Damon Gameau

 Paul Hawken

Retelling the story of humans and nature. This brilliant talk by Damon Gameau will stay with you long after it is viewed. Damon is the Australian partner of Project Regeneration, the creator of the documentary 2040, the film Regenerating Australia, and the Regenerators organization in Australia. In this spellbinding talk entitled Retelling the Story of Human and Nature, he describes the arc of beliefs that brought us to where we are today. Until we understand the narratives that created the world we are trying to heal and restore, we cannot solve the climate/biological crisis. Facts do not change people’s minds. Stories do. This is a transformative story by an outstanding and gifted storyteller.

 Benjamin Felser

Youth Climate Activists Sail to COP27: Youth activists from North Africa and the Middle East recently sailed to Egypt in the lead-up to COP27 on Nov 6. These climate representatives from Sudan, Bahrain, Palestine, and other nations participated in a youth climate summit of 400 “young climate mobilizers” in Tunisia last month to build solidarity and a common message. Participants include Ayisha Siddiqa from Pakistan who has organized school climate strikes since 2019 and Omar Elmawi from Kenya who has been coordinating a campaign to stop the world’s longest crude oil pipeline in East Africa. Delegates last year promised $350m to support the countries most impacted by climate change, but these promises have been broken in the past and, as Siddiqi notes, many impacts “are things we cannot adapt to, and loss[es]... we cannot recover from.” It stands to be seen how delegates from the Global North will respond.

 Claire Krummenacher

The world's healthiest forests: A new study found this week that the world's healthiest, most biodiverse, and most resilient forests are found in Indigenous protected areas, a further contribution to years of research establishing that Indigenous communities are essential to maintaining forest integrity (a metric that assesses the overall forest health, including the ability to store carbon, sustain biodiversity, preserve ecosystems, and provide social benefits). Notably, the findings that over two-thirds of high-integrity forests have at least some human inhabitants also contradict the fortress conservation model (which holds that humans must be absent in order for biodiversity to thrive) used by conservation organizations and governments worldwide to justify the violent evictions of Indigenous peoples from their lands. Based on these results, the paper's authors recommend bolstering support for Indigenous communities by providing greater freedom to manage their land, increasing direct funding, enhancing legal support, and strengthening programs that incentivize conservation over extractive industry.

 Juliana Birnbaum

Ray of hope for the Brazilian Amazon:  Having lived in Brazil decades ago during the first administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who was much beloved at that time, I was overjoyed at this week's news of his astounding comeback and re-election to the presidency, along with climate activists, Amazon conservationists and indigenous groups in Brazil and beyond.  During the past four years under the leadership of right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro, the Amazon rainforest within Brazil's borders was opened up to commercial development, mining, and industrial agriculture, and protections for Indigenous lands were dismantled. Lula campaigned on a promise to protect the Amazon, restore tribal rights, and take decisive action on climate change, and one analysis estimated that the coming decade could see deforestation there drop by 89 percent.

 Kate Furby

Baby You Can Drive My Car: The European Union is working to essentially ban new non-electric cars starting in 2035. It's still in the legislative process, but if approved, it could significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Critics worry about this keeping aging cars on the market for longer, and debates are ongoing. The US is also taking a look at the future of electric vehicles, while it is currently still a divided issue there as well. Of course, to successfully reduce road emissions anywhere, the culture of cars is also going up for debate. This article in the MIT Technology Review takes a thoughtful look at how we view the open road, and what challenges may lie ahead.

 Kavya Gopal

Science-based activism in the Niger Delta: Nearly six decades of oil exploration in the Niger Delta makes it one of the most polluted places on the earth, with nearly 9,900 spills recorded in just the past decade. It is ripe for conflict, with negligence by oil companies, militant groups retaliating by attacking pipelines, and community members suffering kidnappings. Against this backdrop, Dr. Eucharia Nwaichi, a biochemist at the University of Port Harcourt, has been transforming a landscape of oil and fires, into foliage and healthy soils since 2003. Her strategy is called bioremdiation–planting vegetation that naturally removes pollutants in soils, without removing the chemicals and disposing of them elsewhere. Dr. Nwaichi uses her science to propel her advocacy–winning over local communities with the solutions, and persuading oil companies to pay for detoxification. She recently has been awarded the 2022 John Maddox prize for her work and unique approach. Despite the ever-present risk of violence, Dr. Nwaichi continues her work because she believes “mother nature called on me to be a steward”.

 Nick Obradovich

Details, details, details, and trees: The devil in environmental policy is often in the details. That's one of the most vivid lessons I learned in training to be a political scientist. Another important lesson was: "you can't understand what you don't measure". And with respect to global efforts to plant trees where they aren't currently–dubbed afforestation–the initial details, planning process, and follow-up measurements are critically important. Did any trees even survive, years later? Why or why not? A recent piece on global afforestation efforts summarizes these challenges nicely. When the specifics aren't carefully considered, even planting a world-record number of mangroves can result in total failure. That said, afforestation still holds much promise in helping us reduce carbon dioxide concentrations. We just need to get the details right.

 Robert Denney

European Union enacts green shipping standards: On October 19th, the European Parliament voted in favor of standards to drive the shipping industry into a renewable future. Specifically, the standards require ships to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2% by 2025, 20% by 2035, and 80% by 2050. Parliament also set a target of 2% usage of renewable fuels and the mandated use of onshore power supply at main EU ports by 2030. While environmentalists and even some shipowners advocated for more stringent targets, many believe these new standards mark the beginning of the end for fossil fuels in Europe’s shipping industry. For instance, it is thought that the green shipping fuel standard will provide the investment security needed to scale up hydrogen-based fuels in the shipping sector.

Take Action on Nexus
Find out how we can turn biowaste into biochar to build soil health and sequester carbon on the Biochar Nexus

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