A woman working in a rice paddy. Photo via envato

Killer cats, dimming the sun and a first taste of 1.5 degrees

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You’ve probably heard that last year was the hottest year ever recorded. Now, scientists have warned that not only could 2024 be hotter still, but global heating could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius for the first time ever.

In this ThinkLandscape digest, we dig through the first environmental headlines of the year, from solar geoengineering to the climate cost of war in Gaza.

Vegan tacos
Photo: Quin Engle, Unsplash

This month on ThinkLandscape

Last month’s COP28 climate summit was a disappointment for many. Here’s what we learned from the controversial conference in Dubai, including a reaction from Club of Rome co-president Sandrine Dixson-Declève.

Looking ahead, here’s our list of climate events in 2024, including a trilogy of UN climate, biodiversity and drylands summits at the end of the year.

It’s also Veganuary this month – so here’s a five-step guide on how to eat less meat.

The climate crisis is taking a toll on our cities. Some are fighting back: from Brazil to Sierra Leone, here’s how urban forestry is transforming cities around the world.

What are seed banks, and what can they do for us? In a three-part multimedia series, find out how seed banks work, discover the world’s most important seed vault, and learn the fascinating history of the mighty millet.

We’re hiring! Apply now to join ThinkLandscape and the GLF as a multimedia reporter, moderator or editorial assistant.

What we’re reading

2023 was the hottest year on record, and 2024 could be even hotter. Photo via envato

Climate

Get ready to enter a 1.5-degree world: global warming reached 1.48 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in 2023 – and this year could be even hotter.

That’s partly thanks to El Niño, which is wreaking havoc in South America and causing the Amazon to endure its worst drought ever.

Speaking of the Amazon, the Earth is on the brink of crossing five climate tipping points – with three more at risk of being crossed in the next decade. (Learn more about tipping points here.)

Even then, carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high last year. Is it time for more radical solutions, like dimming the sun?

A woman working in a rice paddy. Photo via envato

People

In its first two months, the ongoing Israel–Hamas war in Gaza generated 281,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions – more than the annual emissions of 20 climate-vulnerable countries.

Meanwhile, war is pushing Sudan towards famine, with 18 million people now in need of urgent food aid, the World Food Programme has warned.

A record 32.6 million people were internally displaced by climate disasters in 2022 – the majority of them in Asia, where food insecurity is also on the rise.

Brazil’s Indigenous Juma people are down to just three women. Here’s how they’re battling back from the brink of extinction.

Concern is growing over the impact of domestic cats on biodiversity. Photo via envato

Planet

Is your cat bad for biodiversity? Domestic cats have been known to prey on more than 2,000 species, hundreds of which are at risk of extinction.

Humans, of course, are far more destructive: we’ve wiped out nearly 12 percent of all bird species over the course of modern human history.

Only 189 square kilometers of Atlantic woodlands remain in England. Now, for the first time, a U.K. government plan aims to restore these ancient temperate rainforests.

Poaching is rife in South America’s Atlantic Forest, but conservationists have a new weapon at their disposal: sound recorders.

A skier swerves down a mountain in Rhone-Alpes, France. Photo via envato

Business

The climate crisis is coming for Europe’s ski resorts. As rain and sleet prevail, the industry is turning to artificial snow – but is it sowing its own demise?

For decades, Mauritius tore down its mangroves to make room for mass tourism. Now, the island nation is restoring its coastline and banking on ecotourism.

Virgin Atlantic has flown the world’s first long-haul flight powered entirely by sustainable aviation fuels.

And from detecting methane leaks to preventing wildfires, here are four ways AI can help us combat the climate crisis.

Azerbaijan is set to host UNFCCC COP29 this November. Photo via envato

Policy

Déjà vu? Azerbaijan has appointed a former oil executive to host the COP29 climate conference in November. It will also expand gas production by a third over the next decade.

Brazil’s Congress has overturned a presidential veto on a law that limits Indigenous land rights, which has now entered into force.

Norway’s parliament has agreed to open up the country’s waters to exploration for deep-sea mining. It could now become the world’s first country to embark on the controversial practice.

Mexico has officially opened the Tren Maya – a tourist train line constructed across 1,500 kilometers of highly biodiverse jungle and Indigenous territories on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Heads up: There will be no digest next month. We’ll be back with more climate headlines in March!

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