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Ethiopia ‘Breaks’ World Record By Planting 350 Million Trees In One Day

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Ethiopia ‘Breaks’ World Record By Planting 350 Million Trees In One Day
Photo Credit: Ethiopian Embassy

More than 350 million trees have been planted in Ethiopia in one day, which officials say will be a world record.

Dr Getahun Mekuria, the country’s minister of innovation and technology, said 353 million trees had been planted by Monday evening, surpassing the initial goal of 200 million trees planted in one day.

“Today Ethiopia is set in our attempt to break the world record together for a green legacy,” the office of Abiy Ahmed, the country’s prime minister, tweeted on Monday morning.

Ethiopia is in the middle of a campaign to plant 4 billion trees between May and October.

Children plant seedlings at an elementary school in Lalibela, Ethiopia (Picture: Kyodo News/Getty)

The initiative is part of Mr Ahmed’s plan to help restore the country’s landscape, which experts say is quickly being eroded by deforestation and climate change.

So far, more than 2.6 billion trees have been planted in almost all parts of the east African nation, agriculture officials have said.

According to Farm Africa, an organisation involved in forest management in Ethiopia, less than 4% of the country’s land is now forested, a sharp decline from around 30% at the end of the 19th century.

Ethiopia’s rapidly growing population and the need for more farmlands, unsustainable forest use and climate change are often cited as the causes for rapid deforestation.

In addition to ordinary Ethiopians, various international organisations and the business community have joined the tree planting spree, which aims to overtake India’s 66 million trees planting record set in 2017.

It is not yet clear if the Guinness World Records is monitoring Ethiopia’s the mass planting scheme but the prime minister’s office said specially developed software is helping with the count.

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Dozens Of ‘Extinct’ Creatures Found Alive In ‘Lost City’ Deep Within Rainforest

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Dozens Of ‘Extinct’ Creatures Found Alive In ‘Lost City’ Deep Within Rainforest
Photo Credit: www.hdimagesdownload.com

Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed

A specialized team of conservation scientists has found what appears to be a hidden oasis deep in the rainforest of Honduras that’s teeming with dozens of rare and endangered creatures.

The remote settlement, known as the “Lost City of the Monkey God” or “White City” and located in the Mosquitia rainforest, is a stunning example of the biodiversity that was once common across the tropics and rainforests in the region. The rainforest is home to hundreds of species of bats, butterflies and reptiles, the Independent reports.

The “ecological SWAT team” from Conservation International’s Rapid Assessment Program (RAP) conducted their three-week expedition in 2017 after ancient ruins were discovered in the rainforest, which remains one of the least-explored areas of the region. Their full report on the expedition and its dizzying array of findings was only published this week.

The report details how the pristine ecosystem is filled with a number of rare and unique species, including those previously believed to be extinct.

This has included the False Tree Coral Snake, the pale-faced bat, and a tiger beetle which many had thought was already extinct. 22 species were also recorded whose presence in Honduras had previously been unknown, including the endangered Great Green Macaw and a live-bearing fish that scientists have only now discovered.

In total, scientists documented 198 species of birds, 94 butterfly species, 40 of small mammals, 56 amphibian and reptile species, and 30 species of large mammals—including jaguars, ocelots and pumas—not to mention a huge variety of plants, fish, rodents and insects.

Trond Larsen, the director of RAP, expressed that his team was “shocked” by their major find. In a press release, Larsen noted:

“The ‘White City’ is one of the few areas remaining in Central America where ecological and evolutionary processes remain intact.”

The conservationist added that the diversity of the area’s wildlife makes it a very high priority for future conservation efforts. Larsen said:

“One of the main reasons we found such high species richness and abundance of threatened and wide-ranging species (e.g., peccaries) is that the forests around the White City remain pristine, unlike much of the region.

This makes the area a high conservation priority for maintaining the broader landscape connectivity that is essential for the long-term persistence of biodiversity through Central America.”

The White City has long been sought after by explorers searching for what is believed to be the home to an ancient civilization that inhabited the area during the pre-Columbian era.

The area, which is largely undeveloped, has faced threats from illegal economic activities such as deforestation due to cattle ranching, in spite of efforts by Honduras’ president in 2005 to extend official protection to the “lost city.”

