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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet


Brazil Is Key to Slowing Global Warming. But Its Carbon Market Has Struggled.

An aerial view of logs seized by police in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. Deforestation accounts for nearly half of the country’s carbon footprint. Photo: ricardo oliveira/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images With Brazil struggling in its efforts to create a regulated carbon…

Replanting the Amazon could slow global warming. Here’s why it’s hard

Replanting the Amazon could help save the world’s climate. Here’s why it’s so hard to do Restoring decimated portions of Brazil’s rainforest has largely fallen to nonprofits. They’re battling illegal land-grabbers, tight budgets, botanical mysteries – and the ticking clock….

See the Moon Under the “Da Vinci Glow” in the Next Three Days

Earthshine – NASA

There’s a unique kind of crescent moon in the sky tonight (May 24th,) and possibly the next two days as well.

It’s a crescent moon lit by Earthshine, also known as the “Da Vinci Glow” after the main man himself, who finally discovered what this common, yet difficult-to-explain phenomenon was.

Though the moon is just a crescent and should be covered by the shadow of the Earth, as the names suggest, it’s glowing via light reflecting off the face of the Earth, sometimes called “the old moon in the new moon’s arms” which is about 50-times brighter than a full moon.

This allows stargazers and star-crossed lovers alike to look up and see the whole moon like in the picture above.

In a rather textbook example of Da Vinci’s brilliance, his theory describing Earthshine was published before Copernicus revealed to the world that the Earth in fact revolved around the Sun, rather than the other way around.

Da Vinci instead used his artistic insights into the nature of light, and his engineering-level knowledge of geometry to ascertain where the ethereal glow around the moon came from.

“It’s easiest to see during either a waxing or waning crescent. You’ll need clear skies to see the Moon, but parts of the Earth need to be cloudy enough to reflect a fair amount of light onto the Moon,” Christine Shupla, science engagement manager at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, told CNN in an email.

MORE STARGAZING EVENTS: See 40 Shooting Stars Per Hour Under the Aquariid Meteor Shower in May Night Sky

There’s quite a lot of reporting on the possibility of Earthshine tonight and tomorrow in the news media, suggesting perhaps the chances are high. Try to keep it in mind when you’re taking out the trash after dinner!

SHARE This Fast-Approaching Phenomenon With Your Friends… 

Brazil to set tougher climate change target, sources say

BRASILIA, May 22 (Reuters) – President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva plans to commit Brazil to a more ambitious climate change goal this year, addressing criticisms of the previous target set by his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro, two sources told…

G7 ‘outreach’ an effort to build consensus on global issues like Ukraine, China, climate change

HIROSHIMA, Japan (AP) — Leaders of the Group of Seven wealthy democracies have joined their counterparts from other countries during their summit in Japan to try to expand the G7’s sway and to include voices from the so-called Global South….


How small family farms are adapting to climate change in Brazil

Agroecology offers a production strategy that enables small farmers in northeastern Brazil’s semi-arid region to survive through droughts

Just a few days before the first round of Brazil’s most recent electionsAlexandre Pires was dancing with fellow progressives. Hundreds of people, many wearing red shirts, a nod to Brazil’s Workers’ Party, had gathered inside the gates of the May 13th Park in central Recife, banners unfurled and flags waving.

Pires, who had been campaigning throughout the inland rural communities he had worked with on family farm issues for some two decades, was feeling upbeat. Those hopes ended up dashed, however, when voters opted not to send Pires to the state legislature. Instead, he returned to being a coordinator for the Centro Sabiá, which supports family farms by teaching and supporting an agroecology approach to farming. Sabiá can refer to a common bird that resembles a robin and to a fruit-bearing tree indigenous to the country’s northeastern Caatinga forest, a scrubby environment adapted to scant rainfall.

Having grown up on a small family farm in northeastern Brazil’s semi-arid region, Pires’ commitment stems from his own roots.

