31 results for “Human Planet”

How China is enjoying blue skies — thanks to the coronavirus

Britta de Vries
March 17th 2020

Surrounded by greyness and with the air around you having a dusty, burnt taste; for a long time this is what it has been like to live in many of the world’s highly polluted cities. However, because of the drastic measures taken because of the novel coronavirus, the lock-down response to the virus in China has resulted in a drop in air pollution as the pandemic continues to halt industrial activities in the country — giving the city’s atmosphere and …

Why half of the world’s beaches could disappear by 2100

Simon Boxall and Abiy S. Kebede
March 11th 2020

Up to half of the world’s sandy beaches are at risk of disappearing by the end of this century if no action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s according to a new study, published in Nature Climate Change. Even assuming a better outcome for action on climate change, where global emissions peak around 2040, well over one-third (37%) of the world’s beaches would be lost by 2100.

Researchers had previously analysed satellite images showing shoreline change from 1984 …

How climate fiction novels allow us to imagine possible futures

Adeline Johns-Putra
January 16th 2020

Every day brings fresh and ever more alarming news about the state of the global environment. To speak of mere “climate change” is inadequate now, for we are in a “climate emergency”. It seems as though we are tripping over more tipping points than we knew existed.

But our awareness is at last catching up with the planet’s climate catastrophes. Climate anxiety, climate trauma, and climate strikes are now all part of many people’s mental landscape and daily lives. This …

This expo confronts a planet in a state of emergency

NextNature.net
December 12th 2019

Meet the 'Eco-Visionaries', these are the architects, artists and designers who respond to some of the most urgent ecological issues of our times.

This exhibition reveals how artists, architects and designers are responding to some of the planet’s most urgent issues - from land degradation, to food security and the extinction of endangered species. Each response aims to re-frame our relationship with nature to communicate a new urgency. We need confront environmental issues, now.

A variety of works, ranging from installations, …

Why electric cars should be allowed to drive faster

Van Mensvoort
December 4th 2019

In response to the nitrogen crisis, the Dutch cabinet is planning to reduce the speed limit during the day to 100 kph. In itself a sensible decision. But it is strange that this measure also affects motorists who cause no nitrogen emissions whatsoever. A missed opportunity to reward sustainable actions. That's why we started a petition. We want a separate lane for electric cars where 130 km/h is allowed. Sign if you agree with us.

Before I explain why we …

How Pokemon are affected by climate change

Ruben Baart
November 20th 2019

You know climate change is real when dead coral Pokemon start to wash up on (virtual) beaches. Behold, Cursola, world’s first dead coral Pokemon.

On the origins of Cursola

While Pokemon has become a cultural phenomenon since its release in 1996, the media franchise maintains its relevance today.

Let's take a brief look at Cursola’s backstory—it more or less aligns with what climate change is doing to coral on Earth.

"Found in the warm shallow waters of southern seas, Corsola …

Green roofs improve the urban environment – so why don’t all buildings have them?

Michael Hardman and Nick Davies
October 29th 2019

Rooftops covered with grass, vegetable gardens and lush foliage are now a common sight in many cities around the world. More and more private companies and city authorities are investing in green roofs, drawn to their wide-ranging benefits which include savings on energy costs, mitigating the risk from floods, creating habitats for urban wildlife, tackling air pollution and urban heat and even producing food.

A recent report in the UK suggested that the green roof market there is expanding at …

Endangered animal species, in pixels

Ruben Baart
October 4th 2019

Today is World Animal Day, a day to put the spotlight on man's best friends in order to improve their welfare standards around the globe.

At Next Nature HQ, we honor this day by having dug up a brilliant 2008 campaign by WWF that featured photos of endangered animals, where the number of pixels in the photo matched the remaining population of the animal pictured.

It reminds us of the opportunity (for people of all ages - it's never too …

These are the ‘meltwater lakes’ of Antartica

Jennifer Arthur
October 2nd 2019

During the Antarctic summer, thousands of mesmerising blue lakes form around the edges of the continent’s ice sheet, as warmer temperatures cause snow and ice to melt and collect into depressions on the surface. Colleagues of mine at Durham University have recently used satellites to record more than 65,000 of these lakes.

Though seasonal meltwater lakes have formed on the continent for decades, lakes had not been recorded before in such great numbers across coastal areas of East Antarctica. This …

Why you should attend ADE Green

Ruben Baart
October 1st 2019

ADE Green returns for the seventh consecutive year to the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam. Once more, Amsterdam Dance Event organizes this leading event to ignite sustainable action, innovation and social change through the (electronic) music industry. The result is a tasty mix of local heroes and global game changers that unite to answer pressing questions from within the music industry — and beyond.

