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Inspiring: Healing Our Earth News Articles

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Botanist Stefano Mancuso: ‘You can anaesthetise all plants. This is extremely fascinating’
2023-04-15, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/apr/15/scientist-stefano-mancuso...

Stefano Mancuso is a pioneer in the plant neurobiology movement, which seeks to understand “how plants perceive their circumstances and respond to environmental input in an integrated fashion”. Mancuso teaches at the University of Florence, his alma mater, where he runs the International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology. He has written five bestselling books on plants. "Communication means you are able to emit a message and there is something able to receive it, and in this sense plants are great communicators. If you are unable to move, if you are rooted, it’s of paramount importance for you to communicate a lot," [said Mancuso]. "Plants are obliged to communicate a lot, and they use different systems. The most important is through volatiles, or chemicals that are emitted in the atmosphere and received by other plants. It’s an extremely sophisticated form of communication, a kind of vocabulary. Every single molecule means something, and they mix very different molecules to send a specific message. My approach to studying consciousness in plants ... started by seeing if they were sensitive to anaesthetics and found that you can anaesthetise all plants by using the same anaesthetics that work in humans. This is extremely fascinating. We were thinking that consciousness was something related to the brain, but I think that both consciousness and intelligence are more embodied, relating to the entire body."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Mobilising Assam’s ‘hargila army’: how 10,000 women saved India’s rarest stork
2023-02-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2023/feb/09/assam-hargila-army...

Some of the women are wearing papier-mache headdresses shaped like long-necked birds. As they sing, one of them gets to her feet and starts dancing. They are part of the “hargila army”, a group of rural women in the Indian state of Assam who work to protect one of the world’s rarest storks: the greater adjutant (Leptoptilos dubius) – or hargila (meaning “bone swallower” in Assamese) as the scavenger bird is known locally. They are celebrating the recent UN Environment Programme’s Champions of the Earth award, conferred on the group’s biologist founder, Dr Purnima Devi Barman. Barman won the award for her achievement in mobilising more than 10,000 women to help save the stork. “They are the protectors of the birds and of their nesting trees,” says Barman. The birds were not just reviled, they were seen as a bad omen and carriers of disease. Villagers attacked them with stones, cut down trees where they roosted communally and burned their nests. Today the greater adjutant is endangered, with fewer than 1,200 adult birds in its last strongholds. Most of the global population is found in Assam, making Barman and the hargila army’s work critical to its survival. Today, the once-maligned bird is now a cultural symbol, appearing on everything from towels to road-safety campaigns. In the villages of Dadara, Pacharia and Singimari (all in Kamrup district), greater adjutants’ nests have increased from 28 in 2010 to more than 250 according to Barman’s last count, making the area the world’s largest breeding colony.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Once an Open Sewer, New York Harbor Now Teems With Life
2022-12-30, New York Times
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/12/30/opinion/new-york-harbor-clean-water-act.html

Fifty years ago, Congress voted to override President Richard Nixon’s veto of the Clean Water Act. It has proved to be one of the most transformative environmental laws ever enacted. At the time of the law’s passage, hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage was dumped by New York City into the Hudson River every day. This filth was compounded by industrial contaminants emptied into the river along much of its length. The catch basin for all of this was New York Harbor, which resembled an open sewer. At its worst, 10 feet of raw human waste blanketed portions of the harbor bottom. Health advisories against eating fish from the Hudson remain, but its ecology has largely recovered, thanks to the law, which imposed strict regulations on what could be discharged into the water by sewage treatment plants, factories and other sources of pollution. Today people swim in organized events in New York Harbor, which would have been unthinkable in 1972 when the law was passed. Across the country, billions of dollars were also spent to construct and improve sewage treatment plants, leading to recoveries of other urban waterways. Cleaner water has made the harbor far more hospitable, and other steps have helped to rebuild life there, like fishing restrictions and the removal of some dams on tributaries in the Hudson River watershed. The bald eagle has made a strong comeback, taking advantage of the harbor’s resurgent fish life. In December 2020 a humpback whale was seen in the Hudson just one mile from Times Square.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Wax worm saliva rapidly breaks down plastic bags, scientists discover
2022-10-04, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/oct/04/wax-worm-saliva-rapidly-b...

