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''A decarbonized society'': Japan pledges to be carbon neutral by 2050
29 October 2020 - Japan has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2050, joining a growing list of countries aiming to stave off the worst effects of climate change. The country's approach will include new solar cells and carbon recycling, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday, according to Reuters. Further plans are expected to be announced in the future. Suga took office last month. Carbon neutral means balancing carbon emissions by also removing carbon from the atmosphere. Japan joins the European Union, which previously said it aims to be carbon neutral in that same timeline. Japan set its goal a decade sooner than China, which pledged last month to be carbon neutral by 2060. (more)

Scientists find massive coral reef in Australia's Great Barrier Reef
29 October 2020 - Scientists have discovered a 1,600-foot-tall coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia. The 1,600-foot-tall coral reef is taller than the Empire State Building, and its base is a mile wide. It's the first time in 120 years since a coral reef this size has been discovered. (more)

Not just small talk for Hungarian solar pavements
28 October 2020 - A Hungarian tech company is taking small steps with recycled plastic waste to make solar panels built into pavements to power buildings and charge electronic devices in public places. The solar cells are protected with hardened glass tiles, which allow the pavements to carry the weight of vehicles, and the secret lies in the small-scale approach, said Imre Sziszak, co-founder of Budapest-based Platio. (more)

Cargill looks to use wind to cut carbon in shipping
28 October 2020 - Cargill, one of the world's biggest charterers of ships, is working with technology partners to fit sails on vessels in its fleet to cut carbon emissions through harnessing wind power, the U.S. agribusiness group said on Wednesday [28 October]. About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has said it aims to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from ships by 50 percent from 2008 levels by 2050. (more)

'Massive' coral reef taller than the Empire State Building discovered in Australia
27 October 2020 - A 'massive' new reef measuring 500 meters (about 1,600 feet) has been discovered in Australia's Great Barrier Reef, making it taller than some of the world's highest skyscrapers. Scientists found the detached reef, which is the first to be discovered in more than 120 years, in waters off North Queensland while on an expedition aboard research vessel Falkor, ocean research organization Schmidt Ocean Institute announced Monday [26 October]. (more)

Incredible animation shows how bridges were built in 14th-century Prague
27 October 2020 - We're used to driving across bridges to get from place to place, but have you ever wondered how these ambitious architectural Goliaths were first created? Engineering and Architecture dives into the how with an eye-opening animation that demonstrates the construction of the Charles Bridge in Prague from 1357-1402. The bridge is part of an iconic composition across the Vltava (Moldau) river in the popular Czech Republic city. Spanning nearly 1,700 feet and over 33 feet wide, it is a popular tourist destination and holds high historical significance for the city. (more)

Japanese man invents 'edible' plastic bag alternative to save Nara's sacred deer
26 October 2020 - A local entrepreneur in the Japanese tourist destination of Nara has developed an alternative to plastic shopping bags, to protect the town's sacred deer. Hidetoshi Matsukawa, who works for Nara-ism, a souvenir wholesale agent, told CNN he heard last year that the deer, which roam the city's park, were dying after ingesting plastic bags. The city is home to around 1,000 sacred deer, which are officially designated as a national natural treasure in Japan ... (more)

Finland: Greener play areas boost children's immune systems, research finds
25 October 2020 - Children whose outdoor play areas were transformed from gravel yards to mini-forests showed improved immune systems within a month, research has shown. The scientists believe this is because the children had developed significantly more diverse microbes on their skin and in their guts than the children whose playgrounds were not upgraded. he study involved 75 children in two cities in Finland, a relatively small number for a trial. 'But when we saw the results, we were very surprised because they were so strong,' said Aki Sinkkonen, at Natural Resources Institute Finland, who led the work. 'Our study can pave the way for new preventive practices to cut the global epidemic of immune-mediated diseases.' (more)

Norway funds satellite map of world's tropical forests
25 October 2020 - A unique satellite dataset on the world's tropical forests is now available for all to see and use. It's a high-resolution image map covering 64 countries that will be updated monthly. Anyone who wants to understand how trees are being managed will be able to download the necessary information for analysis -- for free. (more)

UK: Why living with and tending plants is good for you
25 October 2020 - The Millennial and Gen Z obsession with houseplants has exploded in recent years. But why do these particular generations love tending plants so much? It's a question explored in British author Alice Vincent's recent book Rootbound: Rewilding a Life. A 'nature memoir', which follows real events in the life of the author during her mid 20s. 'When a lot of things took different directions in my life to that I had expected, I found solace in gardening and plants,' she says. (more)

Eco Africa the environment magazine -- video
24 October 2020 - On this week's Eco Africa video, beats made by bees, the greening of a park in Kenya, the war on waste in South Africa, and a sanctuary for orphaned bear cubs. (more)

Farmer puts social justice, land access at the center of operation
24 October 2020 - 'The best way to predict the future is to have an understanding of your past.' Kamal Bell, a middle school teacher and farmer, stands on a TEDx stage at North Carolina State University. 'Sankofa is a term that comes out of the Akan language in West Africa that translates, 'to go back and get.'' Rooted in a mindfulness of Black history, as well as a desire to nurture and grow the Black community in Durham and Orange Counties, Bell and his team at Sankofa Farms are on a dual mission. The 2.5 acres of vegetable production and 35 beehives provide nutrition to food-insecure communities, while the operations provide a setting for Kamal to teach five Black students leadership, teamwork and personal development as they learn how to farm. (more)

