Half of all species could be extinct by end of century

The Guardian / Robin McKie / 25 February 2017

“The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” say the organisers of the Biological Extinction conference held at the Vatican this week.

Threatened creatures such as the tiger or rhino may make occasional headlines, but little attention is paid to the eradication of most other life forms, they argue. But as the conference will hear, these animals and plants provide us with our food and medicine. They purify our water and air while also absorbing carbon emissions from our cars and factories, regenerating soil, and providing us with aesthetic inspiration.

“Rich western countries are now siphoning up the planet’s resources and destroying its ecosystems at an unprecedented rate,” said biologist Paul Ehrlich, of Stanford University in California. “We want to build highways across the Serengeti to get more rare earth minerals for our cellphones. We grab all the fish from the sea, wreck the coral reefs and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. We have triggered a major extinction event. The question is: how do we stop it?”

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Think Resilience: Preparing Communities for the Rest of the 21st Century

resilience.org

We live in a time of tremendous political, environmental, and economic upheaval, which begs a profoundly important question: What should we do? We at Post Carbon Institute believe that, among other things, two areas of engagement are absolutely critical:

  1. Understand the true nature of the challenges we as a society face. What are the underlying, systemic forces at play? What brought us to this place? Acting without this understanding is like putting a band-aid on a life-threatening injury.
  2. Build community resilience. While we must also act in our individual lives and as national/global citizens, building community resilience is our greatest means of mitigating and adapting to the 21st century’s sustainability crises.

We’re offering this course — Think Resilience: Preparing Communities for the Rest of the 21st Century — to help you get started. You can either take it (consisting of 22 video lectures by Post Carbon Institute Senior Fellow Richard Heinberg, totaling about 4 hours) at your own leisure or participate in a six week long guided course, facilitated by Richard himself.

[ COURSE WEBSITE ]

Synthetic clothing, tires polluting the oceans in a big way

CNBC / Anmar Frangoul / 22 February 2017

A new report from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has found that as much as 31 percent of the estimated 9.5 million tonnes of plastic that enters the ocean annually could be from sources such as tires and synthetic clothing.

These products can release “primary microplastics”, which are plastics that directly enter the environment as “small particulates”.

According to the IUCN, which released the report on Wednesday, they come from a range of sources.

These include synthetic textiles, which deposit them due to abrasion when washed, and tires, which release them as a result of erosion when driving.

The report identified seven “major sources” of primary microplastics: Tires, synthetic textiles, marine coatings, road markings, personal care products, plastic pellets and city dust.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Fish under threat from ocean oxygen depletion, finds study

The Guardian / Susan Smillie / 20 February 2017

The depletion of oxygen in our oceans threatens future fish stocks and risks altering the habitat and behaviour of marine life, scientists have warned, after a new study found oceanic oxygen levels had fallen by 2% in 50 years.

The study, carried out at Geomar Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research in Germany, was the most comprehensive of the subject to date. The fall in oxygen levels has been attributed to global warming and the authors warn that if it continues unchecked, the amount of oxygen lost could reach up to 7% by 2100. Very few marine organisms are able to adapt to low levels of oxygen.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Local food systems and rural development

Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design / Angela Moreno-Long / 24 October 2016

Local food systems in rural communities can provide much more than just access to high quality food, food systems are linked to the economic vitality, sustainability and health of communities. The Iowa State University Community Design Lab produced an “Agricultural Urbanism” toolkit for revitalizing local food systems in order to create resilient communities, promote social equity and build financial sustainability. Don’t let the “urbanism” title fool you, agricultural urbanism is a process which can be used in cities and towns of any size across America–the key idea is integrating food systems and agriculture into the planning, design, and social fabric of communities. The Agricultural Urbanism Toolkit highlights pilot projects at multiple scales that use creative design solutions for local food systems.

[ FULL ARTICLE ]

Speaker to introduce Brockville-based international centre

Transition Brockville / 17 February 2017

Dr. Ellie Bennett, an ecologist and teacher, will introduce the fledgling Brockville-based International Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities (ICSRC) at the next Transition Brockville presentation, Sunday, February 26, 2-4 p.m., at the Brockville Public Library.

Bennett, who set up the education content of the Aquatarium’s exhibits and school programs, is program manager for the ICSRC, a proposed UNESCO designated facility, based in downtown Brockville, that will be integral to achieving the UNESCO Man and Biosphere Program’s objectives related to biodiversity, climate change and sustainable development.

A physical and virtual hub for the EuroMAB Biosphere Reserve network, the Centre will be collecting best practices for sustainable development from around the world. It will link Indigenous and traditional knowledge from rural communities with modern science, and use this knowledge and these ways of knowing to educate and inspire people to work together to build thriving rural communities.

The Centre will coordinate citizen science activities aimed at monitoring biodiversity and the impacts of climate change, and provide training on sustainable development practices to municipal leaders, businesses and the general public.

[ more… ]

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The Transition Framework

Resilience is the ability of a system or community to withstand impacts from outside. An indicator is a good way of measuring that. Conventionally, the principal way of measuring a reducing carbon footprint is CO2 emissions. However, we firmly believe that cutting carbon while failing to build resilience is an insufficient response when you’re trying to address multiple shocks such as peak oil, climate change and the economic crisis together.

— Transition U.S.
TB Projects

 

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