And if it were enough to paint the roads in white to limit the extreme heat in the city? This is what the city of Los Angeles is experiencing, where temperatures are around 40 ° C in summer. This simple technique requires very little investment for an immediate result. The city of the Angels is one of the first megacities in the world to test what are called “cool pavements” or “fresh pavements”. The principle is simple: apply a clear special coating and avoid reflections. Armed with perch rollers, the technical services of the municipality began to repaint the bitumen throughout the city at the beginning of August. Read more
Designed by the start-up Green City Solutions, the CityTree project aims to reduce pollution in cities by using foam lined on walls 4 metres high and 3 metres wide and 60 centimetres thick. Purpose: to purify the surrounding air, making pollution a nutritional source.
In order to meet the commitments of the Paris Agreements after COP 21, we must be inventive. In addition to a technology that allows CO2 to be extracted from the ambient air and not only from factory chimneys like other technologies, Climeworks values this gas, whose excess emissions upset the climate. In Zürich, a greenhouse will soon be fed by the company’s modular sensors. Already an Audi partner, Climeworks also discusses with soda water producers for an industrial ecology application when waste becomes a resource. Read more
Skiing is definitely a fun activity but it also has a considerable impact on the environment including global warming. Some people like Stéphane Lagarde became aware of this state of affairs and launched Ecorider, the first school of skiing and snowboarding that fights global warming in the Chamonix Valley at Mont Blanc.
This international agreement comes as a hallmark for the protection of marine life. Twenty four countries have united to declare more than 1.5 million km2 of the Ross Sea in Antarctica- equally referred to as the Polar Garden of Eden- as the world’s largest protected marine zone. The decision, made public on 28 October 2016, is acclaimed worldwide by environmentalists.
The area earmarked approximately represents the total surface area of France and Spain combined. Industrial fishing which has been having disastrous impacts not only in the region itself but on other seas as well, will be completely banned there. This decision is the fruit of the unanimous votes of delegates at the last annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living (CCAML) in Australia. This outcome is the result of five years of negotiation, constant scientific and policy reviews as well as principled diplomacy on the subject.
The Ross Sea is known as one of the greatest wilderness regions on our planet. It is home to more than half of the population of the Ross Sea Orca which is a killer whale. The area is also the habitat of Adelie and emperor penguins, as well as that of benthic and mid-water species. Seven species of fish are unique to the area.
According to the UN environment Chief Erik Solheim, it is crucial that the Ross Sea be safeguarded as a heritage for the future generations. US scientist David Ainley, who was among the first environmentalists to actively advocate for the protection of this marine zone fourteen years ago, qualifies the Ross Sea as one of the most pristine marine ecosystems left on Earth.
It has much more value as an intact marine ecosystem than as a fishing ground
The decision to convert the Polar Garden of Eden into a protected zone will help in safeguarding the incredible biodiversity of the marine life in the area that has remained abundant since thousands of years. Industrial overfishing, and thus a disruption of the marine ecosystem, was seen as a threat and needed to be forbidden. A change in the food chain as well as the degradation of the territory itself will have the same damaging effects as those recorded elsewhere, like toxic algal blooms or oxygen-deprived dead zones.
The protection of the Ross Sea will help stabilize the number of krill which is the staple food for a plethora of species like whales and seals, and that thrive in the region. Upwelling of nutrients in from deep waters are carried by currents to seas around the world, thus providing food to marine species over the planet.
The Polar Garden of Eden furthermore serves as a live laboratory for scientists. The latter started exploring the site some 170 years ago while continuous data records date back over 50 years. The data available in the zone helps scientists have reliable conclusions and a better understanding of ecological and environmental changes, especially regarding climate.
It is a big environmental step in France. There will be a complete ban on single-use plastic bags for fruit and vegetables from 1 January 2017. As we approach that date, French companies are producing “biobased” bags (made of organic matter and totally degradable plastic). Read more
The decision was not easy. In a tug of war between financial gains and ecological commitment, some paper companies have eventually pledged to cease business in certain parts of the world, like Indonesia, to help reduce deforestation and safeguard peatlands.
One of the companies, Unlisted Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) pledged to use supplies from its own plantations and has started working in close collaboration with environmental groups to protect peatlands and expand conservation areas. Like APRIL, some other paper firms have been vehemently criticized by environmental NGOs over years for remaining passive in regards to the protection of peatlands and rainforests.