To give you an idea, the conference asks whether it's possible (and how) to keep your ecological …

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Surrounded by greyness and with the air around you having a dusty, burnt taste; for a long time this is what it has been like to live in many of the world’s highly polluted cities. However, because of the drastic measures taken because of the novel coronavirus, the lock-down response to the virus in China has resulted in a drop in air pollution as the pandemic continues to halt industrial activities in the country — giving the city’s atmosphere and its residents some time to breathe. Literally.

Every cloud has a silver lining

The response from the Chinese government to COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on the lives of 780 million Chinese citizens, resulting in many being quarantined in lock-down areas limited to their homes for much of their day instead of being able to go outside.

Within satellite images shared by NASA, the reduction in air pollution is shown. It is visible that, as a result of the economic slow-down following China’s response to COVID-19, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by around 25 percent; this is China’s first decline in carbon emissions since three years.

A reduction of air pollution has brought hope to the lovers of sunshine and the colour blue. As Chinese citizens are forced to stay inside at least they can now enjoy the sunlight and blue skies from their homes. This can certainly be seen as the silver lining of this global pandemic.

Cleaner air could save lives

Marshall Burke, researcher at Stanford University, has calculated the improvements in air quality in China. According to his information, the reduction of carbon emission may save the lives of 4.000 children under 5 years old and 73.000 adults over 70.

At this moment, this is happening due to the stand-still of the lives of most of the citizens living in China. While the general terror of COVID-19 is intense, this current improvement of air quality is also saving people: as of today it has saved more people than the coronavirus is killing. Of course, this virus has the ability to grow exponentially if precautions are not taken today.

Will these blue skies last? Probably not, pollution levels are likely to skyrocket back up to pre-corona levels when people return to work. Yet this event does bring humanity a moment to reflect on what it prioritises. While COVID-19 is a terrifying worldwide crisis, the climate crisis remains real.

We have entered the Anthropocene epoch, an age where humanity and its instrumentalities are the most potent and influential geological force.

Welcome to the human planet.

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Up to half of the world’s sandy beaches are at risk of disappearing by the end of this century if no action is taken to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

That’s according to a new study, published in Nature Climate Change. Even assuming a better outcome for action on climate change, where global emissions peak around 2040, well over one-third (37%) of the world’s beaches would be lost by 2100.

Researchers had previously analysed satellite images showing shoreline change from 1984 to 2016. They found that a quarter of sandy beaches worldwide had already eroded at a rate of more than 0.5m per year, shedding over 28,000 square kilometres of land to the sea.

The rate at which sea levels are rising is accelerating by about 0.1mm per year each year. But sea level rise won’t be even across the globe. The term “sea level” can be misleading – the sea surface is not flat. Much like the atmosphere, it has high and low pressure areas which create mounds and troughs. Some of these are created by major currents, so changes that will take place as the oceans warm will change the topography of the sea surface. Some areas will receive less than the predicted average sea level rise, but many will see more.

More than 60% of sandy beaches in Gambia and Guinea-Bissau may be lost to erosion by rising seas, while Australia is expected to lose nearly 12,000 km of sandy coastline. For small island states such as Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, losing 300m of land – as predicted for some – would be catastrophic.

An aerial view of Funafuti atoll, Tuvalu, shows the airstrip of Vaiaku international airport. There is little space for the coast to retreat as sea levels rise. Via Maloff/Shutterstock

Nowhere to go

Sandy beaches occupy more than one-third of the global coastline and of all the different types of beaches, sandy beaches are the most heavily used by people. Many coastal areas have been built on, for industry, housing and tourist resorts.

These “softer” parts of the shoreline have always been at the mercy of ocean storms and the tides. But the predicted sea level rise on top of these daily inundations pushes the boundary between coast and sea inland, a process known as coastal retreat.

The build-up of people and concrete at the landward fringe of sandy beaches has created an abrupt barrier to coastal retreat, preventing beaches from moving inland as sea levels rise. Instead, sandy stretches of coastline are at risk of being eroded and washed away entirely.

Warming seas also promise more intense and frequent storms, which are capable of moving entire beaches overnight. Porthleven Beach in Cornwall, UK lost all of its sand during a storm in January 2015, to be returned by the tide a few days later.

Soft sandy beaches are continuously moved by waves and currents – depleting them in certain areas and depositing them in others. This transport of sand is normal, but the combined force of higher sea levels and stronger storms could spell extinction for many beaches.

