Love him or hate him, Donald Trump has shown us a great deal in his short time on the political stage. For that, we should be grateful. Here are the lessons taught by Prof. Trump.
Source: All the lessons Donald Trump has taught us : The Conversation
A new study lays out a road map for protecting and restoring 50% of Earth’s surface, targeted to preserve biodiversity and maximize natural removal of carbon from the atmosphere.
Source: To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for Nature : the Conversation
The green belt of tropical rainforests that covers equatorial regions of the Americas, Africa, Indonesia and Southeast Asia is turning brown. Since 1990, Indonesia has lost 50% of its original forest, the Amazon 30% and Central Africa 14%. Fires, logging, hunting, road building and fragmentation have heavily damaged more than 30% of those that remain.
These forests provide many benefits: They store large amounts of carbon, are home to numerous wild species, provide food and fuel for local people, purify water supplies and improve air quality. Replenishing them is an urgent global imperative. A newly published study in the journal Science by European authors finds that there is room for an extra 3.4 million square miles (0.9 billion hectares) of canopy cover around the world, and that replenishing tree cover at this full potential would contribute significantly to reducing the risk of harmful climate change
But there aren’t enough resources to restore all tropical forests that have been lost or damaged. And restoration can conflict with other activities, such as farming and forestry. As a tropical forest ecologist, I am interested in developing better tools for assessing where these efforts will be most cost-effective and beneficial.
Over the past four years, tropical forestry professor Pedro Brancalionand I have led a team of researchers from an international network in evaluating the benefits and feasibility of restoration across tropical rainforests around the world. Our newly published findings identify restoration hotspots – areas where restoring tropical forests would be most beneficial and least costly and risky. They cover over 385,000 square miles (100 million hectares), an area as large as Spain and Sweden combined.
The five countries with the largest areas of restoration hotpots are Brazil, Indonesia, India, Madagascar and Colombia. Six countries in Africa – Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Togo, South Sudan and Madagascar – hold rainforest areas where restoration is expected to yield the highest benefits with the highest feasibility. We hope our results can help governments, conservation groups and international funders target areas where there is high potential for success.
Source: High-value opportunities exist to restore tropical rainforests around the world – here’s how we mapped them : The Conversation
Last week President Donald Trump seemed to be on the cusp of a trade deal with China. A couple of threatening tweets later, the odds of ending the 16-month-old U.S.-China trade war have dropped dramatically.
Whether or not American and Chinese trade negotiators ultimately salvage a deal – the U.S. says China backpedaled on a commitment and intends to raise tariffs within days – the episode highlights drawbacks in Trump’s trade strategy, which tends to be protectionist, confrontational and negotiated one on one.
Unfortunately, Trump’s policies are only an acceleration of a trend in international trade that’s been going on for several decades. It’s a move away from multilateralism – in which many countries agree on certain trading principles – and toward bilateralism – which pits nation against nation, raising the stakes.
I am a specialist in the politics of trade. My observations lead me to believe that the increasing abandonment of multilateralism will have pernicious long-term consequences. Not only will trade become more costly for businesses and consumers, it may even make the planet a more dangerous place.
Source: Trump’s one-on-one approach to China has dangerous implications for global trade and world peace : The Conversation
Earth’s cornucopia of life has evolved over 550 million years. Along the way, five mass extinction events have caused serious setbacks to life on our planet. The fifth, which was caused by a gargantuan meteorite impact along Mexico’s Yucatan coast, changed Earth’s climate, took out the dinosaurs and altered the course of biological evolution.
Today nature is suffering accelerating losses so great that many scientists say a sixth mass extinction is underway. Unlike past mass extinctions, this event is driven by human actions that are dismantling and disrupting natural ecosystems and changing Earth’s climate.
My research focuses on ecosystems and climate change from regional to global scales. In a new study titled “A Global Deal for Nature,” led by conservation biologist and strategist Eric Dinerstein, 17 colleagues and I lay out a road map for simultaneously averting a sixth mass extinction and reducing climate change.
We chart a course for immediately protecting at least 30% of Earth’s surface to put the brakes on rapid biodiversity loss, and then add another 20% comprising ecosystems that can suck disproportionately large amounts of carbon out of the atmosphere. In our view, biodiversity loss and climate change must be addressed as one interconnected problem with linked solutions.
Source: To solve climate change and biodiversity loss, we need a Global Deal for Nature : The Conversation
Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite. This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.
Who wants to hear about the fact that every day some 200,000 people around the world are lifted above the US$2-a-day poverty line? Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day? These stories of people in low-income countries simply doesn’t make for exciting news coverage. But, as Rosling pointed out in his book Factfulness, it’s important to put all the bad news in perspective.