Europe: Airbus unveils world's first zero-emission commercial aircrafts
23 October 2020 - European aerospace corporation Airbus has unveiled three designs for the world's first zero-emission commercial aircrafts that would rely on hydrogen as a primary power source. Collectively dubbed ZEROe, the climate-neutral, zero-emission concepts are designed to carry maximum passenger loads between 100 and 200 people for flights that range from short-haul trips to transcontinental journeys. Airbus' hydrogen-powered commercial aircrafts could enter service as early as 2035. (more)

Three female health care heroes: From Iceland's top doc to a village protector in India
22 October 2020 - In a remote Indian village, Ranjana Dwivedi goes door to door to educate people about the coronavirus. Once she almost fell into a river on her rounds. In the halls of power in Iceland, Dr. Alma D. Moller leads the nation's response to the pandemic. In a mobile testing center in California, Sheeba Shafaq works 12-hour shifts as she also seeks to become certified to practice medicine in the U.S. after fleeing Afghanistan, where the doctor's life was in danger because of her role as an advocate for women. (more)

When doing good boosts health, well-being
22 October 2020 - Performing acts of kindness and helping other people can be good for people's health and well-being, according to research published by the American Psychological Association. 'Prosocial behavior -- altruism, cooperation, trust and compassion -- are all necessary ingredients of a harmonious and well-functioning society,' said lead author Bryant P.H. Hui, PhD, a research assistant professor at the University of Hong Kong. 'It is part of the shared culture of humankind, and our analysis shows that it also contributes to mental and physical health.' (more)

Sweden: Ikea to buy back used furniture in recycling push
21 October 2020 - Ikea, the world's biggest furniture business, is planning a second-hand furniture venture. The Swedish giant will next month launch a scheme to buy back your unwanted furniture items you no longer need or want. 'By making sustainable living more simple and accessible, Ikea hopes that the initiative will help its customers take a stand against excessive consumption this Black Friday and in the years to come,' it said in reference to 27 November, when lots of retailers offer discounts on their products. (more)

Canadian researchers gave homeless people $7500 each and the results are so uplifting
20 October 2020 - Challenging the stereotypes of homeless people in Canada, a research project from a Vancouver-based charitable organization found that simply giving money to homeless people isn't as bad an idea as some people might think. The results were heartening. One entire year later, most recipients still had $1,000 in savings and 67 percent could still feed themselves every day. (more)

UK: Gardens help towns and cities beat countryside for tree cover
19 October 2020 - Urban areas are not all high-rise flats and offices, they are also where you'll find many of the country's trees. Two London boroughs -- Camden and Croydon -- were among the top 20 places in England and Wales with the most tree cover, a research project has found. (more)

US: Community garden in Seattle gives refugees a place to call home - video
19 October 2020 - Once a neglected parking lot on the outskirts of Seattle, this community garden is now host to 44 plots tended to by refugee families from 23 different countries. Founded and maintained by the refugee resettlement organization World Relief Seattle, the garden is a testament to the community's resilience through the challenges of the pandemic. (more)

US: New York begins enforcing plastic bag ban on Monday
19 October 2020 - New York's ban on single-use plastic bags went into effect earlier this year but the state will officially begin enforcing the rule on Monday [19 October]. A state law that went into effect March 1 bans many types of businesses from using the thin plastic bags that have been clogging up landfills, getting tangled in trees and accumulating in lakes and seas. Single-use paper bags are still allowed, but counties have the option of imposing a 5 cent fee. (more)

Roadmap points Europe toward safer, sustainable chemicals
17 October 2020 - Europe's chief policy-making body Wednesday called for a safer, more sustainable chemicals market, plotting a zero-tolerance approach that nearly eliminates hormone mimicking compounds. The strategy, approved by the European Commission, represents some of the most ambitious policy recommendations on the planet. (more)

American Lung Association cites health benefits of electric vehicles
16 October 2020 - Maryland could save up to 100 lives and $1.3 billion in public health benefits in 2050 by transitioning to all-electric vehicles over the next 30 years, according to a recent 'Road to Clean Air' report from the American Lung Association. ...Electric vehicles also use regenerative braking, in which the motor slows the vehicle down by working in reverse, putting kinetic energy back into the battery. This limits the particle pollution from brake dust, also an environmental plus (more)

Cows prefer to co-moo-nicate in person, research suggests
15 October 2020 - Cows prefer face-to-face chat, new research from Austria suggests. Cows are more relaxed after being spoken to directly by a live human rather than when listening to a recorded voice via a loudspeaker, researchers found. Previous research has shown that cows are quite sophisticated 'co-moo-nicators' -- both among themselves and with humans. Scientists have discovered that cows make distinctive sounds when excited, lonely or looking forward to a meal, and they direct low-frequency calls toward their calves. (more)

US: Morgan Stanley launches Black recruitment program to boost trading unit's diversity
15 October 2020 - Morgan Stanley is piloting a program to recruit Black talent in its sales and trading division, executives told Reuters, in corporate America's latest initiative to improve diversity after nationwide protests against racial inequality. ...Successful applicants will get a month of training before doing 10-week rotations on different trading desks, leading to a full-time job. ...Feedback on the program so far has been overwhelming, [Derek Melvin, a managing director who designed the program] said. Since advertising it at the end of September, his team has received over 700 applications. (more)

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