Anti-tank obstacles on a street in Odessa. Bulent Kilic, AFP – Getty Images

War and starvation, COVID-causing chemicals, and the women saving our planet

News to know in our bi-weekly digest

The war in Ukraine threatens food security across the globe. Prices of wheat, corn, sunflower oil and fertilizer are surging as the conflict cuts off ‘Europe’s breadbasket’ – and millions could face starvation as a result.

In our latest Landscape News round-up, we examine the fallout from humanity’s latest conflict, as well as our growing plastic crisis, spectacular animal migrations and more.

LANDSCAPE NEWS

For International Women’s Day on 8 March, we honored a group of global women who are leading the battle against climate change in the third edition of our 16 Women Restoring the Earth list. We encourage you to take a moment to recognize their work, from suing governments to preserving heritage through song.

Speaking of awards, meet our six new Restoration Stewards, who will receive funding and mentoring for their youth-led restoration projects in 2022.

We also spent months digging into the plastic crisis, resulting in an incredible two-part series on how plastic contributes to climate change and how we can make it less harmful to the planet. Read on to never look at your waste the same again.

PEOPLE

In a hospital in the Dominican Republic during the COVID-19 pandemic. SJ Objio, Unsplash
In a hospital in the Dominican Republic during the COVID-19 pandemic. SJ Objio, Unsplash

Are toxic chemicals making us more vulnerable to COVID-19? There’s mounting evidence that exposure to PFAS could both increase the risk of infection and cause more severe disease.

Afghanistan’s few functioning hospitals are overwhelmed – not by COVID-19 patients but by children dying from malnutrition.

Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Brazil’s capital Brasília to protest a set of bills that will allow mining on Indigenous lands and facilitate illegal logging in the Amazon.

PLANET

The Amazon Rainforest near Manaus, Brazil. Neil Palmer, CIAT
The Amazon Rainforest near Manaus, Brazil. Neil Palmer, CIAT

New research continues to confirm that the Amazon is on the brink of permanently drying out, which would emit vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. (More on that in this episode of Landscape TV.)

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of plant species are likely to go extinct because they’re simply not useful to humans.

This is the world’s largest annual mammal migration on land – and it’s happening right now in Botswana’s Kalahari Desert.

CLIMATE

Alex Jones, Unsplash
Alex Jones, Unsplash

The climate crisis is nothing to sneeze at: pollen season is growing longer and more severe as temperatures rise.

Around 20 million East Africans are facing the worst drought in decades. Hunger is already widespread in large parts of Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Tulum is one of Mexico’s trendiest beach destinations, but how long can it withstand the rising seas?

Methane leaks from oil and gas facilities often go undetected. Here’s how satellites could help expose them.

BUSINESS

Civilians cross a river on a blown-up bridge in northern Kyiv. Aris Messinis, AFP
Civilians cross a river on a blown-up bridge in northern Kyiv. Aris Messinis, AFP

Fossil fuel dependency is fueling the war in Ukraine, says the country’s top climate scientist.

The U.S. and U.K. have banned oil imports from Russia, while the E.U. plans to sharply reduce its reliance on Russian natural gas.

This will likely mean even higher oil and gas prices, but also opportunities for renewable energy and a resurgence in nuclear power in the U.S.

And as the electric car market grows, concerns are rising over how their batteries are made from scarce minerals that are predominantly sourced from China.

POLICY

An iceberg in Greenland. Annie Spratt, Unsplash
An iceberg in Greenland. Annie Spratt, Unsplash

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has frozen international cooperation in the Arctic. Seven of the Arctic Council’s eight members are boycotting future meetings on climate change, oil drilling and more.

Rich countries should provide an extra USD 60 billion a year in funding to tackle biodiversity loss, leading conservation groups have argued.

Last year, a landmark ruling stipulated that Australia’s environment minister had to consider impacts on children before approving new coal mines. That ruling has now been overturned.

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