All of this is very worrying for the millions of people who call these regions home. The world’s sandy coastlines tend to be densely populated, and are becoming more so over time. In other research, it was found that sea level rise by 0.8m could erase 17,000 square km of land and force up to 5.3 million people to migrate, with an associated cost of USD$300-1,000 billion globally. In Africa alone, up to 40,000 people per year could be forced to migrate due to land loss by coastal erosion if no adaptive measures are in place by 2100.

But it isn’t just climate change. Humans are actively accelerating coastal erosion by removing sand from beaches in enormous quantities and at much faster rates than it can be naturally renewed. Gravel and sand is extracted from rivers and on beaches for use in construction – and at a faster rate than fossil fuel extraction in some areas.

Coastal ecosystems that bind and trap sediment, like mangrove swamps, are also being destroyed. The world lost almost 10,000 square kilometres of these habitats between 1996 and 2016. Meanwhile, sediment supply to the coast is also affected by building dams and irrigation systems upstream.

Mangroves are effective buffers against storms and help trap more sand around the coast. Via Ibenk_88/Shutterstock

Sea level rise is inevitable, but how bad it will be is still not certain. Replenishing the most endangered beaches by pumping sand onto them – a process called “coastal nourishment” – could cost USD$65–220 billion in total, but that’s still less than one-fifth of the economic cost of taking no action at all on sea level rise. It could reduce land loss by up to 14%, lower the number of people that might be forced to migrate by up to 68%, and shrink the cost of forced migration by up to 85% by 2100.

Even “moderate emission mitigation policy”, as the new study calls it, in which global emissions peak around 2040, could prevent 40% of the landward retreat of shorelines by 2100. On average, this would save more than 40m width of sandy beach around the world, from an average loss of around 250m.

Coastal nourishment can have its own ecological problems, so it would have to be done with careful attention to the local environment. But much of what needs to be done to save the world’s sandy beaches lies within our grasp already – if we can just reduce the rate at which we’re consuming sand and burning fossil fuels. By doing that – and expanding and protecting coastal habitats – the terrible predictions from this new research might never come to pass.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Every day brings fresh and ever more alarming news about the state of the global environment. To speak of mere “climate change” is inadequate now, for we are in a “climate emergency”. It seems as though we are tripping over more tipping points than we knew existed.

But our awareness is at last catching up with the planet’s climate catastrophes. Climate anxiety, climate trauma, and climate strikes are now all part of many people’s mental landscape and daily lives. This is almost four decades after scientists first began to warn of accelerated global warming from carbon dioxide increases in the atmosphere.

And so, unsurprisingly, climate fiction, climate change fiction, “cli-fi” – whatever you want to call it – has emerged as a literary trend that’s gained astonishing traction over the past ten years.

Just a decade ago, when I first began reading and researching literary representations of climate change, there was a curious dearth of fiction on the subject. In 2005, the environmental writer Robert Macfarlane had asked plaintively: “Where is the literature of climate change?”. When I went to work in 2009 on one of the first research projects to attempt to answer this question, I found that some climate change novels were only beginning to emerge. Ten years later, the ubiquity of cli-fi means that the question of how many cli-fi novels there are seems irrelevant. Equally irrelevant is any doubt about the urgency of the climate emergency.

But the question of how to deal with such a complex challenge is paramount. The climate emergency demands us to think about our responsibilities on a global scale rather than as individuals, to think about our effects not just on fellow humans but on all the species that call this planet home, and to think about changing the resource-focused, profit-seeking behaviours that have been part of human activity for centuries.

This is where literature comes in. It affords us the headspace in which to think through these difficult and pressing questions.

Cli-fi has a central role in allowing us to do the psychological work necessary to deal with climate change. I am often asked to identify the climate novel that is the most powerful and effective and, just as often, I reply that no one novel can do this. The phenomenon of cli-fi as a whole offers us different ways and a multitude of spaces in which to consider climate change and how we address it.

Here, then, is our list of a range of novels that offer just such a diverse set of perspectives. These books provide readers with a range of thought (and feeling) experiments, from dystopian despair to glimmers of hope, from an awareness of climate change impacts on generations to come to vivid reminders of how we are destroying the many other species that share our planet.

1. The Sea and Summer, 1987

Australian novelist George Turner’s book is one of the earliest examples of cli-fi and is prescient in more ways than one. Set in Melbourne in the 2030s, skyscrapers are drowning due to sea-level rise: a setting for a stark division between the rich and the poor. Like many cli-fi novels, this novel’s dystopian future provides a sophisticated thought experiment on the effects of climate change on our already divided society. Turner’s book deserves to be reread — and reissued — as classic and still relevant cli-fi.

