Lab-grown chicken, climate childlessness and mink rising from the dead

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

The European Court of Human Rights has given the green light for a climate lawsuit launched by young people against 33 European countries. mifl68, Flickr
4 December 2020
4 December 2020

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.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

Young members of the indigenous Kuy community survey the local biodiversity in Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest. USAID Biodiversity & Forestry, Flickr
Young members of the indigenous Kuy community survey the local biodiversity in Cambodia’s Prey Lang Forest. USAID Biodiversity & Forestry, Flickr

Meet the local activists defying arrest and death threats to defend Cambodia’s rainforests. The Prey Lang Community Network is the winner of this year’s GLF Landscape Hero award.

On GLF Live, we learned how the Global Virome Project hopes to discover the over 500,000 zoonotic viruses that could yet be passed onto humans. We also heard from Camille Sylvester of Roots & Shoots on how to tap into growing youth interest in the environment.

Up next, join us in conversation with director Sanjay Rawal about his new documentary Gather, which is streaming on the GLF website until 12 December.

COVID-19

A coal-fired power station in England. UniversityBlogSpot, Flickr
A coal-fired power station in England. UniversityBlogSpot, Flickr

This year’s lockdowns have had virtually no effect on carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, which have exceeded 410 parts per million for the first time.

Intellectual property rules could hinder access to COVID-19 vaccines and medicines in the Global South – but the U.S. and the E.U., among other wealthy countries, are opposed to waiving them.

After culling 17 million farmed mink to prevent the spread of a mutated coronavirus strain, Denmark is now digging up the bodies after finding them rising from their graves.

CLIMATE

Changes in the time when leaves fall from trees during autumn may affect their carbon uptake. Jnzl’s Photos, Flickr
Changes in the time when leaves fall from trees during autumn may affect their carbon uptake. Jnzl’s Photos, Flickr

A year after the devastating wildfires of 2019–20, Australia is again sweltering after its hottest November on record, with over 50 bushfires burning across the state of New South Wales.

Meanwhile in the northern hemisphere, the climate crisis is making winter ice increasingly deadly, as well as causing leaves to fall earlier in autumnZoonotic diseases could also move further north as the planet heats up.

Some Americans are deciding not to have children due to concerns about their well-being in a warming world – but many in the Global North are still unaware of the urgency of the climate crisis.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from (pre)history, it’s from the Permian–Triassic mass extinction (aka the Great Dying), which may have been driven by the burning of oil and coal deposits.

PEOPLE

New Forest National Park in the UK. Annie Spratt, Unsplash
New Forest National Park in the UK. Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Youth climate activists from over 140 countries gathered online for the Mock COP 26, which amplified voices from climate-vulnerable countries in the Global South.

The Goldman Environmental Prize has been awarded to six grassroots activists from each inhabited continent, three of them Indigenous.

Six young Portuguese activists have received the green light to take 33 European countries to court for climate inaction, while communities in South Africa’s coal-mining Highveld are suing their government over the region’s suffocating air pollution.

And from the matriarchal Navajo Nation to commoners in England’s New Forest, ancient traditional knowledge is alive and well in the Global North.

PLANET

Large parts of the Amazon rainforest are being deforested to convert into agricultural lands. Alexander Gerst, Flickr
Large parts of the Amazon rainforest are being deforested to convert into agricultural lands. Alexander Gerst, Flickr

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon has reached a 12-year high under President Jair Bolsonaro, rising by 9.5 percent compared to 2019.

Globally, infrastructure is one of the main drivers of deforestation, and the continued expansion of roads, mines and dams is jeopardizing climate action.

Just 1 percent of farms operate over 70 percent of the planet’s farmland. Global land inequality is spiraling due to the growth of large-scale industrial farming, supported by free-market policies and corporate investment.

The agricultural industry has also been blamed for the eutrophication of Spain’s Mar Menor – but local activists are working to grant the lagoon legal rights.

POLICY

Oak Flat in Arizona is considered sacred by Native Americans of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Johnida Dockens, Flickr
Oak Flat in Arizona is considered sacred by Native Americans of the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. Johnida Dockens, Flickr

The G20 countries have spent more on fossil fuels than on green energy as part of COVID-19 recovery plans – which puts the planet on course for 2.7 degrees Celsius of warming by the end of the century.

Could ecocide soon become a crime, much like genocide and crimes against humanity? International lawyers are working on it, backed by several small island nations.

The U.S. is scrambling to hand over an Indigenous holy site in Arizona to a mining company (the subject of a recent book) before President Donald Trump leaves office in January. It will also weaken protections for migratory birds.

President-elect Joe Biden has also come under fire for appointing Cedric Richmond, a Louisiana representative with close ties to the fossil fuel industry, as a senior advisor.

China’s plans to build more coal power plants have been criticized as contradicting its pledge to become carbon-neutral by 2060.

BUSINESS

Shell is an oil and gas “supermajor” and is one of the world’s largest companies. Robert Laliberte, Flickr
Shell is an oil and gas “supermajor” and is one of the world’s largest companies. Robert Laliberte, Flickr

Over 17,000 Dutch citizens have taken Shell to court to force the oil giant to reduce its emissions by 45 percent by 2030.

Meanwhile, the U.K.’s Russell Group universities have received over GBP 60 million in funding from fossil fuel companies since 2015, with Imperial College London accounting for around half.

And in a world first for lab-grown meat, cell-cultured chicken will soon be hitting supermarket shelves in Singapore.


Leave a Reply