because the nomination brought the world's attention to the urgent need for climate action. </p><p>10. In the U.S., the first-ever <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/05/politics/climate-town-hall-highlights/index.html" target="_blank">presidential climate town hall</a> gave us a lot of hope. Why? Because it was the first time ever that presidential candidates had to address the climate crisis so seriously. Just four years ago during the 2016 election, <a href="https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/column-2016-election-left-behind-climate-change" target="_blank">candidates were hardly even asked</a> about the topic. </p>
Continued Growth of Renewables<p>Renewable energy — our most critical tool for reducing greenhouse gas emissions — just keeps getting cheaper and more accessible. So much so that as of this year, <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-27/solar-wind-provide-cheapest-power-for-two-thirds-of-globe-map" target="_blank">according to Bloomberg NEF</a>, "for two-thirds of the global population, it is already cheaper to get power by building a new wind or solar farm than a fossil-fuel power plant." How's that for some good news?</p><p>11. Globally, solar photovoltaic installations are expected to reach a new yearly high of 114.5 GW by the end of 2019 — a <a href="https://www.taylorhopkinson.com/global-solar-pv-installations-to-reach-new-high-of-114-5-gw-in-2019/" target="_blank">17.5 percent increase</a> compared to 2018. What's more, estimates predict that by 2024 the price of solar should drop by another <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/21/renewable-energy-to-expand-by-50-in-next-five-years-report" target="_blank">15 to 35 percent</a>, spurring growth even further!</p><p>12. Wind energy also saw record-breaking growth this year. Specifically, by having a little under 2 GW installed from July 1 – Sept. 30, this was the highest third quarter on record for wind installations in the U.S. This push brought the country's total wind supply to more than <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/31/us-wind-energy-capacity-now-over-100-gigawatts-says-new-report.html" target="_blank">100 GW of power</a> — enough to power "the equivalent of 32 million American homes." What's more, 2019 estimates predict that global <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/global-wind-power-capacity-to-grow-by-60-over-next-5-years" target="_blank">wind power capacity</a> is expected to grow by 60 percent over the next five years.</p>
Technological and Economic Growth<p>13. Battery power, which is crucial for economically feasible electric vehicles (and renewable energies like solar and wind), <a href="https://about.bnef.com/blog/battery-pack-prices-fall-as-market-ramps-up-with-market-average-at-156-kwh-in-2019/" target="_blank">made some serious strides this year</a>. Largely thanks to increased production, battery prices for EVs went from costing over $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to $156 per kilowatt-hour in 2019. By 2023, average prices are estimated to drop to close to $100/kWh — making EV's of all kinds even more affordable. </p><p>With that cost decrease in mind, it's hardly surprising that 2019 is expected to see a record <a href="https://about.bnef.com/blog/transition-energy-transport-10-predictions-2019/" target="_blank">2.6 million EVs</a> sold globally — about a 40 percent growth rate compared to 2018.</p><p>This year also saw automakers commit a whopping <a href="https://qz.com/1762465/2019-was-the-year-electric-cars-grew-up/" target="_blank">$225 billion</a> to car electrification over the next five years.</p><p>14. The building energy retrofit market — a rapidly growing sector that shows great promise for emissions reductions — is another big reason for climate hope. In 2018, New York City was spending just $235 million on building improvements to save energy. However, a <a href="https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/sites/default/files/urban_green_retrofit_market_analysis.pdf" target="_blank">groundbreaking new law</a> passed this year is expected to grow that market to nearly $25 billion over the next decade — a 13-fold increase over today's spending. </p><p>Experts estimate this measure will cut the city's emissions by <a href="https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/sites/default/files/urban_green_emissions_law_summary_v3_0.pdf" target="_blank">26%</a>, roughly the equivalent of San Francisco's, and will create <a href="https://www.urbangreencouncil.org/sites/default/files/urban_green_retrofit_market_analysis.pdf" target="_blank">141,000 new jobs</a> in the New York City metro area by 2030! </p><p>15. This year the U.S. <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/16/us-green-economy-generates-1point3-trillion-and-employs-millions-new-study-finds.html" target="_blank">green economy</a> employed more than 9.5 million people, who together generated a whopping $1.3 trillion in annual sales revenue —nearly 7 percent of annual US GDP. The importance of green jobs and green growth in the U.S. has never been clearer!</p>