2. Memory of Water, 2012

Water has become a precious commodity in this cli-fi dystopia by Finnish author Emmi Itäranta. In Nordic Europe in the distant future, a young girl must decide whether to share her family’s precious water supply with her friends and fellow villagers and risk being accused of “water crime”, punishable by death. This tender coming-of-age narrative is thus also a meditation on the value of resources taken entirely for granted by the contemporary, westernised reader.

3. The Wall, 2019

At first glance, John Lanchester’s novel could be a comment on the rise of anti-refugee sentiment in Britain. In a not-so-distant future, every inch of British shoreline is guarded by an immense wall, a bulwark against illegal migrants as well as rising sea levels. But through the experiences of a young border guard, the novel shows us how this national obsession with borders not only distracts from the climate emergency at hand; it diminishes our responsibility to fellow humans around the world, whose lives are threatened by climate change and for whom migration is a desperate solution.

4. Clade, 2015

Australian author James Bradley’s novel chronicles several generations of one family in an increasingly devastated world. The day-to-day detail of their lives, as relationships hold together or break apart, unfolds against the backdrop of environmental and thus societal breakdown. The novel contrasts the mundane miscommunications that characterise human relations with the big issue of global warming that could rob future generations of the opportunity to lead meaningful lives.

5. The Stone Gods, 2007

Jeanette Winterson’s stab at cli-fi offers, like Bradley’s novel, a long view. The novel ranges over three vastly different timeframes: a dystopian, future civilisation that is fast ruining its planet and must seek another; 18th-century Easter Island on the verge of destroying its last tree; and a near-future Earth facing global environmental devastation. As readers time travel between these stories, we find, again and again, the damage wrought by human hubris. Yet, the novel reminds us, too, of the power of love. In the novel, love signifies an openness to other humans and other species, to new ideas, and to better ways of living on this planet.

6. The Swan Book, 2013

This novel by indigenous Australian author Alexis Wright is unconventional, fable-like cli-fi. Its protagonist is a young indigenous girl whose life is devastated by climate change but most of all by the Australian government’s mistreatment of its indigenous populations. Weaving indigenous belief with biting satire, Wright’s novel is a celebration of her people’s knowledge of how to live with nature, rather than in exploitation of it.

7. Flight Behaviour, 2012

Unlike the other novels on this list, this one, by Barbara Kingsolver, is a realist novel set entirely in the present day. A young woman from Tennessee stumbles upon thousands of monarch butterflies roosting on her in-laws’ land, the insects having been thrown off course by extreme weather events brought about by climate change.

From the scientists who come to study the problem, she learns of the delicate balance that is needed to keep the butterflies on course. Kingsolver’s rich descriptions of an impoverished Appalachian community are combined with her biologist’s training, so that reader empathy is eventually shifted from the likeable heroine to the natural wonder that is the butterflies. We are reminded of how climate change risks not simply human comfort but the planet’s ecological complexity.

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Meet the 'Eco-Visionaries', these are the architects, artists and designers who respond to some of the most urgent ecological issues of our times.

This exhibition reveals how artists, architects and designers are responding to some of the planet’s most urgent issues - from land degradation, to food security and the extinction of endangered species. Each response aims to re-frame our relationship with nature to communicate a new urgency. We need confront environmental issues, now.

A variety of works, ranging from installations, film, photography and architectural models will command the space, and makers such as Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg, Unknown Fields and Dunne and Raby will exhibit their work. Each component of the exhibition serves as a huge wake-up call, demanding us to be aware of our planet and how our actions are creating a rapidly changing world

What? An exhibition confronting the planet in a state of emergency
Where? Royal Academy of Arts, London
When? Now, until February 23, 2020

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In response to the nitrogen crisis, the Dutch cabinet is planning to reduce the speed limit during the day to 100 kph. In itself a sensible decision. But it is strange that this measure also affects motorists who cause no nitrogen emissions whatsoever. A missed opportunity to reward sustainable actions. That's why we started a petition. We want a separate lane for electric cars where 130 km/h is allowed. Sign if you agree with us.

Before I explain why we should keep the speed limit at 130 kph for drivers of electric cars, a confession: I don’t own an electric car myself.

I pretty much always take the train. It’s a comfortable option and you can spend the journey reading or working. I do still own (blush) an old-fashioned gas-powered car. I’ve had it for six years, and I still regret not opting for an electric car at the time. You know the arguments: too expensive, too small a radius of action, the car I liked only came in a gas variant. The consumer in me defeated the citizen. So it often goes.