“Like all children of the Sertão, my childhood was very limited in terms of access to certain things, but it was also very free in terms of being able to play in and live in the inland towns,” Pires said in a cavernous room in Centro Sabiá’s office in central Recife, just a few days had passed since the first round of the presidential election in October 2022.

Recife, the capital of the northeastern state of Pernambuco, hugs the coast and attracts people from across the region to its job opportunities and thriving cultural scene. For rural residents like Pires, the city offers hope of a better, less physically-demanding life. In a region plagued by drought, poverty, and “coronelismo,” a system of agrarian oligarchy where large landowners control both local economies and politics, a city like Recife can appear like a beacon.

Moving to Recife

Pires’ family owned a small general store in the town of Jabitacá, some 240 miles from Recife. Pires’ father had no illusions about what the best path was for his sons. At the time, the Catholic Church was a powerful progressive force in the region, and Pires recalls how a local bishop stood up to the local landowners who benefitted from state-financed construction projects on their land while the community members who did the work were paid a pittance.

“When I finished primary school, my parents and one of my aunts, who was a teacher, wanted us to study because they didn’t want us to be farmers,” Pires recalls. “Because a farmer’s life, especially in the semi-arid region, was always a really difficult life, a really hard one. The lack of water, of public policies, of programs that could support agriculture.”

His aunt Lina, who lived with Pires and his parents and siblings, paid his private school tuition from her teaching salary. She was the first female town council member elected in their community, and Pires says she was harassed and received death threats because of her progressive political views and support for rural workers. His father also became a council member.

And so, at age 14, Pires packed his bag and moved in with relatives in Recife. And while the school he attended offered Pires an excellent education, it also exposed him to a different world.

“When I migrated to Recife, I went through a really difficult period because I felt very excluded. I studied in a private high school where the students were rich — and I wasn’t rich,” Pires says. “So, I closed myself off a lot to relationships.”

But class wasn’t the only issue. Pires had also realized that he was gay.

“I was afraid about my sexuality, and I was wary of going to ranches or wealthy apartments in Recife because my reality was another,” he said.

Once he finished secondary school, Pires threw himself into earning a living however he could.

“I sold clothes, food, I made hand-crafted cards to get by until I entered the university in ’97, and I began to work in more formal jobs on the books.”

Becoming an activist

Pires was 10 years old when Brazil’s dictatorship fell in 1985, and the country returned to a democratic system. He entered the university as Brazil’s government was implementing significant measures to control inflation and stabilize consumer prices. In the university, he studied biology and began engaging in student activism around environmental issues.

“This thing of cutting down trees has always generated a lot of indignation for me,” Pires said. “We would question the university on garbage, on the sewers within the university; we would challenge the city on issues related to the mangrove swamps.”

Recife faces the ocean and the two rivers that empty into the Atlantic there are lined with mangrove swamps, providing habitat for birds like egrets as well as crabs and other animals. Sewer systems are lacking in many Brazilian cities and towns, and only half of Recife’s residents are connected to the city’s sewers.

In 2002, a few years after graduating, Pires found his way to the Centro Sabiá after funding cuts put him out of his job with a union. Sabiá had been founded some ten years earlier with a goal of protecting and nurturing agroforestry systems, which, Pires says, was very unusual at the time.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization defines agroecology as:

“A holistic and integrated approach that simultaneously applies ecological and social concepts and principles to the design and management of sustainable agriculture and food systems. It seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment while also addressing the need for socially equitable food systems within which people can exercise choice over what they eat and how and where it is produced.”

Agroecology offers a production strategy that enables small farmers in northeastern Brazil’s semi-arid region to survive through droughts half the without rain. Concentrated in the northeastern part of the country, the semi-arid region covers roughly 12% of Brazil’s land mass.

During the dry season, a drive inland from Recife will show the landscape changing from the lush green of the coastal forest region to scraggly, leafless trees and gray-ish brown grasses. But usually, in April, the rains wash away dust from the trees and green leaves while shoots emerge from the ground.

