By Brent Loken
Natural ecosystems, such as forests, grasslands and oceans, do a pretty good job of storing carbon and supporting biodiversity.
It's therefore no surprise that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) – actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, for the benefit of people and nature – are being widely discussed by NGOs, multi-stakeholder platforms and coalitions of countries as "win-win" solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. But implementing NbS alone is not enough. Their success or failure ultimately depends on the extent to which the world transitions to healthier, more sustainable planet-based diets.
The connection between NbS and dietary patterns comes down to land. Land-use has generally been considered a local environmental issue, but it is becoming a force of global importance and may be the single most pressing environmental issue of our day. Nature-positive farming methods are often promoted as a way to feed humanity while reducing the environmental impact of food production. This includes sequestering more carbon in the soils and above-ground biomass such as trees, supporting biodiversity through wildlife corridors or riparian buffers, and reducing inputs such as nitrogen or pesticides. Yet even these types of NbS will drive an increase in demand for land if trends in food consumption patterns continue.
Food for Thought
The OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook estimates that rising national GDPs will drive an increase in global meat consumption of 12% by 2030, with continued growth until 2050. Such increased demand would nearly double food-related greenhouse gas emissions and preclude any chance of keeping the global temperature increase to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius. This increase in demand for meat will also continue to drive deforestation in the tropics, with devastating consequences for biodiversity.
We also need land to plant trees – and we need to plant lots of them. Tree planting has been promoted as another important NbS because trees can absorb and store greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, which is critical in our fight against climate change. In several studies, reforestation is offered as the most promising solution for storing carbon, including the potential to store up to 200 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon – two-thirds of all the carbon released into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution – but only if a trillion trees are planted. This sounds great; however, feeding 10 billion people by 2050 requires that we figure out where we can expand the land needed to sequester carbon and reverse biodiversity loss, while guaranteeing food security.
Despite the global call for reforestation, we continue to deforest our planet. Between 2004 and 2017, an area of forest roughly the size of Morocco was lost, primarily in the tropics and sub-tropics. The biggest cause is agricultural expansion, in particular for cattle ranching in areas like the Amazon, Gran Chaco, Cerrado and Eastern Australia. There will only be enough land for reforestation at scale if we halt agricultural expansion and reduce the amount of land currently used to produce food. Again, this is largely dependent on changing what we eat.
A global shift to diets that contain a larger proportion of plant-based foods relative to animal-source foods could release enough agricultural land to sequester 5 Gt to 10 Gt of CO2-equivalent per year if this land was restored to native vegetation. This finding is consistent with several studies, including one that determined that a shift to plant-based diets has the potential to sequester 332 Gt to 574 Gt CO2, an amount equivalent to 99-163% of the CO2 emissions budget consistent with a 55% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Global carbon sequestration potential for current diets, those recommended by National Dietary Guidelines and others. WWF
No Magic Fix
There are already many efforts underway to implement NbS. For instance, the Global Future Council on Nature-Based Solutions is building support to "unlock more finance and catalyze meaningful action to enable a nature-positive economy." The WWF Global Grasslands and Savannahs Initiative is elevating the importance of these often overlooked biomes to ensure that the pursuit of NbS and other activities doesn't drive more loss of grassland ecosystems, while the 1t.org initiative aims to plant a trillion trees. These are but a few examples of important global efforts to implement NbS. However, these efforts must also be accompanied with a renewed emphasis on dietary change to ensure a significant reduction in overall demand for land for food production.
There is no magic "fix" to widespread adoption of healthy and sustainable diets. It requires hard work, political will and resources. There are some lessons, however, that can be drawn from past global transformations.
The first lesson is that no single actor or breakthrough is likely to catalyze systems change. Systems change will require actors at all scales and sectors engaged and working toward a shared set of goals. Secondly, science and evidence-gathering are keys to change, but lack of evidence must not be an excuse to delay action. The third lesson is that the full range of policy levers will be needed. It won't be enough to rely mainly on soft policy approaches, such as education campaigns or behavioral change initiatives. This must also be accompanied by regulatory or fiscal measures to ensure widespread adoption of healthy and sustainable diets.
It has been recently noted that achieving success in the climate crisis is like playing chess and requires "seeing the whole board." The same analogy works for the food system. Too often, and by far too many, diets are considered as pawns in the global game of food system transformation – the least significant pieces on the board. But in fact, pawns are the soul of the game and how they are arranged depends whether the game is won or lost.
The same holds true for diets. Without changing what we eat, we can't deliver a thriving future for people and planet. We ignore this strategy at our peril. It's time to realize the power of planet-based diets.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
By Andrea Germanos
As the World Health Organization stresses the need for continued measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the face of a global rise in cases, reporting out Tuesday spotlights a new coalition warning that another global pandemic will surely come barring investment in measures to address the root causes of zoonotic disease outbreaks.
"The Covid-19 vaccines will help rescue us from this current mess, but it won't do a thing to protect us from the next pandemic," Aaron Bernstein of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health told The Guardian.
"Only with actions that stop emerging infections where they start can we end our ill-fated game of Russian roulette with pathogens," he said.
Harvard Chan is part of the Preventing Pandemics at the Source coalition, which brings together a number of public health experts and environmental organizations. Other coalition partners include Harvard's Global Health Institute, EcoHealth Alliance, and Health in Harmony.
As The Guardian reported:
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 is thought to have jumped from wild bats to humans and about two-thirds of diseases that infect humans start in other species, including the influenza, HIV, Zika, West Nile, and Ebola viruses. The increasing destruction of nature by farming, logging, and the wild animal trade has brought people and their livestock into closer contact with wildlife and led to a great increase in diseases crossing from animals to people in recent decades.
Simply put, the coronavirus crisis should come as no surprise; "it is something we helped create," the group says.
"In truth, we knew that a pandemic was coming, but we as a global community still failed to take actions to prevent it or adequately prepare for it," the coalition says on its website. "As a result, we are facing a worldwide health emergency of epic proportions along with a global economic crisis and massive human suffering."
The "broken relationship with nature" has made similar public heath crises, like MERS and Ebola, more frequent, and there is "a high risk that we will make the same mistake again."
The group points to research showing that "more than 335 emerging infectious disease outbreaks were reported worldwide from 1940 to 2004—over 50 per decade."
Humanity must seize this moment to undergo a transformation enabling a recognition of our intertwined relationship with nature to avoid another deadly and economically crippling pandemic, the coalition asserts.
To effect that change, the coalition proposes three broad steps. Among them is the creation of a "Prevention at the Source Policy Taskforce," which the group bills as a transdisciplinary body that would craft and endorse a set of recommendations to "push for bold, creative, and actionable policies that will be truly successful in preventing spillover, while also being forward-thinking enough to anticipate and mitigate risks and unintended repercussions."