As citizens we have high-minded ideas about a better society. Then we walk into a shop and buy things totally at odds with our ideals. Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with this particular human flaw.

What the government can do

This is where the government can give the citizen a push in the right direction. How? By inviting the consumer to behave in a way that contributes to a better society. This is already happening. When I want to park my gas car, there’s never a convenient spot besides the charging stations reserved for electric cars.

Good for them, I think. These people have made a more sustainable choice than I have, and they should be rewarded. If I’m soon to be sped past at 130 kph, I can feel bitter towards the rich showoffs in the fast lane. Or I can bear in mind that these investors in the energy transition have earned their fun.

A positive step in the energy transition

When a new technology is introduced, it’s always more expensive than the existing options at first. The first flat-screen televisions were only affordable for millionaires, because the investments made into new factories had to be earned back.

That lasts a few years, and then the price falls and the product becomes affordable for everyone. I see rich people prefer a Tesla to a Ferrari. Let’s encourage that. Besides, a fully electric second-hand Nissan Leaf costs €8500. I could afford that, and when I look around me on the highway, I suspect that plenty of other motorists could too.

Granted, electric cars are not perfect. Wear and tear on the tires still produces fine dust. Driving fast consumes more energy. If that energy is supplied by coal-fired power stations, CO2 emissions are still involved. And that’s without going into the conditions in the lithium mines—plus the energy costs of producing the batteries. You could lose hope thinking about it all. Staying in bed is more sustainable.

But the question remains: is the glass half empty or half full?

Answer: half full.

Electric cars are a positive step in the energy transition, which must be encouraged. Elsewhere that’s already happening. In Austria, electric cars adhere to a speed limit of 130 kph, while 100 kph is the norm for others. In Norway, electric cars can drive in bus lanes. Even Uber encourages its drivers to go electric. Why wouldn’t the Dutch government do the same? Maybe it’s something to do with our Calvinist mentality?

Sustainability should be rewarded

Sustainability is often equated with cutting down, austerity, stringency. That is an error. We think about it one-sidedly, in terms of crime and punishment, when we should be thinking in terms of possibilities, smart solutions and circularity.

There is an unbelievable amount of energy available on Earth, and right now we only harvest and utilize a tiny proportion of it. How absurd is it that humanity continues to generate most of its energy from the burning of coal, which releases CO2 that contributes to climate change, while a gigantic power plant floats in space at a safe distance?

I hope that future generations can laugh about it and do better.

The sun is a nuclear fusion reactor with an output of 380 million million million million watts. That’s equal to 10 million oil barrels per second, per world citizen. Even though only a small proportion of this energy reaches the Earth, this proportion is still 9000 times the current energy requirements of all 7.7 billion people on Earth combined.

If we’re smart enough to put more of the available energy to work for us in a sustainable way, a bright beautiful world full of abundance awaits us. That costs time, that costs money, we’re still a long way off, and the journey will be full of ups and downs. The nitrogen crisis is not called a crisis for nothing. Policy has to be made at lightning speed. That policy can be refined by rewarding positive sustainable actions.

There are plenty of places where this can be done safely. Think of five-lane highways. In the right-hand lane, a diesel-powered truck chugs along at 80 kph. In the middle three lanes, gas-powered cars go 100 kph. In the left-hand lane, an electric car zooms into the future at 130 kph.

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You know climate change is real when dead coral Pokemon start to wash up on (virtual) beaches. Behold, Cursola, world’s first dead coral Pokemon.

On the origins of Cursola

While Pokemon has become a cultural phenomenon since its release in 1996, the media franchise maintains its relevance today.

Let's take a brief look at Cursola’s backstory—it more or less aligns with what climate change is doing to coral on Earth.

"Found in the warm shallow waters of southern seas, Corsola requires clean water to live. If its habitat is dirty, the growths on its back become discolored and degenerate. However, when it is healthy, its growths regularly shed and grow back."

According to the Pokedex, Cursola came about after “sudden climate change wiped out this ancient kind of Corsola”.

The original version of the Pokemon Corsola

Corsola *was* originally a pink-and-blue coral-like creature that was first included in the ‘Gold' and ‘Silver’ versions of the popular video game from 1999.

Just last week the Pokemon Company introduced Pokemon ‘Sword’ and ‘Shield’, and just two days after its official release an avid player uploaded a battling guide video indicating “DON’T Evolve Galarian Corsola In Pokemon Sword and Shield!”

It appeared that Corsola had turned into a ghost.

The new version of the Pokemon Corsola and its final form: Cursola

New media, new habits

In the latest stage of Pokemon evolution, Corsola took on a new skin. Once a water/rock dual type (properties for Pokemon and their moves), Corsola is now a ghost type Pokemon, reminding us of the massive bleaching event that threatens the world’s coral reefs.

