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Indonesian firefighters battle a forest fire, one of many spewing toxic haze across the region causing an increase in reports of respiratory illnesses, in Kampar, Riau on Sept. 23. WAHYUDI / AFP / Getty Images

By Sakinah Ummu Haniy, Hidayah Hamzah and Mirzha Hanifah

Indonesia's forest fires have made headlines globally over the past few weeks. This year's forest fires have affected millions of people. Schools have closed in some areas due to unsafe levels of air pollution, while many people are suffering from respiratory illnesses. The haze has spread so far as to affect Singapore and Malaysia.

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This map highlights by geographic region the leading underlying driver of food loss and waste. WRI analysis based on FAO (2011) and HLPE (2014)

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.

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

uacescomm / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

By Aleksandra Arcipowska, Emily Mangan, You Lyu and Richard Waite

Agriculture provides a livelihood for billions of people every day and feeds all of us. Yet food production has significant impacts on the environment through deforestation and water pollution. It's also a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions.

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Beef requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more GHG emissions per gram of protein than common plant proteins. Keith Weller / U.S. Department of Agriculture

By Richard Waite, Tim Searchinger and Janet Ranganathan

Beef and climate change are in the news these days, from cows' alleged high-methane farts (fact check: they're actually mostly high-methane burps) to comparisons with cars and airplanes (fact check: the world needs to reduce emissions from fossil fuels and agriculture to sufficiently rein in global warming). And as with so many things in the public sphere lately, it's easy for the conversation to get polarized. Animal-based foods are nutritious and especially important to livelihoods and diets in developing countries, but they are also inefficient resource users. Beef production is becoming more efficient, but forests are still being cut down for new pasture. People say they want to eat more plants, but meat consumption is still rising.

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Excitement over a new solar installation. Black Rock Solar / CC BY 2.0

By Lacey Shaver

When a city decides to transition from fossil fuels to clean energy, headlines follow. But the work has only just begun. Cities have many options for generating and purchasing renewable electricity, each of which comes with distinct benefits and challenges.

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"Energy harvest." K.H.Reichert / Flickr

By Dan Lashof

The Green New Deal means different things to different people. In some ways, that's part of its appeal. On the other hand, a Green New Deal can't mean anything anyone wants it to, or it will come to mean nothing at all.

More concept than concrete plan so far, the Green New Deal would fight climate change while simultaneously creating good jobs and reducing economic inequality. Described in such broad terms, more than 80 percent of U.S. registered voters support it, including majorities across the political spectrum, according to a survey conducted by Yale and George Mason universities. (Most respondents had never heard of the Green New Deal when the survey was conducted, so these findings no doubt depend on how the question was worded and will change as specific proposals are fleshed out and debated.)

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The Orangutans in Indonesia have been known to be on the verge of extinction as a result of deforestation and poaching.
Ulet Ifansasti / Getty Images News

By Edward Davey

The world is vastly underestimating the benefits of acting on climate change. Recent research from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate finds that bold climate action could deliver at least $26 trillion in economic benefits through 2030. This ground-breaking research, produced by the Global Commission and more than 200 experts, highlights proof points of the global shift to a low-carbon economy, and identifies ways to accelerate action in five sectors: energy, cities, food and land use, water and industry. Our blog series, The $26 Trillion Opportunity, explores these economic opportunities in greater detail.

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Sunrise near Mt. Sumeru, Indonesia. Aditi / Flickr

By Hidayah Hamzah, Reidinar Juliane, Tjokorda Nirarta "Koni" Samadhi and Arief Wijaya

In the midst of the second-worst year for tropical tree cover loss in 2017, Indonesia saw an encouraging sign: a 60 percent drop in tree cover loss in primary forests compared with 2016. That's the difference in carbon dioxide emissions from primary forest loss equivalent to 0.2 gigatons of carbon dioxide, or about the same emissions released from burning over 199 billion pounds of coal.

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Indigenous inhabitants of one of the floating islands in Lake Titicaca greet a tour group from Puno, Peru. David Stanley / CC BY 2.0

By Peter Veit

Much of the world's land is occupied and used by Indigenous Peoples and communities—about 50 percent of it, involving more than 2.5 billion people. But these groups are increasingly losing their ancestral lands—their primary source of livelihood, income and social identity.

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Taz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Mathy Stanislaus

If you need motivation to skip the straw at lunch today, consider this: Scientists found that even Arctic sea ice—far removed from most major metropolitan areas—is no longer plastic-free. According to Dr. Jeremy Wilkinson of the British Antarctic Survey, "this suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world's ocean. Nowhere is immune."

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Deforestation from Palm Oil Plantations in Papua. Mighty / Flickr

By Mikaela Weisse and Katie Fletcher

This edition of Places to Watch examines forest clearing detected between Nov. 9, 2017, and Jan. 31, 2018 in Indonesian Papua, Cameroon and Brazil. Due to occasional cloud cover that can obscure satellite recognition, some loss may have occurred earlier.

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