A "Global Action Fund for Pandemic Prevention" would further prevention by financing "a pipeline of existing prevention solutions" and a search for new solutions.
Rounding out the solution blueprint is a proposed global campaign to boost public knowledge about pandemic prevention.
"A mindset shift is needed in governments around the world so that prevention is seen as a top political priority, alongside health systems preparedness. Influencing public opinion on a topic is one of the most effective advocacy tools that can help achieve this shift," the group said.
The coalition directed its focus last month to congressional leaders in the U.S.
In an open letter, the group called for "far more leadership and investment regarding pandemic prevention."
"If Covid-19 has made one thing clear, it is that the cost of even the boldest initiative to prevent future pandemics is orders of magnitude less than the price we pay once a pandemic occurs," they told lawmakers.
As such, the coalition said that coronavirus relief funds should include "a significant level of new funds" for programs that help prevent pandemics at the source. Specific measures they detailed included the creation of the proposed Global Fund for Pandemic Prevention, with an initial $2.5 billion commitment.
"'Building back better' also means enhancing global health security, which must include U.S. leadership and investments to prevent pandemics at the source," the group wrote.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Kimberly Nicole Pope
During this year's Davos Agenda Week, leaders from the private and public sectors highlighted the urgent need to halt and reverse nature loss. Deliberate action on the interlinked climate and ecological crises to achieve a net-zero, nature-positive economy is paramount. At the same time, these leaders also presented a message of hope: that investing in nature holds the key to ensuring economic and social prosperity and resilience.
2021 will be a critical year to ensure a net zero, nature-positive future as world leaders come together for several key events and negotiations related to climate and nature. Ensuring a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is also essential to ensure a prosperous and resilient future for humankind.
In honor of UN World Wildlife Day on March 3 and to provide inspiration for the important year ahead, seven members of the Champions for Nature community – which is leading the way towards a nature positive future by 2030 – have shared what they are reading that is giving them motivation to build a better world for people and planet.
Small Ideas to Change the World – Cyril Dion
Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica
Cyril Dion invites us to "change stories to change history." The challenge of climate change for what it is, to change the history of humanity, where each person counts and each action, big or small, counts. As it should be in an interconnected world, we dream of more solidarity.
A Stone Sat Still – Brendan Wenzel
M Sanjayan, Chief Executive Officer, Conservation International
Our 19-month-old daughter would have it no other way. Brendan Wenzel's A Stone Sat Still has been read 600 times in our home during lockdown. Even so we still turn the pages with unhurried pleasure. We linger on its dreamy, dusky illustrations and its spring-water clear prose.
Each time we read it we fall in love with a new way of seeing nature; when viewed in different lights and at different heights, nature becomes the source of endless possibilities. For a grinding and tragic pandemic, a reminder of the value of nature and the importance of place is the perfect antidote.
The Essentials of Theory 'U' – Otto Scharmer
Cherie Nursalim, Vice-Chairman, Giti Group
"U" is a movement. "U" is a philosophy of "seeing" and "sensing" our system. "U" is a way of letting go and letting a new "U" emerge. "U" enables "ego" to "eco system shift." Otto lays out and synthesizes the core essences of his decades of practice with corporates, civil society and governments around the world in integrating science arts and consciousness. This is to me a must-read book and offers a pathway to happiness by bridging social, ecological and spiritual divides (Tri Hita Karana ways to Happiness in Balinese) aligned with UN SDGs.
Stones of Silence – George Schaller
Malik Amin Aslam Khan, Federal Minister of Climate Change and Adviser to the Prime Minister, Pakistan
The Himalayan travelogue by one of the world's leading conservationists searching for an encounter with one of the most elusive creatures on the planet – the mystical snow leopard – is what I am currently reading. The book is both a celebration of nature, as it beautifully penetrates and unravels the myth around the "mountain ghost," and an avid description of the spirituality residing in the vast emptiness of the mighty Himalayan landscapes.
George Schaller, the author of Stones of Silence (1980), is the person who, in the early 70's, inspired the creation of Pakistan's iconic Khunjerab National Park, which today conserves one of the world's largest populations of the snow leopard, Markhors, Himalayan Ibex and Marco Polo Sheep and who, a few months back, during COVID-19 quarantine supported the start of Pakistan's Protected Areas Initiative. As the world looks for a nature-positive recovery, the book is a must-read for all who yearn to taste a bit of nature – Himalayan magic mixed with the mystery of the snow leopard.
I quote from the book: "Wisps of clouds swirled around, transforming her into a ghost creature, part myth and part reality… Balanced precariously on a ledge and bitterly cold, I too stayed, unwilling to disrupt the moment… Then the snow fell more thickly, and dreamlike, the cat slipped away as if she had never been."
The Untold Story of the World's Leading Environmental Institution – Maria Ivanova
Inger Andersen, United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme
I highly recommend The Untold Story of the World's Leading Environmental Institution by Maria Ivanova. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the genesis and evolution of global environmental governance. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the UN Environment Program in 2022, this book provides valuable insights into how UNEP – and, indeed, environmental multilateralism – must rise to the challenges of a planet in crisis and lead us towards sustainable development.
Reality Bubble – Ziya Tong
Marco Lambertini, Director-General, WWF International
The Reality Bubble by Ziya Tong is a provocative book about humanity's main blind spots: what we didn't evolve to see, and what we should but don't see. The blindness, often convenient, of modern society. A reminder of our limitations, and the dangers of ignoring the impact we are having on the health and balance of the planet we should call home. A particularly important reminder in a year when only humanity's full awareness of our role in the natural world can trigger the deep cultural revolution in our minds and systemic change in our economy to avert disaster.
Losing Earth – Nathaniel Rich
Svein Tore Holsether, President & CEO, Yara International
The essence of this book is that we knew but didn't act. Nathaniel Rich tells the history of fighting climate change, and how the Charney report already in 1979 predicted the devastating effects of global warming. Based on this, I have used every opportunity to tell people that we have been sitting on the fence for four decades and have less than a decade to fix it. We don't have the time anymore to work in isolation, only collaboration can save us. The book was an eye-opener about how we have failed, how we can't afford to fail now, and how we must have a science- and fact-based way of working.
Reposted with permission from World Economic Forum.
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By Brett Wilkins
As the United Nations on Thursday released a report on the triple emergency of the climate crisis, the destruction of wildlife and habitats, and deadly pollution, the head of the world body sounded the alarm on what he called humanity's "senseless and suicidal war on nature."
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report, entitled Making Peace With Nature: A scientific blueprint to tackle the climate, biodiversity, and pollution emergencies, was introduced by Secretary-General António Guterres at U.N. headquarters in New York.
"I want to be clear. Without nature's help, we will not thrive or even survive," said Guterres. "For too long, we have been waging a senseless and suicidal war on nature. The result is three interlinked environmental crises—climate disruption, biodiversity loss, and pollution—that threaten our viability as a species."