While it is true that globalisation has put some downward pressure on middle-class wages in advanced economies in recent decades, it has also helped lift hundreds of millions of people above the global poverty line – a development that has mostly occurred in South-East Asia.
The recent rise of populism that has swept across Western countries, with Trump, Brexit, and the election of populists in Hungary and Italy, among various other factors, is thus of great concern if we care about global welfare. Globalisation is the only way forward to ensure that economic prosperity is shared among all countries and not only a select few advanced economies.
While some people glorify the past, one of the big facts of economic history is that until quite recently a significant part of the world population has lived under quite miserable conditions – and this has been true throughout most of human history. The following seven charts show how the world has become a much better place compared to just a few decades ago.
1: Life expectancy continues to rise
Source: Seven charts that show the world is actually becoming a better place : The Conversation
When we think of slavery, many of us think of historical or so-called “traditional forms” of slavery – and of the 12m people ripped from their West African homes and shipped across the Atlantic for a lifetime in the plantations of the Americas.
But slavery is not just something that happened in the past –- the modern day estimate for the number of men, women and children forced into labour worldwide exceeds 40m. Today’s global slave trade is so lucrative that it nets traffickers more than US$150 billioneach year.
Slavery affects children as well as adults
Debt bondage often ensnares both children and adults. In Haiti, for example, many children are sent to work by their families as domestic servants under what’s known as the Restavek system – the term comes from the French language rester avec, “to stay with”. These children, numbering as many as 300,000, are often denied an education, forced to work up to 14 hours a day and are sometimes victims of sexual abuse.
Source: Slavery was never abolished – it affects millions, and you may be funding it : The Conversation
President Donald Trump justifies tariffs on imports by arguing that “unfair trade policies” have harmed American workers. This has led to a trade war in which the U.S. and China have placed tit-for-tat tariffs on each other’s products.
Most recently, China said it’s ready to slap tariffs on US$60 billion in U.S. imports if Trump goes ahead with his threat to tax another $200 billion of Chinese goods.
Since the president claims to be acting on behalf of working-class Americans, it’s fair to ask: How do tariffs actually affect them?
Scholars of international political economy, such as myself, recognize that trade hasn’t always been good for poorer Americans. However, the economic fundamentals are clear: Tariffs make things worse.
Source: How Trump’s trade war affects working-class Americans : The Conversation
Around 20,000 Israelis and African migrants took to the streets in Tel Aviv on February 24, protesting against a government policy of detaining and deporting African asylum seekers who refuse to leave the country. A few days earlier, a group of Eritrean asylum seekers held at a detention centre in Israel went on hunger strike in protest against their imminent expulsion from the country.
In early Feburary, Israel began issuing expulsion orders to African migrants and asylum seekers whose asylum claims had been refused by the government. Most were from Eritrea and Sudan. The orders, under new rules announced in December 2017, give people the choice to be sent to a “third country” by the end of March, or face detention and imprisonment. The receiving countries will reportedly receive US$5,000 per asylum seeker they accept, while the asylum seekers themselves receive a plane ticket plus US$3,500 each.
The “third countries” have not been officially named, but they were reported to be Rwanda and Uganda – although both countries subsequently denied signing a deal with Israel.
It is the Israeli regime of deportation and detention that is the root cause for the distress of the African migrants and asylum seekers on its soil. It is almost impossible to even launch an asylum claim let alone become a recognised refugee. Merely 11 African asylum seekers, ten from Eritrea and one from Sudan, were given refugee status between 2009 and 2017.
However, in what might prove to be a landmark ruling, an Israeli special appeals court ruled on February 15 in the case of an Eritrean asylum seeker that desertion from the Eritrean military provided a valid claim for asylum. This ruling could affect many Eritreans threatened with deportation, but is unlikely to change wider attitudes among Israeli authorities, who in any case will appeal.
Mixed reasons for coming to Israel
Source: Anger mounts as Israel begins detention and deportation of African asylum seekers : The Conversation
The children’s writer Michael Morpurgo has written a new novel inspired by his autistic grandson, which is set to be published later this year. Flamingo Boy is set in the Camargue in the south of France during World War II and features a boy who “sees the world differently”.
Morpurgo explained how it didn’t occur to him to write a book about autism until his grandson was born, which isn’t totally surprising – as autistic characters in books are few and far between.
Fiction plays a significant role in shaping how people understand and respond to autism. And in this way, books are often used by both schools and parents to help children and young people understand more about autism.
But the limited and skewed portrayal of autism means it is often misrepresented rather than represented in fiction. For an autistic child or young person this can be extremely isolating and they are often unable to find a version of “themselves” in a book.
Source: Why there need to be more autistic characters in children’s books : The Conversation