Satellites orbiting the earth are becoming an increasingly powerful tool for counting and monitoring wildlife populations and to answer a host of other questions about the natural world.
According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil or RSPO, almost 12 million tons, or 21% of the global supply of palm oil, is now certified as responsible and sustainable. The massive expansion of palm oil plantations has been one of the primary causes of global deforestation. This has been especially the case in Borneo, where 85% of global palm oil production takes place.
Trees are nature’s way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Growing plants take up CO2 and store it in the form of their roots, stems and leaves. And in fact, a significant factor in the growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been the extensive deforestation that has gone on over the past couple of centuries.
Borneo is the third-largest island in the world, home to part of Indonesia, part of Malaysia, and the small sultanate of Brunei. It is also home to the oldest forest on earth – 130 million years old – which is more than twice as old as the Amazon rain forest.
The end of 2013 marked the first occasional observations of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere of 400 parts per million. There is nothing magical about that value, but we do tend to focus on round numbers.
The Amazon rainforest is the biggest in the world, larger than the next two biggest combined. It covers over 3 million square miles, roughly the size of the lower 48 states. For this reason, it functions as a critical sink for carbon in the atmosphere.
Most of the planet’s freshwater stores are found in the northern hemisphere, a region that is changing rapidly in response to human activity and shifting climate trends. A recent study analyzed 147 northern lakes and found that many rely on nutrients from tree leaves, pine needles, and other land-grown plants to feed aquatic life.
Increasingly, conservation organizations are increasingly relying on satellite imagery to help save wildlife. The Jane Goodall Institute, a nonprofit focused on chimpanzee conservation, uses NASA’s and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Landsat satellite images to guide their chimpanzee conservation strategies.
Back in December of 2013, a little less than three years ago, Earth Wise reported that the observatory on Mauna Loa in Hawaii had briefly measured carbon dioxide levels greater than 400 parts per million for the first time ever. During the following year, readings above the 400 level started to pop up occasionally elsewhere as well.
Halloween is traditionally a day when we choose to ignore the inconvenient truths about candy. Many of us overindulge on sweet treats and give little thought to what’s inside… particularly with respect to nutrition.
Trees are the number one way in which carbon can be removed from the atmosphere and stored in vegetation over the long term. A single tree can absorb CO2 at a rate of 48 pounds per year. Because of this, the carbon footprints of 18 average Americans can be neutralized by one acre of hardwood trees. And it has been found that managed forests accumulate more carbon per acre than unmanaged forests.
Forests are a vital part of biodiversity and are one of the planet’s most important natural repositories for carbon dioxide. They are also continually under attack by multiple forces: more mouths to feed, more wood needed to burn and build with, more paper to manufacture, and more land needed to graze cattle.
A constitutional amendment being discussed in the Brazilian Senate threatens to set back decades of conservation efforts in the Amazon.
Orangutans – one of the planet’s most intelligent animals – can only be found in the wild on the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the island of Borneo, which is a land mass shared by Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. And for years conservationists have been warning that measures put in place to protect orangutans have been failing. And they were correct. It was recently declared that orangutans are officially headed for extinction.
Few of us cook with palm oil or have ever even seen the stuff. Nevertheless, half of the world’s consumer products include it as an ingredient and the global market for palm oil could be as high as $50 billion. The palm oil industry has been tied to environmental destruction in countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia and has been found to be complicit in human rights violations.
Pakistan has a terrible history of environmental degradation. Since it became an independent country in 1947, almost all of its primary forests have been cut down while its population has grown by an unbelievable 600 percent.
The North American Bird Conservation Initiative recently released its annual “State of the Birds’ report, which is a comprehensive analysis of North American birds. And as with many other things these days, we’re not doing well.
We have done a number of stories about the sad state of the monarch butterfly and how their numbers have dropped from a billion to only 33 million as of a couple of years ago. Biologists in the U.S. have been trying to restore the summer habitat of the butterflies by urging the planting of milkweed, which is the primary host plants for monarch butterfly caterpillars.
Many of us have a soft spot for primates and toucans. These charismatic creatures are prized for their intellect and beauty. But did you know they also play a vital role in combating climate change?