How Wolves Change Rivers And Humans Change Planets

A fantastic demonstration of ecosystem science for those unfamiliar with its complex and interdependent relationships, the below video, currently going viral, illustrates how a small number of individuals can have an enormous impact on the environment. If a small population of wolves can transform a national park in such a profound way, it follows that a large (and still growing) population of humans can have an equally profound impact on the Earth, which we surely have done. Wolves and beavers are mentioned as two examples of “ecosystem engineers.” Humans are much the same, making subtle changes in our environment over time without putting much thought into it. Our behavior lately has been more destructive than constructive, however, even when it has meant increased productivity, as we have managed to do with regard to agriculture. Now, as we begin to wake from our slumber and perform as ecosystem engineers in a more conscious, thoughtful way, with all we have learned and are learning, these are the kinds of success stories that are more and more possible, and indeed probable, as we enter this new phase of human interaction with the environment.

Watch: 

How Wolves Change Rivers – YouTube.

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Ambitious plan to end forest loss announced at UN Climate Summit : TreeHugger

A palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

CC BY 2.0 Achmad Rabin Taim. A palm oil plantation in Indonesia.

A new partnership between governments, businesses and indigenous leaders aiming to reduce forest loss was announced at today’s UN Climate Summit in New York City. The “New York Declaration on Forests” aims to cut the rate of forest loss in half by 2020 and end deforestation by 2030.

The ambition of this plan matches the importance of protecting forests, which is an important factor in curbing carbon emissions. Forest clearing is estimated to be responsible for emitting over 4.5 billion tons of carbon every year. Stopping deforestation has emerged as a particularly cost-effective means of reducing emissions.

Protecting forests is also an important human rights issue for the indigenous peoples who live in them and depend on them for their livelihoods. A recent report from the World Resources Institute showed that legally recognized forest communities are effective at preventing deforestation.

“That’s why we have any natural forest left at all on the planet. If you map where indigenous people live and where we have intact forests, there’s an amazing overlap there,” Charles Ian McNeill, a senior policy advisor for the United Nations Development Program, told TreeHugger. “That’s not a coincidence.”

A coalition of indigenous leaders from Asia, Africa, Central America and the Amazon Basin pledged to protect the over 400 million hectares of tropical forests under their jurisdiction, a carbon sink worth over 70 gigatons. Peru, Chile, Indonesia, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the 31 countries endorsing the declaration.

Yet in far too many parts of the world, the rights of indigenous people go unrecognized. As part of today’s announcement, a number of donor countries made resources available to help forest communities. Norway has pledged $100 million towards indigenous peoples, as part of a $3 billion commitment towards climate and forest purposes. Other donor countries include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada and Japan.

Just as importantly, a significant number of companies also support to the agreement, which means eliminating products associated with deforestation from their supply chains by 2020. Some companies have set their targets even sooner, like Unilever’s promise to be deforestation-free by 2015.

“Business will be increasingly held to a higher level of accountability,” said Unilever CEO Paul Polman yesterday at an event held by the Climate and Land Use Alliance. “I’m encouraged by the number of companies who are signing up.”

Also committing to clean up their supply chains are Cargill, Wilmar and Golden Agri-Resources, three of the largest palm oil producers—a commodity that has been closely associated with deforestation. About 60 percent of palm oil production is now managed by companies that have made commitments to providing deforestation-free commodities by 2020. This is a major change, as little more than a year ago no such commitments had been made.

McNeill said that UN agencies have plans in place to follow up on private sector commitments after one year. “The whole world is watching now. We hear you, we appreciate this commitment,” he said. “But the bulk of it is still to come and we’ll be watching.”

Ambitious plan to end forest loss announced at UN Climate Summit : TreeHugger.

Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For People’s Climate March In New York City

Yesterday I marched with more than 400,000 people to demonstrate to world leaders that it is time for a multilateral treaty to reduce carbon emissions as they prepare to gather at the UN’s Climate Summit. Mitigating and adapting to climate change have to become priorities for the entire world, and collaboration and cooperation are the only ways forward. We successfully reduced the damage being done to our ozone layer due to the manufacture of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) because of an agreement known as the Montreal Protocol, so there is precedent for a worldwide effort to prevent global catastrophe. We are capable of doing so much more than we have been doing, and to be a part of this demonstration was heartening and inspiring. One of the things I noticed was how squeaky clean the streets were. Central Park West, down West 59th Street to Avenue of the Americas, down to 42nd Street, there was no litter to be seen. These people care! I only point this out because as a New York City resident, even a four hour street festival, through which maybe 1,000 people pass, generates enormous piles of trash, not only in the waste receptacles but in the gutters and on the street and sidewalks! I am consistently appalled at these sights, so to have 400 times as many people, for a day-long event, and to have a 100 times cleaner result is truly remarkable. Congratulations to everyone who participated! The article below speaks to the magnitude and significance of our accomplishment. Let’s continue to march forward in our quest for a global commitment to reduce the harmful effects of climate change.

