Jellyfish swimming at Vancouver Aquarium.
Credit: Krysten Merriman / Unsplash

 Kavya Gopal

Jellyfish are Exploding in Population: Our oceans have been warming since the 1970s, and while the alarm bells have been ringing for most marine life, one organism is silently thriving in fertilizer-rich, deoxygenated warm ocean waters. While jellyfish populations fluctuate in blooming cycles naturally, in recent years, these blooms are occurring more frequently, in large part due to human activities such as overfishing, eutrophication, and rising greenhouse gas emissions. From Florida to Japan, jellyfish are disrupting fisheries, affecting tourism, and clogging coastal power plants. The lack of complex physical features shared in common by thousands of jellyfish species makes them perfectly tailored to adapt to hostile marine conditions. At least five species are known to be effectively immortal. From serving them up on a platter to harvesting their mucus as a solution against microplastics, scientists and policymakers are exploring options to keep jellyfish populations in check. Only time will tell if the jellyfish economy will be enough to secure the future of our oceans.

 Nick Obradovich

Regenerative Ag in Africa: Hundreds of millions of citizens of Sub-Saharan nations practice subsistence ('smallholder') agriculture. They grow their own food for their families to eat and rely on their yield and the proceeds of selling it for survival. As a result, agricultural challenges–desertification, salinity, crop pests–present direct threats to human well-being. Unfortunately, crop failures and famines are all too common. In my past work with Ghanaian subsistence farmers, the precariousness of their food supply became clear: only one crop failure stood between them and hunger. Policymakers, NGOs, and corporations operating in Africa are promoting regenerative agricultural practices as potential resilience-adders. The idea is to enable greater nature-inspired resilience in farming on the subcontinent, expanding the buffer between farming and famine. It's a promising development.

 Paul Hawken

The Economist of the Century: Herman Daly was the Jedi master of economics. When I first read his book Steady-State Economics, it completely transformed my view of our relationship to life on Earth. Daly’s work was grounded in the principles of economics but challenged the belief system of economists…and it is a belief system. Herman passed at 84 last month leaving behind a bounty of common sense wisdom—that the economy was a subset of the biosphere, and that economic growth would actually take us backward if its impacts on living systems were ignored. In other words, we cannot grow our way out of problems of poverty, income disparity, environmental degradation, unemployment, or the climate crisis.  The piece he wrote for Scientific American will make you want to read much more of his work.

 Robert Denney

Green Shipping Challenge Launched at COP27: On November 7th, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry formally launched the Green Shipping Challenge during the World Leaders Summit for COP27. The challenge involves commitments by governments, ports, and companies to help the world transition to shipping practices in line with the IPCC goal to limit global temperature rises to 1.5° C. Already, more than 40 major announcements have been made by stakeholders in line with the challenge, including a demand from Amazon to cargo owners to develop zero-emission ocean shipping, a commitment from Cyprus to reduce a tonnage tax for ships that demonstrate environmental protection, and a plan by Transoceanic Wind Transport to launch a fleet of decarbonizing sailing cargo ships by 2035.

 Amy Boyer

Climate on the Ballot: Since the U.S. election on Nov. 8, there's been a lot of coverage of a "Green Wave."  Three Democratic governors campaigned on climate action and won, while Democrats gained control of four states; state environmental groups say this sets the stage for more local climate action. The Inflation Reduction Act, the historic federal climate infrastructure bill, didn't get pushback even though climate change legislation has historically seen a backlash. How did this happen? Exit polls showed that climate was the top concern for 8% of voters, tied with crime, and groups like the Environmental Voter Project are working hard to get them to the polls (I've done phone banking with this non-partisan group). Meanwhile, youth were enthusiastic voters and very climate conscious; 25-year-old Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the youngest member-elect of Congress, won on a campaign for climate justice. The times, they are a-changin'.

 Benjamin Felser

No Place for WallsSky Island Alliance (SIA) has been at the frontlines of documenting the ecological impacts of the US-Mexico border wall in Arizona. The community-based conservation organization from Tucson conceived their Border Wildlife Study in response to the 30-foot-tall wall construction which has persisted despite breaking 60 laws including the Endangered Species Act and the Native American Graves and Repatriation Act. Their study has documented 130 animals across a 30-mile stretch of the border wall, including mountain lions, pronghorn, javelina, and other animals whose migration corridors would be severely impacted by further construction. Fortunately, Arizona’s new governor, Katie Hobbs, has promised to remove at least some of the shipping crates placed at the border by Arizona’s previous governor. SIA, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, have been a critical force in raising public awareness of the ongoing harms and calling for dedicated funds for the healing of borderlands. 

 Claire Krummenacher

France's power plans: New legislation passed last week in France will mandate that both existing and new car parks containing at least 80 spaces be covered with solar panels within 3 years, a move that could generate up to 11 gigawatts of power annually. The measure passed amidst a series of recent changes in energy use throughout the country, including introducing heating limits and transitions to LED bulbs in public buildings, dimming and switching off streetlights and signs hours earlier (including, most notably, the lights on the Eiffel Tower), and proposing solar farm construction on empty land by motorways. In addition, as part of its "Every gesture counts" campaign, the government will introduce incentives for households to keep the heating below 19C, use energy-intensive appliances during off-peak hours, and join carpools.

 Juliana Birnbaum

Symbiotic Economies: Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, stands out as a visionary activist for the restoration of ecological and human communities through the principles of Traditional Ecological Knowledge.  I loved the essay "The Serviceberry," which she recently contributed to Emergence Magazine, a publication I have often highly recommended for its poetic approach to storytelling. Also inspired by their podcast—this week's with Suzanne Simard on Finding the Mother Tree, she discusses her research into how underground fungal networks facilitate inter-tree communication.

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