In this context, cisterns to capture and hold rainwater are the difference between the ability to sustain oneself and the opportunity to support crops and a few animals. Cisterns are one of the tools the Centro Sabiá and partner organizations like the Articulação Semiárido Brasileiro (ASA) use to help farmers develop their operations in these challenging conditions, but so are strategies like planting cover crops like beans and feeding cactus to livestock. Pires participated in ASA’s Executive Coordinating Committee between 2015 and 2021.

In spite of his experience studying conservation and pushing for environmental justice, the latter techniques were new to Pires. “I was unfamiliar with agroecology. We didn’t study agroecology at the university,” he acknowledged.

That first contract Pires landed with the Centro Sabiá was slated for just six months. And right away, the organization and shipped him back to the Sertão to provide technical assistance to small-holding farmers. But before he could begin work, Sabiá sent Pires to live for a month with two different farm families in the semi-arid Sertão and the less arid Agreste region. These stays helped him settle in, connect with people, and begin to understand the community’s dynamics and experiences.

“Even though I was the son of farmers, I didn’t know how to deal with this [culture] as an adult,” Pires said. Learning curve or not, the new job evoked something profound.

“I very much discovered myself in this work of popular education, of caring for, dealing with, and valuing the farmers’ knowledge and wisdom. It was a massive education,” Pires acknowledged.

Pires remained in the state’s interior for three years. During that time, he was hired on permanently and found himself connecting deeply with the people Sabiá served and the work it was doing to promote sustainable paths for small-scale farms.

Supporting Family Farms

Recife’s first farmers’ market was held in 1997 as a demonstration of the produce that local farmers were growing. Pires said that using the agroecology techniques that the Centro Sabiá had been sharing for four years, not only were the farmers feeding themselves, they had extra produce to sell — and everything sold out. Now the city hosts 50 farmers’ markets each week, and nearly a hundred more serve smaller communities across the state. One weekend market in the well-off Casa Forte neighborhood sees farmers take a bus to the square where they set out their stalls, but the farmers themselves pay for this bus, Pires says.

“Farmers perform a role and carry out a task by bringing food to the cities, but the state doesn’t recognize this as far as public policy goes,” Pires said. “Of course, the state can’t subsidize everything,” he acknowledged, “but it’s important to have some support.”

Pires sees these markets as an educational opportunity for city dwellers, as well as providing a source of healthy food. Since the produce available varies by season, Pires says, shoppers are faced with the reality that growing in accordance with local conditions means things like mangoes only appear at certain times of the year.

But there’s another surprising aspect to this story. A study the Centro Sabiá undertook with the Federal Institute of Pernambuco, a public, highly competitive high school focused on science and technology, compared 17 “traditionally” grown products in five large supermarket chains with the cost of those same products at the farmers’ markets.

“Agroecological products were cheaper or the same price as equivalent products in grocery stores and ordinary markets,” Pires said. This was true in the state’s interior near the farms that grow these products. In the city, Pires acknowledged, the cost of transportation can make them slightly more expensive, but he said the cost is “substantially lower than the [cost] of organics sold in supermarkets.”

Still, Pires says these markets aren’t serving the city’s low-income neighborhoods, which suffer from higher rates of health issues like high blood pressure and obesity. Around 2014 Centro Sabiá drafted a proposal to place farmers’ markets in locations around the city where there were outdoor fitness equipment sets that help low-income residents work out without shouldering the cost of a gym membership.

“The Ministry [of Health] didn’t fund it, the administration changed, and that’s it,” he said.

Since then, Brazil’s economy has slowed, inflation has grown, and some anti-hunger measures have been dismantled — including government purchases of small-farm produce — leaving some 33 million Brazilians hungry. In Pernambuco alone, Pires said, there were half a million people experiencing food insecurity and hunger in 2022, but a September report from a food-focused research group put that figure four times higher – at 2.1 million.