"They are caused by unsustainable production and consumption," he added. "Human well-being lies in protecting the health of the planet. It's time to reevaluate and reset our relationship with nature. This report can help us do so."
⚠️ Humanity is waging a senseless war on nature. This trio of crises: #ClimateChange, biodiversity loss & pollutio… https://t.co/1uSTdAvcdl— UN Environment Programme (@UN Environment Programme)1613664429.0
Among the report's recommendations are carbon taxes; a redirection in the nearly $5 trillion in annual worldwide subsidies to sectors including fossil fuels, mining, industrial agriculture, and fishing "toward alternative livelihoods and new business models;" and re-envisioning indicators of economic performance so that the value of mitigating the climate emergency, preserving ecosystems, and reducing pollution count—not just GDP.
Additionally, the report asserts that "changes in patterns of consumption are critical to transforming food, water, and energy systems and can be achieved through altered norms in business and cultural practices."
"Changing the dietary habits of consumers, particularly in developed countries, where consumption of energy- and water-intensive meat and dairy products is high, would reduce pressure on biodiversity and the climate system," the report states. "These habits are a function of individual choices but are also influenced by advertising, food and agricultural subsidies, and excess availability of cheap food that provides poor nutrition."
Robert Watson, the report's lead author, told Al Jazeera that "vested interests" were thwarting many of the policies and actions needed to make peace with nature.
"We have subsidies for agriculture, for energy, for fossil fuels that are perverse," said Watson. "They encourage the use of fossil fuels. They encourage the use of bad agricultural practices."
"If we can get the business community to work with governments around the world, I'm optimistic we can start to move in the right direction," he added.
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
At the beginning of quarantine, the nine-time Grammy nominee, SZA, was releasing new songs because she was "bored" and "losing my mind," she told BAZAAR.com. But new music wasn't the only endeavor the singer-songwriter had underway.
On Wednesday, SZA along with the nonprofit organization American Forests and the TAZO tea company announced their partnership to fight for climate justice, according to a press release. Together they are launching the TAZO Tree Corps, a paid workforce that will plant trees in disadvantaged neighborhoods and underprivileged communities of color, BAZAAR.com reported.
"I can't tell you how many children I've met in the urban community, from all different colors of Black and Brown, that really just are not comfortable being in nature," the 30-year-old told BAZAAR.com, "I think the biggest takeaway from this is that quality of life and racism are so directly connected."
The TAZO Tree Corps will hire 25 fellows who will be trained in climate justice, tree planting and maintenance. The fellows will be locally hired from communities in Richmond, Virginia; Minneapolis; the Bronx; San Francisco and Detroit, HuffPost reported, specifically "where historical discriminating zoning practices have left many low-income communities and communities of color with less green space," according to a statement.
But the tree planting initiative recognizes more than just the value green spaces add to urban communities. It also recognizes "that environmental racism and classic racism are directly connected, and it's probably one of the worst aspects of inequality," SZA told BAZAAR.com.
While trees in the U.S. absorb 17.4 million tons of air pollution, improving air and water quality, communities most impacted by pollution carry a disproportionate burden from the climate crisis because they are situated near chemical treatment plants, highways or heavy polluters, according to a statement.
"Trees do more than beautify a neighborhood – they're life-and-death infrastructure for health equity and climate justice," Jad Daley, president and CEO of American Forests said in a statement.
The climate problem is increasingly being recognized as a racial justice problem. For example, a study published in 2019 found that on average, Black and Hispanic communities were burdened by a disproportionate amount of air pollution than whites. Planting trees can alleviate some of the burdens. But SZA and her partners are not the first ones to introduce tree-planting initiatives in marginalized communities.
In 2014 a local environmental non-profit organization, The Greening of Detroit, partnered with the city to plant 1,000 to 5,000 new trees each year, working in neighborhoods in Detroit with painful memories of environmental racism. When the city and organization sought support from these neighborhoods, they "met stiff resistance: Roughly a quarter of the 7,500 residents they approached declined offers to have new trees planted in front of their homes," Bloomberg CityLab reported.
To better understand why some residents resisted the trees even if they knew the benefits they could have in their neighborhoods, researchers reached out to residents. Following the 1967 race rebellion, some residents remembered the city of Detriot cutting down elm trees in their neighborhoods and using helicopters to spray the toxic DDT from above to better "surveil their neighborhoods," Bloomberg CityLab reported. These memories left them wary of plans to plant the trees back.
"It's not that they didn't trust the trees; they didn't trust the city," Bloomberg CityLab reported. Some of this mistrust also came from the fact that these tree-planting groups were organized by outsiders of their neighborhoods, coming from other parts of Detroit, the University of Vermont wrote in a statement.
Lessons learned from the 2014 project, may be informing the TAZO Tree Corps, which plans to hire locals that are directly and disproportionately affected by environmental racism.
"There's something about them creating job opportunity in the disproportionately affected communities that makes me very attracted to the whole situation," SZA told BAZAAR.com. By locally employing people to plant trees "you're actually insourcing, rather than outsourcing, from the direct community, then creating value," she added.
Apply to be a part of the TAZO Tree Corps here.
Billboard caught up with SZA to discuss her role with TAZO Tree Corps, maintaining her creative balance, positive affirmations, and the making of "Good Days."
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For those who have dedicated their lives to heal and protect the planet, how do you honor that sacrifice after death? This is a question that has been on the minds of environmental activists for decades. Both cremations and traditional burials cause environmental damage that is not easy to reconcile. However, that is all changing with Recompose, a Seattle company that has recently opened the nation's first human composting funeral home, according to the Seattle Times.
Recompose offers an innovative funeral service that turns human remains into healthy soil. This service gives Washington state and surrounding residents a chance to make a positive environmental change through their death as well as their life.
In 2019, Governor Jay Inslee passed a bill legalizing composting as a form of human burial. This radical legislation — the first of its kind in the nation — was first inspired by Recompose's founder Katrina Spade and her idea for composting as an eco-conscious burial process. Spade and her neighbor Senator Jamie Pedersen pushed for the bill ardently, and in 2019 were finally successful.
Nearly a decade of research and development went into the founding of Recompose. Their website explains, recomposition "uses the process of 'natural organic reduction' to gently convert human remains into soil." Those kept at the Recompose funeral home are given an optional service and are then placed in mausoleum-like chambers where the composting process begins.
Katrina Spade, like many environmental activists, was frustrated with the limited options for environmentally friendly burial services. Due to the embalming process that most funeral homes use, burial sites are a major source of groundwater pollution. One of the most common embalming chemicals, formaldehyde, is classified as a carcinogen. Prior to the 2019 bill, the only legal and eco-friendly burial options were natural burial sites. There are only 160 of these sites in the entire country, so for those who don't have access to one of those, eco-friendly options are non-existent.