Indonesia is home to the biggest tropical peatland in the world. These peat forests-consisting of partially decayed vegetation having accumulated over thousands and thousands of years- are the key ecosystem for Indonesia and act like an immense carbon sink, storing up to 60 billion metric tons. They are furthermore the habitat of endangered species like tigers and orangutans as well as various freshwater fish.
Once these lands are cleared to make place for plantations like palm and paper, the carbon-rich peat may turn into virtual bombs while spiking into fire. This is why Indonesia is one of the leading emitters of greenhouse gas across the world. Peat and forest fires have also been resulting in thousands of deaths yearly in the South of Asia, while the degradation of peatlands have given way to floods as they were acting like sponges, soaking up water.
The conservation of its peatlands is thus crucial to maintain not only the ecological health of Mother Earth itself, but also to allow the local inhabitants of these regions live a decent and healthy life
Paper companies like APRIL has set the example by conserving around 320,000 hectares of natural forest in Indonesia out of the 480,000 that it possesses and developed up to now for plantations for the paper industry. The company has adopted sustainability policies to protect wildlife and combat climate change.
The giant Asia Pulp and Paper Group (APP), which prides itself in being one of the leading paper mills worldwide, has also decided to shut down business with the objective to protect rainforests and peatlands and prevent all the catastrophe that their destruction entails. The company devised a meticulous programme called the Peatland best Practice Management Programme in a bid to curb the harm being done. APP Group has thus decided to retract from vulnerable zones.
This decision was not an easy one as active plantations are a good source of financial benefits for the business. APP nevertheless weighed the conservation of the peatlands as heavier than any amount of money. The company has started mapping the peatlands as the country’s database is outdated. A rehabilitation plan has been meticulously crafted- trees will be planted, dams will be built while taking into account the wishes of the local inhabitants on whom the exploitation of peatlands has had long lasting impacts.
Like necklaces, Church forests adorn the places of worship in Ethiopia. It is believed by the local communities that their presence is vital as they prevent prayers from being lost in the sky. Protecting them is now regarded not as a mere example of faith but as a sustainable solution to protect the arid country’s ecosystem and biodiversity.
Through an exquisite blend of faith and science, Ethiopia nurtures the hope to flourish. The country is endowed with a unique endemic flora and fauna as well as resources that demand to be safeguarded, especially as less than 5% of the country’s territory represent forests. Ethiopia has taken the same trend as many developing countries where immense expanses of lush forests have been replaced by land for agriculture while trees have been continuously been felled for timber.
The Church forests are more concentrated in the north of Ethiopia where vivid green spots of forests beautify some 3,500 Orthodox Tewahido Churches. The local people strongly believe that they should preserve the woods around worship places- which are home to various animals considered as God’s creatures. The tradition of keeping forests around places of worship has been shaped hundreds of years ago to imitate the Garden of Eden.
These Church forests may range from five acres to more than one thousand acres, forming green belts around the churches. Certain have withstood ages and are actually more than 1,500 years old. These forests are the remnants of the Afromontane forests. Cool and humid, they are furthermore home to fresh water springs as well as spiritual sanctuaries to the local communities. The latter moreover draw medicinal plants from these woods.
Ecologists regard the Church forests as massive seed banks for future plantations while priests have a spiritual approach towards their conservation
Both share the same vision and mission-preserve these woods that pride themselves in the rich biodiversity. This sacred landscape are also the habitat of many endangered species. Now, teams of ecologists are working hand-in-hand with priests to build rock walls around the Church forests to ensure that no one cut down the trees and also to prevent cattle from damaging the trees and plants.
To regenerate trees, seedling transplantation is equally considered. The teams are also working on ways to interconnect the Church forests through green corridors along natural stream lines which will facilitate the development of more green patches. The priests are furthermore sensitizing the people to make better use of the products of the forests that are carried out since ages for traditional activities such as the making of dyes.
In a time where Church forests may be regarded as easy resources and may attract exploitation, it is important for the people to grasp the necessity to protect these woods. The local communities are hence being taught that apart from the number of trees around the churches, it is equally important to maintain the ecological health of these trees.
It is no secret that honeybee colonies are dwindling at an alarming rate across the planet. Slovenia is setting the example by pioneering to save the honeybees through honeybee tourism otherwise known as apitourism.