Apparently, Pokemon nowadays is the perfect medium to introduce kids to the environmental crisis. As Pokemon Go already had thaught us how virtual computer worlds are becoming increasingly ‘real’ and blended with our physical world; Pokemon Sword and Shield will teach us about rising ocean temperatures and the importance of living with coral and algae in a lively symbiotic bond.

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Rooftops covered with grass, vegetable gardens and lush foliage are now a common sight in many cities around the world. More and more private companies and city authorities are investing in green roofs, drawn to their wide-ranging benefits which include savings on energy costs, mitigating the risk from floods, creating habitats for urban wildlife, tackling air pollution and urban heat and even producing food.

A recent report in the UK suggested that the green roof market there is expanding at a rate of 17% each year. The world’s largest rooftop farm will open in Paris in 2020, superseding similar schemes in New York City and Chicago. Stuttgart, in Germany, is thought of as “the green roof capital of Europe”, while Singapore is even installing green roofs on buses.

These increasingly radical urban designs can help cities adapt to the monumental challenges they face, such as access to resources and a lack of green space due to development. But buy-in from city authorities, businesses and other institutions is crucial to ensuring their success – as is research investigating different options to suit the variety of rooftop spaces found in cities.

A growing trend

The UK is relatively new to developing green roofs, and governments and institutions are playing a major role in spreading the practice. London is home to much of the UK’s green roof market, mainly due to forward-thinking policies such as the 2008 London Plan, which paved the way to more than double the area of green roofs in the capital.

Although London has led the way, there are now “living labs” at the Universities of Sheffield and Salford which are helping to establish the precedent elsewhere. The IGNITION project – led by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority – involves the development of a living lab at the University of Salford, with the aim of uncovering ways to convince developers and investors to adopt green roofs.

Ongoing research is showcasing how green roofs can integrate with living walls and sustainable drainage systems on the ground, such as street trees, to better manage water and make the built environment more sustainable.

Research is also demonstrating the social value of green roofs. Doctors are increasingly prescribing time spent gardening outdoors for patients dealiong with anxiety and depression. And research has found that access to even the most basic green spaces can provide a better quality of life for dementia sufferers and help prevent obesity.

An edible roof at Fenway Park, stadium of the Boston Red Sox. Via Michael Hardman, Author provided.

In North America, green roofs have become mainstream, with a wide array of expansive, accessible and food-producing roofs installed in buildings. Again, city leaders and authorities have helped push the movement forward – only recently, San Francisco created a policy requiring new buildings to have green roofs. Toronto has policies dating from the 1990s, encouraging the development of urban farms on rooftops.

These countries also benefit from having newer buildings, which make it easier to install green roofs. Being able to store and distribute water right across the rooftop is crucial to maintaining the plants on any green roof – especially on “edible roofs” which farm fruit and vegetables. And it’s much easier to create this capacity in newer buildings, which can typically hold greater weight, than retro-fit old ones. Having a stronger roof also makes it easier to grow a greater variety of plants, since the soil can be deeper.

The new normal?

For green roofs to become the norm for new developments, there needs to be buy-in from public authorities and private actors. Those responsible for maintaining buildings may have to acquire new skills, such as landscaping, and in some cases volunteers may be needed to help out. Other considerations include installing drainage paths, meeting health and safety requirements and perhaps allowing access for the public, as well as planning restrictions and disruption from regular ativities in and around the buildings during installation.

To convince investors and developers that installing green roofs is worthwhile, economic arguments are still the most important. The term “natural capital” has been developed to explain the economic value of nature; for example, measuring the money saved by installing natural solutions to protect against flood damage, adapt to climate change or help people lead healthier and happier lives.

As the expertise about green roofs grows, official standards have been developed to ensure that they are designed, built and maintained properly, and function well. Improvements in the science and technology underpinning green roof development have also led to new variations on the concept.

For example, “blue roofs” increase the capacity of buildings to hold water over longer periods of time, rather than drain away quickly – crucial in times of heavier rainfall. There are also combinations of green roofs with solar panels, and “brown roofs” which are wilder in nature and maximise biodiversity.

If the trend continues, it could create new jobs and a more vibrant and sustainable local food economy – alongside many other benefits. There are still barriers to overcome, but the evidence so far indicates that green roofs have the potential to transform cities and help them function sustainably long into the future. The success stories need to be studied and replicated elsewhere, to make green, blue, brown and food-producing roofs the norm in cities around the world.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Today is World Animal Day, a day to put the spotlight on man's best friends in order to improve their welfare standards around the globe.