Now, those in the Pacific Northwest have an option that saves an entire metric ton of CO2 in their burial process. While body pickup is only available in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties, the facility is accepting clients throughout the Northwest.
The entire service, including ceremony, obituary, death certificate, and transformation, is $5,500. After the composting process is complete, family members can choose to keep the soil or donate it to the Bells Mountain conservation forest. This forest restoration project welcomes family members to visit and see the real impact their loved one has made on the local environment.
Charlotte Bontrager, who was one of the first to take a deceased family member to Recompose, said about the process, "My mom was a very humble, loving person and would not want any kind of spotlight. But she'd be thrilled to know she was among this first group of pioneers."
Because of Katrina Spade and the Washington legislature's hard work, many more will have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution to the Earth in their passing. To learn more about the program and services, you can visit their website.
There are very few places that capture the essence of American beauty better than Yosemite National Park. Millions of people visit each year to explore its mountainous terrain, or to experience Yosemite's unique natural wonders such as the giant sequoia groves or the hundreds of waterfalls that nourish the protected landscape.
One such waterfall takes the mainstage in mid-February as the park's most popular winter attraction. Known as the "Firefall," or Horsetail Falls during the spring and summer months, this waterfall glows fiery red in the wintertime as the sunset reflects off its waters. However, to see it in 2021 you'll have to make reservations soon.
Starting February 8, Yosemite will put a reservation system in place for day use of the park. The park is taking extra steps to ensure social distancing protocols are followed and risks are minimized during COVID-19, and encourage visitors who want to see Firefall to book soon.
heyengel / iStock / Getty Images Plus
The expected viewing dates begin February 13th and end February 25th. Due to the short timeframe that the Firefall is visible, reservations are expected to book quickly.
For those unfamiliar with the Firefall, it is a bizarre and beautiful natural phenomenon that can only occur for two weeks out of the year. At sunset, the waterfall transforms from an icy shower to a glowing flame that appears to flow like lava from the heights of El Capitan. This occurs due to the unique angle of the waterfall against the sunset during mid-February.
Despite its massive appeal, the Firefall is actually quite elusive. In order for the illusion to occur, Horsetail Falls must be experiencing a clear Western sky, have enough snowfall the night before, and experience warm temperatures to melt the snow and sustain the waterfall. Due to the angle of the sunset against the waterfall, it can only occur for approximately two weeks in February, but a cloudy day or freezing temperatures can get in the way of the incredible display.
Not only are the Firefalls rare, but they're also short-lived. The sunset will only be at the right angle for five to ten minutes, giving visitors a very short window to observe. However, those who have witnessed the Firefall believe it is always worth the effort.
Yosemite's Firefall was first discovered in 1978 by photographer Galen Rowell. He was driving past Horsetail Falls at sunset, and witnessed the anomaly long enough to capture the first photos. After sharing them with a soon-to-be worldwide audience, Firefall became the #1 attraction at Yosemite during the month of February.
Since then, the natural wonder that occurs on Horsetail falls has become a global spectacle, coveted by photographers, artists, and nature enthusiasts alike. Thousands of people visit the park during mid-February each year solely to chase the elusive majesty of this waterfall at sunset.
Horsetail Fall is located over the eastern edge of El Capitan, which is not possible to reach by car. The closest parking is one and a half miles from the actual viewing site, so it is important to book your reservation and arrive early if you want to catch a glimpse of it at sunset.
Savannah Hasty is an environmental writer with more than six years of experience and has written thousands of articles for clients around the world. Her work focuses on environmental news, lifestyle content, and copywriting for sustainable brands. Savannah lives on the sunny coast of Florida and is inspired by this to play an active role in the preservation of the state's marine life and natural ecosystems.
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By Katherine Kornei
Clear-cutting a forest is relatively easy—just pick a tree and start chopping. But there are benefits to more sophisticated forest management. One technique—which involves repeatedly harvesting smaller trees every 30 or so years but leaving an upper story of larger trees for longer periods (60, 90, or 120 years)—ensures a steady supply of both firewood and construction timber.
To determine when this management practice first arose in Europe, researchers have analyzed oak construction timbers from historical buildings and archaeological sites dating from the 4th to 21st centuries. They spotted a characteristic tree ring pattern indicative of this technique in timber dating back to the 6th century. That was a surprise, the researchers noted, because this forest management practice shows up in historical documents beginning only in the 13th century.
A Pattern in the Rings
The coppice-with-standards management practice produces a two-story forest, said Bernhard Muigg, a dendrochronologist at the University of Freiburg in Germany. "You have an upper story of single trees that are allowed to grow for several understory generations."
That arrangement imprints a characteristic tree ring pattern in a forest's upper story trees (the "standards"): thick rings indicative of heavy growth, which show up at regular intervals as the surrounding smaller trees are cut down. "The trees are growing faster," said Muigg. "You can really see it with your naked eye."
Muigg and his collaborators characterized that dendrochronological pattern in 161 oak trees growing in central Germany, one of the few remaining sites in Europe with actively managed coppice-with-standards forests. They found up to nine cycles of heavy growth in the trees, the oldest of which was planted in 1761. The researchers then turned to a historical data set — more than 2,000 oak timbers from buildings and archaeological sites in Germany and France dating from between 300 and 2015 — to look for a similar pattern.
A Gap of 500 Years
The team found wood with the characteristic coppice-with-standards tree ring pattern dating to as early as the 6th century. That was a surprise, Muigg and his colleagues concluded, because the first mention of this forest management practice in historical documents occurred only roughly 500 years later, in the 13th century.
It's probable that forest management practices were not well documented prior to the High Middle Ages (1000–1250), the researchers suggested. "Forests are mainly mentioned in the context of royal hunting interests or donations," said Muigg. Dendrochronological studies are particularly important because they can reveal information not captured by a sparse historical record, he added.
These results were published in December in Scientific Reports.
"It's nice to see the longevity and the history of coppice-with-standards," said Ian Short, a forestry researcher at Teagasc, the Agriculture and Food Development Authority in Ireland, not involved in the research. This technique is valuable because it promotes conservation and habitat biodiversity, Short said. "In the next 10 or 20 years, I think we'll see more coppice-with-standards coming back into production."
In the future, Muigg and his collaborators hope to analyze a larger sample of historic timbers to trace how the coppice-with-standards practice spread throughout Europe. It will be interesting to understand where this technique originated and how it propagated, said Muigg, and there are plenty of old pieces of wood waiting to be analyzed. "There [are] tons of dendrochronological data."
Katherine Kornei is a freelance science journalist covering Earth and space science. Her bylines frequently appear in Eos, Science, and The New York Times. Katherine holds a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles.
This story originally appeared in Eos and is republished here as part of Covering Climate Now, a global journalism collaboration strengthening coverage of the climate story.