Larsen said:

“And these are areas with no road networks, no logistics or infrastructure to let people get in or let guards in, so it’s very hard to stop what’s happening.

In many cases, this illegal activity is being driven tangentially by drug trafficking, so it’s driven by powerful people with money. That’s the primary threat to the integrity of the forest of the area.”

Another member of the RAP SWAT team, John Polisar, noted the importance of ensuring strong protection that would allow the treasure-trove of rare creatures to thrive:

“We have been doing field work in the indigenous territories of La Moskitia for 14 years, and this site stood out as being simply gorgeous.

Because of its presently intact forests and fauna the area is of exceptionally high conservation value. It merits energetic and vigilant protection so its beauty and wildlife persist into the future.”

This article (Dozens of ‘Extinct’ Creatures Found Alive in ‘Lost City’ Deep Within Rainforest) was originally published at The Mind Unleashed and is re-posted here under Creative Commons.

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Rare Wave-Like Clouds Over Virginia Mountain Look Like Van Gogh’s Famous ‘Starry Night’

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Rare Wave-Like Clouds Over Virginia Mountain Look Like Van Gogh's Famous 'Starry Night'
Photo Credit: Yahoo

Eric Althoff, Yahoo

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 9: Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh at Moma on March 9, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – MARCH 9: Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh at Moma on March 9, 2016 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

It was indeed a starry, starry night for Virginia photographer Amy Hunter, who managed to capture the night-time celestial phenomenon known as Kelvin-Helmholtz waves, wherein specific atmospheric conditions create clouds that appear in wave-like patterns in the sky.

Hunter’s photograph was taken over Smith Mountain in the southwestern region of Virginia on Tuesday. She sent the photograph on to her local news affiliate, which immediately responded that the sight is indeed “very rare.”

Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the higher layer of air moves at a faster speed than the lower-level air. Accordingly, the higher layer “scoops” the top of a lower cloud layer, thereby creating the wave-like shapes that appear similar to the crests of ocean waves. Their appearance often signals turbulent air, which can be a hurdle for aircraft in the area.

KDKA meteorologist Ray Petelin explained that Kelvin-Helmholtz waves form when two layers of air are moving against one another at different speeds, which results in the crest-like clouds called a “shear,” which occurs most often during windy conditions such as those that topped Smith Mountain Wednesday.

Velocity shear occurs when winds are traveling at different speeds at different heights in the atmosphere,” he said earlier this summer. “In the case of these cloud patterns, the winds are moving faster at the top of the cloud than the winds at the bottom of the cloud, just like how waves are created on water.”

The phenomenon is named for 19th century meteorologists Lord Kelvin and Hermann von Helmholtz, who explained the physics behind the cloud formations as part of their research into vortex dynamics.

The unusual weather occurrence has rarely been captured on film, but perhaps its most famous representation in any medium was in the 1889 painting “Starry Night” by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh painted the post-impressionist image while committed to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole asylum near Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in the South of France. Continuing to generate art during his commitment was thought to initially help with Van Gogh’s fits and depression, but he soon relapsed, and the work took on another darker dimension, with the color blue taking over the color palette as his mental state deteriorated.

Starry Night” hangs at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. According to MoMa, at that late stage in his life, Van Gogh’s style had been informed by other artists he met in France, including pointillist Georges Seurat, as the Impressionism period came to its end. “Post-Impressionism,” MoMa says, came to define a period in which artists used “bold colours and expressive, often symbolic images,” such as those wave-like clouds Van Gogh captured on “Starry Night,” arguably his most famous canvas.

Van Gogh died on July 29, 1890, barely a year after completing the work.

This article (Rare Wave-Like Clouds Over Virginia Mountain Look Like Van Gogh’s Famous ‘Starry Night’) was originally published at Yahoo and is re-posted here under Creative Commons.

