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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
September has arrived, summer vacation season is over and it's time to get stuff done — not just for the month ahead but for the future of the planet.
The Green New Deal:<p>To start off our list, this month brings not one but two books about the need for a Green New Deal.</p><p>First up, <em>Shock Doctrine</em> author Naomi Klein offers us <a href="https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/On-Fire/Naomi-Klein/9781982129910" target="_blank"><em>On Fire: The (Burning) Case for a Green New Deal</em></a><em>. </em>This collection of new and previously published reports examines the state of the environment around the world, ranging from the Great Barrier Reef to the Vatican. And as you'd expect from a firebrand like Klein, this impassioned, justice-oriented book presents a call for immediate transformation of the systems that have produced the climate crisis (and so many other crises along the way).</p><p>Taking a slightly different path, economic theorist Jeremy Rifkin brings us <a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250253217" target="_blank"><em>The Green New Deal</em></a>, a cautionary tale that warns the world economy (if not the world itself) will fall apart in under ten years if we don't take immediate action to mothball extractive energy technologies. Subtitled "Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth," Rifkin's book serves as a call for world governments to decarbonize their economies, post-haste.</p>
Wildlife and Conservation:<p><em><a href="https://www.bloomsbury.com/us/the-missing-lynx-9781472957344/" target="_blank">The Missing Lynx: The Past and Future of Britain's Lost Mammals</a> </em>by Ross Barnett — Eurasian lynx were wiped out in Britain 1,300 years ago, but there's now an effort to bring them back to their old stomping grounds. Could other species, even megafauna, soon follow? Barnett look at the lynx and other extinct British species to see what we've lost following their disappearance from the ecosystem and what we might gain from rewilding projects. Along the way, he asks if these types of projects should even be conducted at all. That's a timely, important question in this era when we're even talking about brining extinct species like the mammoth back to life.</p><p><a href="https://us.orcabook.com/Gone-is-Gone-P11995.aspx" target="_blank"><em>Gone Is Gone: Wildlife Under Threat</em></a> by Isabelle Groc — Aimed at teenage readers, this profusely illustrated and thoroughly researched book looks at <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/endangered-species" rel="noopener noreferrer">endangered species</a> around the world — and what we can do to help them. Conservation icon Jane Goodall provides the foreword. (For juvenile readers, check out a similarly themed book out this month: <a href="https://www.runningpress.com/titles/louise-mcnaught/survival/9780762496396/" target="_blank"><em>Survival</em></a> by artist Louise McNaught and writer Anna Claybourne.)</p><p><a href="https://shop.nationalgeographic.com/products/national-geographic-the-photo-ark-vanishing" target="_blank"><em>Vanishing: The World's Most Vulnerable Animals</em></a> by Joel Sartore — Critically endangered and extinct-in-the-wild species get the spotlight in this stunning, 400-page photography book, the latest in Sartore's "Photo Ark" project for <em>National Geographic</em>. This could be your last chance to see many of these species, so take some time to linger on each image and reflect on the very real faces of impending extinction.</p>
Climate Change:<p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374712525" target="_blank"><em>We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast</em></a> by Jonathan Safran Foer — If we want to fight climate change, we (individually and collectively) need to put down the breakfast sausages and rethink many of our other agricultural products. A stylishly written and thought-provoking book from the author of <em>Everything Is Illuminated</em> and <em>Eating Animals</em>.</p><p><a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9780374718527" target="_blank"><em>The Geography of Risk: Epic Storms, Rising Seas, and the Cost of America's Coasts</em></a> by Gilbert M. Gaul — Hoo boy, the coastal destruction coming our way due to climate change and <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/endangered-species">sea-level rise</a> is going to be <em>expensive</em>…and taxpayers will carry the costs. Gaul, a Pulitzer Prize-winner, recounts the history of coastal development (or over-development, to be precise) and lays out the case for changing the way we regulate and subsidize risky construction.</p>