Toxins enter the body through what we eat, drink, breathe in, and process in any way. Once inside, toxins overtax our immune system and detoxification system and leave us more vulnerable to illness — not ideal during cold and flu season, and especially not this year during a pandemic — and make us age a little faster, too.
Fortunately, there are a lot of simple things you can do from the comfort of your own home to keep toxins out of your body, flush them out of your system faster, and boost your immunity all at the same time, says Dr. Bill Rawls, Medical Director of Vital Plan. He shares his top 10 strategies below.
1. Source Your Food Wisely
Try to stay away from packaged and processed foods that contain ingredients you can't pronounce, and instead reach for fresh food from natural sources. Aim to make vegetables more than 50% of your daily diet — their fiber is a great natural binder, and they're full of beneficial phytochemicals — and minimize your red meat consumption.
Also, whenever practical, choose organic over conventional products. That said, we know organic prices and accessibility can be an issue, so for help making strategic decisions, refer to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) "Dirty Dozen" and "Clean Fifteen" lists:
The Dirty Dozen:
(*While raisins aren't technically a fresh food, the EWG found that they are "one of the dirtiest produce commodities on the market — and even some organic raisins are contaminated.")
The Clean Fifteen
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
2. Consider Detoxifying and Immune-Boosting Herbs
There are a number of herbs and natural ingredients that can help support detoxification and immune health. Here are the ones at the top of Dr. Rawls' list:
Chlorella: This nutrient-rich freshwater algae binds to toxins so they can be eliminated from your body more efficiently. Chlorella works particularly well for withdrawing heavy metals. Pure chlorella can be purchased in the form of bulk powder, tablets, or capsules.
Milk Thistle: It's been used for thousands of years to support a healthy liver, the primary organ responsible for detoxification.
Dandelion: Known to help support liver function, research suggests dandelion helps promote the body's natural detoxification and elimination processes.
Bitters: Bitter flavors are important to digestion — they stimulate the release of the saliva, enzymes, and bile that help break down your food. Include bitter herbs and foods in each meal, or take a botanical extract that blends bitter herbs like dandelion root, burdock root, orange peel, and gentian root
Reishi mushroom: An extensively studied adaptogenic mushroom, reishi has exceptional immunomodulating and antiviral properties. It helps normalize inflammatory cytokines and promotes healthy immune response against threatening microbes.
Rhodiola: Another adaptogen, rhodiola improves stress tolerance by reducing fatigue, supporting energy levels, and improving tissue oxygenation.
Turmeric: This popular spice is well loved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Shilajit: An herbo-mineral adaptogen, shilajit has a long history of use in traditional Indian medicine for longevity and strength. It's also an immunomodulator with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties.
Gotu Kola: Best known for improving memory and mood, gotu kola is also great for promoting a normal response to inflammation, balancing stress hormones, and supporting circulation.
Vital Plan is a certified B Corporation — one of only eight supplement companies recognized for achieving the highest standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. If you make a purchase using the link above, EcoWatch may earn a commission.
3. Filter Your Water
Much of America's tap water has been shown to contain pollutants, so filtering what comes out of your kitchen sink is smart. To be sure you're using a filter that does the trick, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Look for a filter certified by NSF International or the Water Quality Association.
- Choose one that removes the contaminants in your water (check your local drinking water quality report to see what's present).
- Change your water filters on time.
4. Choose Safe and Effective Cleaning Supplies
When buying household cleaning products, don't bring home chemicals that could harm your health more than some of the microbes you're trying to get rid of. Fortunately, there are a number of products on the market that work safely; here are some ways to shop wisely:
- Look for the Green Seal, Ecologo, or Safer Choice (EPA) seals.
- Opt for fragrance-free options.
- Avoid triclosan and quaternary ammonium compounds or "quats." (One tactic is to choose products that don't advertise as "antibacterial.")
- Consult the EWG's list of safe and effective products for guarding against coronavirus.
5. Opt for Non-Toxic Beauty and Personal Care Products
There are a lot of claims made on beauty and self-care products these days, but words alone, like "natural," "organic," "non-toxic," "clean," "green," and "eco-friendly," don't mean a thing — they aren't backed by any sort of regulatory or certification processes. Instead, to find non-toxic products you trust, you have to do a little research.
- USDA Organic
- EWG Verified
- Made Safe
- NSF/ANSI 305
- Natural Products Association Certified
- Whole Foods Market Premium Body Care
6. Get Outside
One more reason to get outdoors beyond combatting cabin fever: The air in natural environments is generally much cleaner than indoor air. For one, outdoor air contains ⅔ less carbon dioxide, high levels of which negatively affect our productivity, sleep, and more.
Forest air in particular contains phytoncides, organic compounds emitted by trees and plants that have been shown to boost our immune system function, plus plants in general help neutralize toxic substances in the air. Forests, open spaces, and open water are also rich in negative ions, which reduce inflammation.
So take your pick of natural environs, and get out there as often as possible — while still maintaining at least 6 feet of distance between yourself and others, of course.
7. Bring Nature Indoors
Plants are natural air purifiers, so bringing some plants indoors can help clear the air in your home. Here's a list of the top 10 air-purifying plants to consider:
- Areca palm
- Lady palm
- Bamboo palm
- Rubber plant
- English ivy
- Dwarf date palm
- Boston fern
- Peace lily
8. Drive Less, Move More
Staying off the roads decreases air pollution, and the fact that many of us are driving less these days is noticeably improving air quality. If your commute is on hold, try to translate some of your usual travel time into getting more physical activity, or sneak in more movement between other normal routines.
Exercise improves circulation, oxygenates your tissues, and enhances the work of the lymphatic system through muscle contractions — all of which make it easier to move toxins out of your body.
9. Practice Forgiveness
Through the practice of gratitude, we stay centered and in the present moment. This allows us to move through situations from our heart. Take time to forgive someone or yourself for things in the past. When we forgive, we expand and open up to endless possibilities.
10. Quit a Bad Habit
Are you a smoker? Pack rat? Chronically sleep-deprived? In a bad relationship? Toxins come into our lives in many forms. Consider if you're participating in any unhealthy patterns or holding onto anything that no longer serves you, and then find a way to limit those things in your life.
Dr. Rawls is a licensed medical doctor in North Carolina and a leading expert in integrative health. He has extensive training in alternative therapies, and is the Medical Director of Vital Plan, a holistic health and herbal supplement company in Raleigh, NC.
Reposted with permission from Vital Plan.
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By Anne-Sophie Brändlin
If, this time last year, the world had been told it would spend much of the coming months in lockdown, few might have believed it. But that reality came, and it did so almost overnight, bringing with it a crashing end to the busy flow of life, which sees billions rushing from one appointment to the next without much time to think. Left to their own devices at home, people have had to find new ways to spend their time, and deal with anxiety and silence.
While some have taken to endurance sports in tiny spaces or been drawn to walk in nature or just breathe in fresh air, others have turned to practices like meditation, yoga, Tai Chi and shiatsu to calm their minds and decrease stress levels.
