News Roundup

Leaves and Twigs: A Roundup of the Best Sustainability Stories on the Web

With hundreds of outlets reporting on conservation news, it’s difficult to stay up-to-date on all the top stories. That’s why we’re here with our weekly roundup of the sustainability stories that deserve your attention.

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Climate Change Outruns Evolution, Study Finds,” Huffington Post

Nature doesn’t like to be rushed. But to keep up with climate change, many animals will need to evolve 10,000 times faster than they have in the past, a new study suggests. Manmade climate change — fueled by excess greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, namely carbon dioxide — is expected to raise global temperatures by up to 10.8 degrees Fahrenheit (6 Celsius) within the next 100 years. That will transform many ecosystems in just a few generations, forcing wildlife to either evolve quickly or risk extinction.

Here’s an Easy Way to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas and Storms,” Grist

Protecting nature is the best way of protecting ourselves from rising tides and storm surges, according to new research. Sand dunes, wetlands, coral reefs, mangroves, oyster beds, and other shoreline habitats that ring America help to protect two-thirds of the coastlines of the continental U.S. from hurricanes and other such hazards.

Forest Biomass Loses in Court Ruling,” Earth Techling

Conservation groups won a victory last week in the fight over the regulation of biomass energy production and the strange thing is there were some liberals on the other side of the issue. In a 2-1 decision [PDF], a U.S. Court of Appeals panel in the District of Columbia Circuit struck down a 2011 Environmental Protection Agency rule that deferred for three years regulating the greenhouse gas emissions from biomass burning in the same manner the agency regulates plants that burn fossil fuels.

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No Sweat: Elephants Living with People Aren’t Stressed,” Mongabay

Ahlering and colleagues discovered that animals living in the CCA did not have elevated FGM levels compared to elephants in the Maasi Mara or Amboseli Parks, on the whole. There were some significant differences between animals within areas, and this is likely due to a variety of environmental factors at a local scale. “Elephants seem to be able to perceive danger or risk and if they are in a more hostile landscape I would imagine this would cause elevated stress levels,“ Ahlering explains. Overall the results, published in Conservation Biology, indicate that under a set of normal circumstances, elephants living in human-inhabited, agricultural landscapes were not experiencing detectable amounts of stress. And aside from specific, intense stress events (poaching, crop raiding, etc.) elephants living with humans in the Maasi community seem to be coping well.

Garden Fresh Produce for the Poor, Thanks to Inmates,” New York Times

The four-acre garden situated behind a concrete plant here is a result of one of several partnerships between food banks and correctional facilities in which inmates tend fields that provide produce to needy families. The gardens are among an increasing number of programs aimed at keeping prisoners occupied while teaching them skills. “They learn how to do something out here,” said Sheriff Larry Smith of Smith County. “They feel like they’re a part of something.” Since its creation in 2010, the Smith County Jail’s garden has produced more than 150,000 pounds of produce for the East Texas Food Bank — nearly enough to fill four 18-wheeler trucks.

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US Bombs Dropped on Great Barrier Reef,” The Guardian

Four unarmed bombs dropped by the US military into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park pose a low risk to wildlife and a joint mission will aim for their “rapid recovery”, according to the government agency in charge of the reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said two of the bombs are inert, containing concrete, while the other two were not armed, making the chance of detonation “extremely low”. The bombs were dropped during a training drill prior to Talisman Saber, a joint US and Australian exercise that takes place every two years in northern Queensland.

Peru’s Poorest Will Soon Have Solar Power,” Grist

Solar is for rich people — or so it often seems. There’s the cost of the panels themselves (although they’re slowly becoming more affordable) and the fact that getting your landlord to plop solar panels atop your apartment building might be a lost cause (unless you live in these Seattle apartments). Community solar is catching on, but solar is still out of reach for most of us. Unless you live in Peru. The country just launched The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program, an initiative to get solar to 2 million of the country’s poorest residents: ‘The first phase of the program, called The National Photovoltaic Household Electrification Program was initiated on Monday (July 8) in the Contumaza province, where 1,601 solar panels were installed. These installations will power 126 impoverished communities in the districts of Cupisnique, San Benito, Tantarica, Chilete, Yonan, San Luis, and Contai.’

Tell us what stories captivated you in the comments!

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