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Report Shows Corporations And Bolsonaro Teaming Up To Destroy The Amazon

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Report Shows Corporations And Bolsonaro Teaming Up To Destroy The Amazon
Photo Credit: Mint Press News

Joe Catron, Mint Press News

As deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest reaches the highest level in a decade, the rainforest’s indigenous peoples and their supporters have called for action against the political and business interests they blame for a spike in illegal logging and other resource extraction.

report released by Amazon Watch as part of its ongoing “Complicity in Destruction” campaign aims not only to spotlight the role of North American and Western European financiers, importers, and traders in the ongoing destruction of the Amazon, but also to mobilize support for a boycott launched by the National Indigenous Mobilization (MNI) against the Brazilian agribusiness and mining interests encroaching on the threatened region. The report says:

“The MNI requests solidarity from the international community to support these efforts, which aim to leverage global markets in order to moderate the behavior of the agroindustrial sector, as a means to halt [Brazil President Jair] Bolsonaro’s assault, ultimately protecting and restoring environmental safeguards and human rights.”

Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch’s Program Director, told MintPress News that the inauguration of right-wing strongman Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president on January 1 lent fresh urgency to the campaign.

Bolsonaro has overseen the most significant rollback of, and full-on assault on, human rights and environmental protection in Brazil since the fall of the country’s military dictatorship and the reinstallation of democracy in 1985,” Poirier said, adding:

“He’s hearkening back to an era of rampant environmental destruction and rights abuses that some would call genocide of indigenous peoples, by attacking socio-environmental policy that is responsible for indigenous land rights, that is responsible for the protection of forests in the country, and he’s doing so at a very rapid pace.”

Among his first moves as president, Bolsonaro stripped Brazil’s National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) of its authority to create new reserves for indigenous nations and transferred control of both it and the country’s forest service to its agriculture ministry.

“Human rights abuses and environmental rollbacks”

Satellite data released by INPE, Brazil’s space agency, earlier this month showed the clear-cutting of 285 square miles, or 739 square kilometers, of the Amazon in May, the highest level of deforestation in a decade and more than twice the rate two years ago.

Observers cite an escalation in illegal logging and land theft during the Bolsonaro administration, with the first raid on an indigenous reserve occurring December 30, two days before Bolsonaro took office.

Poirier added that the MNI campaign intended to target corporate interests culpable not only for their own abuses, but also for Bolsonaro’s presidency:

“The ‘Complicity in Destruction’ campaign works to pressure the most important sectors in Brazil’s economy — which are also responsible for human-rights abuses and environmental rollbacks, and also bringing Jair Bolsonao to power.

By targeting these sectors, we also intend to influence the behavior of the Bolsonaro regime, because we are targeting a strategic economic actor that is also a strategic political actor behind Bolsonaro’s rise to power, and that is responsible for his socio-environmental policy.”

In April, Bolsonaro — who once paid a fine of $2,500 for illegally fishing in a forested coastal reserve — announced the dissolution of Brazil’s National Council of the Environment (CONOMA), a government body with over 100 members, including independent representatives of environmental groups, tasked with protecting the Amazon.

He proposed replacing it with a new committee of six: Ricardo Salles, his nominee for environment minister and a close ally, along with five other presidential appointees. Poirier noted:

“These are a wish list of Brazil’s agribusiness sector and its mining sector, to penetrate into protected areas, and that’s precisely what Bolsonaro’s doing, to the detriment of the human rights of indigenous peoples and traditional peoples in the Amazon, and to the detriment of global climatic stability.”

As one of the world’s largest non-oceanic “carbon sinks,” the Amazon plays a significant role in tempering climate change, absorbing a large — though declining — amount of the atmosphere’s carbon dioxide, while also emitting 20% of its oxygen.

“By ‘worst actors,’ I’m talking about environmental criminals”

Despite their staunch backing of Bolsonaro and the ruralista caucus supporting him from within Brazil’s Congress, the companies profiled by Amazon Watch had achieved notoriety well before Bolsonaro’s rise to power. Poirier told MintPress:

“He specific corporate targets in the report are commodity importers, traders, and financial institutions that are doing business with the worst actors in Brazil’s agro-industrial sector.”

By ‘worst actors,’ I’m talking about environmental criminals, those who have been found guilty and fined by Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, for environmental crimes ranging from illegal deforestation, to improper paperwork for wood, to even slave labour in their supply chains, since 2017.”

While an earlier report also analysed Brazilian mining interests and their international ties, the most recent focuses on agribusiness, particularly its beef, soy, leather, timber and sugar sectors. Poirier stated:

“The corporate actors internationally — the 27 importing companies and commodity traders that we list, and the dozens of financial institutions — are essentially enabling the behavior of these actors, which we consider to be emblematic behavior of these industries.”