At Next Nature HQ, we honor this day by having dug up a brilliant 2008 campaign by WWF that featured photos of endangered animals, where the number of pixels in the photo matched the remaining population of the animal pictured.

It reminds us of the opportunity (for people of all ages - it's never too late) to learn about the importance of protecting endangered species and everyday actions we can take to help protect them. Peculiar image.

African Wild Dog. Estimated between 3000 and 5500 remain
Amur Leopard. Estimated about 60 remain
Amur Tiger. Estimated about 450 remain
Asian Elephant. Estimated between 40000 and 50000 remain
Bengal Tiger. Estimated about 2500 remain
Black Footed Ferret. Estimated about 300 remain
Black Rhino. Estimated about 5000 remain
Blue Whale. Estimated between 10000 and 25000 remain
Bonobo. Estimated between 10000 and 50000 remain
Bornean Orangutan. Estimated between 45000 and 69000 remain
Borneo Pygmy Elephant. Estimated about 1500 remain
Chimpanzee. Estimated between 172700 and 299700 remain
Eastern Lowland Gorilla. Estimated about 17000 remain
Fin Whale. Estimated between 50000 and 90000 remain
Galapagos Penguin. Estimated about 2000 remain
Giant Panda. Estimated about 1864 remain
Green Sea Turtle. Estimated between 3000 and 5500 remain
Hectors Dolphin. Estimated about 7000 remain
Indian Elephant, Estimated between 20000 and 25000 remain
Indochinese Tiger. Estimated between 600 and 650 remain
Indus River Dolphin. Estimated about 1100 remain
Javan Rhino. Estimated about 60 remain
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During the Antarctic summer, thousands of mesmerising blue lakes form around the edges of the continent’s ice sheet, as warmer temperatures cause snow and ice to melt and collect into depressions on the surface. Colleagues of mine at Durham University have recently used satellites to record more than 65,000 of these lakes.

Though seasonal meltwater lakes have formed on the continent for decades, lakes had not been recorded before in such great numbers across coastal areas of East Antarctica. This means parts of the world’s largest ice sheet may be more vulnerable to a warming climate than previously thought.

Lakes affect ice shelves

Much of Antarctica is surrounded by floating platforms of ice, often as tall as a skyscraper. These are “ice shelves”. And when some of these ice shelves have collapsed in the past, satellites have recorded networks of lakes growing and then abruptly disappearing shortly beforehand. For instance, several hundred lakes disappeared in the weeks before the the catastrophic disintegration of the Larsen B Ice Shelf – when 3,250 km² of ice broke up in just two months in 2002.

Blue meltwater ponds cover the surface of Larsen B Ice Shelf in January 2002 (left) before its abrupt collapse two months later (right). Open ocean appears as black in both images. Via NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The collapse may have depended on water from these lakes filling crevasses and then acting like a wedge as the weight of the water expanded the crevasses, triggering a network of fractures. The weight of lakes can also cause the ice shelf surface to flex, leading to further fracturing, which is thought to have helped the shelf become unstable and collapse.

Ice shelves act as door stops, supporting the huge mass of ice further inland. Their removal means the glaciers feeding the ice shelf are no longer held back and flow faster into the ocean, contributing to sea-level rise.

Melting the ice sheet surface

Scientists already knew that lakes form on the Antarctic ice sheet. But the latest study, published in Scientific Reports, shows that many more lakes are forming than previously thought, including in new parts of the ice sheet and much further inland and at higher elevations.

Since the cold and remoteness makes it logistically challenging to measure and monitor Antarctica’s lakes in the field, we largely know all this thanks to satellite imagery. In this case, one of the satellites used was the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 which provides global coverage of the Earth’s surface every five days and can detect features as small as ten metres.

Meltwater lakes on Sørsdal Glacier, Antarctica (red dot on larger map). Via Google Maps

My colleagues analysed satellite images of the East Antarctic Ice Sheet taken in January 2017. In total, the images covered 5,000,000 km² (that’s more than 20 times the area of the United Kingdom).

Because water reflects certain wavelengths very strongly compared to ice, lakes can be detected in these images by classifying pixels in the image as “water” or “non-water”. From these images we can pinpoint when lakes form, their growth and drainage, and how their extent and depth change over time. The largest lake detected so far was nearly 30 km long and estimated to hold enough water to fill 40,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Cause for concern?

In a warming world, scientists are particularly interested in these lakes because they may contribute to destabilising the ice shelves and ice sheet in future.

