Author: Glenn Scherer

Nature-based solutions (NbS), a hotly debated concept, gained significant political traction throughout 2022, even as challenges and concerns over the failure to implement biodiversity and human rights safeguards in current and future NbS projects have increased among Indigenous peoples and NGOs.Recent global policy instruments have recognized NbS, including the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted in December 2022, and the U.N. climate summit cover decision agreed to in November. In March 2022, the U.N. Environment Assembly adopted a multilaterally agreed definition of NbS.Despite NbS policy advances, skepticism continues to swirl around the potential for misuse and abuse of nature-based solutions as…

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Five species within the Canidae family are considered endangered. These species, while found far apart in North and South America, Asia and Africa, often share similar threats, including habitat loss, persecution, disease and climate change.For some at-risk canid species, loss of prey, particularly due to snaring, is a significant concern that can also exacerbate human-wildlife conflict. Ecosystem-level conservation action that protects prey species populations is required to protect canids and other carnivore species, experts say.Conservationists and researchers emphasize that canids play important roles in maintaining the habitats in which they live. That means protecting these predators is key to restoring…

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Electronic cigarettes heavily marketed via single-use flavored products are increasingly popular. These products require disposal of large amounts of hazardous waste, including huge quantities of lithium, a resource in demand for electric car batteries and rechargeable electronics for laptops and mobile phones.Even as vaping use grows, an estimated 6 trillion “traditional” cigarettes are still smoked annually; 4.5 trillion are thought to be discarded into the environment each year. Researchers and activists emphasize that the tobacco industry is responsible for considerable harm to nature and human health.Traveling along the supply chain, tobacco production and consumption has consequences for forests, oceans, the…

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On December 15, Australia became the first major economy worldwide to reverse itself on its renewable classification for woody biomass burned to make energy. Under the nation’s new policy, wood harvested from native forests and burned to produce energy cannot be classified as a renewable energy source.That decision comes as the U.S., Canada, Eastern Europe, Vietnam and other forest nations continue gearing up to harvest their woodlands to make massive amounts of wood pellets, in order to supply biomass-fired power plants in the UK, EU, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere.In the EU, forest advocates continue with last-ditch lobbying efforts to…

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In disaster-prone Japan, torrential rains exacerbated by the climate crisis have caused serious flooding and landslides in recent years, including in the country’s many forests.While acknowledging the limits of forests’ ability to prevent landslides occurring in the bedrock, Japan’s Forestry Agency is implementing both forest improvement activities and erosion control facility construction to help mitigate future landslide disasters.Japan’s monoculture plantation forests, which represent 40% of the nation’s total forest cover, are seen by some experts and civil society members as insufficient to prevent mountain disasters. However, other experts say that a much wider range of geological and environmental factors, not…

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Large animals, especially herbivores such as elephants, are often seen as being destructive of vegetation, so are not thought of as a nature-based climate solution. Scientists are proving otherwise.By removing living and dead plants, large animals dispose of material that may fuel wildfires, which can add large amounts of carbon to the atmosphere; by consuming vegetation and excreting dung, large animals may improve the availability of nutrients to plants and support the storage of carbon in vegetation and soil.By creating gaps in the vegetation and dispersing seeds, large animals create diverse ecosystems with plenty of opportunities for a variety of…

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A new review paper finds that climate change is pounding insects in a wide variety of ways all over the world.Because insects are so sensitive to temperature change, climate change is impacting them directly, including potentially decreasing their ability to breed.But climate change is also causing insects to change their behavior as it shifts seasonal beginnings and ends, risking that insects will act out of sync with the rest of the environment on which they depend. Climate change-intensified drought, extreme precipitation, lengthening heat waves, and fires are also harming insects.The best way to protect insects? Combat climate change and safeguard…

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The EU hopes to finalize its revised Renewable Energy Directive (RED) soon, even as forest advocates urge last minute changes to significantly cut the use of woody biomass for energy and make deep reductions in EU subsidies to the wood pellet industry.Forest advocates are citing a new commentary published in Nature that argues that the EU’s continued expansive commitment to burning forest biomass for energy will endanger forests in the EU, the U.S. and elsewhere — resulting in a major loss in global carbon storage and biodiversity.Changing RED to meet forest advocate recommendations seems unlikely at this point, with some…

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At COP27 this week Brazil president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva pledged “zero deforestation and degradation of biomes,” a goal to be achieved by 2030.Lula also plans to establish a Ministry of Indigenous People, and to end “all the exploration of Indigenous lands by miners, and… to prohibit timber cutters.” Activists said Lula has sent a “strong message” at the COP27 summit, a meeting which has so far seen little climate progress.The president-elect has also met with Norway and Germany about restarting the Amazon Fund, which helped finance efforts to keep the rainforest intact until it was frozen in 2019…

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The frequency of strong El Niño events could increase by 35% by the end of the century as Arctic sea ice begins to melt out completely in the summer, according to a recent modeling study. El Niños — buildups of especially warm water in the eastern Pacific off of Peru — often trigger ‘devastating’ droughts, floods and cyclones around the globe.The findings provide more evidence that Arctic warming is affecting weather in other parts of the world — not only in the mid-latitudes, but as far away as the tropics.Other recent studies have found that sea ice loss is causing…

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