“This group of public policies: the program of food purchasing; the national program of school food, which changed the law in 2009 to purchase at least 30% of its supply from family farms; the cistern program, that brought water to the semi-arid population and with it the ability to grow; the national policy of agroecology and organic production, and the national policy of technical assistance and rural extension — all of these policies were simply gutted by the Bolosonaro government,” Pires said. “This means that since farmers don’t have a market, so they can’t produce.”

Meanwhile, the COVID crisis hit while the economic situation worsened along with a turbulent political scenario.

In this context, Pires ran for the Pernambuco state legislature in 2022, highlighting the need for state policies to support family farms. “There’s an absence of a political strategy that values peasant farming, that values family farms,” Pires said. “With the exception of my campaign, all the others neglected the role of family agriculture. When that happens, there’s an emptying of rural communities,” he affirmed.

“So, what my father told me when I was 14 years old, that he wanted me to study outside because there was no future in agriculture; today we’re living through the same reality,” he said.

“Governments don’t value family farms. Governments value agribusiness, big producers, big industries,” Pires said, describing how young people, instead of focusing on small holding farms, tend to look to agribusiness for work opportunities. At the same time, he says, people have lost faith in politics, and so they focus on the now.

“There’s a historic movement in Brazil, from the right and the extreme right, to put [money and faith] in place of politics,” Pires said. “Discussing politics in this broader context of what the problems are and how to solve them, what bills and public policies can help solve these problems, there’s no belief in this anymore. People don’t believe in politics,” he concluded as a result of his campaign experience in which he lost his bid to enter the state legislature.

In spite of that, in March 2023, Pires was offered a position within President Lula da Silva’s government. Now, Pires is the director of efforts to prevent desertification within the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. Pires’ name was proposed by ASA, which has long worked on ensuring access to water in Brazil’s semi-arid region.

“The Minister [Marina Silva] recognizes ASA’s civil society network that focuses on this issue, but that does so in a humanized way. So, it’s not just about recovering the physical environment but about recovering the environment where people live, where people are living with all of their socially productive and reproductive projects. So, I feel very honored — and of course challenged as well — by the invitation,” Pires said.

The article has been republished from Pressenza. Read the original article here

Microbes that Digest Plastic at Low Temps Are Discovered in the Alps and the Arctic

Muot da Barba Peider, where some of the microbes were found – Peak Visor, fair use.

Microbes that can eat plastic at low temperatures, making them more cost-effective than current ones, have been found in the Alps.

Several microorganisms capable of destroying plastic polymers have already been discovered. As a result, businesses have latched onto bioengineering the enzymes found in various bacteria and fungi as a means to tackle plastic pollution.

But the industry has been limited by the need for heating since already-discovered ones require artificially high temperatures to work, making the process costly and not carbon neutral.

Now, the Swiss Federal Institute WSL found the most effective performers were two fungi in the genera Neodevriesia and Lachnellulam, which were novel and that worked at just 15 degrees Celsius, or 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

They are capable of digesting biodegradable polyester-polyurethane (PUR), and two commercially available biodegradable mixtures of polybutylene adipate terephthalate (PBAT) and polylactic acid (PLA.)

But the study went far further, finding a total of nine fungi and eight bacteria species from multiple genera that were able to digest PUR, and a total of 14 fungi and three bacteria managed to eat mixtures of PBAT and PLA.

SIMILAR STORIES: ‘Superworm’ With Appetite for Polystyrene Could be Key to Mass-Scale Recycling

PUR is most commonly used in artificial textiles, while PBAT is used quite widely in industries for packaging, and PLA is found in biomedical applications like drug delivery products and sutures.

“Here we show that novel microbial taxa obtained from the ‘plastisphere’ of alpine and arctic soils were able to break down biodegradable plastics at 15°C,” said first author Dr. Joel Rüthi, from WLS. “These organisms could help to reduce the costs and environmental burden of an enzymatic recycling process for plastic.”

“It was very surprising to us that we found that a large fraction of the tested strains was able to degrade at least one of the tested plastics.”