Enzymes that rapidly break down plastic bags have been discovered in the saliva of wax worms, which are moth larvae that infest beehives. The enzymes are the first reported to break down polyethylene within hours at room temperature. The discovery came after one scientist, an amateur beekeeper, cleaned out an infested hive and found the larvae started eating holes in a plastic refuse bag. The researchers said the study showed insect saliva may be “a depository of degrading enzymes which could revolutionise [the cleanup of polluting waste]”. Polyethylene makes up 30% of all plastic production and is used in bags and other packaging that make up a significant part of worldwide plastic pollution. The only recycling at scale today uses mechanical processes and creates lower-value products. Chemical breakdown could create valuable chemicals or, with some further processing, new plastic, thereby avoiding the need for new virgin plastic made from oil. The enzymes can be easily synthesised and overcome a bottleneck in plastic degradation, the researchers said, which is the initial breaking of the polymer chains. That usually requires a lot of heating, but the enzymes work at normal temperatures, in water and at neutral pH. Previous discoveries of useful enzymes have been in microbes, with a 2021 study indicating that bacteria in oceans and soils across the globe are evolving to eat plastic. It found 30,000 different enzymes that might degrade 10 different types of plastic.

Note: This research was published in the journal Nature Communications. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Can plants think? The burgeoning field of plant neurobiology has a lot to say on the matter
2022-09-30, Salon
https://www.salon.com/2022/09/30/can-plants-think-the-burgeoning-field-of-pla...

Recent research suggests that plants are far from the stationary automatons that most of us think of them as. And though they don't have brains in the same way most animals do, plants seem to possess a different set of evolutionary tools that suggest they may experience consciousness, albeit in a radically different way from us. Dr. Paco Calvo has an upcoming book, co-authored with Natalie Lawrence, called "Planta Sapiens: Unmasking Plant Intelligence." Calvo works at the MINT Lab (Minimal Intelligence Lab) at the University of Murcia in Spain. "Sentience, we may say, makes sense for life, as an essential underpinning to the business of living," Calvo explained. "And it is very unlikely that plants are not far more aware than we intuitively assume." To the "skeptics" who insist that consciousness must be tied to a central nervous system, and that plants would not need to evolve consciousness in the first place, "even if 'consciousness', as understood in vertebrates, is generated by complex neuronal systems, there is no objective way of knowing that subjective experience has not evolved with entirely different kinds of hardware in other organisms," Calvo argued. "We have no evidence to conclude that no brain means no awareness. It is certainly true that we cannot yet know if plants are conscious. But we also cannot assume that they are not." Calvo added, "Plants ... might well have significant conscious experience, although there is no way for us to intuit it nor for them to communicate it to us."

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


EU plan to halve use of pesticides in ‘milestone’ legislation to restore ecosystems
2022-06-22, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/22/eu-legislation-restoratio...

For the first time in 30 years, legislation has been put forward to address catastrophic wildlife loss in the EU. Legally binding targets for all member states to restore wildlife on land, rivers and the sea were announced today, alongside a crackdown on chemical pesticides. In a boost for UN negotiations on halting and reversing biodiversity loss, targets released by the European Commission include reversing the decline of pollinator populations and restoring 20% of land and sea by 2030, with all ecosystems to be under restoration by 2050. The commission also proposed a target to cut the use of chemical pesticides in half by 2030 and eradicate their use near schools, hospitals and playgrounds. Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the commission, said the laws were a step forward in tackling the “looming ecocide” threatening the planet. Around €100bn (£85bn) will be available for spending on biodiversity, including the restoration of ecosystems. The target of 2030 to cut the use of pesticides will give farmers time to find alternatives. The proposals, which campaigners have hailed as a potential milestone for nature, could become law in around a year. Member states would have to create restoration plans to show the commission how they would reach the targets set, and if they fail to follow through they would face legal action. Priority ecosystems include those with the greatest power to remove and store carbon, as well as buffer the impacts of natural disasters.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Styrofoam-eating ‘superworm’ could help solve the garbage crisis
2022-06-17, Washington Post
https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2022/06/17/plastic-eating-superworm...

