Tag Archives: Environment

Habitats: The Destruction Of Paraguay’s Rainforests

Paraguay might be one of the world’s first countries to lose its rainforest because of a confluence of factors including inequality, corruption, drug trafficking, and climate change. The South American nation offers a stark warning for what the planet stands to lose if it doesn’t act to protect its natural resources.

Paraguay is a landlocked country between Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia, home to large swaths of swampland, subtropical forest and chaco, wildernesses comprising savanna and scrubland. The capital, Asunción, on the banks of the Paraguay River, is home to the grand Government Palace and the Museo del Barro, displaying pre-Columbian ceramics and ñandutí lacework, the latter available in many shops. 

Views: The Eden Project – World’s Largest Indoor Rainforest, Cornwall, UK

There’s a rainforest in Europe? Apparently, yes – and it’s called the Eden Project! It houses the world’s largest covered rainforest, beneath a giant dome.

But it’s not an amusement park, but rather an educational centre and environmental organisation. The concept: Only those who experience and engage with the beauty of nature can also protect it. That’s why 100,000 plants from all over the world have been brought here, where they cover an area of some 50 hectares.

Not only the sheer number of plants is impressive, the building itself is, too: Two geodesic domes span the site as greenhouses – like massive soap bubbles sticking together. Our Euromaxx reporter Hendrik Welling visits the record-breaking Eden Project and to explore its biotopes and rainforest.

Wildfires: The Alder Creek Giant Sequoia Graveyard

On a dead still November morning in the Sierra Nevada, two researchers walk through a graveyard of giants. Below their feet: a layer of ash and coal. Above their heads: a charnel house of endangered trees.

This is Alder Creek Grove, a once idyllic environment for a majestic and massive specimen: the giant sequoia. It is now a blackened monument to a massive wildfire—and humankind’s far-reaching impact on the environment. But these two researchers have come to do more than pay their respects.

Linnea Hardlund and Alexis Bernal, both of the University of California, Berkeley, are studying the effects of record-breaking fires such as the one that destroyed large swaths of Alder Creek Grove in the hopes that their findings will inform forest management that might preserve giant sequoias for future generations.

So far, those findings are grim: mortality in Alder Creek Grove is near 100 percent. Of the mighty trees that stood watch for thousands of years, only charred skeletons remain. About a century of aggressive fire suppression and a warming, drier climate have created a perfect environment for unprecedented fire.

On August 19, 2020, it came to the Giant Sequoia National Monument. The SQF Complex was two fires—the Castle and Shotgun fires—that burned for more than four months, affecting nearly 175,000 acres. And a preliminary report on the Castle Fire estimated that 10 to 14 percent of all living giant sequoias were destroyed.

Hardlund, who is also at the nonprofit Save the Redwoods League, and Bernal fear that, without scientifically informed intervention, such fires will continue to return to the Sierra Nevada—leaving the once proud guardians of the forest a memory and another casualty of our ecological failure.

Views: The Bonneville Salt Flats In Northwest Utah

The Bonneville Salt Flats are perfect for speed. Every year, cars and motorcycles break land speed records on the flat expanse of the Bonneville Salt Flats. It’s been a tradition for more than a century, and racers have built a thriving community around the salt races. But how did these salt flats form, and why are they disappearing now?

Climate Change: “Don’t Choose Extinction” (U.N.)

A visitor to the United Nations General Assembly has a message about climate change, telling us government-supported fossil fuel subsidies will prove disastrous to our species. The computer-animated Frankie the Dinosaur (voiced by actor Jack Black) stars in this message produced by the U.N. Development Program as part of its “Don’t Choose Extinction” campaign, timed to the COP-26 climate conference in Glasgow.

Nature: Belize Converts Debt To Protect 30% Of Its Coral Atolls, Barrier Reef

The Belize Barrier Reef System features three of four coral atolls in the Atlantic, lush mangrove forests, numerous offshore islands, and one of the most extensive seagrass areas in the Caribbean. It hosts 77 species listed as threatened by the IUCN, including a sizeable population of West Indian Manatees.

Now, Belize has reaffirmed its environmental leadership by becoming the first country in the Americas to finalize a debt conversion for ocean conservation—and one that represents an impact investment for marine protection that’s unprecedented in scale. This commitment will enable Belize to restructure approximately US$550 million of external commercial debt—an amount that represents 30 percent of the country’s GDP—and reduce the national debt by 12 percent.

Views: What 3°C Of Global Warming Will Look Like

If global temperatures rise three degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the results would be catastrophic. It’s an entirely plausible scenario, and this film shows you what it would look like.

Video timeline: 00:00 – What will a 3°C world look like? 00:57 – Climate change is already having devastating effects 02:58 – How climate modelling works 04:06 – Nowhere is safe from global warming 05:20 – The impact of prolonged droughts 08:24 – Rising sea levels, storm surges and flooding 10:27 – Extreme heat and wet-bulb temperatures 12:51 – Increased migration and conflict 14:26 – Adaptation and mitigation are crucial

Science: Floating ‘Seed’ Sensors, Human Walking Pace, Genome Editing

How tiny seed-like sensors could monitor the environment, and the latest from the Nature Briefing.

In this episode:

00:45 Spinning seeds inspire floating electronics

Researchers have developed miniature electronic-chips with wings that fall like seeds, which could be a new way to monitor the environment.

Research article: Kim et al.

Video: Seed-inspired spinners ride the wind and monitor the atmosphere

06:02 Research Highlights

How humans can adjust to an energy-efficient walking pace almost without thinking, and the viral shell that excels at delivering genome-editing tools.

Research Highlight: Humans walk efficiently even with their heads in the clouds

Research Highlight: A CRISPR fix for muscles hatches from a viral shell

08:34 Briefing Chat

We discuss some highlights from the Nature Briefing. This time, the mystery of the Sun’s super-hot corona, and the latest efforts to toilet-train cows.

Physics World: The enduring mystery of the solar corona

The Guardian: Cows ‘potty-trained’ in experiment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

Environment: Investing In Carbon Capture Systems

The system could be one answer to slashing Earth’s carbon emissions. A Swiss startup has created a giant vacuum cleaner to capture carbon dioxide from the air, helping companies offset their emissions. WSJ visits the facility to see how it traps the gas for sale to clients like Coca-Cola, which uses it in fizzy drinks. Composite: Clément Bürge.

Renewable Energy: The Political Backlash (WSJ)

Political battles at the most local levels are slowing the pace of decarbonization Property owners in the windy and sunny parts of the U.S. are pushing back against large-scale renewable energy development, opposition that researchers say could slow the transition to a cleaner economy. Photo: Aaron Yoder/WSJ