Seasoned practitioners believe these ancient mind and bodywork traditions offer an opportunity to better deal with crises such as the coronavirus pandemic. This doesn't only have a positive impact on our health and immune systems, but potentially on society and even the environment.
"These practices help to bring us into the present moment and help to connect us to the reality of the situation," said Jenny White, a British shiatsu practitioner who has been meditating for over two decades.
Creating an Awareness, One Breath at a Time
Though White says that doesn't mean living in constant state of bliss and harmony. Rather, it allows people to acknowledge why they might be feeling scared, overwhelmed, stressed or lonely. It can also prevent them from running away from those emotions and looking for distraction in alcohol, Netflix, food or spending sprees.
In short, White explains, traditions such as yoga and meditation help create an awareness of what is happening in our world and allow us to tackle difficult situations and our reactions to them.
"Our body response to big crisis situations, like climate change, and now the pandemic, is often to freeze, be numb and to run away," she said.
"The more we can connect with our body responses, the more we can tune into our own personal and collective responsibility to a crisis, whether it's the pandemic or climate change, without going into that trauma response."
The coronavirus pandemic and climate change are two of the biggest issues facing humanity at this point in history. Whether it's the global quest for a COVID-19 vaccine or the world pulling together to slash greenhouse gas emissions, solutions to both require an effort from the international community.
This is where the ancient Indian concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam comes in. Rooted in yoga, it means the world is one family and has to act as such. And in times of crisis, collaboration becomes more essential than ever.
"Yogis believe that all life is connected, that we are all one and should live in harmony with each other," said Alexander Bütow, who runs a yoga and meditation studio in Berlin.
"The problem is that many humans take themselves out of that and create divisions, groups, and start disconnecting — from themselves, from others, from the world around them. Once we stop this disconnect, we can overcome crises together."
'We Are Part of Nature'
He, like others who practice regularly, sees meditation and yoga as a means to slowing down, emptying our minds and calming our thoughts. And that, so the thinking goes, facilitates a connection not only to ourselves, but to the world around us.
"Every human being is intrinsically connected to every other human being and also to nature, animals, plants, everything on this planet. But you are often not aware of it because you are too busy with too many things. When that stops for a moment, when you calm down, you realize these connections," said A.G. Ramakrishnan, a professor for electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, who also researches in the fields of meditation and breathing exercises.
"The concept of yoga, for instance, is holistic. It teaches you that we can't live without others, we cannot live without animals, we cannot live without nature." Ramakrishnan continued.
Yet that, says Bütow, is not in keeping with the way we live.
"It has become a bad habit these days that we take ourselves out of nature. We are part of nature way more than we pretend to be. Nature is where we came from. But we have totally detached ourselves from that."
He says breathing exercises can help us reconnect, because through our breath we are in constant contact with the outside world.
"We just have to remember this connection, which will help us to see ourselves as part of nature."
Slowing Down to Help the Planet
For many, the pandemic has also brought our mortality into sharp relief. It has served as a reminder that life as we know it is susceptible to massive disruption.
In restricting what we can do, where we can go and how we can keep ourselves occupied, it has also made our worlds smaller, forced us not only to slow down, but in many cases to take a genuine pause. And that, says Jenny White, can reap rewards.
"Once you give yourself that time to pause and breathe, you will become kinder and softer and more understanding when it comes to your own shortcomings and difficulties. And this will make you more compassionate and understanding when it comes to other people and their needs and ultimately also our planet's needs."
Reposted with permission from Deutsche Welle.
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By Louise Chawla
As an environmental psychologist who works to improve young people's access to nature, I recently completed a review that brings two bodies of research together: one on connecting children and adolescents with nature, and the second on supporting healthy coping when they realize they are part of a planet in peril.
My review shows that children and adolescents benefit from living near nature and having adults in their lives who encourage free play and outdoor discovery. When they feel connected to nature, they are more likely to report good health and a sense of well-being, more likely to get high scores for creative thinking, and more inclined to show cooperative, helping behaviors. They are also more likely to say they are taking action to conserve nature, such as by feeding birds, saving energy and recycling.
On the flip side, lack of access to nature has adverse effects. For example, COVID-19 restrictions on travel and social gathering led more people to visit parks to escape stress and move freely. But some families don't have safe, attractive parks nearby, or their local parks are so heavily used that it's hard to maintain safe distances. Under these conditions, city families stuck indoors reported mounting stress and deteriorating behavior in their children.
My research literature review also shows that feeling connected with nature can bring difficult emotions as well as happiness and well-being. When young people are asked about their hopes and fears for the future, many describe environmental breakdown. For example, when a doctoral student I supervised asked 50 10- to 11-year-olds in Denver what the future would be like, almost three-quarters shared dystopic views:
"Everything will die out, and there will be less trees and less plants, and there will be less nature. It just won't be such a great Earth anymore."
"I feel sad because the animals are going to die."
"I feel sad because when I die I am probably gonna have a grandson or a great grandson by then and maybe them or their son or nephew is going to have to experience the end of the world."
Children who worry about the environment are likely to report that they are doing what they can to protect nature, but they almost always report individual actions like riding their bike to school or saving energy at home. Knowing that climate change and biodiversity loss are bigger problems than they can solve themselves can affect their mental health.
Fortunately, the research also shows some key ways adults can help children and teens work through these feelings and maintain hope that they – in alliance with others – can address environmental problems constructively.
1. Create Safe Opportunities to Share Emotions
When family, friends and teachers listen sympathetically and offer support, young people are more likely to feel hopeful that people's actions can make a positive difference. Opportunities to envision a promising future, plan pathways to get there and have hands-on experiences of working toward this goal also build hope.
2. Encourage Time Outdoors in Nature
Free time in nature and opportunities to develop comfort and confidence in nature are positive experiences in themselves; and by boosting well-being, providing time in nature can contribute to young people's resilience.
3. Build Community With Others Who Care for Nature
Meeting other people who love and care for nature affirms young people's own feelings of connection and shows them they're not alone in working for a better world. Learning individual actions that add up to making a difference, or joining collective efforts to improve the environment, simultaneously demonstrate a sense of connection with nature and commitment to its care.
4. Empower Their Ideas
It's important to treat young people as partners in addressing environmental problems in their families, schools, communities and cities. A boy who was part of a group of children who created climate action proposals for his city in the Mountain West summarized the benefits. After they presented their ideas to their city council and got approval to launch a tree-planting campaign, he noted, "There's something about it … getting together, creating projects, knowing each other, working together."
Research is clear: Children and young people need free time to connect with nature, but it's also important to support them when they struggle with the consequences of feeling part of a natural world that is currently at risk.
Louise Chawla is a Professor Emerita of Environmental Design, University of Colorado Boulder.