A plump larva the length of a paper clip can survive on the material that makes Styrofoam. The organism, commonly called a “superworm,” could transform the way waste managers dispose of one of the most common components in landfills, researchers said, potentially slowing a mounting garbage crisis that is exacerbating climate change. In a paper released last week in the journal of Microbial Genomics, scientists from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, showed that the larvae of a darkling beetle, called zophobas morio, can survive solely on polystyrene, commonly called Styrofoam. The findings come amid a flurry of research on ways bacteria and other organisms can consume plastic materials, like Styrofoam and drinking bottles. Now, the researchers will study the enzymes that allow the superworm to digest Styrofoam, as they look to find a way to transform the finding into a commercial product. Industrial adoption offers a tantalizing scenario for waste managers: A natural way to dispose and recycle the Styrofoam trash that accounts for as much as 30 percent of landfill space worldwide. Among plastics, Styrofoam is particularly troublesome. The material is dense and takes up a lot of space, making it expensive to store at waste management facilities, industry experts said. The cups, plates and other materials made from it are also often contaminated with food and drink, making it hard to recycle. Polystyrene fills landfills, where it can often take 500 years to break down.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


EU unveils plan for ‘largest ever ban’ on dangerous chemicals
2022-04-25, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/apr/25/eu-unveils-plan-largest-e...

Thousands of potentially harmful chemicals could soon be prohibited in Europe under new restrictions, which campaigners have hailed as the strongest yet. The EU’s “restrictions roadmap” published on Monday was conceived as a first step to transforming this picture by using existing laws to outlaw toxic substances linked to cancers, hormonal disruption, reprotoxic disorders, obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. Industry groups say that up to 12,000 substances could ultimately fall within the scope of the new proposal, which would constitute the world’s “largest ever ban of toxic chemicals”, according to the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). Tatiana Santos, the bureau’s chemicals policy manager, said: “EU chemical controls are usually achingly slow but the EU is planning the boldest detox we have ever seen. Petrochemical industry lobbyists are shocked at what is now on the table. It promises to improve the safety of almost all manufactured products and rapidly lower the chemical intensity of our schools, homes and workplaces.” The plan focuses on entire classes of chemical substances for the first time as a rule, including all flame retardants, bisphenols, PVC plastics, toxic chemicals in single-use nappies and PFAS, which are also known as “forever chemicals” because of the time they take to naturally degrade. All of these will be put on a “rolling list” of substances to be considered for restriction by the European Chemicals Agency. The list will be regularly reviewed and updated.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The deep seafloor is filled with entire branches of life yet to be discovered
2022-02-05, Live Science
https://www.livescience.com/deep-ocean-floor-teeming-with-unknown-life

The deep-ocean floor is teeming with undiscovered life-forms that help to regulate Earth's climate, a new study finds. Researchers sequenced DNA from deep-sea sediments around the world and found that there is at least three times more life on the seafloor than there is higher up in the ocean. What's more, nearly two-thirds of that life has not been formally identified yet. "It's been known since the 1960s that species diversity is very high in the deep sea, so very high numbers of species," co-author Andrew Gooday [said]. "What was new about this study was that there was a lot of novel diversity at the higher taxonomic level." In other words, there are a lot of unknown evolutionary lineages — like whole families of species — waiting to be discovered. The deep-ocean floor covers more than half of Earth's surface but is home to some of the least-studied ecosystems, according to the study. Previous research analyzed DNA collected through the water column, from above the ocean floor up to the surface, so this latest study sought to complete the picture and give a global view of biodiversity in the ocean by looking at seafloor DNA within deep-sea sediments. The researchers also learned more about the role the deep ocean plays in the so-called biological pump, the process by which ocean organisms such as phytoplankton absorb carbon from the atmosphere near the surface and sink to the deep sea, where the carbon is sequestered in the sediments.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Tropical forests can regenerate in just 20 years without human interference
2021-12-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/dec/09/tropical-forests-can-rege...

Tropical forests can bounce back with surprising rapidity, a new study published today suggests. An international group of researchers looking at a number of aspects of tropical forests has found that the potential for regrowth is substantial if they are left untouched by humans for about 20 years. For example, soil takes an average of 10 years to recover its previous status, plant community and animal biodiversity take 60 years, and overall biomass takes a total of 120, according to their calculations.” This is due in part to a multidimensional mechanism whereby old forest flora and fauna help a new generation of forest grow – a natural process known as “secondary succession”. These new findings ... suggest that it is not too late to undo the damage that humanity has done through catastrophic climate change over the last few decades. “That’s good news, because the implication is that, 20 years ... that’s a realistic time that I can think of, and that my daughter can think of, and that the policymakers can think of,” said Lourens Poorter ... lead author of the paper. This idea of natural regeneration is frequently disregarded in favour of tree plantations, but according to Poorter, the former yields better results than restoration plantings. “Compared to planting new trees, it performs way better in terms of biodiversity, climate change mitigation and recovering nutrients.” The takeaway message is that we don’t necessarily need to plant more trees when nature is doing it by itself, Poorter said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Charles Sams III becomes first Native American to head National Park Service in its 105-year history
2021-11-20, CBS News
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/charles-sams-iii-first-native-american-to-head-n...

