sustainable development

theguardian.com
How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply
New studies show that alarming numbers of tiny fibers from synthetic clothing are making their way from your washing machine into aquatic animals
By Leah Messinger

Buy less, and buy stuff made from stuff that’s not destroying the planet. Please.

I really like this approach of producing a ‘video abstract’ as a hook into an academic paper- the above image is from the animation to accompany the paper in Science: ‘Biodiversity redistribution under climate change: Impacts on ecosystems and human well-being’ by Gretta Pecl et al.

The paper, itself, is really interesting- and the visual abstract, which is inherently social media friendly, is a great way of disseminating, engaging and opening access to academic research in a social media age.  

Norway overtakes Denmark to be crowned world's 'happiest country'

Norway has unseated Denmark as happiest country in the world. The Scandinavian nation beat the three-time winner of the title, having previously been ranked fourth.

Denmark dropped to second place as Norway was named the winner for the first time since the United Nations launched the global initiative in 2012.

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The World Happiness Report 2017 ranked countries on six criteria measuring happiness: GDP per capita, life expectancy, freedom, generosity, social support and an absence of corruption in government or the business sector.

“Happy countries are the ones that have a healthy balance of prosperity, as conventionally measured, and social capital, meaning a high degree of trust in a society, low inequality and confidence in government,"Jeffrey Sachs, the director of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) that published the report, told Reuters.

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"What works in the Nordic countries is a sense of community and understanding in the common good,” Meik Wiking, chief executive of the Happiness Institute in Copenhagen, said.

Iceland, Switzerland and Finland were also ranked in the top five. The US was 14th on the list, while the UK came in 19th place. Sachs said the US had dropped one place due to rising inequality, distrust and corruption. He said that President Trump’s economic measures were “all aimed at increasing inequality – tax cuts at the top, throwing people off the healthcare rolls, cutting Meals on Wheels in order to raise military spending. I think everything that has been proposed goes in the wrong direction.”

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Syria, Yemen, Tanzania and Burundi are the least happy of the 155 countries listed in the fifth annual report by the SDSN.

The aim of the report is to provide governments with a tool to improve overall well-being in their country. “I want governments to measure this, discuss it, analyse it and understand when they have been off on the wrong direction,” Sachs said.

World Happiness Report 2017 rankings:

1. Norway
2. Denmark
3. Iceland
4. Switzerland
5. Finland
6. Netherlands
7. Canada
8. New Zealand
9. Australia
10. Sweden
11. Israel
12. Costa Rica
13. Austria
14. United States
15. Ireland
16. Germany
17. Belgium
18. Luxembourg
19. United Kingdom
20. Chile

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How has the number of people living in extreme poverty changed?

The treemap above (interactive version here) illustrates how the number and distribution of people living in extreme poverty has changed between 1990 and 2013. The reduction in the number of poor in East Asia and Pacific is dramatic, and despite the decline in the Sub-Saharan Africa’s extreme poverty rate to 41 percent in 2013, the region’s population growth means that 389 million people lived on less than $1.90/day in 2013 - 113 million more than in 1990

The World Bank is pleased to release the 2017 Atlas of Sustainable Development Goals. With over 150 maps and data visualizations, the new publication charts the progress societies are making towards the 17 SDGs.

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So, let us start with the basics. What is the 2030 Agenda? What exactly is it that is going on right now?

The United Nations Sustainable Development Summit is happening in New York right now, and it will be happening for the next three days. It’s a meeting between world leaders where the aim is to all agree on the formulation of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 sustainable development goals and their 196 sub-targets. The meeting will take the whole weekend, but already the Agenda has been adopted, and we now have a world Agenda for the next 15 years. The Agenda will, to put it simply, dictate the approach of the UN in their work, both how they work internally and how they work with their member states and other partners. It will also have a huge impact on how countries tackle the different challenges that they are facing in everything from environmental sustainability, to education, poverty elevation and gender equality, just to mention a few.

Worth noting is that the negotiating part of the 2030 Agenda (where member states argues about if they should use this word instead of that, and other things that surprisingly will have much bigger implications than one might think) is more or less done. The draft of the goals has been negotiated and worked on since 2012 and he Rio+20 conference, and will most likely be adopted in their entirety at this stage.

