Summer heat, South Africa’s ‘black mermaid,’ and a new way to harvest water in the desert

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

Dubai's desert, where SOURCE Global is combining solar energy with existing water harvesting techniques to produce potable water from the air. Tim de Groot, Unsplash
10 July 2021
10 July 2021

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Ecuador in March 2020, one Indigenous Kichwa family retreated into the Amazon to self-isolate.

Here’s what they can teach us about reconnecting with nature. Plus, insect diets, a sweltering summer, Big Oil’s dirty secrets and more in this Landscape News bi-weekly digest.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

A farmer from a Mayan community in Mexico whose crops are increasingly affected by climate change. Ainhoa Goma, Oxfam
A farmer from a Mayan community in Mexico whose crops are increasingly affected by climate change. Ainhoa Goma, Oxfam

Indigenous communities are the guardians of some of the world’s most important ecosystems – yet they receive less than 1 percent of aid money for climate mitigation.

How can organic foods help us reinvent our food systems? We tackle all of the key questions in this brand-new guide.

And in this short essay, young conservationist Fabiana Benítez explains how yerba mate tea is reviving Paraguay’s rainforests.

CLIMATE

Crop failures due to strange weather around the world have been noticed for around 60 years ago. Mike Erskine, Unsplash
Crop failures due to strange weather around the world have been noticed for around 60 years ago. Mike Erskine, Unsplash

Scientists have warned of climate change since the 1960s – so why has it taken so long for humanity to act?

Meanwhile, it’s hot. From Canada to India, from Siberia to Iraq, much of the Northern Hemisphere is facing unprecedented heat that not even the worst-case climate models could have predicted.

Two-thirds of Mexico is struggling with drought, threatening crop harvests and fueling water conflicts with the U.S., while Brazil is running short on hydropower.

These and other climate effects will become obvious within the next 30 years, and rising sea levels could affect up to 410 million people by 2100.

PEOPLE

A memorial for the children found dead at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada. GoToVan, Flickr
A memorial for the children found dead at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Canada. GoToVan, Flickr

Many Canadian cities have canceled Canada Day following the discovery of unmarked mass graves at former residential schools for Indigenous children.

South of the border, Sioux activists are calling for the return of their native lands in the Black Hills, while Indigenous Brazilian leaders want President Jair Bolsonaro put on trial for ecocide.

Meet the ‘Black Mermaid’ – the free diver inspiring other Black South Africans to embrace the open ocean.

And in neighboring Zimbabwe, one woman is building climate resilience in her community by growing insects for food.

PLANET

A bird flies through Singapore. Bing Hui Yau, Unsplash

Wildlife roamed freely around the world’s cities during lockdown. Could they find a more permanent home on our streets?

Northern Ireland has a poo problem: its 25 million pigs are producing too much waste to dispose of without polluting the country’s soil and waterways.

But cows might have a new role to play in the fight against plastic pollution. The microbes in their stomachs are strong enough to break down plastic bags, bottles and textiles.

BUSINESS

An oil lobbyist named 11 U.S. senators who are “crucial” to ExxonMobil. Alejandro Barba, Unsplash
An oil lobbyist named 11 U.S. senators who are “crucial” to ExxonMobil. Alejandro Barba, Unsplash

Caught in a Greenpeace sting operation, a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist has revealed the oil giant’s efforts to sow climate denialism and block U.S. climate legislation.

Meanwhile, the UN’s aviation body has come under fire for hiring a former lobbyist for the airline industry.

As Arctic sea ice gets thinner, new shipping routes are opening up, but they’re fraught with peril for both ships and the environment.

What if we could make water out of thin air – in a desert? One company is making 1.5 million liters of water in Dubai each year using just vapor and solar panels.

POLICY

At the current vaccination rate, most African countries will not have their populations widely vaccinated until 2023. Henitsoa Rafalia, World Bank
At the current vaccination rate, most African countries will not have their populations widely vaccinated until 2023. Henitsoa Rafalia, World Bank

Rich countries are deliberately preventing COVID-19 vaccines from reaching Africa, claims an African Union envoy. The continent has vaccinated less than 2 percent of its population to date.

The U.S. city of Baltimore is suing the oil industry for its role in causing the climate crisis, which is blasting its low-income communities with lethal summer heat.

The E.U. has made its greenhouse gas emissions targets legally binding. It must slash emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, before reaching carbon neutrality by 2050.

Argentina’s third-largest city has helped over 2,000 families grow their own food since 2001. The award-winning project now produces some 2,500 tons of fruits and vegetable each year.


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