puffin in flight

Climate Change & Conservation eNews


Whales In The Sea
Getty Images

Biden’s historic action on 30×30

The 30 x 30 initiative is (not surprisingly) strongly supported by land trusts and conservation organizations. Protecting land is what they/we do. The timing is important as there is increasing evidence that many of the lands and waters we are collectively working to conserve are near, or already at, a tipping point.

After a drumbeat of headlines in recent years detailing nature’s decline, there’s very good news from the Biden administration, with the president pledging to put America on the path of protecting at least 30 percent of its land and 30 percent of its ocean areas by 2030 (30×30). This action is necessary to reverse nature’s decline, fight climate change, and secure the natural life support systems we depend on for clean air and water, food, and quality of life. And, if done right, fulfilling a 30×30 goal offers benefits beyond safeguarding and strengthening the natural foundations of our society. It should create more equitable access to nature, bring communities together to conserve our shared natural heritage, honor tribal sovereignty and self-determination, and strengthen our economy.

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Canyon And River
CBS News

70 bipartisan mayors commit to conserving 30% of U.S. lands by 2030

There's another piece of good news: it was announced yesterday that 70 bipartisan mayors committed to conserving 30% of U.S. lands by 2030.

“Seventy of the nation’s mayors have endorsed a campaign dedicated to conserving 30% of America’s lands, waters and oceans by 2030, an effort dubbed the 30×30 initiative.

The mayors represent 29 states, and Washington, D.C. Most serve in a nonpartisan or independent office, while 21 are Democrats and four are Republican. Cities represented include Chicago, Miami-Dade County and Phoenix…”

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Green And Red Forest
Bob Berwyn

Many overheated forests may soon release more carbon than they absorb

New research suggests that, sooner than expected, trees may become carbon sources rather than carbon sinks, as a negative feedback loop of rising temperatures drives them to release more greenhouse gases.

New research shows that Earth’s overheated climate will alter forests at a global scale even more fundamentally, by flipping a critical greenhouse gas switch in the next few decades. The study suggests that, by 2040, forests will take up only half as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they do now, if global temperatures keep rising at the present pace.

The study, published Wednesday in Science Advances, analyzed more than 20 years of data from about 250 sites that measure the transfer of carbon dioxide between land and plants and the atmosphere—the way the planet breathes. Forests and the rest of Earth’s land-based ecosystems take up about 30 percent of human carbon emissions, so any big change in that process is important…

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Climate Justice Seminar

Climate justice: the intersection of climate science, environmental and social justice

Climate change is impacting those around you. Yet it is often those who have the least economic mobility who bear the greatest impact. Considering climate justice to go hand-in-hand with social justice is an important part of your role in the solutions.

The Earth System Science Center has announced the lineup for its spring 2021 Climate Dynamics seminar series. The series will focus on the cutting-edge climate research being conducted in the Earth and Environmental Systems Institute and the Climate Science dual-title graduate program in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at Penn State. The seminars, which are free and open to the public, take place from 11:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesdays via Zoom.

You may appreciate listening to the webinar about climate change, environmental and social justice.

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Cactus Wren
Gaetan Dupont/Audubon Photography Awards

How desert birds can survive with very little water

This brief and interesting audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide. It might be fun to check it out.

In the desert Southwest, summer temperatures sizzle, rising well over 100 degrees. And in some parts of the desert, there is not a drop of water for miles.

Yet some birds thrive in this scorching landscape. Here a Black-throated Sparrow sings from a thorn scrub. Now, a Cactus Wren announces itself atop a barrel cactus. And neither will be flying miles every day to the nearest source of water. So how do they survive?

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Desert Bird
Natural History Archive/Alamy

How climate change pushes even the hardiest desert birds past their limit

Many think that birds can adapt to climate change. Growing research shows this is not the case. Given how many people care about birds, this is a good way to connect with folks to address climate solutions—including getting off fossil fuels (the use of which is the driver of climate change).

The Mojave Desert, like many deserts across the world, is getting hotter and drier. Over the last century, it’s warmed by about 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius), and its already sparse rainfall has declined by 20 percent in some areas. Even before modern climate change, the Mojave’s birds lived at extremes; many desert birds have evolved special drought adaptations to save water. Now they’re facing conditions that exceed their physiological limits, according to new research published in Science.

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Solar And Kale

Benefits of agrivoltaics across food, water, energy sectors

Food and energy security need not be competing objectives. In fact, taking a holistic, integrated approach to food-energy-water decision making can increase resiliency of both food and energy systems…

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Solar Field From Above
Robin Lubbock/WBUR

Farms will harvest food and the sun, as Massachusetts pioneers ‘Dual-Use’ Solar

We are losing farms and ranches at an alarming rate. What if compatible solar was part of the economic strategy to keep family farms and ranches viable, and pass them on to the next generation? We have the technology. We just need the community will to make that happen.

Fickle weather and fluctuating prices make farming a risky business, so five years ago, [Paul] Knowlton installed a new cash crop: solar energy. He turned 19 acres into two solar energy fields. “Doing the solar was very beneficial,” he says. “In the wintertime there is no revenue for a farm. It’s a tough game.”

Knowlton wants to increase the production of solar power on his farm, expanding it to another 14 acres. But this time, cutting-edge technology is making it possible to harvest both the sun’s energy and crops on the same land. It’s called “agrivoltaics” or “dual-use solar”…Knowlton has nine children, and hopes solar will help the farm stay in the family. “We’re going to keep it for the next generation to enjoy,” he says.

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Juneau’s climate change solutionists: preserving wetlands and peatlands with Koren Bosworth

If you're looking for ways to weave climate change solutions into conversations, this is a good example. Notice the conversational tone. You want to avoid jargon (technical terms) as much as possible—and use local examples.

While the rest of the world celebrated World Wetlands Day on February 2nd, we in Juneau might wonder if every day is wetlands day, especially when venturing off a developed trail.

We are lucky for it. Our spongy ground might be inhospitable to tromping and building, but it performs a service arguably more important than recreation or development: carbon sequestration.

Juneau’s peatlands and wetlands are carbon sinks, complex biomes that trap carbon in an anaerobic environment, slowing the decomposition of organic material. Coastal wetlands can store five times as much carbon as a tropical forest over time; peatlands store ten times more carbon than other kinds of ecosystems…

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Tilled Farmland
Dan Gunderson | MPR News 2019

A ‘carbon bank’ could mean extra cash for Midwest farmers

Farming can be part of the climate solution with "climate-smart" farming practices. A lot of these practices are common sense, but with farming margins tight, many farmers and ranchers need economic assistance to make it happen. Check this out—and consider what your state can do.

A well-known Minnesota agribusiness hopes to turn climate change concern into cash for farmers.

Land O’Lakes, through its sustainability arm, Truterra, last week launched a carbon exchange program in which companies that want to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions can buy credits, and farmers get paid for increasing carbon storage in the soil…

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