Activism and Environmental Justice:<p><a href="https://ecwpress.com/products/whose-water-is-it" target="_blank"><em>Whose Water Is It, Anyway? Taking Water Protection Into Public Hands</em></a> by Maude Barlow — One of the world's most notable water-justice activists provides a step-by-step guide to help communities keep themselves from going dry due to the actions of irresponsible companies and governments. (Check out our <a href="https://therevelator.org/barlow-water-privatization/" target="_blank">interview with Barlow</a>.)</p><p><a href="https://btlbooks.com/book/unearthing-justice" target="_blank"><em>Unearthing Justice: How to Protect Your Community From the Mining Industry</em></a> by Joan Kuyek — Covering everything from how to stop a new mining project to figuring out how to clean up an abandoned mine, this important book offers activists a primer for taking on all manner of extractive industries that can harm human health and the environment.</p><p><a href="https://www.rutgersuniversitypress.org/salmon-and-acorns-feed-our-people/9780813584195" target="_blank"><em>Salmon and Acorns Feed Our People: Colonialism, Nature and Social Action</em></a> by Kari Marie Norgaard — A sociological look at North American colonialism, focusing on the Karuk Tribe of northern California and their political struggles for environmental justice and food sovereignty.</p>
And Two More for Good Measure:<p><a href="http://politybooks.com/bookdetail/?isbn=9780745687391" target="_blank"><em>Waste</em></a> by Kate O'Neill — A simply titled book about a very complex issue: What do we do with all of our <em>stuff</em>? From <a href="http://www.ecowatch.com/tag/food-waste" rel="noopener noreferrer">food waste</a> to plastic recycling to the remnants of our ubiquitous electronics, O'Neill examines the politics and future of what we throw away.</p><p><a href="https://islandpress.org/books/rainforest" target="_blank"><em>Rainforest: Dispatches From Earth's Most Vital Frontlines</em></a> by Tony Juniper — A gorgeous, thoughtful and increasingly necessary book examining the roles that rainforests around the world play in regulating our planetary systems. Juniper, a noted environmentalist who has spent decades working on rainforest conservation, devotes a good portion of this book to the threats that human-caused fires pose to these essential ecosystems — a timely topic, to say the least.</p><p>That's our list for this month, but don't stop here: You can find dozens of other recent eco-books in the <a href="https://therevelator.org/tag/revelator-reads/" target="_blank">"Revelator Reads" archive</a>.</p>
Protecting the land of highest priority for biodiversity conservation also delivers significant, life-sustaining services and income to the world’s most impoverished people, according to a new study published this month in the journal, BioScience. Yet conservation efforts and poverty alleviation efforts are both at risk of failing, since this ‘natural capital’ is grossly undervalued in the global marketplace.
The ground-breaking study, Global Biodiversity Conservation and the Alleviation of Poverty, was led by a team from Conservation International, and co-authored by scientists at NatureServe, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
The scientists analyzed the value of benefits the world’s poorest people receive from priority areas for biodiversity conservation. They assessed a broad range of ‘ecosystem services’, the benefits people receive from natural habitats—from local benefits including crop pollination, foods, medicines, and clean, fresh water, to global benefits such as climate regulation.
Dr. Will Turner, lead author and vice president for Conservation International, emphasized the strong correlations his team discovered, showing the high value of effectively managing the stocks of natural capital to ease poverty—the world’s top conservation priorities (less than a quarter of Earth’s land surface) provide over half (56-57 percent) of the world’s ecosystem service value, directly supporting the world’s poorest people, who generally struggle to survive on less than one dollar a day.
“What the research clearly tells us is that conserving the world’s remaining biodiversity isn’t just a moral imperative, it is a necessary investment for lasting economic development. But in many places where the poor depend on these natural services, we are dangerously close to exhausting them, resulting in lasting poverty,” said Turner.
The study also found that when all 17 ecosystem services they examined are totaled, the benefits of these areas are more than triple (326 percent) the costs of conserving them.
