A geothermal hotspring in Haukadalsvegur, Iceland. Shawn Harquail, Flickr

Super coral, a climate kick for football, and Iceland’s new cool

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

Welcome to the Landscape News bi-weekly digest on landscapes, climate and sustainability. From what’s on your shelves to what’s in the atmosphere, here’s the news to know.


As the Global Landscapes Forum and 49th session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) both convened in Kyoto to discuss climate, we stepped back to assess the setting, from the city itself to progress on its Protocol.

What’s on the inside counts: Psychologist Tim Kasser shared how our intrinsic values shape climate. The six winners of this year’s ‘Green Nobel Prize’ are using theirs for good.

Never heard of Kiribati? Filmmaker Matthieu Rytz explained why all eyes should be on this island nation.

And Center for International Forestry Research director general Robert Nasi gave us a mid-year critical review of the biggest research findings and initiatives announced in 2019 so far.

The snow color of white tigers’ fur comes from human intervention in breeding the species, often leading to deleterious health effects on the animals. Laurent Bartowski, Flickr

BIODIVERSITY: The million-specie question

Based on more than 15,000 sources, a landmark report from the U.N. announced that some 1 million forms of life on Earth are at risk of disappearing.

The abundance of terrestrial species has dropped by at least 20 percent in most habitats, and for amphibian species, more than 40 percent.

Almost 33 percent of reef-forming corals are threatened of extinction, but resilient “super-coral” found in Hawaii is a reason to stay optimistic.

RESEARCH: What lies beneath

Gotchya! In Iceland, carbon is being captured from geothermal energy and pressurized into rock where it may rest in peace. It is “the safest and most stable form of storing carbon,” said a lead geochemist on the project. Other scientists are considering turning the carbon emissions produced by chemical and plastic production back into chemicals and plastic.

The largest study yet on community forestry found that, in Nepal, it has reduced deforestation by nearly 40 percent – and alleviated poverty.

Trees are growing more quickly in the warming climate, but those that grow slowly capture more carbon. Urban trees were also found to be sprinters more than marathoners. Time to re-read the tortoise and the hare.

The 500 million–year-old fungal network through which trees communicate has for the first time been mapped (thank you, machine learning). Civil engineers are also looking underground – to grow food.

The Vogue Met Gala has been running as am annual fundraiser since 1948. Karim D. Ghantous, Flickr

CULTURE: All that glitters

Going deeper into subterranean landscapes is author Robert Macfarlane’s latest novel, Underland, assessing our planetary impact in caves, sinkholes and labs.

Vogue’s Met Gala, arguably the world’s biggest annual celebrity event, saw the red carpet go more green than previous years. Gisele Bündchen wore an entirely sustainable gown from Dior; bottle caps studded Big Freedia’s upcycled tuxedo; Livia Firth’s dress was made of water bottles turned into yarn, sparkling with Swarovski’s leftover crystals.

Sports fans are beginning to play the climate game, with activists protesting against the plane travel  – read: carbon emissions – many enthusiasts take to major matches played abroad.

POLICY: A moment for Kiwis

New Zealand is on a roll. In the immediate, the country’s 2019 budget will include a portion dedicated to wellbeing; by 2050, the country plans to be carbon neutral. At the Global Landscapes Forum, the city of Kyoto announced the same.

In less happy news for 2050, a major report says plastics will by then account for 13 percent of the global carbon budget. Perhaps the 180 U.N. member states that agreed to regulate their plastic waste exports will help.

The sounds of Marlborough, New Zealand. Stewart Baird, Flickr

CLIMATE: It wasn’t me

A 23-country survey found that 13 percent of Americans disagree that climate change is due to human activity, and 5 percent more denied climate change is happening at all. The country – which saw a rise in 2018 emissions after years of decline – came in third for such denial, behind Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.

In London, the U.N.’s International Maritime Organization (IMO) convened to reduce emissions from shipping, which account for 3 percent of global emissions.

A round of applause for the European Union, which lowered emissions from coal, oil and gas by 2.5 percent in 2018.




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