The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Charles "Chuck" Sams III as the next director of the National Park Service on Thursday. He will be the first Native American to lead the agency in its 105-year history. Sams, who is Cayuse and Walla Walla, is a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. The Oregon-based Confederated Tribes is comprised of individuals from the Cayuse, Umatilla and Walla Walla tribes. Sams told the Confederated Tribes' newspaper, the Confederated Umatilla Journal, on Friday that he's "deeply honored" to serve as the 19th director of NPS. "I am also very deeply appreciative of the support, guidance and counsel of my Tribal elders and friends throughout my professional career," Sams told the newspaper. "I look forward to carrying on the responsibility of being a good steward of our natural resources and in joining the dedicated and dynamic staff of the National Park Service." Sams' confirmation marks the first time in nearly five years that the department will have an official director. The position has been filled with various people serving as acting heads since January 2017. Sams has worked in state and tribal governments, as well as in natural resource and conservation management, for more than 25 years. In a press release on Friday, tribal leaders commended the confirmation, with Confederated Tribes trustee member Kat Brigham saying that Sams "knows the outdoors." "He understands the importance of helping families develop a relationship with the land," Brigham said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This Bengaluru Zero-Power Sewage Treatment Plant was Inspired by Cows
2021-08-16, CNN (News18 India affiliate)
https://www.news18.com/news/buzz/this-bengaluru-zero-power-sewage-treatment-p...

Across the world, about 80 percent of wastewater is dumped back into the ecosystem without being treated. Untreated wastewater leads to a range of problems and contributes to faecal contamination of drinking water sources for about 1.8 billion people. Treating wastewater requires treatment plants that can be expensive. Now, a Bengaluru-based startup ECOSTP Technologies has developed a new and efficient design for sewage treatment plants that takes inspiration from the digestive system of cows. It is so efficient that it does not even need the power to run. Cows have a powerful digestive system made up of four chambers containing bacteria that do not need oxygen. As grass passes through these chambers, the bacteria break it down into smaller parts eventually converting it to gas, nutrients, water, and waste. [Bengaluru-resident Tharun] Kumar and his team developed a treatment plant to mimic this structure and used the bacteria from cow dung to break down the waste in wastewater. Their plants do not even require power. Instead, they use gravity to move wastewater across chambers. In the treatment plant, the further wastewater travels, the cleaner it gets. Eventually, the solid waste settles down, and the wastewater is converted into gas and clear water, which can be safely reused. “Since inception, we have saved 280 million litres of water and have saved 315 MW of power which is equivalent to powering 35 villages for a year,” Kumar, co-founder, and CEO of ECOSTP Technologies [said].

Note: Watch a BBC News video on this amazing invention. Why isn’t this getting more attention?


Going Circular: 7 European Cities’ Quest to Become Fully Sustainable
2021-03-12, Yes! Magazine
https://www.yesmagazine.org/economy/2021/03/12/construction-waste-sustainable/

About 30 kilometers from Denmark’s capital of Copenhagen, lies a small, but significant district called Musicon. Sit on a bench in Musicon, and you’ll likely be sitting on slabs of concrete salvaged and repurposed from a demolition site nearby. Or bring your kids to the skatepark, and they’ll be riding their scooters on concrete that used to be a basin and canals for collection of rainwater. Musicon was founded in 2007 on the premise that the old concrete factory that occupied the site should ... become the foundation for the new district’s development. This meant that new construction projects would have to reimagine the old factory buildings in creative ways to create structures for living and working. This is one example of what is called a circular economy. To become fully circular means to avoid as much waste as possible, and to preserve as much value in what does go to waste. City planners have been cozying up to the idea of circularity in recent years, typically with the hope of combating climate change and resource scarcity, and many have begun embracing the approach. The CityLoops experiment ... aims to create sustainable city planning solutions based on the premise of circular economy. In several participant cities, including in Musicon, the circular economy takes the form of “banks” or “marketplaces,” digital and physical, where salvaged materials are stored and offered up for use in other projects in the area, including anything from a birdhouse to an apartment block.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The rising e-waste crisis is being reckoned with in Rwanda, one gadget at a time
2021-02-26, CNN News
https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/26/africa/marketplace-africa-ewaste-electronics-r...

