Platform makes sure companies keep their promise to reduce deforestation

Two thirds of deforestation is driven by commercial agriculture and many of the everyday products from some of the world’s biggest companies — including Walmart and McDonalds — are produced using ingredients harvested on illegally deforested land. A growing number of these companies are committing to adjusting their supply chains to help halt the permanent damage to the global landscape, but it has so far been difficult to track whether or not these promises are being kept.

Supply Change is a new tool, created by non-profit groups including Forest Trends, which monitors the progress of businesses who have pledged to improve their sustainability – enabling companies and consumers alike to stay informed about their behaviors. READ MORE…

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Take Action on Earth Day!
This Earth Day, we want to make a statement that can’t be ignored. We need as many people as possible to watch the groundbreaking feature-length environmental documentary “Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret”, exposing the most destructive industry facing the planet today. On April 22nd, let’s share the truth about who is really destroying our planet!

“Cowspiracy may be the most important film made to inspire saving the planet.
- Louie Psihoyos, Oscar-Winning Director of “The Cove”

“A documentary that will rock and inspire the environmental movement.”
- Darren Aronofsky, Director of “Noah” and “Black Swan”

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The world’s first sustainable surfboard made of algae

UC San Diego biology and chemistry students have created the world’s first algae-based, sustainable surfboard.

The project began several months ago when undergraduate biology students began working with a group of undergraduate chemistry students to solve a basic chemistry problem: how to make the precursor of the polyurethane foam core of a surfboard from algae oil. (Polyurethane surfboards today are made exclusively from petroleum.)

The chemistry students figured out how to chemically change the oil obtained from laboratory algae into different kinds of “polyols.” Mixed with a catalyst and silicates in the right proportions, these polyols expand into a foam-like substance that hardens into the polyurethane that forms a surfboard’s core.

Although the board’s core is made from algae, it is pure white and indistinguishable from most plain petroleum-based surfboards. That’s because the oil from algae, like soybean or safflower oils, is clear.

“This shows that we can still enjoy the ocean, but do so in an environmentally sustainable way,” added Stephen Mayfield, a professor of biology and algae geneticist who headed the effort.

Read how UC San Diego is surfing into a greener future

GIFS via Surfing into the future

HAPPY EARTH DAY! 

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a Proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nation

Earth Day is a great day to make a small initiative to protect the planet and the sustainability of our delicate ecosystems. This can be something as simple as opting out of junk mail and CC offers, pledging to conserve water, or planting drought-tolerant, native gardens.

Check out the Earth Day Network website to find out how you can make a difference.

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The more damage that humans do to nature— through climate change, pollution, and grabbing land for intensive agriculture and plantation forestry—the more important alien species and novel ecosystems will be to ensuring nature’s survival. Aliens are rapidly changing from being part of the problem to part of the solution. And in a world where supposedly pristine habitats require constant micromanagement to keep them going, where they are increasingly like theme parks for conservation scientists, the truly wild lies elsewhere. It is in the unmanaged badlands and novel ecosystems. The bits of nature we don’t cosset and pamper. The new wild.

Nature no longer congregates where we expect to find it – so conservationists must radically rethink priorities

My sister summed it up perfectly.

Let us at least take today to remember, or become aware for the first time, that shorter showers and hybrid cars are not the answer to the major environmental issues threatening the next generation (that means your children, or your best friend’s child, or your favorite niece or nephew).

For merely a $1 download, take two hours of your life to see the world differently, and then pass it on to someone else as I’m doing here. This film is one of many that can help change society’s perspective, so that maybe this planet won’t become completely uninhabitable by the time all those beautiful children in your life trek forward into adulthood.

www.cowspiracy.com

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Bali’s bamboo architecture is sustainable—and spectacular

“There was a time when you could not be poor enough, or rural enough, to want to live in a bamboo house,” says Ibuku founder Elora Hardy.
A former print designer for Donna Karan, Hardy now leads an Indonesian firm that creates innovative, luxurious structures out of cheap, sustainable, plentiful bamboo. In a talk at the TED conferencelast week, Hardy wowed the audience with spectacular images that defy traditional notions of house shapes and construction.

It will take 100 years for the world’s poorest people to earn $1.25 a day | The Guardian

[…] Let’s assume that we can maintain the fastest rate of income growth that the poorest 10% of the world’s population have ever enjoyed over the past few decades. That was between 1993 and 2008 – after the debt crisis of the 1980s that crippled much of the developing world and before the banking collapse of 2008. During that period, their incomes increased at a rate of 1.29% each year.

So how long will it take to eradicate poverty if we extrapolate this trend? 100 years.

That’s what it will require to bring the world’s poorest above the standard poverty line of $1.25/day. Compare that with the SDGs’ 2030 target. And keep in mind that Woodward’s methodology is not able to capture the poorest 1% of the world’s population, who will still remain in poverty even at the end of this period. That’s 90 million people, more than the entire population of Germany today, who will remain in poverty forever. Whatever the SDGs will achieve, poverty “eradication” won’t be one of those things.

Even this extremely optimistic, best-possible scenario does not account for the slowdown in income growth since the financial crash. It doesn’t factor in the spikes in food prices that have effectively wiped out the incomes of the poor over the past few years, or the fact that climate change is already unravelling development gains across the global south. It imagines all of this away, and assumes that no further economic or ecological crises will happen in the next 100 years – which is a very big assumption indeed.

As if the 100-year timeline isn’t disappointing enough, it gets worse. A growing number of scholars are beginning to point out that $1.25/day – which is the official poverty line of the SDGs – is actually not adequate for people to survive on. In reality, if people are to meet their most basic needs and achieve normal human life expectancy, they need closer to $5/day. How long would it take to eradicate poverty at this more accurate line? 207 years.

Progress is woefully slow because to date the only strategy for reducing poverty is to increase global GDP growth. Politicians, economists and the development industry all have no other ideas. But GDP growth doesn’t really benefit the poor – or the majority of humanity, for that matter. Of all the income generated by global GDP growth between 1999 and 2008, the poorest 60% of humanity received only 5% of it. The richest 40%, by contrast, received the rest – a whopping 95%. So much for the trickle-down effect.

To eradicate poverty global GDP would have to increase to 175 times its present size if we go with $5/day. In other words, if we want to eradicate poverty with our current model of economic development, we need to extract, produce, and consume 175 times more commodities than we presently do. This is horrifying to contemplate. And even if such outlandish growth were possible, it would drive climate change to unimaginable levels and wipe out any gains in poverty reduction.

(Read Full Text) (Photo Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters)