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Gravity power, climate-induced sleep loss and the mysterious deaths of Aussie trees

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

Solar energy is limited by the availability of sunlight. Could gravity powered batteries close this gap? Red Zeppelin, Pexels
27 May 2022
Ming Chun Tang
27 May 2022
Ming Chun Tang

Three months on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many countries are considering returning to coal to fill the void left by Russian gas. Where does that leave the world’s climate goals?

In this Landscape News round-up, we unpack the key headlines of the week, from gravity batteries to climate-induced insomnia.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

The skyline of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. abdallahh, Flickr
The skyline of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. abdallahh, Flickr

Earlier this month, the world’s largest drylands conference wrapped up in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Here’s what happened at UNCCD COP15, according to ICRAF director general Tony Simons and Chadian activist Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim.

In Abidjan, we at the Global Landscapes Forum hosted two expert discussions on land tenure in partnership with TMG. We also met these six women from across Africa to hear stories about their home landscapes.

Soil degradation costs the world up to USD 10 trillion a year. Here’s what we can do about it.

CLIMATE

A man swelters from the heat in Mumbai. Swaminathan, Flickr
A man swelters from the heat in Mumbai. Swaminathan, Flickr

As India and Pakistan swelter under temperatures of up to 51 degrees Celsius, two studies suggest the climate crisis made the deadly heatwave 30 times – or even 100 times – more likely.

U.S. meteorologists are forecasting a busy Atlantic hurricane season for the seventh year running, with three to six major hurricanes.

Carbon may dominate the climate discourse, but it’s equally important to slash methane emissions to prevent even worse impacts, scientists say.

PEOPLE

A growing number of people do not get enough sleep. cottonbro, Pexels
A growing number of people do not get enough sleep. cottonbro, Pexels

Are you losing sleep over the climate crisis? Warmer temperatures could cost us up to 58 hours of sleep a year by the end of the century.

Pollution kills 9 million people a year, which accounted for roughly one in six deaths worldwide in 2019.

More than 23 million people are facing extreme hunger in East Africa amid drought and rising food prices caused by the war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, food and energy magnates are enjoying a bonanza.

PLANET

In addition to food, seaweed nowadays is used in a wide range of products. Silas Baisch, Unsplash
In addition to food, seaweed nowadays is used in a wide range of products. Silas Baisch, Unsplash

Could seaweeds help tackle the climate crisis? Best known as an East Asian delicacy, these marine organisms are also extremely powerful at absorbing carbon dioxide.

War has taken a heavy toll on Ukraine’s natural environment. Now, the besieged country wants reparations from Russia for the damage.

Africa’s Great Green Wall is stalling. The ambitious restoration project is just 4 percent finished, with terrorism and political instability standing in the way.

Australia’s tropical trees are mysteriously dying out, but urban forests are bringing native birds back to cities in neighboring New Zealand.

POLICY

Anthony Albanese, the new Australian prime minister, in 2012 as the then-Minister of Infrastructure and Transport. International Transport Forum, Flickr
Anthony Albanese, the new Australian prime minister, in 2012 as the then-Minister of Infrastructure and Transport. International Transport Forum, Flickr

Australia’s newly elected prime minister has pledged to take the climate crisis seriously. Will he deliver?

Protests will be allowed at the COP27 climate conference in November, host country Egypt has promised.

Scientists are growing increasingly frustrated at China’s hosting of the COP15 biodiversity summit, which still has no confirmed date after almost two years of pandemic-related delays.

Last month, India offered to help alleviate the world’s growing food crisis. Instead, it did the exact opposite.

BUSINESS

Amber Goetz, Unsplash
Amber Goetz, Unsplash

A German farmer is suing Volkswagen for its contribution to the climate crisis. Campaigners are also taking Dutch national airline KLM to court for greenwashing.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is hellbent on mining the country’s Indigenous territories. Fortunately, some of the largest mining companies aren’t interested.

A study found that half of all fossil fuel production sites will have to be shut down early to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

And now for this week’s top techno-fixes: gravity powermore gravity power, and vodka from captured carbon.


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