Sustainability Summarised - April edition

The word April is derived from the Latin word Aprillis meaning to open, used in reference to the blossoming and opening of flowers associated with this month. It’s a wonderful time to celebrate nature, and a great reminder to catch up on the latest environmental news.

So, we’ve shared our favourite eco stories for the month!

Colleges and farmers in Lancashire team up to combat global warming

As part of the Strategic Development Fund Pilot being run by The Lancashire Colleges, farms across the region are taking part in carbon audits to help improve soil health, reduce their reliance on purchased fertilisers and increase the use of farmers’ own nutrients.

The project is led by Myerscough College, and Andrea Gardner, Head of Agricultural Projects at Myerscough College, said: “Every farmer has bought into the carbon audits and the benefits they bring. These practices will start to change the way they run their farms and address the issue of carbon reduction and will be in place long after this project finishes.”


cows in a field

Neural network can read tree heights from satellite images

Researchers at ETH Zurich have created the first high-resolution global vegetation height map for 2020, which could provide vital information for fighting climate change and species extinction, as well as for sustainable regional development planning.

Nico Lang developed the approach—based on neural networks—for deriving vegetation height from optical satellite images. Using this approach, he was able to create the first vegetation height map that covers the entire Earth: the Global Canopy Height Map.

The high resolution map is the first of its kind, allowing users to zoom in to as little as 10 x 10 metres of any piece of woodland on Earth and check the tree height.


Harry Potter star Bonnie Wright publishes book offering climate change advice

Known for her role in the Harry Potter films as Ginny Weasley, Bonnie Wright has now turned her hand to writing, having just published her first book called Go Gently: Actionable Steps To Nurture Yourself And The Planet. 

The book addresses feelings of climate anxiety and provides small, manageable changes for readers to adopt in their everyday lives, from switching habits to living more sustainably and taking action.

She said: “I was inspired to write my book through my climate activism and the skills and ideas I had been cultivating to be more self-sufficient and resilient.”

bees on a flower

Climate, big agriculture slashing insect populations by half

A warming planet and continued reliance on intensive agriculture are causing insect populations to plummet by nearly half compared to areas less affected by temperature rises and industrial farming, researchers have found. The study, published in Nature, is the first to look at the combined impact of rising temperatures and industrial agriculture, including the widespread use of insecticides.

The study published in Nature found that the double whammy of global warming and shrinking habitats has not just hit population numbers, but also provoked a 27 percent drop in the diversity of species. Even without the pressures of climate change, converting a tropical forest into agricultural land leads to drier hotter areas due to the removal of vegetation which provides shade and retains moisture in the air and soil.

The new study also points to a strategy that could extend a lifeline to threatened insects. Areas that practise low-intensity agriculture, with fewer chemicals and less monoculture, and were surrounded by at least 75% natural habitat saw only a 7% decline in insect abundance. However, if the density of surrounding natural habitat dropped below 25%, insect population declined by nearly two-thirds.

 

How the world’s richest people are driving global warming

There’s growing evidence that the inequality between rich and poor people’s emissions within countries now overwhelms country-to-country disparities. This means that high emitters have more in common across international boundaries, no matter where they call home.

Researchers from the World Inequality Lab analysed a range of data, from diet to car ownership, stock market investments and global trade to estimate individual carbon output. They found that the top 10% of polluters – about 770 million people, roughly the population of Europe – are the climate equivalent of the world’s wealthiest decile, who earn more than $38,000 a year. The trend is clear: Emissions tend to increase with wealth.

Looking at the total emissions from countries - the way inequality has been measured for decades - shows China, the U.S. and India as by far the biggest polluters. However, further analysis into differences between high and low emitters within countries show that globally, the top 1%, who are located all over the world, actually emit about 70 times as much carbon as the bottom 50%.

 

Have you seen any other stories about sustainability and environmental news and issues that you think we should include? Let us know!

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