Earth's Black Box, a new structure that records climate change data, will be set in an environmentally stable part of Tasmania. Earth's Black Box

Earth’s Black Box documents our path to extinction, how plankton moved mountains, and Wall Street’s awakening

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

Are fossil fuels causing infertility? Other pollutants like lead and mercury could even be affecting the birth ratio of boys to girls.

And from floating homes to mountain-moving microbes, here’s one last look at the headlines in 2021. 

LANDSCAPE NEWS

Africa is going to build a wall. Its purpose: to stop the Sahara from growing any larger. Find out how in this month’s episode of Landscape TV.

A month on, where does COP26 leave us? After more empty rhetoric from world leaders, it now falls to local communities and activists to play their part in restoring forests and other landscapes to store carbon.

That includes our GLFx Bawku chapter in Ghana, one of five new chapters of local restoration efforts founded in Africa’s greater Sahel region this year with the financial support of the Robert Bosch Foundation.

But which landscapes should we restore – and how? Check out this new Google-supported digital platform, which can be used to map out and calculate restoration potential anywhere in the world.

PEOPLE

An HIV/AIDS patient in Timor-Leste. Martine Perret, UN Photo
An HIV/AIDS patient in Timor-Leste. Martine Perret, UN Photo

Did the Omicron variant arise from unequal access to HIV treatment? Globally, a quarter of HIV patients are not receiving treatment – and their weakened immune systems could be a breeding ground for new coronavirus strains.

In Canada’s Arctic territory of Nunavut, the Inuit-majority capital Iqaluit has gone two months without clean drinking water.

Meanwhile, here are two major legal wins for Indigenous rights:

PLANET

The rare Andean Cat. Jim Sanderson, Wikimedia Commons
The rare Andean Cat. Jim Sanderson, Wikimedia Commons

The Andean cat is the most endangered feline in the Americas – but it was just spotted on the outskirts of the Chilean capital Santiago.

Tropical forests can almost fully regrow in just 20 years after being cut down. All we have to do is leave them alone.

Plankton are surprisingly powerful: around 2 billion years ago, they helped create the Earth’s first mountains

CLIMATE

Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. James Yungel, NASA
Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica. James Yungel, NASA

In Antarctica, the world’s widest glacier – the size of Britain – could collapse within the next few years, causing sea levels to rise by up to 60 centimeters. (Learn more about Antarctica’s tipping point on Landscape TV.)

The climate crisis is already impacting every corner of the world. Here’s how it’s playing out in all 193 U.N. member states, in pictures.

Dozens of tornadoes have hit six U.S. states, killing at least 80 people. While it’s too early to blame the climate crisis, winter tornadoes will likely become more powerful as the Earth warms.

What if the climate crisis causes humanity’s extinction? A steel ‘black box’ is designed to record our climate actions for future civilizations to learn what happened to ours.

BUSINESS

Aditya Vyas, Unsplash
Aditya Vyas, Unsplash

Wall Street’s latest fad consists of ratings for ‘sustainable’ investments – but these ratings say more about a corporation’s bottom line than its actual environmental performance.

United Airlines has become the world’s first airline to fly passengers using 100 percent sustainable aviation fuel. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to have much impact on the industry’s carbon footprint.

Amazon’s plastic packaging waste increased by almost a third last year compared to 2019. Around 10,000 tons of it ended up in the ocean – or a vanload every 67 minutes.

POLICY

The U.N. Security Council in New York. Zack Lee, Flickr
The U.N. Security Council in New York. Zack Lee, Flickr

Russia has vetoed a resolution by the U.N. Security Council to recognize the climate crisis as a threat to international peace and security.

In a landmark decision, Ecuador’s highest court has ruled against plans to mine for copper and gold in a protected forest because they violate the rights of nature.

The Netherlands is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to sea level rise. It also has a growing housing shortage. The solution? Floating homes.

BE PART OF THE MOVEMENT

Finally…

…thank you for reading this story. Our mission is to make them freely accessible to everyone, no matter where they are. 

We believe that lasting and impactful change starts with changing the way people think. That’s why we amplify the diverse voices the world needs to hear – from local restoration leaders to Indigenous communities and women who lead the way.

By supporting us, not only are you supporting the world’s largest knowledge-led platform devoted to sustainable and inclusive landscapes, but you’re also becoming a vital part of a global movement that’s working tirelessly to create a healthier world for us all.

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