Climate emergencies, Indigenous rights x NYC, and how much carbon is on your feet

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

New study using data from tree rings finds that humans were affecting drought risk since as early as 1900. Herr Olsen, Flickr

Welcome to the new Landscape News bi-weekly digest on landscapes, climate and sustainability. From what’s on your shelves to what’s in the atmosphere, here’s the news to know.

LANDSCAPE NEWS: From Fiji to the Andes

For Earth Day, we looked at the growing movement to give legal rights to nature, with countries enshrining nature’s rights in local and national legislature.

We also explored wetlands, which one study found have ecosystem services worth an estimated USD 47 trillion, while another showed that more sediment deposited from sea-level rise makes wetlands capture even more carbon from the atmosphere.

Speaking of water, we heard from two Fijians – Komal Kumar, a youth activist, and Ambassador Peter Thomson, U.N. Special Envoy for the Ocean – on the state of the world’s oceans. And on World Press Freedom Day, journalists from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Latin America spoke out about the power and perils of environmental reporting.

Extinction Rebellion climate activists take to the streets during Easter in London. Extinction Rebellion

POLICY: Not exactly an Easter egg hunt

In London, Members of Parliament spent Easter being pushed to take action on climate change – first by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old activist who has sparked the climate-strike youth movement, and then by climate activist group Extinction Rebellion. It seemed to have worked: Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn urged his fellow MPs to declare a climate emergency, which they did.

Across the pond, New York City and Los Angeles have been getting going on Green New Deals. Meanwhile, Amsterdam announced that all vehicles running on petrol and diesel will be banned by 2030.

INDIGENOUS RIGHTS: Live from New York City

The U.N. Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) filled the U.N.’s global headquarters in Manhattan from 22 April to 3 May with some 1,000 delegates highlighting the importance of indigenous rights for climate change. Alec Baldwin stopped by to say hello, as did Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim; the U.N. said a new global campaign will protect Indigenous peoples against criminalization.

Simultaneously, in Ecuador, the Waorani tribe – which numbers around 4,800 – won a case against an oil company, blocking its entry into some 180,000 hectares of ancestral Amazon lands.

Sustainable merino wool and eucalyptus are used to make Allbirds shoes. Allbirds

BUSINESS: Another reason to wear sneakers

Fashion, the second-largest polluting industry after oil and gas, was in the spotlight with Fashion Revolution week. We hosted a Digital Summit on sustainable fashion and workers’ rights, which you can listen here – or read a short wrap-up here.

Setting a benchmark for the industry, sustainable footwear megabrand Allbirds announced it is examining its entire supply chain, from sheep to shelf, to calculate total carbon emissions and determine how best to offset them.

Apple, meanwhile, decided to partner with Conservation International to protect nearly 11,000 hectares of Colombian mangroves to mitigate the company’s carbon footprint.

RESEARCH: Lore of the rings

A new report looked at how decreasing greenhouse gases can increase the GDP of some of the world’s poorest countries, including Mozambique, where a cyclone – the second in two months – has displaced thousands and brought a death toll of 38.

Global Forest Watch released its 2018 report on deforestation, finding its rate lower than in 2016 and 2017, but still equivalent to 30 football fields of forest lost per minute.

Another reason to protect trees? Environmental history is held in their rings, especially in regard to drought, scientists find. NASA verified global warming figures, finding 2016, 2017 and 2015 to be the warmest years on record, respectively.

And, as the weather warms in concrete jungles, science says: take to the trees.

A rendition of artist Melissa McGill’s Red Regatta art installation that will soon open in Venice’s waters. Melissa McGill

CULTURE: Not your normal fleet week

Bill McKibben speaks on an NPR podcast on how the predictions of climate change he made 30 years ago in The End of Nature– regarded as the first book on the topic – are now coming true. His new book Falter goes more in-depth into what climate change could look like.

Another new release, Melinda Gates’ The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, takes a gendered approach to sustainable development through tales from her work and travels with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

And in Italy’s sinking city, artist Melissa McGill is a making climate change an inescapable red-alert with 52 vela al terzo sailboats filling Venice’s waters with red sails until November.


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