Sustainability

Category Archives: SustainableBizness

Spending time alone in nature is good for your mental and emotional health

Today Americans live in a world that thrives on being busy, productive and overscheduled. Further, they have developed the technological means to be constantly connected to others and to vast options for information and entertainment through social media. For many, smartphones demand their attention day and night with constant notifications.

As a result, naturally occurring periods of solitude and silence that were once commonplace have been squeezed out of their lives. Music, reality TV shows, YouTube, video games, tweeting and texting are displacing quiet and solitary spaces. Silence and solitude are increasingly viewed as “dead” or “unproductive” time, and being alone makes many Americans uncomfortable and anxious.

But while some equate solitude with loneliness, there is a big difference between being lonely and being alone. The latter is essential for mental health and effective leadership.

https://theconversation.com/spending-time-alone-in-nature-is-good-for-your-mental-and-emotional-health-92652

HOW A NOVEL WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY IS HELPING CONSERVE WILDLIFE, FIGHT POLLUTION, SAVE FARMERS MONEY AND MORE

Low-power wide-area networks — LPWANs — are finding application in everything from tracking rhinos in Tanzania to monitoring water quality in Ireland

The sun beats down on the dried Tanzanian soils. Dust is slowly settling back down to the ground in the wake of a parade of tourists’ vehicles, which are now disappearing over the horizon. It’s dry season in the Serengeti National Park, and safari trucks are groaning under the weight of excited visitors.

The park, a World Heritage Site, draws tourists from all over the world. Its ecosystem is carefully managed by hard-working park rangers — a delicate balancing act between wildlife promotion and preservation made even more daunting by poachers in pursuit of the endangered eastern black rhino.

Protecting rhinos from poachers has always been an integral part of park management. While it’s still a complicated and highly skilled endeavor, it’s been made a little easier thanks to recent advances in data communications technology. Using geolocation sensors implanted in the rhinos’ horns and novel wireless telecommunications technology known as a low-power wide-area network (LPWAN), rangers can track the Serengeti’s rhinos from a central location, then concentrate their surveillance efforts where the animals are at any given time.

 

How a novel wireless technology is helping conserve wildlife, fight pollution, save farmers money and more

One-third of global protected land is under intense human pressure

Protected yet pressured

Protected areas are increasingly recognized as an essential way to safeguard biodiversity. Although the percentage of land included in the global protected area network has increased from 9 to 15%, Jones et al. found that a third of this area is influenced by intensive human activity. Thus, even landscapes that are protected are experiencing some human pressure, with only the most remote northern regions remaining almost untouched.

In an era of massive biodiversity loss, the greatest conservation success story has been the growth of protected land globally. Protected areas are the primary defense against biodiversity loss, but extensive human activity within their boundaries can undermine this. Using the most comprehensive global map of human pressure, we show that 6 million square kilometers (32.8%) of protected land is under intense human pressure. For protected areas designated before the Convention on Biological Diversity was ratified in 1992, 55% have since experienced human pressure increases. These increases were lowest in large, strict protected areas, showing that they are potentially effective, at least in some nations. Transparent reporting on human pressure within protected areas is now critical, as are global targets aimed at efforts required to halt biodiversity loss.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6390/788

Agroecology is Advancing Around the Globe. Will the U.S. Take Part?

With its strong focus on social change for small farmers, agroecology is going mainstream worldwide, but the American food movement has yet to catch up.

Earlier this month, the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) held the 2nd International Symposium on Agroecology at its headquarters in Rome. The gathering attracted almost 800 participants, with representatives from 72 governments and 350 “non-state actors,” including civil society, academia, and the private sector. Farmers from Senegal, academics from the U.S., French parliamentarians, and staff of CropLife International, among others, gathered to debate the FAO’s claim of the urgent need to “scale up” agroecology as a means of achieving a more sustainable food system.

The symposium, hosted by the preeminent global institution on food issues, suggests that agroecology may finally be moving out of the margins. And it’s in the process of being mainstreamed.

Yet here in the U.S., it’s a different story. In fact, the word is rarely heard, even among people concerned with both agriculture and ecology. Instead, advocates—and the food industry—use the words organic, sustainable, and regenerative. And while some seem to use agroecology as an umbrella term that encompasses all of these practices, it’s more complex than that.

Shifting Language

All the above-mentioned terms share a commitment to food production without negative impacts on the environment. What makes agroecology different, potentially, is the combination of its scientific bona fides and its rootedness in the practices and political organization of small-scale food producers from across the globe. The former—as seen in multiple scientific elaborations of agroecology’s principles, like improved soil health, crop rotation, and diversification—is complemented by the latter, which gives agroecology meaning beyond the combination of “ecological” and “agriculture.”

Agroecology is Advancing Around the Globe. Will the U.S. Take Part?