Wild as well as domestic honeybees are the backbone of up to 80% of pollination happening worldwide. One single bee can pollinate up to 300 flowers daily and according to researches, 70 out of the top 100 food crops consumed by humans- which represent 90% of our planet’s nutrition- are directly related to this type of pollination.
But honeybees are dying. Scientists attribute this decline to various factors ranging from the use of pesticides and other chemicals, the destruction of their habitat or global warming.
Slovenia has taken up certain bold initiatives to reverse this trend. Already famous for its mountains, ski resorts and incredible lakes, the country is presently becoming renowned for its honeybee tourism.
Slovenia is home to about 9,600 beekeepers, 12,500 apiaries as well as 170,000 hive colonies
Beekeeping holds a special place in the country as one of the oldest traditional crafts and is considered as a national heritage. It is equally the only country in Europe to have protected its national bee-the Carnolian bee.
To further protect its bees and strengthen the beekeeping culture, Slovenia is providing the necessary framing to promote apitourism. The bee routes are the ultimate experience to be intrigued by the mystic bees and beekeeping. This niche travel has been designed to boost ecotourism in a fresh manner as well as encourage beekeepers to adopt environmentally friendly approaches and respect nature.
Slovenia is offering a wide array of experiences related to bees such as “apitherapy” which is a form of homeopathy that uses aromas from beehives to relieve asthma and other respiratory diseases.
Tourists are moreover massively travelling to Slovenia for its bee products such as propolis and the Royal jelly amongst others since bee products are known since ages to have healing properties. One cannot escape from indulging in bio honey massages.
The country equally invites tourists to plunge into unique discoveries like honey trails, beekeeping classes as well as candle-making workshops. Even entering bee houses to listen to the humming has proven to have soothing effects on the mind.
The country is equally supporting city beekeeping. Ljubljana, the capital, is already home to 40 urban gardens out of which three have beehives. Beehives are popping up in private gardens too. It is no surprise that the city has furthermore been nominated as the Green Capital of Europe 2016 for its green initiatives.
Slovenian tour operators are also rallying up to promote honeybee tourism. Apitours has set the example of being a great example of a company who has embraced responsible tourism while supporting start-ups aiming at preserving the national beekeeping heritage.
Others are following by offering excursions, trainings and workshops related to beekeeping to make travels as enriching as possible in Slovenia.
Slovenia is equally on the right track to stand out as a worldwide example and be the driving force to raise awareness and change the attitude of people across the planet towards bees. It has been vehemently soliciting the United Nations to proclaim 20 May as World Bee Day to remind the planet how dependent we all are on bees.
In one month, President Barack Obama will leave the White House, but with several good deeds under his belt — one of them being the establishment of the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. As reported by National Geographic, “under authority of the Antiquities Act, President Obama set aside 4,900 square miles of the Atlantic for preservation. The monument prohibits fishing and mining, in an effort to protect deep-sea species that reside in the undersea canyons and extinct volcanoes more than 150 miles off the coast of New England, where the continental shelf drops off into the abyss.”
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument stretches between two distinct areas. The first, running in a strip along the edge of the continental shelf, will protect three canyons and the species that live on their walls: deepwater corals, anemones, and sponges. The second area — south of the continental shelf — will protect four submarine mountains, which are more than 7,000 feet tall. Bear, Physalia, Retriever, and Mytilus are a hundred million years old volcanoes, which were formed by the same hot plumes of magma that created the White Mountains in the state of New Hampshire.
The underwater reserve of New England isn’t only protecting endangered species, such as North Atlantic sperm whales forage, and a unique ecosystem with branching bamboo corals, but as per the White House’s statement and National Geographic’s report, it will also “create natural laboratories for scientists to monitor and explore the impacts of climate change”. As Peter Auster, senior research scientist at the Mystic Aquarium and research professor emeritus at the University of Connecticut, has said:
“They are places that represent how much we have yet to learn about the oceans. They are outstanding repositories of our natural heritage for the future”.
The establishment of the New England monument comes as an addition to President Obama’s underwater protection actions. Only two months ago, he expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the northwestern islands of Hawaii to more than half a million square miles. At the moment, this is the largest protected area on Earth, and Mr Obama is the president who has protected more acreage than any other president, passionately communicating that “there’s no conflict between a healthy economy and a healthy planet”.