Disclosure statement: Louise Chawla is affiliated with the Children and Nature Network as a member of their Scientific Advisory Committee.
Reposted with permission from The Conversation.
By John R. Platt
These days many of us have a natural inclination to "doomscroll" — that constant refreshing of social media so we can gnash our teeth at the most recent bad news.
There's an alternative. Let's call it hopescrolling — the art and act of looking for beautiful things and important information to keep us inspired.
With the pandemic and election results still looming over our heads, here are 20 of our favorite nature- and environment-related Instagram accounts. May they fill your days with beauty and drive you to fight for the planet.
Some of the best photos from the app that helps scientists and everyday citizens keep track of the natural world.
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Our #FlashbackFriday Observation of the Day is this Beauveria locustiphila #fungus (and its #orthopteran host), seen in #Ecuador back in 2011 by lolavioleta! Have a collection of old nature photos? You can upload them to iNaturalist to get some ID help and contribute to our growing biodiversity database! See our Getting Started guide here: https://www.inaturalist.org/pages/getting+started • More details at: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/56811526 #nature #mycology #fungi #biodiversity #naturephotography #insects #fungiofinstagram #fungusphotography
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The famed National Geographic photographer is on a mission to capture the world's biodiversity before it disappears.
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This species may be known as the common octopus, but its nothing short of spectacular. A well studied species, researchers have found that this octopus is able to tell how bright an object is, distinguish between different shapes, and recognize patterns. They are also exceptionally clever, successfully removing screw-on lids from jars and even retrieving food from commercial lobster traps. Photo taken @gulfspecimenaquarium. #WorldOctopusDay #common #octopus #commonoctopus #clever #intelligent #tentacles #orange #PhotoArk #savetogether
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Everyday Climate Change
Six photographers team up to showcase the very real effects of climate change around the world.
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This is Amanda Perobelli @amandamperobelli taking over @everydayclimatechange Instagram this week and sharing my work about the Pantanal, the world’s largest wetland on fire, on assignment for Reuters with journalist Jake Spring Dorvalino Conceicao Camargo, 56, who works on a ranch, attempts to put out a fire with a tree branch Sweating from the effort, Camargo said he had never seen fires this bad. "Everything is suffering," he said. Camargo recalled navigating the waters as a child in boxy canoes. Back on the ranch where he works, he showed the farm's high-water mark - 70 centimeters (2.3 feet) off the ground - hewn into the post of a cattle corral. Even in a dry year it's typically about half that, he said. This year, the floods never came. Only a little bit of water pooled in a ditch nearby, he said. Now as water evaporates in the dry season, the Paraguay River that traverses the Pantanal has receded to its lowest point since 1973, according to Julia Arieira, a climate researcher at Brazil's Federal University of Espirito Santo. With Jake Spring, for Reuters Link for the full text and story in my bio @amandamperobelli #climatechange #globalwarming #climatecrisis #pantanal
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Virunga National Park
This park is famously home to mountain gorillas, but its account shows so much more.
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#ReptileAwarenessDay⠀ ⠀ Tree Agama Lizards are found around Rumangabo in the Maura Forest. This female Agama is likely to be part of a polygamous group. Reptiles play an important part in ecosystems as they are both the predator and prey.
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Cornell Lab of Ornithology
All birds, all the time.
We've all seen the documentaries, but there's a lot more photos and videos to enjoy through this account.
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Wasssup 🐸 #EarthCapture by @rainerarmbruster Despite its name, the European green toad is also found across Asia and North Africa. This particular toad, known as "the changeable toad", is capable of changing colour in response to light and temperature changes within its environment. . . . . #bbcearth #amphibians #toads #frogs #europeangreentoad #greentoad #reptilesofinstagram #reptilephotography #wildlife #wildlifephotography #naturephotography #amazinganimals #nature #naturelovers #earth #earthlovers
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Zoe Keller Art
One of The Revelator's favorite nature artists. (Check out our interview with Keller here.)
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LIGHTNING SPEED • Prompt 27 for #WildOctoberArt ⚡️ This prompt would be a really great opportunity to do some gesture drawings! In process drawing of a chameleon at the beginning of this post. Inspiration in this post from: @cincinnatizoo @paulnicklen via @sealegacy @chameleon_craze
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Among the world's best insect photographers — and an important entomologist to boot.
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Carls of Ohio
A groundhog that lives in a friend's backyard. Hey — urban biodiversity matters.
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the world may be on fire but a chubby groundhog can still enjoy a carrot in 2020 🥕🔥🚒 🔈 #groundhog #groundhogs #groundhogsofinstagram #woodchuck #woodchucks #woodchucksofinstagram #wildohio #ohionature #asmreating #asmr #stressrelief #stressmanagement
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The Caterpillar Lab
So much color, plus background on some species (and body stages) that we tend to overlook.
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Caterpillar-of-the-Day Follow Along: Day 286⠀ ⠀ Like Some Heavy Fruit:⠀ Big Poplar Sphinx⠀ Pachysphinx modesta⠀ ⠀ Three poplar trees stand isolated in a large field in Gardner, Massachusetts. Like some heavy fruit or nut, the sphinx, clasping to remnant leaf petioles, dangle precariously in the wind. Far below, in the late July heat, I discover their frass and bits of discarded leaves. The big poplar sphinx is always out of my reach.⠀ ⠀ -------⠀ • Caterpillar: Pachysphinx modesta - Big Poplar Sphinx⠀ ⠀ • Range: Eastern and Central North America , west across the Northern US and Canada.⠀ ⠀ • Host Plants: A specialist feeder on poplars and willows. Seems to show a preference for Cottonwood here in the Northeast.⠀ ⠀ • Season: Caterpillars active in the Summer⠀ ⠀ • Where are they now: Pachysphinx overwinter as pupa in soil.⠀ -------⠀ ⠀ If you would like to follow along with us this year you can find posts like this one here on Instagram, follow us on Facebook, or just visit the front page of our website to see our expanded calendar graphic. For the best experience, order one of our physical Caterpillar-A-Day calendars so you can follow along, add notes, and learn more, as we go.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #moths #mothsofinstagram #thecaterpillarlab #caterpillar #caterpillars #nature #naturephotography #science #entomology #lepidoptera #scienceeducation #naturalhistory #art #artandscience #buglife #exciting #insects #bugs #insectsofinstagram #followalong #lifecycle #2020 #macrophotography #insectphotography
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The conservation icon doesn't plan to be on Instagram very long — hey, he's in his nineties — but this account is gold.
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Everyone who made the film believes that nature is our greatest resource. The eternal energies of nature are our future. We have to move the whole world off fossil fuels, and we can all impact climate change by thinking about where and how we spend our money. A Life On Our Planet film is produced by @silverback_films and @wwf_uk Streaming on @netflix
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Drone the Whales
Amazing aerial footage of cetaceans around the world.