For Eric Nshimiyimanain, who owns two small electronic repair shops in Kigali, Rwanda, the startup chime of an old Windows laptop is the sound of a business opportunity. He refurbishes broken PCs, laptops, phones and secondhand gadgets classified as electronic waste, or "e-waste" that would otherwise end up as trash in Nduba, Rwanda's only open-air dump. "Sometimes we even use computer screens as TVs," Nshimiyimanain says. Converting those screens to televisions then becomes a cheaper option, he adds, for "citizens who have low incomes and cannot afford buying a brand-new TV." According to the UN-affiliated Global E-Waste Monitor report, nearly 54 million metric tons of e-waste was generated around the world in 2019. It includes everything from phones and computer monitors to larger appliances like refrigerators. Rwanda is one of only 13 countries in Africa that have passed national legislation regarding e-waste regulation, according to the report. And it has led to the first official recycling and refurbishing facility in the country. Operational since early last year, this public-private partnership between the government and Dubai-based Enviroserve became a source of pride for Rwanda. The state-of-the-art plant near Kigali can process up to 10,000 metric tons of e-waste per year. Enviroserve has already repaired and refurbished more than 5,000 computers, which were sold to public schools. To date, it has processed more than 4,000 tons of e-waste and created more than 600 jobs.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


The holy grail of plastic? Scientists create material that can be recycled over and over again
2019-05-09, The Independent (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/scientists-berkeley-holy-grail-of-...

The holy grail of plastic a material that can be repeatedly recycled without any loss of quality has been created by scientists. Placed in an acid bath, it can be fully broken down into its component parts. Like lego, these monomers can then be reassembled into different shapes, colours and textures, according to the scientists at Californias Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory who created it. Currently, less than a third of recyclable plastic is re-purposed to create new materials, leaving the majority of it to end up in landfill or the ocean. The new material called poly (diketoenamine) or PDK can, unlike normal plastics, have its monomers separated by dunking the material in a highly acidic solution. The acid breaks the bonds between monomers and separates them from additives that give the plastic its distinctive look and feel. These monomers can be recovered for reuse for as long as possible, or upcycled to make another product. Were interested in the chemistry that redirects plastic lifecycles from linear to circular. We see an opportunity to make a difference for where there are no recycling options, said Brett Helms, a staff scientist in Berkeley Labs Molecular Foundry. Dr Helms added: With PDKs, the immutable bonds of conventional plastics are replaced with reversible bonds that allow the plastic to be recycled more effectively. The research team believe their recyclable plastic could be an alternative to non-recyclable plastics in use today.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Flowers can hear buzzing bees and it makes their nectar sweeter
2019-01-15, National Geographic
https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2019/01/flowers-can-hear-bees-and-...

Sound is so elemental to life and survival that it prompted Tel Aviv University researcher Lilach Hadany to ask: What if it wasnt just animals that could sense sound - what if plants could, too? The first experiments to test this hypothesis ... suggest that in at least one case, plants can hear, and it confers a real evolutionary advantage. Hadanys team looked at evening primroses (Oenothera drummondii) and found that within minutes of sensing vibrations from pollinators wings, the plants temporarily increased the concentration of sugar in their flowers nectar. In effect, the flowers themselves served as ears, picking up the specific frequencies of bees wings while tuning out irrelevant sounds like wind. A sweeter treat for pollinators, their theory goes, may draw in more insects, potentially increasing the chances of successful cross-pollination. Indeed, in field observations, researchers found that pollinators were more than nine times more common around plants another pollinator had visited within the previous six minutes. As the team thought about how sound works, via the transmission and interpretation of vibrations, the role of the flowers became even more intriguing. Though blossoms vary widely in shape and size, a good many are concave or bowl-shaped. This makes them perfect for receiving and amplifying sound waves, much like a satellite dish. This single study has cracked open an entirely new field of scientific research, which Hadany calls phytoacoustics.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles
2018-04-16, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/16/scientists-accidentally-c...