NEW YORK — More than 400,000 people turned out for the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, just days before many of the world’s leaders are expected to debate environmental action at the United Nations climate summit.

Early reports from event organizers are hailing the turnout as the largest climate march in history, far bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held in Washington, D.C., last year. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also there, and more than 550 buses carried in people from around the country.

The rally comes at an opportune time as 120 world leaders, including President Barack Obama, are expected to convene Tuesday at the United Nations in New York to discuss ways to tackle the growing threat of carbon pollution.

The White House has pledged to “show the world that the U.S. is leading on climate change, and to call on other leaders to step up to the plate,” John Podesta, who serves as a counselor to the president, told reporters on Thursday. However, a recent study found that the world spewed more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year than ever before, primarily driven by China, India and the United States. And the top leaders of China and India announced earlier this month that they won’t be attending Tuesday’s summit.

The march began around 11:30 a.m., at New York City’s Columbus Circle just off Central Park. At times, it stretched more than 4 miles as marchers carried banners, signs and entire contraptions depicting everything from Mother Earth herself to the dinosaurs that now make up fossil fuels.

peoples climate march
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People’s Climate March on Sunday.

“Today I march because I want to behold a brighter future. We have destroyed ourselves. We have destroyed our health and I’m here because our political leaders have failed us,” Stanley Sturgill, a retired coal miner from Kentucky now suffering from black lung, said at a press conference before the march. “We know together we can build our bright future.”

More than 1,500 groups filled Central Park West before the march. They represented a variety of interests, including the scientific community and religious organizations. More than 50,000 students were there because they were worried about their future, while grandparents came out of concern for their legacy.

“We need to act now … We only have one atmosphere and we of the Marshall Islands only have one land to call ‘home,'” Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, a young mother from the island nation, said before the march. “We don’t want to move and we shouldn’t have to move.”

Hundreds Of Thousands Turn Out For People’s Climate March In New York City.

Dymax-Redux

 

This beautiful woodcut map, using the Dymaxion projection developed by Buckminster Fuller in 1943, won the Dymax Redux competition held by the Buckminster Fuller Institute in 2013. The Dymaxion projection unwraps the globe to show the Earth’s continents as being nearly contiguous, and avoids the infamous distortions of size and shape of many other projections. The map shows no geographical boundaries, and is reversible, as Buckminster Fuller famously proclaimed this map: “There is no up or down in the Universe, only in or out.” The different colored woods represent percent forested land. A perfect idea for a woodcut. Anyone else want this for a wall in their office/house? Congratulations to the winners for their brilliant design! 271.jpg (5400×3600).

Watch Will Ferrell and Robert Redford hilariously insult each other to save a river

A PSA regarding a very pressing issue in the western United States with a sweet dose of levity courtesy of Will Ferrell.

Grist

This is probably the first river-related PSA that’ll actually crack you up. Golden fox Robert Redford (he’s more tawny than silver) just wanted to tell you about Raise the River, a campaign to restore the Colorado River. But of course Will Ferrell had to go and interrupt with his OWN campaign, Move the Ocean. “Do we REALLY need more river? I mean, hell, we’ve got plenty of ocean. Let’s move IT.”

Watch and laugh, my friend:

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Birds of a Feather

Birds are fascinating. Sometimes I think they’ve been watching us for a long time, waiting for us to wake up, look up, and take notice.

THE DIRT

Flock together. This proverb is very much rooted in nature. Single species of birds frequently form flocks. They do this for a variety of reasons. Ornithologists have discovered that birds flock to protect themselves from predators, take advantage of choice foods, raise their profile among females ready to mate, or aerodynamically maximize wind currents. Some species’ flocks also form amazing murmurations, undulating swarms that ebb and flow.

To further examine this wonder of nature, artist Dennis Hlynsky, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, started filming the individual flight paths of birds to discover the broader patterns.

This Is Colossal tells us: “Hlynsky first started filming birds in 2005 using a small Flip video recorder, but now uses a Lumix GH2 to record gigabytes of bird footage from locations around Rhode Island. He then edits select clips with After Effects and other tools to create brief visual trails…

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