“We have always known that biodiversity is foundational to human well-being, but we now have a strong case that ecosystems specifically located in the world’s biodiversity hotspots and high-biodiversity wilderness areas also provide a vital safety net for people living in poverty," said Dr. Russell Mittermeier, president of Conservation International and a co-author of the paper. “Protecting these places is essential not only to safeguard life on earth but also to support the impoverished, ensure continued broad access to nature’s services, and meet the U.N. Millennium Development Goals.”
The scientists analyzed four different scenarios for the links between biodiversity conservation and human poverty—(1) potential ecosystem services, the range of services that nature provides whether or not people use them; (2) realized ecosystem services, which are directly available to local, downstream or global populations; (3) essential services, representing the immediate and critical benefits available to poor individuals (wood for shelter, water for drinking, etc.); and (4) essential services with transfers, or those which compensate local stewards of natural resources with market or incentive mechanisms.
In the last scenario—transfers of benefits from ecosystem services—the researchers reported that markets and other financial mechanisms that provide compensation to local populations who take on the responsibility of protecting and sustainably managing nature at its source (such as Payments for Ecosystem Services or Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation) have the potential to provide a 50 percent increase in benefits to poor communities, delivering up to an additional half trillion USD per year to the people who need it most.
To put this in context, the scientists calculated that if the value generated by ecosystem services to local people were distributed effectively and equitably, it would exceed $1 per-person per-day for nearly one-third of the world’s poorest people (331 million of an estimated 1.1 billion living in poverty).
“Developed and developing economies cannot continue to ask the world’s poor to shoulder the burden of protecting these globally important ecosystem services for the rest of the world’s benefit, without compensation in return,” added Turner. “This is exactly what we mean when talk about valuing natural capital. Nature may not send us a bill, but its essential services and flows, both direct and indirect, have concrete economic value.”
Co-author Dr. Claude Gascon, executive vice president of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation said, “This paper clearly shows that the natural world provides huge benefits to humanity by contributing to the well being of local and global communities. Moreover, areas of high biodiversity importance are disproportionately critical in providing these benefits and should therefore be a high priority for protection.”
“The study also demonstrates that the collection of biodiversity data yields great benefit,” said Tom Brooks, chief scientist at NatureServe. “Not only in guiding conservation in its own right, but also—when analyzed alongside socio-economic datasets—in informing policy across the board.”
Addressing gaps that still remain in the science, Turner added, “Is natural capital alone sufficient to alleviate poverty? The answer is no. Our existing information of the value of ecosystem services is grossly insufficient, and we have much work ahead of us to quantify these services. But the magnitude of synergies between priority biodiversity conservation areas and poverty alleviation goals is so large, that we really must work on them together.”
Mittermeier concluded, “We have learned a lot in understanding how ecosystem services flow to people, but in many ways, the world’s economic compass is broken—we are undervaluing and overspending our planet’s natural capital. That is why it is so important for decision-makers to integrate conservation of nature as a critical component of economic and poverty-alleviation policies this decade. ”
For more information, click here.
For more information about the methodology or specific findings of this research, download the full text of the paper by clicking here.
Conservation International (CI)—Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the long term well-being of people. Founded in 1987 and marking its 25th anniversary in 2012, CI has headquarters in the Washington DC area, and 900 employees working in nearly 30 countries on four continents, plus 1,000+ partners around the world. For more information, click here, or on Facebook or Twitter.
NatureServe—NatureServe is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to provide the scientific basis for effective conservation action. NatureServe represents an international network of biological inventories-known as natural heritage programs or conservation data centers-operating in all 50 U.S. states, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean. The objective scientific information about species and ecosystems developed by NatureServe is used by all sectors of society-conservation groups, government agencies, corporations, academia, and the public-to make informed decisions about managing our natural resources. For more information, click here.
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF)—The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation is made up of 80 professional staff in four offices across the country: Washington, D.C.; St. Paul, MN; Portland, OR; and San Francisco, CA.Our Board of Directors is made up of 30 members, all confirmed by the White House. Learn more about the people at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation by clicking here.