Burning questions answered, a 10,000-year flashback and a reminder not to hug the penguins

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

Photo: Joe, Flickr
9 September 2019
Ming Chun Tang

Welcome to the 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.

Florida National Guard soldiers and airmen load equipment and prepare for potential missions responding to Hurricane Dorian. Ching Oettel, Flickr
Florida National Guard soldiers and airmen load equipment and prepare for potential missions responding to Hurricane Dorian. Ching Oettel, Flickr

LANDSCAPE NEWS: I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

Between the forest fires and Hurricane Dorian, our phones have been blowing up with more climate-related news notifications than usual. We took a step back and questioned: How extreme are these events?

Scientists say: Brazil’s political conditions amplified those of the weather to add fuel to their fires; Indonesia’s fires meanwhile are testing country’s strong up environmental policies; and in the Congo Basin, the burns might not be as bad as they seem.

We also spoke with Bolivian firefighters and Indonesian activists about what it’s like to, you know, be there.

Getting to know Dorian requires re-visiting the water cycle theory, and the role of trees therein.

Amidst it all, there’s never not time for a celebrity: Meet the teenage Aztec hip-hop star who’s leading the global youth climate movement, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. We can’t wait to hear him speak at GLF New York.

Human interaction with penguins can affect the species' mating practices and birth rates. Fotos Raul Soares, Flickr
Human interaction with penguins can affect the species’ mating practices and birth rates. Fotos Raul Soares, Flickr

BIODIVERSITY: A quick PSA

Stop with the selfies! Photos with wildlife might get lots of likes, but it’s stressing out the animals – and affecting their love lives, experts say.

Stone-house villages of the Pueblo Native Americans from 1250 A.D. mark their transition from seasonal migration to settled farming. Al_HikesAZ, Flickr

RESEARCH: A quick history lesson

More than 255 global archaeologists contributed to a massive new project examining how humans have transformed the Earth over time. Our impact began in a significant way 3,000 years ago, with the global spread of agriculture, they found. The effects of hunting and gathering, which date back 10,000 years, remain TBD.

Oil palm fruits ripening. Nanang Sujana, CIFOR
Oil palm fruits ripening. Nanang Sujana, CIFOR

BUSINESS: Not so slick

Big oil’s collective approval of USD 50 billion for new projects stands in the way of reaching the Paris Agreement’s goals to limit global warming.

At least Porsche drivers will be pulling into fewer gas stations as the car company goes electric with an investment of USD 6.7 billion, as well as gives the red light to leather interiors.

The largest supermarket chain in the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil (Malaysia) has banned products that promote their lack of the commodity. This comes after neighboring Indonesia, producer number-one, banned “palm-oil-free” products full stop. Mimicry is the greatest form of flattery, but…

Jakarta, the current Indonesian capital, regularly ranks among the world's most polluted cities. swxxii, Flickr
Jakarta, the current Indonesian capital, regularly ranks among the world’s most polluted cities. swxxii, Flickr

POLICY: Bond, climate bond

In Germany, one of the Merkel administration’s coalition parties has created a climate bond with annual returns of 2 percent. Citizens’ investments will fund the country’s goal to reduce emissions by up to 95 percent by 2050 and go coal-free. 

Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, 2 October, will be celebrated by India banning single-use plastic bags, cups and straws.

Indonesia is moving its capital from Java’s sinking city of Jakarta to a more rural site in Indonesian Borneo. The country’s planning minister said it will be a conceptual “forest city.” Environmentalists raise concerns it will impinge on Indigenous and natural landscapes.

The emissions to be produced by completing the Belt and Road Initiative are so high that even if the world’s largest emitters – the U.S., China, India – meet their Paris Agreement targets, the infrastructure BRI’s involved countries must build (megaports, highways, etc.) will yield global warming goals unreachable.

An average small air conditioning unit needs more power than four running fridges to keep a room cool. Phanatic, Flickr
 An average small air conditioning unit needs more power than four running fridges to keep a room cool. Phanatic, Flickr

CLIMATE: Around and around we go

Warming temperatures could lead to economic losses of up to 16 percent in Europe’s agriculture sector by 2050. It might be time for the continent’s farmers to start diversifying their portfolios, particularly in northwestern Europe where floods are rising in magnitude too.

Capping off a frightfully hot summer, here’s a long-read with about how air conditioning leads to global warming, which leads to more air conditioning and so on. Just remember: with great coolness comes great responsibility.


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