The 2030 Agenda is “a plan for people, planet and prosperity that also seeks to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom”. It is at its core an integrated set of goals and targets that illustrates the interconnectedness of the “three pillars of sustainable development” (social, environmental and economic). All goals are in the formulation of their targets connected to multiple other goals, and together they create a web of targets and goals, where one cannot pull one strand without taking into consideration how it connects to other aspects of sustainable development. This creates a complicated set of goals, and the world is definitely facing a challenge in its work towards the realization of the 2030 Agenda. However, it is also our only chance to ensure that we protect not only our selves, but also the planet we live on, and that we ensure that the needs of the present is met while also ensuring that the possibility of future generations to meet their needs is safeguarded. Our actions these coming 15 years will be crucial for how life on our planet will look in the future, and there are many exciting, if challenging, things ahead of us.

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist who founded the Green Belt Movement, which focused on planting trees and women’s rights; her organization paid a small stipend to women to plant seedlings throughout the country. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, with the committee citing her contribution to “sustainable development, democracy and peace.”

Victor has always been a fascinating character for me. And I’ve been thinking a lot about why I find his character so interesting. So in honor of @viktorweek (and specifically prompt 2 ‘Past’ and prompt 4 ‘Family/Friends’), here are some thoughts on my favorite romantic sadsack. 

Perhaps one reason I love Victor as a character is because when I started watching the show I expected something very different from what we got. In the first episode, we as the audience are introduced to Victor Nikiforov, top athlete and celebrity. This Victor is cool, calm, collected. This Victor throws a flirtatious wink at his fans and melts hearts worldwide. This Victor only smiles when he’s on the ice, receiving adulation for his prowess, and is quiet and contemplative in interviews and in his home.

And then of course, we meet the real Victor, the one who danced drunkenly with a stranger and then moved into his house after watching a fateful internet video. The real Victor is absolutely ridiculous. He’s a hedonist. He loves good food, good alcohol, and being comfortable. He lounges about in a loose robe and immediately buys a sofa to fit in his tiny guest room. He relaxes in a hot spring every night and waxes poetic about the beauty of the ocean. And he is unabashedly, overwhelmingly enthusiastic about his interests. He’s delighted by so many things, he loves to be a tourist and enjoy new sights and places. He revels in the drama of competition and approaches every challenge in as over-the-top manner as possible. He thinks about the people he knows in terms of grandiose metaphors and fairy tales.

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I appreciate that climate change gets a lot of attention (possibly because it has the potential to have the highest economic costs if left unchecked) but it is my duty to remind everyone that the biggest threat to wildlife and ecosystems today is habitat loss. Not climate change. Not trophy hunting. Not even pollution–though a habitat can become so degraded from pollution that it becomes unusable.

The very best way to curb global destruction of habitat is to implement large-scale changes to our development patterns, energy production, and agricultural system. So be sure to support those efforts politically. You can also support sustainable, multi-use development in your communities(many municipalities talk about community-wide projects at city counsel meetings!). Live densely. Eat less meat. Call out self driving cars for the sprawl-supporting pact with satan that they are. Support public transportation! Don’t support sprawl and McMansions! Recognize that suburbia in general and lawns in particular are a facsimile of greenness that destroy actual usable habitat and replace it with sterile monocultures that require gallons of water, pesticides, and fertilizer to maintain. Stop using products with neonicotinoids altogether. Make your yard wildlife-friendly. Consider a brush pile. Keep your damn cats indoors. Plant native plants. Remove invasive plants. Maybe don’t freak out and call animal control every time you see a bat or snake or coyote in your neighborhood since they were literally there first and we’ve left them no place else to go. Watch out for herps crossing the roads in the breeding season, especially our salamanders. Plant a NATIVE tree. Support your local parks, forests, and waterways, big and small. 

In a world looking for new ideas, Bhutan is already called the poster child of sustainable development. More than 95% of the population has clean water and electricity, 80% of the country is forested and, to the envy of many countries, it is carbon neutral and food secure.
—  John Vidal and Annie Kelly, ‘Bhutan set to plough lone furrow as world’s first wholly organic country’, The Guardian