Local Wins Are Adding Up<p>A number of the world's countries with the highest emissions showed a lack of climate ambition this year. Now, that's certainly cause for concern and frustration, but fortunately this doesn't tell the full story. </p><p>16. <a href="https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/lost-decade-climate-action-hope-emerges" target="_blank">According to the UN</a>, as of this December "around 7,000 cities from 133 countries, 245 regions from 42 countries, and 6,000 companies with at least US$36 trillion in revenue have pledged to cut emissions themselves." National leadership might be faltering, but local leaders are taking up this fight like never before. </p><p>17. Natural solutions to the climate crisis saw an inspiring amount of global effort this year. Take reforestation in Ethiopia: This year, the country planted <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/30/world/africa/ethiopia-tree-planting-deforestation.html" target="_blank">350 million trees</a> in what the government said was the largest one-day tree-planting effort in history. Ultimately, local wins like these are adding up to make a difference for the whole planet. </p><p>18. This year, a total of 4,527 new Climate Reality Leaders were trained in Atlanta, Brisbane, Minneapolis and Tokyo. That's 4,527 activists who now have Climate Reality training and tools to mobilize their communities for action in a decisive year.</p><p> 19. Our new take on the annual <a href="https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/24-hours-reality-truth-action-most-inspiring-moments" target="_blank"><em>24 Hours of Reality</em></a> program also saw great success this year. More than 1,500 Climate Reality Leaders gave more than 2,000 presentations on the climate crisis and how we solve it to audiences across 82 countries, on all seven continents, and in all 50 U.S. states. </p><p>20. Just this December, Climate Reality organizers mobilized the <a href="https://www.climaterealityproject.org/press/los-angeles-unified-school-district-commits-100-percent-clean-renewable-energy" target="_blank">Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board</a> to sign a resolution committing the school district to transition to 100 percent clean, renewable electricity by 2030, and all other energy uses, including boilers, HVAC and transportation, by 2040.</p>
By Dirk Lorenzen
2020 will be the year of Mars. The red planet will approach Earth in early October to within 62 million kilometers. Four space agencies are set to take advantage of this close encounter and send spacecraft to Mars. The European Space Agency (ESA) will launch its ExoMars rover on a Russian Proton rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome. ExoMars is set to land on the surface, dig into the soil and look for traces of past life. They will be looking for possible living microbes about half a meter below the Martian surface. Above it, harmful cosmic radiation makes life as we know it impossible.
'Grand African Savannah Green Up': Major $85 Million Project Announced to Scale up Agroforestry in Africa
By Erik Hoffner
Amid a deluge of news during the U.N. Climate Summit last month, one major announcement went largely uncovered, yet is among the most important initiatives aimed at reducing the effects of climate change revealed during the events in New York City.
FMNR in action: a farmer removes side stems from resprouted Guiera senegalensis, the first step in encouraging a strong trunk. Image courtesy of P. Savadogo / World Agroforestry
Millet in Maradi, Niger, benefiting from proximity to Combretum glutinosum shrubs that a farmer is assisting to resprout from stumps. Combretum glutinosum is a fast-growing, drought-resistant woody plant common in the dry Sahel. Image courtesy of P. Savadogo / World Agroforestry
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- UN Report: Extreme Weather Displaced 2 Million People in 2018 ... ›
The UN set a global goal to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030. Alarming figures show just how big of a challenge remains.
10 Ways to Scale Action<p>To accelerate momentum, here are 10 interventions that can rapidly spur deployment of a Target Measure Act approach and actor-specific actions.</p><h4>1. Develop national strategies for food loss and waste reduction.</h4><p>Only a handful of nations have established strategies to reduce food loss and waste, including the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Ethiopia. National strategies help align public policies, private sector actions, farmer practices and consumer behavior toward a shared goal, so it's critical that more nations create strategies to halve food loss and waste.</p><h4>2. Create national public-private partnerships.</h4><p>Reducing food loss and waste requires action across the entire food supply chain as well as supportive public policies. No single institution can drive a 50% economy-wide reduction on its own. Public-private partnerships have an emerging track record, having launched in countries like the Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States. In the UK, the Courtauld Commitment has been signed by 53 retailers, who have committed to measure and reduce food waste. If such partnerships emerged in the following countries, then 20 of the world's largest agriculture exporters would be covered, representing 45 percent of the world's population: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, India, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Thailand and Turkey.</p>
Thailand farmer rows boat laden with fruit and vegetables to market.
