Environmental News Made Simple
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Good morning curious.friends,

This week you will have no doubt seen the Amazon rainforest fires blazing across your Instagram and Twitter feeds, but it's hard to know who or what to believe. Never fear, we take an in-depth look to uncover the true facts and what we can do about it. 

And although it’s hard to forget all the doom and gloom ⬆️, we check out the latest success in protecting baby Elmer the elephant! 

Reading time is 3:47 minutes.

When a fire starts to burn...

by Char Cross

What's Going On Here?

Thousands of forests in Brazil are on fire. As a result, a lot of smoke is being pumped into the skies across the country and releasing alarming amounts of carbon into the Earth’s  atmosphere.

What Does This Mean?

You’ve heard about it. You’ve seen the pictures. But what is actually happening and why? There are so many threads to this story including Brazil’s president, logging and illegal land grabbers. We’re going to keep it simple for you because a lot of what we’ve seen in the news isn’t necessarily accurate.

Fires are burning across Brazil, we know that. In contrast to other fires we’ve seen around the world this year, these fires are man-made and caused deliberately. Fires are lit every year for agricultural purposes, to make way for cattle-ranching or to clear the remains of a harvest. However, this year has seen more than 70,000 fires, the highest number since records began!

Despite the headlines, these fires aren’t just happening in the Amazon. The fires are ablaze in many forests all across Brazil. But yes, the majority is happening in the Amazon. 

Now. 2019. But, this hasn’t stopped the circulation of images that show the Amazon burning in… 2013 or even the year I was born...1989! Even celebrities have got in on the action...

This photo is of the Amazon burning in 2013, not 2019.

Why Should We Care?

Despite the fake news out there, the fact is, this really IS happening whether we like it or not. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is a well publicised climate denier who perhaps doesn't have the Amazon's best interest at heart and the role it plays in climate change, and the current situation in the Amazon is an almost direct result of his anti-Amazon-rainforest policies!

Events like this continue to devastate globally significant areas of biodiversity. The Amazon is the world’s biggest carbon sink (absorbing more carbon than it releases) and produces around 6% of the world’s oxygen (not 20% - another incorrect fact that is floating around).

And then of course you’ve got the indigenous communities that call the Amazon their home, 900,000 people whose house is literally on fire! 

So there you have it, the What, Where and When of Brazil’s forest fires. At the recent G7 summit, the world’s political leaders pledged $22m of funding to help tackle the fires, yet this was rejected by Bolsonaro and his government. 

I don’t know about you, but it’s left me wanting to know more...

Be Curious!

  1. Make sure you fact check. Double check where and when a photo was taken before you share it, at the risk of spreading fake news. 
  2. Read more about deforestation and how it affects YOU.
  3. DO share! Once you know the facts you have are correct, use your voice to share your knowledge and spread awareness.
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🚫  It’s good news for baby Elmer! 🐘

by Maya Comely

What's Going On Here?

A global ban on the zoo trade of baby elephants has just been approved after a heated debate at a conference in Geneva. Whoop whoop!

What Does This Mean?

From the 17th - 28th August the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) met for their 18th conference in Geneva, with the aim of cracking down on the trade of threatened species. After days of debate and opposition from Zimbabwe, the main exporter, and the US, the near-total ban was finally approved on Tuesday - result! ✔️✔️✔️

Put simply - baby African elephants will no longer be snatched from their families and exported to captive facilities around the world. Never say never but the trade will be heavily regulated and only allowed in “exceptional” circumstances. Fingers crossed.

Why Should We Care?

Under the previous rule Zimbabwe and Botswana have been capturing and exporting live baby African elephants to zoos in China and elsewhere. Once shipped around the world, the eles are likely to be lonely, traumatised and have reduced lifespans  😔

African elephants are an important species for our planet - shaping the landscapes and habitats of African forests and playing a vital role in the success of many other species. Sadly, they’re also officially listed as a ‘vulnerable species’ on the IUCN Red List, meaning approximately 415,000 are left in the wild. Whether threatened from habitat loss, human-elephant conflicts (game guards often shoot “problem” elephants) or poaching - removing them from the wild and selling them into captivity ain’t helpin’ the poor babas.

It wasn’t just baby elephants that benefited from the rendezvous - four other endangered species are also in line for a boost to their protection this month, including the lil’ pancake tortoise 🥞 🐢.

Be Curious!

It’s easy to feel far removed from issues such as the global wildlife trade, but don’t let it stop you from learning about the issue and taking action! If you’d like to find out more about African elephants and the work that WWF is doing to protect them, head here. There’s also this petition to stop wildlife crime if ya fancy. ✍️

Want to hear more of the good stuff? Follow us on social media and help us spread the word! Take a look at our friends ➕ Positive News ➕ who cover a range of social and environmental success stories with a focus on solutions. That's what we like to hear! 
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Other news we found curious...

International convention announces first steps to protect species of shark and other fish  - Guardian
Has Kenya's plastic bag ban worked? - BBC
Amazon Fires: 10 readers' questions answered - BBC
Leo gives $5m for Amazon rainforest - 25% of what G7 nations pledged together - BBC
Would you try meat-free 'chicken' wings? - BBC
David Attenborough to front BBC documentary 'Extinction: The Facts' - BBC
The fight for climate justice needs a new narrative - we are not powerless - Inverse
Char Cross
Maya Comely

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