Scientists have created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drinks bottles by accident. The breakthrough could help solve the global plastic pollution crisis by enabling for the first time the full recycling of bottles. The new research was spurred by the discovery in 2016 of the first bacterium that had naturally evolved to eat plastic, at a waste dump in Japan. Scientists have now revealed the detailed structure of the crucial enzyme produced by the bug. The international team then tweaked the enzyme to see how it had evolved, but tests showed they had inadvertently made the molecule even better at breaking down the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic used for soft drink bottles. The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. Industrial enzymes are widely used in, for example, washing powders and biofuel production. They have been made to work up to 1,000 times faster in a few years, the same timescale [Prof John McGeehan, who led the research] envisages for the plastic-eating enzyme. Earlier work had shown that some fungi can break down PET plastic, which makes up about 20% of global plastic production. But bacteria are far easier to harness for industrial uses.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Wales’s “One Planet” Policy Is Transforming Rural Life
2021-02-12, Reasons to be Cheerful
https://reasonstobecheerful.world/one-planet-development-policy-wales-rural-s...

In Wales, the average citizen uses almost three times their share of the world’s resources. But Cassandra [Lishman] and her family are part of a groundbreaking scheme launched by the Welsh government in 2011 that aims to address that imbalance. The One Planet Development Policy (OPD) and its predecessor, Pembrokeshire’s Policy 52, allow people to bypass tight planning laws and move to protected areas to live ecologically sustainable lifestyles. So far, 46 individual smallholdings have signed on to the programs, which require residents to sustain themselves using the resources available on land they inhabit. The policy aims to combat an array of problems: rising temperatures, soil degradation, rural depopulation, a rampant housing crisis and wasteful global supply chains. But ... by limiting consumption and allocating resources wisely, ecologically responsible development is possible, even in pristine environments. To qualify for the scheme, there are four requirements. First, each household must use only their global fair share of resources, which has been calculated by the Welsh government as equivalent to six acres of land. Second, applicants must show that within five years this land can fulfill 65 percent of their basic needs, including food, water, energy and waste. Third, they must come up with a zero-carbon house design using locally sourced and sustainable materials. Finally, they must set up a land-based enterprise to pay the sort of bills ... that can’t be met with a subsistence lifestyle.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


Coral levels in some parts of the Great Barrier Reef are at the highest in 36 years
2022-08-04, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2022/08/04/1115539492/coral-great-barrier-reef-australia

The amount of coral in some areas of the Great Barrier Reef is at its highest in 36 years, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Marine Science. From August 2021 to May 2022, the central and northern regions of the Great Barrier Reef had hard coral cover levels of 33% and 36%, respectively. Coral cover decreased by 4% in the southern region, due to an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish. The Australian agency found that 87 coral reefs generally had low levels of acute stress from things such as cyclones and increases in the crown-of-thorns starfish population. The area surveyed represents two-thirds of the Great Barrier Reef. Almost half of the reefs studied had between 10% and 30% hard coral cover, while about a third of the reefs had hard coral cover levels between 30% and 50%, the report said. While higher water temperatures led to a coral bleaching event in some areas in March, the temperatures did not climb high enough to kill the coral, the agency said. Coral in the Great Barrier Reef is resilient, and has been able to recover from past disturbances, the Institute said. But the stressors impacting it have not gone away for long. The agency's outlook shows more frequent and long-lasting heatwaves, cyclones and crown-of-thorns starfish. "Therefore, while the observed recovery offers good news for the overall state of the [Great Barrier Reef], there is increasing concern for its ability to maintain this state," the report said.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This radio station plays songs made by trees as they grow
2021-08-03, Fast Company
https://www.fastcompany.com/90661294/this-radio-station-plays-songs-made-by-t...

Outside of a library in Cambridge, Massachusetts, an over-80-year-old copper beech tree is making music. As the tree photosynthesizes and absorbs and evaporates water, a solar-powered sensor attached to a leaf measures the micro voltage of all that invisible activity. Sound designer and musician Skooby Laposky assigned a key and note range to those changes in this electric activity, turning the tree’s everyday biological processes into an ethereal song. That music is available on Hidden Life Radio, an art project by Laposky. Hidden Life Radio also features the musical sounds of two other Cambridge trees: a honey locust and a red oak. After he read the book The Hidden Life of Trees ... Laposky thought to tune into the music trees could be making. The name Hidden Life Radio was inspired by that book, written by German forester Peter Wohlleben, which details the social networks and “sentient” capabilities of trees. “Most people probably love trees and [still] don’t consider them all the time,” Laposky says, noting a condition called “plant blindness,” in which people fail to notice the flora in their own environment. “In cities, the trees are there, but unless they’re providing shade or you’re picking apples from them, I feel like people don’t necessarily consider trees and their importance.” Tree canopies are crucial to cities, providing shade that can lower summer temperatures significantly, reducing air pollution, sequestering carbon, and providing a mental health benefit.

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