WRI / Flickr<h4><br>3. Launch a "10x20x30" supply chain initiative.</h4><p>Food losses often occur during production and, especially in low-income countries, during handling and storage. Launching a private sector campaign where at least 10 of the largest food and agriculture companies commit to act and engage their 20 largest suppliers to do the same by 2030 (hence, 10x20x30) could have a big impact. This approach leverages the relative market concentration and power of a few companies to catalyze change across the supply chain and geographies. This intervention follows a model set by retail-giant Tesco, which has secured the commitment of 27 of its major suppliers to set targets, measure progress and act.</p><h4>4. Reduce smallholder losses.</h4><p>If we're to halve food losses, efforts to assist smallholders with productivity and efficiency need a big boost---especially in reaching smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, regions that lose an estimated 26% of their food during harvesting, handling and storage. Approaches include training farmers in reducing losses, creating access to markets for smallholders and improving storage solutions. For example, as part of The Rockefeller Foundation's YieldWise initiative, farmers growing tomatoes in Nigeria were trained in improved agronomic practices and access to aggregation centers, which reduced transport time to market. Following these interventions, losses were reduced by 54%.</p><h4>5. Launch a "decade of storage solutions."</h4><p>What if the 2020s became a decade of making food storage technologies ubiquitous, affordable and climate-friendly? Doing so would tackle a huge hotspot of food loss and waste in low-income countries, helping ensure more food makes it safely to market. Innovations in solar-powered coolers and "lease-to-own" financing arrangements for villages can help.</p><h4>6. Shift consumer social norms.</h4><p>Behavioral science tells us that increased knowledge of an issue alone does not necessarily translate into changed behavior. What successful initiatives like the UK's 'Love Food, Hate Waste' campaign have shown is that you must give people information and make it easy for them to change their behavior. That's why 'Love Food, Hate Waste' ran advertisements to raise awareness and worked with retailers to get rid of offers such as 'buy one get one free' that encourage over-buying as well as to print food storage information on food packaging, making it easier for people to waste less food. What's needed is for norms in high-income countries and cities everywhere to shift so that wasting food becomes unacceptable.</p><h4>7. Go after emissions reductions.</h4><p>Reducing food loss and waste is an underappreciated greenhouse gas mitigation strategy. By tackling food loss and waste from emissions-intensive <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/tag/beef" target="_self">beef</a>, dairy and rice, these food sectors can reduce their impact on <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change/" target="_self">climate</a>. Another strategy is for countries to add food loss and waste reduction to their national climate plans, known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). To date, fewer than a dozen countries have included food loss and waste reduction in their NDCs.</p><h4>8. Scale up financing.</h4><p>Many of the promising solutions to reduce food loss and waste need an influx in financing to take off. In 2016, The Rockefeller Foundation launched the $130 million YieldWise initiative to tackle food losses in Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, and food waste in North America and Europe. In 2019, the World Bank launched a $300 million Sustainable Development Bond focused on food loss and waste reduction. More of such investments are needed by a wider suite of financiers, ranging from grants and blended finance to venture capital and commercial investments.</p><h4>9. Overcome the data deficit.</h4><p>Without more and better data to understand the scale and scope of the food loss and waste challenge, we risk not being able to identify hotspots, hone reduction strategies and monitor progress. Over the next five years, the world needs a concentrated push to measure the quantity of food loss and waste in a more consistent way so that data is comparable.</p><h4>10. Advance the research agenda.</h4><p>Public and private research institutions have an important role, helping answer questions that will allow the world to refine strategies for reducing food loss and waste. These are questions like: Which solutions are showing the best return on investment? What technologies are most promising? What can behavioral science tell us about how to shift social norms when it comes to food waste? And what types of infrastructure do farmers in low-income countries need to reduce on-farm and near-farm losses? </p>
There Are Enormous Benefits to Reducing Food Loss and Waste<p>Successfully halving food loss and waste would bring enormous benefits. It would close the gap between food needed in 2050 and food available in 2010 by more than 20 percent. It would avoid the need to convert an area the size of Argentina into agricultural land. And it would lower greenhouse gas emissions by 1.5 gigatons per year by 2050, an amount more than the current energy and industry related emissions of Japan.</p><p>The size of the prize is huge. So, too, must be the action to seize it.</p>
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When it comes to creating waste, no one tops the U.S. And when it comes to recycling waste, well, the U.S. is one of the worst, according to a new analysis by the English risk management firm Verisk Maplecroft.
The numbers for the outsized contribution to the global waste crisis by the U.S. are staggering. The U.S. makes up only four percent of the world's population, but produces 12 percent of the world's global waste. By contrast, China and India make up more than 36 percent of the world's population and produce 27 percent of global municipal solid waste, as The Guardian reported.
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By Genevieve Belmaker and Joseph Charpentier
Throughout 2018, forests continued to be threatened and destroyed. From the Amazon, to the Congo Basin, to the Mekong Delta and scores of places in between—journalists reporting for Mongabay filed hundreds of stories about the world's forests.
Although the significance of any one story is difficult to gauge in the short-term, several Mongabay reports from 2018 stood out. These pieces dealt with illegal timber trafficking, advances in technology-based environmental protections and human rights protections for the people doing environment-defense work—formal and informal.
- Wings of Paradise: Drawing Attention to Rainforest Destruction ›
- Study: Children Have Better Nutrition When They Live Near Forests ›
By Tim Radford
There is only one Earth, but human growth is ensuring that it carries steadily more passengers. And that leaves less and less room for humanity's companions on board the planet.
The Nile lechwe is an antelope that lives in the swamps of Ethiopia and South Sudan. Its Linnaean name is Kobus megaceros and it stands a meter high (approximately 3.3 feet) at the shoulders so you couldn't miss it. Except that you could.