Through their campaign, Poirier added, Amazon Watch and the MNI hope to “call on these companies to become agents to moderate the behavior of the worst actors, which is to say that they should carry out their own due diligence with their supply chains, and cut ties with the worst actors.”

About the Author

Joe Catron is a MintPress News contributing journalist. He covers Palestine and Israel and other human rights issues. Catron has written frequently for Electronic Intifada and Middle East Eye, and co-edited The Prisoners’ Diaries: Palestinian Voices from the Israeli Gulag, an anthology of accounts by detainees freed in the 2011 prisoner exchange.

This article (Report Shows Corporations and Bolsonaro Teaming Up to Destroy the Amazon) was originally published at Mint Press News and is re-posted here with permission.

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NASA Reports That The Earth Is Greener Now Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To Reforestation Efforts

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NASA Reports That The Earth Is Greener Now Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To Reforestation Efforts
Photo Credit: Fox News

With all of the discouraging news about global deforestation and the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, it’s good to know that people in many parts of the world are having great success at re-foresting planet earth.

In Bhutan, for example, when the nation was celebrating the birth of a new prince in 2016, people came together to plant 108,000 trees, which will become a new forest within a couple of decades. Ecuador set a world record in 2017 for planting a whopping 647,250 trees in a single day. Also in 2017, more than 1.5 million volunteers came together to plant 66 million trees in just 12 hours, setting another world record.

Now, NASA is reporting that in the findings of a 20 year study of the earth, there are actually more trees today than there were two decades ago, thanks in large part to the efforts of countries and communities in India and China.

NASA Reports That The Earth Is Greener Now Than 20 Years Ago Thanks To Reforestation Efforts
Photo Credit: NASA

The findings are the result of 20 years of data collection from NASA instruments on board two satellites orbiting earth.

“Taken all together, the greening of the planet over the last two decades represents an increase in leaf area on plants and trees equivalent to the area covered by all the Amazon rainforests. There are now more than two million square miles of extra green leaf area per year, compared to the early 2000s – a 5% increase.” [NASA]

A more detailed explanation from the study:

“Satellite data show increasing leaf area of vegetation due to direct factors (human land-use management) and indirect factors (such as climate change, CO2 fertilization, nitrogen deposition and recovery from natural disturbances). Among these, climate change and CO2fertilization effects seem to be the dominant drivers. However, recent satellite data (2000–2017) reveal a greening pattern that is strikingly prominent in China and India and overlaps with croplands world-wide. China alone accounts for 25% of the global net increase in leaf area with only 6.6% of global vegetated area. The greening in China is from forests (42%) and croplands (32%), but in India is mostly from croplands (82%) with minor contribution from forests (4.4%). “[Source]

Furthermore, the news serves as a positive counter to the trend of pollution and environmental degradation we see today in Asia:

“China and India account for one-third of the greening, but contain only 9% of the planet’s land area covered in vegetation – a surprising finding, considering the general notion of land degradation in populous countries from overexploitation.”  ~Chi Chen, Department of Earth and Environment at Boston University and lead author of the study

The satellites have recorded photos of the earth every day for 20 years, creating a massive data set that is allowing researchers and biologists to better understand how to preserve the world’s forests.
The satellites have recorded photos of the earth every day for 20 years, creating a massive data set that is allowing researchers and biologists to better understand how to preserve the world’s forests.

“This long-term data lets us dig deeper,” said Rama Nemani, a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center and a co-author of the new work. “When the greening of the Earth was first observed, we thought it was due to a warmer, wetter climate and fertilization from the added carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, leading to more leaf growth in northern forests, for instance. Now, with the MODIS data that lets us understand the phenomenon at really small scales, we see that humans are also contributing.”

Final Thoughts

The message is clear: if we come together we can easily remedy the ecological problems we have created here on earth. Let this good news serve as inspiration to participate in the re-greening of earth. It also demonstrates how humans can address serious problems once they become aware of what’s really going on.

“The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.” ~Chinese Proverb

About the Author

Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.

This article (NASA Reports that the Earth is Greener Now than 20 Years Ago Thanks to Reforestation Efforts) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Vic Bishop and WakingTimes.com.

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