Editor’s note: Conservation and environmental news is made every day, but some of it may go unnoticed. In a recurring article, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know.
1. Climate change is eroding a precious resource: sleep
Rising temperatures are disrupting people’s sleep.
The story: Climate anxiety isn’t the only reason global warming is keeping people up at night; a new study has found that rising temperatures actually disrupt sleep, reports Alejandra Borunda for National Geographic. Research shows that 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 to 19.4 degrees Celsius) is the best temperature for optimal sleep because it helps regulate the body’s core temperature. By analyzing the sleep patterns of more than 50,000 people around the world through smartwatches, scientists found that individuals lost significant amounts of sleep in regions where temperatures rose above 77 degrees Fahrenheit. (25 degrees Celsius) at night.
The big picture: “Before, nights were a chance to cool down the body,” Rupa Basu, a public health expert, told National Geographic. “But when [heat] is this chronic stressor, the body can’t cool down and recover – it’s a key element that harms people’s health.
Severe heat waves are becoming more common as climate change accelerates, but according to this study, even a few degrees of warming can potentially lead to 13 to 15 days of poor sleep each year by the end of the month. century. Air conditioning may seem like an obvious solution, but billions of people cannot afford or do not have access to this luxury.
For communities in Africa, it pays to protect forests.
The story: In East Africa’s Rift Valley, carbon offsets are helping the indigenous Hadza people protect the forests they depend on, while investing in their own long-term food security, health and wellbeing, reports Fred Pearce for YaleEnvironment360. In March, 1,300 Hadza and local cattle-herding tribesmen, with whom they share land in northern Tanzania, began receiving the first payments from a nearly $500,000 project fund carbon generated by the protection of an area of forests and pastures. lands larger than New York. Carbon Tanzania, a social enterprise, developed the project in partnership with local communities.
It is estimated that this project should prevent the destruction of more than 170,000 trees per year, resulting in some 177,000 tonnes of avoided emissions, which are sold as carbon offsets.
The big picture: Over the past 500 years, the Hadza people have lost more than three-quarters of their traditional lands to agriculture and large-scale development. This carbon project – and the revenue it generates – helps them ensure they don’t lose more by giving local people more control over their land.
The project draws on the deep ancestral skills and knowledge of the Hadza – known as renowned archers – to manage the forests.
“We are seeing a steady increase in some animal species like elephants crossing and growing in the forest compared to when we started,” says Christopher Shija, a forest scout recruited from Jobaj village. Moshi Isa, another scout from Mongo wa Mono village, says: “The carbon project has strengthened our rights. And increased forest density sustains our hunting and gathering life.
Communities meet twice a year to decide how to spend the income, often allocating funds to pay school fees and medical care, train new rangers, buy food and improve village infrastructure.
Elephants in India dive into garbage cans and consume more trash than food.
The story: The typical diet of an Asian elephant consists of leafy greens, fruits, grasses, and barks. In India, however, a troubling ingredient has entered the mix: plastic. Elephants are consuming massive amounts of plastic from dumpsters, with the waste accounting for up to 85% of their feces in the village of Kotdwar, India, according to a new study.
“As the waste passes through their digestive system, elephants can ingest chemicals like polystyrene, polyethylene, bisphenol A and phthalates,” Joshua Rapp Learn written for the New York Times.
The big picture: Not only is plastic harmful to elephants, but it could have unintended consequences for entire forest ecosystems. Elephants disperse the seeds in their droppings in their habitats. Because they travel such great distances, they play a key role in spreading tree seedlings far and wide.
Now, “the same process that keeps ecosystems functioning could transport human-made pollutants into national parks and other wilderness areas,” Learn writes.
The good news: In March, United Nations negotiators from 175 countries agreed to craft a legally binding global agreement to end plastic waste. The resolution establishes an intergovernmental negotiating committee, which will begin meeting on the new plastics treaty later this year with the aim of finalizing it by the end of 2024.
Learn more about the plastic pollution crisis here.
Kiley Price is the editor and managing editor of Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up to receive updates by email here. Donate to Conservation International here.
Cover image: Arctic icebergs in Greenland(© Mlenny)