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‘Fossil fascism,’ homeless great apes and a landmark ruling against Big Oil

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

Great ape habitats in Africa are disappearing due to lowlands warming beyond the species' tolerance. Adam Bignell, Flickr
11 June 2021
11 June 2021

The world needs to find USD 4.1 trillion to tackle the climate, biodiversity and land degradation crises by 2050.

That’s just 0.1 percent of global GDP – but four times what we’re currently investing in nature, according to a new U.N. report.

Today on Landscape News, we’re bringing you your bi-weekly fix of enchanting ecosystems, Indigenous insight, deadly disasters and more.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

Women carrying baskets of freshly harvested cotton in Burkina Faso. Ollivier Girard, CIFOR
Women carrying baskets of freshly harvested cotton in Burkina Faso. Ollivier Girard, CIFOR

Thousands of participants from around the world joined us for GLF Africa, the world’s first digital conference devoted entirely to African drylands. Here’s what happened across the two-day event.

Explore the archives to re-watch sessions and discover what you missed, from Africa’s most visionary women to the farmers bringing the continent’s forests back to life.

We also launched the second edition of the Restoration Stewards program, which will provide funding, mentorship, and training for five youth-led restoration projects. Here’s what last year’s cohort had to say.

Pakistan hopes to plant 10 billion trees by 2023. Find out how on GLF Live, and don’t miss our next episode on rangelands management with a documentary premiere on 17 June at 10:00 CEST.

PLANET

Sea snot can cover over and harm fish, coral and other marine species. Australian Institute of Marine Science
Sea snot can cover over and harm fish, coral and other marine species. Australian Institute of Marine Science

Sri Lanka is facing one of its worst-ever environmental disasters after a container ship caught fire and sank, spilling chemicals, fuel oil and plastic pellets across the country’s west coast.

In Turkey, sea snot is spreading across the Sea of Marmara and suffocating marine life. Scientists say the climate crisis and pollution are to blame.

Africa’s great apes are set to lose around 90 percent of their habitat by 2050 due to human-caused global warming and habitat destruction.

Europe’s sixth-busiest airport sits next to an important wildlife refuge. A planned EUR 1.7 billion expansion could devastate its over 350 bird species.

And in this photo essay, two journalists encounter death, destruction and displacement in the ‘wild west’ of the Brazilian Amazon.

CLIMATE

The average rate of carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere is higher than ever. Marcin Jozwiak, Unsplash

At 419 parts per million, carbon dioxide concentrations are now 50 percent higher than pre-industrial levels.

At this rate, there’s a 40 percent chance that global warming could reach 1.5 degrees by 2025.

The climate crisis is responsible for 37 percent of global heat deaths. It could also slash global GDP by 10 percent by 2050.

Worried? You’re not alone. Eco-anxiety is on the rise, while victims of climate disasters are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The world’s earliest known war happened 13,000 years ago. Could it have been driven by climate change?

PEOPLE

Nilson Tuwe Huni Kuĩ, an indigenous leader from the Western Amazon in Brazil. United Nations Photo
Nilson Tuwe Huni Kuĩ, an indigenous leader from the Western Amazon in Brazil. United Nations Photo

Indigenous people lived sustainably in the Amazon for over 5,000 years. Today, they face increasing violence from illegal miners with the tacit support of the Brazilian government.

In Australia, traditional knowledge is transforming land management and creating new sources of income for Aboriginal communities.

But as Indigenous languages die out, knowledge of medicinal plants could vanish with them.

Humanity now faces the threat of ‘fossil fascism,’ warns human ecologist Andreas Malm in his new book White Skin, Black Fuel.

A case in point: the climate crisis is already driving mass migration from Central America to the U.S., with a third of Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans suffering from food insecurity.

BUSINESS

A court ruling against Shell may show the way for other cases on fossil fuel companies across Europe. Marc Rentschler, Unsplash
A court ruling against Shell may show the way for other cases against fossil fuel companies across Europe. Marc Rentschler, Unsplash

In a monumental ruling, a Dutch court has ordered Shell to reduce its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. Here’s what this means for the oil industry.

Meanwhile, a tiny activist hedge fund has won three seats on ExxonMobil’s board, which it hopes to use to push the oil giant to improve its poor climate record.

Wildlife trafficking is rampant on Facebook – and U.S. free-speech laws ensure that little is being done to stop it.

Just 1 percent of flyers contribute half of global aviation emissions. Could Europe fund a transition toward zero-emissions aviation by taxing private jet flights?

POLICY

The landscape of an area the size of China must be restored to meet the world’s nature and climate commitments. Kunal Shinde, Unsplash
The landscape of an area the size of China must be restored to meet the world’s nature and climate commitments. Kunal Shinde, Unsplash

The U.N. has launched its Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which runs until 2030 and issues a rallying call to revive the planet’s damaged and degraded ecosystems.

So far, around 17 percent of land ecosystems are protected, an area larger than Russia, but the quality of conservation work could still be improved.

European countries will soon have to rethink recycling: Turkey, which is littered with plastic from the E.U. and U.K., will ban the import of plastic waste in July.

And despite talk of a ‘green recovery’ from COVID-19, the G7 countries are still splurging far more on fossil fuels than on clean energy.


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