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You guys have already helped save acres and acres of the rainforest in Peru by referring your friends. But, for the next 7 days we are going to donate $1 for every referral sign-up between now and next Thursday's email, to one of the Australian bushfire appeals. So please please please get sharing

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Climate Change

Australia's Bushfires: A Summary

by Fran Haddock

What's Going On Here?

Australia is suffering its worst bushfire season in living memory causing loss of life and devastation to homes, landscapes, and biodiversity.

What Does This Mean?

The size of the bushfires is hard to comprehend, with over 10.7 million hectares of land burnt so far - an area larger than the Amazon and Californian bushfires combined.
To date 28 people have been killed, over 2,204 houses have been destroyed and First Nations people have lost sacred ancestral sites
The sheer scale of the devastation has mobilised thousands of volunteer firefighters to join the professionals, 3 of whom have died. The impact on Australia’s unique wildlife is devastating with an estimated half a billion animals killed and many endangered species suspected to be at risk of extinction

What Is The Link To Climate Change?

There is a bush fire season every year in Australia due to hot, dry summer weather. 
However, scientists have warned that the season is growing longer and more intense due to climate change – Australia has warmed >1°C since 1910 and rainfall has significantly decreased. This creates dangerous conditions that have precipitated the record-breaking fires we are seeing today. The crisis has indeed coincided with 2019 being Australia’s hottest year on record
Claims that this year’s fires have been worse because of environmental groups limiting prescribed burning in national parks have been rejected by bushfire experts. The role of arson has also reportedly been exaggerated as part of an online ‘disinformation campaign’ by bots and trolls to downplay the link to climate change.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has repeatedly come under fire (not literally) for his delayed response. The government has also been criticised for weak climate policies, ranking near the bottom of 57 countries in the climate change performance index, and prioritising economics of the coal industry over climate action - even though Australia is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. 
Unfortunately, this also isn’t the only climate change-related crisis going on right now, with Zambia on the brink of famine due to a two-year drought and floods in Jakarta leading to 60 deaths, and we’re only in January… 

Be Curious!

We can only hope such devastating events will awaken the world to the impacts of climate change and the drastic need for action: 
  • Raise awareness, put pressure on governments, take part in activism and speak out about the climate crisis.
  • Donate to a bushfire charity you wish to support. Read this on how to do so effectively. Here are some of our favourites for injured wildlife: 
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Travel & Tourism on location in Taiwan

by Joe Stratton

What's Going On Here?

At a time when many of us are trying our best to reduce our environmental footprint, it can be both uplifting, as well as disheartening, to learn about the sustainability efforts of other countries.  Some are doing a fantastic job of setting ambitious targets, whilst others appear to be lagging behind.

At a global level, Taiwan has performed well on cutting carbon emissions. Despite the growth in GDP, between 2005-2017 emissions only grew 0.9%, vastly outperforming its Asian neighbours. They have also committed to reducing emissions to 50% of 2005 levels by 2050 - an ambitious target!

What Does This Mean?

Single-use products
These are EVERYWHERE. Perhaps most shocking is the use of single-use paper and plastic in restaurants. In smaller food outlets,  when sitting inside, you receive your food in a throwaway bowl, with single-use chopsticks and spoons.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Once known as ‘garbage island’ with landfills almost at capacity, Taiwan has achieved a major turnaround and now has an impressive recycling rate of 55% thanks to government intervention.

However, it’s not hard to see that more could be done to encourage the use of reusable products. Coffee, bubble tea and other extremely popular consumables are all served in disposables and even with a good recycling system, clearly more must be done to reduce usage at source.

Meat Consumption
Meat consumption in Taiwan seems high. Taiwan is the 22nd richest country in the world and has a rapidly burgeoning middle-class. This typically drives increased meat consumption and Taiwan seems no exception, with beef consumption growing by 50% between 2008-2018.

Even though they love Tofu here, meat is most definitely king and their heavy reliance on beef and pork imports from countries with poor animal agriculture records isn’t the most sustainable. 

The future
The future is most definitely not wholly negative for sustainability in Taiwan.

It is seemingly few countries in the world right now with excellent governance. Everything works well, people are happy, the streets are extremely clean, and people generally trust their government to do the right thing.

That government has just committed to being single-use plastic free by 2030! Usually I take these kinds of commitments from governments with a pinch of salt but judging by Taiwan’s previous efforts at change, I have every faith they can achieve this.

Fun Fact - Taiwanese rubbish collection involves playing a loud cheery tune outside every house to encourage people to bring their rubbish out – and it seems to work!

Be Curious!

Travelling can be tough whilst trying to reduce your carbon footprint, but when you do it is important to be perceptive and understand the sustainability situation where you are - it can really help to give some perspective and frame your situation at home. If you are thinking of off-setting your carbon for flights, check out our Guide to Carbon Offsetting
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Other news we found curious...

Australia fires: Misleading maps and pictures go viral - BBC
Impossible Dumplings and Beyond Buns: Will China Buy Fake Meat? - NYTimes
Plastic packaging ban 'could harm environment' - BBC
'Like sending bees to war': the deadly truth behind your almond-milk obsession - Guardian
Electric car registrations surged to record levels in 2019 -
Schools move class trips closer to home as pupils try to lower their carbon footprint - Independent
Food 'made from air' could compete with soya - BBC
Fran Haddock
Joe Stratton

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