The climate truth of the Olympics, remote working woes, and NYC’s mollusk heroes

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

The Olympic Rings in the Japanese pottery art style of Kintsugi. Charis Tsevis, Flickr
7 August 2021
7 August 2021

From lethal landslides in India to wildfires in the Mediterranean, humanity must brace itself for a ‘new normal’ at 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming.

In this bi-weekly news roundup, we’ll explore climate anxiety, water-smart cities, the collapse of civilization, and many more stories from across the globe.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

Madagascar
Madagascar is experiencing its worst drought in 40 years, putting millions at risk of starvation. Etienne, Flickr

Meet the endangered ‘ecosystem engineer’ that’s hard at work against the climate crisis – by regenerating carbon stocks through its colossal appetite.

As large swaths of the planet burn, we spoke to two Ghanaian activists building the case for climate reparations from the world’s rich countries.

And in this op-ed, conservationist Félix Ratelolahy ponders how to restore Madagascar to its green glory.

PLANET

The Brazilian Cerrado
The Brazilian Cerrado is the world’s most biodiverse savanna. A. Duarte, Flickr

Could industrial civilization collapse by 2040? Fifty years ago, an MIT study predicted the end of economic growth due to resource depletion. A new paper suggests we’re right on track.

Brazil’s Cerrado savanna is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. It, too, could collapse and turn into a desert by 2050 if agribusiness continues to expand.

Estuaries are a bellwether for the climate crisis – and the 700 residents of a village in Spain’s Ebro delta could soon become Europe’s first climate refugees.

In New York, one landscape architect hopes to build the city’s flood defenses by deploying an army of oysters.

CLIMATE

Bobcat Fire, California, late 2020
The Bobcat Fire observed from Monrovia, California in late 2020. Nikolay Maslov, Unsplash

From the ocean to the Amazon, the Earth is on the verge of a climate tipping point.

Six major regions of the world are now on fire, and the heatwaves that drive them are set to become much more likely in the next 30 years.

Protests have broken out in Iran after months of water shortages. Here’s what’s causing the crisis.

After recent floods in Zhengzhou that claimed over 300 lives, China’s urban planners are facing a conundrum: how to future-proof its sprawling cities from the climate crisis.

Are these stories are getting you down? Here are four key ways to overcome your climate anxiety.

PEOPLE

A French gymnast at the Tokyo Olympics. CNOSF/KMSP, Flickr
A French gymnast at the Tokyo Olympics. CNOSF/KMSP, Flickr

The Tokyo Olympics are marketed as carbon-negative, but does that claim really hold up?

From Syrians refugees in Germany to CrossFitters in Siberia, meet some of the volunteers battling this summer’s climate disasters.

In Senegal, the Great Green Wall is taking root: local communities are planting gardens to stave off desertification, create jobs and prevent perilous migration to Europe.

A new documentary follows a Malawian activist on a tour of the U.S., where she comes face-to-face with fellow farmers – and attempts to convince them that the climate crisis is real.

BUSINESS

Diamond
Despite their environmental benefits, lab-made gems may not be the most ethical choice. Harry Wood, Flickr

Could remote working help us tackle the climate crisis? Not necessarily – and hybrid working could make matters worse.

Lab-made diamonds may be kinder to the planet, but they’re also depriving communities of their livelihoods in the Global South.

Electric cargo planes are on their way: DHL has ordered Eviation’s Alice commuter aircraft to deliver packages to small communities in the U.S.

But as electric vehicles catch on, the Pacific island nation of Nauru is racing to mine the ocean floor for rare metals.

POLICY

Lima, Peru
The Peruvian capital, Lima, only receives about 10 mm of annual rainfall. Aarom Ore, Unsplash

In 2015, the Danish capital Copenhagen pledged to plant 100,000 new trees in a decade. It hasn’t gone well.

Brazil is set to build a new highway across the Amazon to Peru, which will open up one of the world’s most biodiverse regions to logging, ranching and mining.

Arid cities like Phoenix, Lima and Windhoek will need to get smarter with their water as shortages and drought become a fact of life.

Meanwhile, Africa’s largest city is grappling with the opposite problem. Lagos is home to over 20 million people, but rising sea levels could make it uninhabitable by the end of the century.


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