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This amazing artist/activist frequently works with our parent organization, the Center for Biological Diversity, but that's just a fraction of his inspirational output.
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This work, "Make it Through", was the first artwork I made this year, all the way back in January, what seems like a lifetime ago. I was trying to rework the idea that inspired "Face It" (second slide) to get at something that I missed the first time. The bird in Face It is a Scrub Jay, enduring the storm in the black walnut tree that grew in behind my house in 2009. The bird in Make it Through is a Wandering Albatross- great pelagic voyagers, crossing vast oceans with hardly a wingbeat. That was something more of the endurance that I wanted to convey, and goddamn it has taken a lot of endurance to get through this year up to this point- and it's not over yet. No matter how you are engaging with this experience I wish you the strength to go all the way through it and arrive, sunlit and with gentler winds, on the other side. . . . Make It a Through is available, send a DM. #art #print #printmaking #reliefprint #linocutprint #linoleumprint #reliefprint #blockprint #albatross #makeitthrough #justseeds
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National Park Service
Not only does this agency help protect amazing landscapes, it also employs some incredibly talented photographers. And they share great tips.
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“How to recognize different trees from quite a long way away. No. 1 The Larch” Larix occidentalis, the Western larch, turns a luminescent yellow in the fall, lighting up slopes in golden patches. As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, photosynthesis becomes more difficult. The tree saves nutrients by ceasing the process. Larch needles change color as chlorophyll (the light-absorbing pigment that provides energy for photosynthesis) is absorbed back into the tree, leaving behind a yellow pigment, xanthophyll. Eventually the needles drop off the tree, leaving it bare-limbed until spring. Image: Larch trees in the western and southern portions of Glacier National Park turn bright yellow during the mid-to-late October. #findyourpark #nationalparkservice #larch #glacier #fallcolors
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The famed Native American activist is a source of constant inspiration.
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✊🏽🔥 Celebrating being Indigenous- We are still here >> Happy Indigenous Peoples Day! 🌿 Indigenous peoples comprise less than 5% of the world's population but protect 80% of global biodiversity. 💥 We must center Indigenous knowledge and sovereignty in the fight for climate and environmental justice. Thank you to the Indigenous activists and communities who—for millennia—have shown what being true stewards of the environment looks like. Learn more and look up whose land you occupy through the link in our bio. 📲 photo by @LittleRedfeather #IndigenousPeoplesDay #Biodiversity #IndigenousSovereignty #LandBack
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Public Lands Hate You
See what certain people do wrong when they try to celebrate the natural world — and remind yourself not to follow in their footsteps.
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The number of people who defend their off-trail travels as not having an impact is astounding. The thing is, humans are inherently lazy. We tend to take the path of least resistance. So, if someone wants to travel to the other side of a field, and they see a slightly beaten path that may have been taken by one or two people before them, they take it. This is how new trails are formed. The hiking community calls these “social trails”. They are unofficial trails that people use as the path of least resistance from Point A to Point B. The problem with social trails is that as they become more frequently used, they become permanent. First the vegetation is slightly disturbed. The people that follow then beat the vegetation flat. Continued use compacts soils to the point that they won’t support new growth. This breaks up what was previously homogenous habit into small fractured pieces. It's not good for vegetation. It’s not good for wildlife. And it certainly doesn’t make for good pictures. The 1st picture was taken by @waterproject. The 2nd is a Google Earth satellite image of the same location taken a few years prior. Notice the difference? How can someone look at these two photos side by side and say that there hasn’t been an impact? How much longer do you think this area can withstand this amount of abuse before it comes a dirt hillside with a couple of flower patches protected behind wooden fences? The next photos are close up views of what these new social trails look like, progressing from slightly disturbed vegetation, to fully flattened and dead vegetation, to fully compacted soils and new dirt "trails" that will require either human intervention or decades of natural forces to recover. This is the progression that we want to avoid. Resist the temptation to use social trails. Stick to the official dirt trails. They are obvious. They are generally wide enough for two or more people to walk side by side. They are a fully dirt surface with no vegetation present. You don’t need to create new trails for beautiful pictures that others will love, as seen in the last two photos. #leavenotrace #poppy #wildflowers #ethics #mindfulness #publiclands
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United Nations Environment Programme
This great account frequently features world-saving initiatives both large and small.
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⚠️ Air pollution is a threat to sustainable development & the #GlobalGoals 🙌 It is a problem we can solve together & will help achieve #CleanAirForAll ❓How? ✅ Ask governments to create policies & measures aimed at reducing air pollution ✅ Promote renewable energy ✅ Create safe, affordable & strong public transportation systems & pedestrian & cycle-friendly networks #ClearTheAir
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NASA Climate Change
Images and science about the planet. Expect lots of photos of melting icebergs.
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Study: If greenhouse gas emissions continue, Greenland and Antarctica’s ice sheets could contribute more than 15 inches (38 centimeters) of global sea level rise by 2100 – which is beyond the amount that has already been set in motion by Earth’s warming climate. • Full story: https://sealevel.nasa.gov/news/194/emissions-could-add-15-inches-to-sea-level-by-2100-nasa-led-study-finds • 📸: Ice shelves in Antarctica, such as the Getz Ice Shelf seen above, are sensitive to warming ocean temperatures. Ocean and atmospheric conditions are some of the drivers of ice sheet loss that scientists considered in a new study estimating additional global sea level rise by 2100. Credit: NASA/Jeremy Harbeck • #nasa #globalwarming #climatechange #sealevelrise #sealevelchange #greenland #antarctica #greenhousegas #fossilfuels #humanactivity #humanactivities #science #study #icemelt #iceloss #icesheet #water #ocean #carbon
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International Dark-Sky Association
This organization is devoted to protecting us from light pollution, and these photos will inspire you to look up into the night.
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We're back with another #WildlifeWednesday! Did you know that sloths have a sense of smell so sensitive that they can tell whether nearby branches are emitting whiffs of sap or not? Pretty cool, right? This allows them to swing only on branches that are healthy and avoid grabbing a dead one that may break and cause them to fall and injure themselves. This adaptation permits them to safely swing through forests in complete darkness.
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The Center for Biological Diversity
Our parent organization's Instagram account will both entertain you and keep you engaged in important activism. Just when you're needed most.
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The mating ritual of leopard slugs is beautifully odd. Each slug has both male and female sex organs. They mate while suspended from a mucus tether upside down. Why? Gravity helps their oversized penises emerge from an opening in their heads. Thanks to @thepobble for the footage.
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John R. Platt is the editor of The Revelator. An award-winning environmental journalist, his work has appeared in Scientific American, Audubon, Motherboard, and numerous other magazines and publications. His "Extinction Countdown" column has run continuously since 2004 and has covered news and science related to more than 1,000 endangered species. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers. John lives on the outskirts of Portland, Ore., where he finds himself surrounded by animals and cartoonists.
Reposted with permission from The Revelator.
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