California Will Require Solar Power for New Homes

SACRAMENTO — Long a leader and trendsetter in its clean-energy goals, California took a giant step on Wednesday, becoming the first state to require all new homes to have solar power.

The new requirement, to take effect in two years, brings solar power into the mainstream in a way it has never been until now. It will add thousands of dollars to the cost of home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.

That made the relative ease of its approval — in a unanimous vote by the five-member California Energy Commission before a standing-room crowd, with little debate — all the more remarkable.

State officials and clean-energy advocates say the extra cost to home buyers will be more than made up in lower energy bills. That prospect has won over even the construction industry, which has embraced solar capability as a selling point.

One of the most worrisome predictions about climate change may be coming true

Two years ago, former NASA climate scientist James Hansen and a number of colleagues laid out a dire scenario in which gigantic pulses of fresh water from melting glaciers could upend the circulation of the oceans, leading to a world of fast-rising seas and even superstorms.

Hansen’s scenario was based on a computer simulation, not hard data from the real world, and met with skepticism from a number of other climate scientists. But now, a new oceanographic study appears to have confirmed one aspect of this picture — in its early stages, at least.

The new research, based on ocean measurements off the coast of East Antarctica, shows that melting Antarctic glaciers are indeed freshening the ocean around them. And this, in turn, is blocking a process in which cold and salty ocean water sinks below the sea surface in winter, forming “the densest water on the Earth,” in the words of study lead author Alessandro Silvano, a researcher with the University of Tasmania in Hobart.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/04/23/one-of-the-most-worrisome-predictions-about-climate-change-may-be-coming-true/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.350ee40a21c8

7 things we’ve learned about Earth since the last Earth Day

Our understanding of Earth — and how we’re changing it — just keeps expanding.

Earth Day turns 48 today, April 22, and Google is celebrating it with a Google Doodle of conservationist Dr. Jane Goodall, who nudges us in a video a “do our part for this beautiful planet.”

When Senator Gaylord Nelson (D-Wisc.) founded Earth Day in 1970, his hope was to make the environment a political issue in an era where US rivers caught on fire and thick smog choked cities.

In many ways, it worked. Since then, major environmental laws have helped clean up much of the vivid toxic detritus in the soil, air, and water in the US. But our challenges today are no less daunting. The accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the loss of wilderness and species, and the acidification and pollution of the oceans have all become more acute — and more destabilizing.

In keeping with the tradition started by former Vox writers Brad Plumer and Joseph Stromberg, here are seven of the most troubling, intriguing, and encouraging things we learned about the Earth since the last Earth Day.

https://www.vox.com/2018/4/21/17247994/earth-day-2018-plastic-climate-change

Achieving 100% Renewable Energy is Within Our Reach

“..if you pay a power bill [100% renewable] is increasingly the common-sense path forward.”

We watch in horror as the damages from climate change continue to mount.

Last year, Hurricane Harvey dropped more rain on Houston than any storm has ever dropped on any American city, ever. Hurricane Maria set back development in Puerto Rico 25 years, according to early estimates. And the tab keeps mounting: in 2017 alone, the economic cost of hurricanes and wildfires was greater than the cost of paying tuition for every American in a public college or university. We can’t have a working nation or a world if we don’t stop the climate from careening out of control. That’s been clear for decades now, but what’s been less clear is precisely what we should do about it.

Happily, that’s no longer the case. We now know exactly what to do, and we’re increasingly certain it can be done. We have to switch off of coal, oil, and gas, and on to 100% wind, water, and sun energy sources. And though this drive for a conversion to clean energy started in northern Europe and northern California, it’s a call that’s gaining traction outside the obvious green enclaves. More and more major US cities have taken the pledge to go 100% renewable by the year 2050, while others have taken action to sever their ties with the fossil fuel industry, signifying a global shift in how we’re thinking about our energy system.

https://www.sandersinstitute.com/blog/04/18/2018/achieving-100-renewable-energy

Americans waste 150,000 tons of food each day – equal to a pound per person


Research shows people with healthy diets rich in fruit and vegetables are the most wasteful and calls for better education for consumers

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/18/americans-waste-food-fruit-vegetables-study

About 150,000 tons of food is tossed out in US households each day, equivalent to about a third of the daily calories that each American consumes. Fruit and vegetables were the most likely to be thrown out, followed by dairy and then meat.

This waste has an environmental toll, with the volume of discarded food equivalent to the yearly use of 30m acres of land, 780m pounds of pesticide and 4.2tn gallons of irrigated water. Rotting food also clogs up landfills and releases methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

Researchers at the US Department of Agriculture analysed eight years of food data, up to 2014, to see where food is wasted and also what members of the public say they do at mealtimes. The research has been published in Plos One.

 

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