Like a sponge, the more that ice shelves become saturated with meltwater, the less they are able to absorb, meaning more water pools on their surfaces as lakes. More surface lakes mean a greater likelihood that water will drain out, fill crevasses and potentially trigger flexing and fracturing. If this were to occur, other ice shelves around Antarctica may start to disintegrate like Larsen B. Glaciers with floating ice tongues protruding into the ocean may also be vulnerable.

Meltwater drains away. Via Sanne Bosteels

Meanwhile in Greenland, scientists have observed entire lakes draining away within a matter of days, as meltwater plunges through vertical shafts in the ice sheet known as “moulins”. A warm, wet base lubricated by meltwater allows the ice to slide quicker and flow faster into the ocean.

Could something similar be happening in Antarctica? Lakes disappearing in satellite imagery suggests they could be draining in this way, but scientists have yet to observe this directly. If we are to understand how much ice the continent could lose, and how much it could contribute to global sea-level rise, we must understand how these surface meltwater lakes behave. Though captivating, they are potentially a warning sign of future instability in Antarctica.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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ADE Green returns for the seventh consecutive year to the DeLaMar Theater in Amsterdam. Once more, Amsterdam Dance Event organizes this leading event to ignite sustainable action, innovation and social change through the (electronic) music industry. The result is a tasty mix of local heroes and global game changers that unite to answer pressing questions from within the music industry — and beyond.

To give you an idea, the conference asks whether it's possible (and how) to keep your ecological footprint in restrain when you pursue an international career, or book artists from abroad and organize events in different part of the world.

Sure, the rise of electronic dance music has helped to reduce the amount of equipment and band members being flown around the globe, but the biggest contributors to the industry’s carbon emissions remains touring and festivals — and not to mention audiences flying in. So what’s being done about that?

Elon Musk for one, thinks we should be using lithium-ion batteries for electric flights?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx3auTD85Fw

And what about the use of plastic during events? For years now, festivals, cup-suppliers and drinks brands are collaborating to create a circular cup system and create awareness among visitors. What are the lessons learned and how could the system be improved and expanded? ECO Coin anyone?

What it comes down to is this. There is an urgent need for a more sustainable music and event industry, but in order to establish such a thing, we need new ideas. These ideas then need a platform, an audience, and a network opportunity to be dealt with. It's exactly this that ADE Green is providing this year.

And if you’re already organizing a conference that flies in a lot of people — at least dedicate some time to sustainability.

What? ADE Green Conference
When? 18 October 2019
Where? DeLaMar Theater, Amsterdam

? Get a closer look at the full program here.
?️ Tickets for ADE Green can be purchased here.

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Surrounded by greyness and with the air around you having a dusty, burnt taste; for a long time this is what it has been like to live in many of the world’s highly polluted cities. However, because of the drastic measures taken because of the novel coronavirus, the lock-down response to the virus in China has resulted in a drop in air pollution as the pandemic continues to halt industrial activities in the country — giving the city’s atmosphere and its residents some time to breathe. Literally.

Every cloud has a silver lining

The response from the Chinese government to COVID-19 has had a drastic impact on the lives of 780 million Chinese citizens, resulting in many being quarantined in lock-down areas limited to their homes for much of their day instead of being able to go outside.

Within satellite images shared by NASA, the reduction in air pollution is shown. It is visible that, as a result of the economic slow-down following China’s response to COVID-19, carbon dioxide emissions have fallen by around 25 percent; this is China’s first decline in carbon emissions since three years.

A reduction of air pollution has brought hope to the lovers of sunshine and the colour blue. As Chinese citizens are forced to stay inside at least they can now enjoy the sunlight and blue skies from their homes. This can certainly be seen as the silver lining of this global pandemic.

Cleaner air could save lives

Marshall Burke, researcher at Stanford University, has calculated the improvements in air quality in China. According to his information, the reduction of carbon emission may save the lives of 4.000 children under 5 years old and 73.000 adults over 70.

At this moment, this is happening due to the stand-still of the lives of most of the citizens living in China. While the general terror of COVID-19 is intense, this current improvement of air quality is also saving people: as of today it has saved more people than the coronavirus is killing. Of course, this virus has the ability to grow exponentially if precautions are not taken today.

Will these blue skies last? Probably not, pollution levels are likely to skyrocket back up to pre-corona levels when people return to work. Yet this event does bring humanity a moment to reflect on what it prioritises. While COVID-19 is a terrifying worldwide crisis, the climate crisis remains real.

We have entered the Anthropocene epoch, an age where humanity and its instrumentalities are the most potent and influential geological force.

Welcome to the human planet.

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