OTHER INVENTIVE SCIENCE: Simple Bacteria Spray Can Solve India’s Air Pollution and Also Enrich Local Farmers

During the hunt for a microbe capable of digesting in the cold, the team studied 19 strains of bacteria and 15 fungi growing on plastic that had been left behind or intentionally buried in Greenland, Svalbard, and Switzerland.

In Switzerland, waste was picked from the summit of Muot da Barba Peider from the valley Val Lavirun, both in the Graubünden region.

Scientists let isolated microbes grow as single-strain cultures in a dark laboratory. At 15 degrees Celsius, molecular techniques were used to identify them.

MORE PLASTIC NEWS: Scientists Develop Breakthrough Method for Recycling Industrial Plastics at Room Temperature in 20 Minutes

In total 59% of strains, including 11 fungi and eight bacteria, could digest PUR at 15 degrees in the study published in the journal Frontiers in Microbiology.

“The next big challenge will be to identify the plastic-degrading enzymes produced by the microbial strains and to optimize the process to obtain large amounts of proteins,” said co-author Dr. Beat Frey, also at WSL. “In addition, further modification of the enzymes might be needed to optimize properties such as protein stability.”

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Small Town is Giddy With Excitement That it Appears in Background of World’s Most Famous Portrait–the Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa with approximate original colors CC 4.0. Dianelos

The Tuscan-town of Laterina is thrilled to see news that an Italian historian has determined a ruined Etruscan-Roman era bridge in their area was the backdrop of Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Using drone photographs and historical records of da Vinci’s whereabouts, including those owned by the De Medici family, historian Silvano Vinceti says he feels very sure that the bridge over Mona Lisa’s left-shoulder is the Romito di Laterina bridge.

The most telling clue was the number of arches. Three candidates for the bridge depicted in the Mona Lisa all have different numbers of arches. The Ponte Buriano near Laterina has 6 arches, while the Ponte Gobbo, in the town of Bobbio near Piacenza, has more than 6.

The bridge in the Mona Lisa, however, has 4. Using drone photographs and by measuing the distance between the two banks of the river in Laterina, as well as the size of the single arch that remains from the historic bridge, Vinceti came to a mathematical conclusion that the Romito di Laterina surely had 4 arches.

MORE HISTORIC DISCOVERIES: Renovation Unearths Paintings Behind Kitchen Walls Nearly 400-Years-old

Laterina, in the province of Arezzo, sits on a river called the Arno in a valley where Da Vinci worked at the pleasure of the cardinal Cesare Borgia, and then for Piero Soderini, a statesman of the Republic of Florence—both of whom lived near the river. It was at this time that he painted the Mona Lisa in Florence in the early 16th century.

La Rocca Cultural Association – credit

The Romito di Laterina bridge across the Arno was a shortcut to a town called Fiesole, where Da Vinci also stayed, and then on to Florence, cutting travel times by 3 hours compared to other routes.

SIMILAR NEWS:  Teen Started Painting in Lockdown and is So Good She’s Exhibiting in Galleries, and Getting $10,000 For One Canvas

Tuscany is no stranger to rivalries; the rivalry between Florence and Siena went back and forth for hundreds of years. The Mayoress of Laterina Simona Neri joked with the Guardian that the nearby town of Buriano, who boast about their bridge being used in the Mona Lisa, and who have posters and signposts up, will undoubtedly be unhappy to hear the news.

“There’ll be some rivalry; we’ll need to put a poster up, too,” she said, adding that “We need to try to protect what’s left of the bridge, which will require funding.”

SHARE This Cool Discovery In The Famous Painting With Your Friends… 

Leonardo’s Ferry Left High and Dry by Global Warming and Red Tape – The New York Times

A ferry used to traverse the banks of the Adda River, in northern Italy, but drought and an abundance of bureaucracy has closed it down. On a recent sunny morning on the banks of the Adda River in northern Italy,…

In meeting with big economies, Biden announces more funds to fight climate change – Reuters

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) – President Joe Biden announced plans to increase U.S. funding to help developing countries fight climate change and curb deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest during a meeting on Thursday with leaders from the world’s largest economies….

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