Earth Hour 2016

Earth-Hour-2016“As the world stands at a climate crossroads, it is powerful yet humbling to think that our actions today will decide what tomorrow will look like for generations to come.” Saturday 19th March at 08:30 pm local time is Earth Hour, a worldwide grassroots movement organised by WWF, which originally began as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then this annual global celebration where people switch off their lights for one hour has become a symbolic display of how much we care for and want to protect the planet. Last year a record number of people from across 172 countries celebrated Earth Hour.

A recent article from WWF outlining climate events of 2015, makes it clear that Earth Hour this year is crucial to continued progress on climate change. Firstly changes in our climate continue to be worrying: 2015 became the official hottest year on record, winter sea ice in the Arctic reached a record low and the haze crisis brought about by illegal slash-and-burn methods to clear land for palm oil and paper production hit Southeast Asia. But there is also significant progress being made in policy that needs to be celebrated but also built upon: the “Well-being of Future Generations” bill passed by Wales, the 114 companies who committed to reduce emissions on the sidelines of COP21, the 1000 mayors who committed to 100% renewable energy and of course the Paris Climate Agreement. [Read more…]

What we’ve been reading this week

This week’s summary on the news stories, reports and blogs that have grabbed our attention. We welcome your thoughts and comments on these articles.

Foresight Africa, Brookings Africa Growth Initiative

Humanity needs science, not ideology, Huffington Post

The Food Index, Oxfam

Perilous retreat from global trade rules, China Daily

101 Organizations to Watch in 2014, Food Tank

First comprehensive test to detect genetic modification in food, American Chemical Society

Got milk? The impact of Heifer International’s livestock donation programs in Rwanda on nutritional outcomes, Science Direct

New discovery could stimulate plant growth and increase crop yields, researchers say, EurekAlert

Hidden soy on supermarket shelves masks assault on nature, WWF

Conservation Agriculture: Global Prospects and Challenges, Jat, R.A, Sahrawat, K. L. and Kassam, A.H.

Frankenpolitics: The Left’s defence of GMOs, EU Observer

The right kind of helping hand for small farmers, Thomson Reuters Foundation

What I learned from six months of GMO research: None of it matters, Grist

 

 

Mainstreaming natural capital into decision-making

ID-10033243On the 31st October 2013, Gretchen Daily, Professor of Environmental Science, Stanford Woods, presented her experiences and research on how we can harmonise agriculture and biodiversity conservation through quantifying the value of ecosystem services and developing policy and finance mechanisms that enable the integration of human needs and environmental protection.

Undertaking the Humanitas Visiting Professorship in Sustainability Studies, the seminar was the first in a series of talks by Prof. Daily at the University of Cambridge.

Prof Daily began by showing a picture of a tea plantation in Uganda surrounded by cloud forest. Her work encompasses the ways in which we can value the natural habitats surrounding human-modified landscapes so that they can become part of decision-making processes. Achieving global food security while protecting natural systems is crucial both for human well-being and to help us avoid the catastrophic changes in the Earth’s systems that are predicted.

In a small-scale study in Costa Rica, Prof. Daily and colleagues investigated the value of biodiversity-driven benefits for coffee production to illuminate how important biodiversity is for agriculture. Coffee is competing with petroleum for the biggest export from developing countries. The forests surrounding the small-scale coffee plantations the team investigated were found to harbour some 700 bee species, 150 bird species and 70 bat species. The pollination boost these species provided was valued at $60,000 per year, 10% of the annual income from one farm while the pest control services were worth some $10,000 per year. Pest control services were particularly important in controlling a rapidly spreading pest of coffee, the coffee berry borer, which can wipe out up to 75% of yield and to which there are no pesticide or other chemical interventions available yet. To date there has been no awareness of these dimensions of the value of surrounding biodiversity and more needs to be done to quantify them at a scale relevant to human activities. [Read more…]

Happy Earth Day

ID-10036673 (2)Today is the 43rd Earth Day. An annual event intended to promote awareness of environmental issues such as climate change.

Over 1 billion people in 192 countries are estimated to be taking part in events. You can follow some of these events on Twitter using the hastag #EarthDay. Here in London, for example, some of the city’s most iconic buildings from the London Eye and the Oxo Tower to Westminster Abbey and the Gherkin are all turning their lights off for WWF’s Earth hour (8:30-9:30pm GMT). You can watch Earth hour live or follow on Twitter #doitinthedark

While some of these events are short-term, aiming to highlight the effect overconsumption can have on earth’s resources and climate, Earth Day is also a good time to re-evaluate our lifestyles for the longer term. [Read more…]