Category: Environment and Conservation

10 climate change websites you should follow to stay up-to-date

Climate change might seem like an abstract concept, but it is a real and growing concern that affects every living person, creature, and organism on the planet. More than just letting the nation’s leaders decide on the fate of our Earth, every citizen should do their part in lessening their carbon footprint and helping build Read More...

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Climate change might seem like an abstract concept, but it is a real and growing concern that affects every living person, creature, and organism on the planet. More than just letting the nation’s leaders decide on the fate of our Earth, every citizen should do their part in lessening their carbon footprint and helping build a future that’s safe for generations to come

Be in the know about climate change by adding these websites to your bookmark and visiting them regularly for updates!

1 Climate Central

An independent group of leading scientists in climate science and respected journalists created Climate Central with a mission to “communicate the science and effects of climate change to the public and decision-makers.” Conducting extensive scientific research and reporting their key findings to the public, Climate Central presents unbiased reports on topics such as climate science, sea level rise, meteorology, energy, wildfire, and drought. Analyzing the data they’ve gathered, Climate Central also makes it their goal to provide media, local communities, and as many audiences as possible with the essential tools needed to visualize the real dangers of human-caused climate change and the growing need for practical solutions.

Climate Central’s stories tend to concentrate on studies done in the various US states, but the news (covering warming trends to heavy rain events), videos (ranging from extreme weather to climate in context), and reporting resources (with compelling graphics and detailed information) they provide can be of use to anyone from anywhere in the world.

2 NASA

US federal agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) keeps tabs on the planet’s vital signs through satellites that orbit the Earth (some of these have been in orbit for over 14 years!). Their interactive Earth Now feature lets you fly along these missions to monitor the current state of the planet from outer space. Clicking on a satellite lets you view various 3D models of the visible earth, air temperature, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sea level, soil moisture, ozone, water vapor, and gravity field, but you can also opt to review the latest data in their Vital Signs tab. Wildfires, super storms, and algal blooms are also presented as geo-located satellite images in NASA’s Latest Events feature.

3 DeSmog Blog

The people behind this blog make it their goal to clear the PR pollution that clouds climate science. Since its launch in January 2006, DeSmog Blog has become a reliable source for fact-based information centered on global warming misinformation campaigns. The blog shares a compilation of helpful media resources, enlightening new series, and even a searchable research database that reveals the individuals and organisations who have actively confused the public into taking action against global warming.

4 InsideClimate News

Founded in 20017, InsideClimate News is a “non-profit, non-partisan news organization that provides essential reporting and analysis on climate, energy, and the environment for the public and decision makers.” With a commitment to establishing a permanent national reporting network as well as training the next generation of environmental journalists, InsideClimate News delivers impartial reports on hot topics such as agriculture, clean energy, climate science, and extreme weather.  

Receiving the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting, the award-winning InsideClimate News also features in-depth investigations (i.e. the effects of extreme weather and climate change to farmers and to national security), documentaries ranging from clean wind power to flash drought, and useful visual guides like charts, maps, and infographics.

5 Skeptical Science

From the “climate has changed before” to “it hasn’t warmed since 1998,” this blog debunks the 10 most used climate arguments through basic and intermediate explanations backed by compelling scientific evidence. Aside from rounding up climate change and global warming news on a weekly basis, its global team of volunteers provides a wealth of resources like John Cook’s Scientific Guide to Global Warming Skepticism, climate graphics, and even a temperature trend calculator. The best part? Skeptical Science offers arguments in 25 different languages (Japanese, Portuguese, Slovak, and more) so that more nations can learn and disseminate its information.

6 The Daily Climate

A publication of Environmental Health Sciences, The Daily Climate reports, publishes, and curates climate change stories from various news sites such as The Guardian, The Conversation, and The Washington Post. Putting the day’s events in a larger context, the team divides what they’ve gathered into five unique topics: solutions, impacts, causes, resilience, politics, and good news.

7 RealClimate

A commentary website created by climate scientists for journalists and the general public, RealClimate aims to “provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary.” Presenting discussions of a scientific nature, the site offers a one-stop link of quality resources that people can check out whether they’re clueless about climate change or simply in need of more comprehensive information.

8 Climate Home News

Politics, finance, energy, land, tech, and science—these are the different topics covered by Climate Home News, an independent website focused on reporting climate-related news unfolding at different parts of the globe. This London-based editorial team seeks to publish pieces that touch on the political, social, and economic aspects of climate change, such as South Africa signing a carbon tax into law, school strikes taking place in 92 different countries, and European State Agency creating a satellite fleet to monitor carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. In addition to reading these stories, most articles on the site can be republished at no extra cost.

9 Climate Desk

A journalistic collaboration between various media outlets and organisations (The Atlantic, The Weather Channel, and Yale Environment 360 to name a few), Climate Desk is dedicated to exploring the multiple impacts of a changing climatefrom human and environmental to economic and political—and helping enrich the public’s understanding of this growing issue. The website breaks down the topics into seven categories for easy perusing: warming world, science, politics, energy & tech, food & health, weather & climate, and videos.

10 Grist

Claiming itself as “a beacon in the smog,” Grist has worked hard since 1999 to produce incisive online stories with witty headlines on topics such as clean energy, sustainable food, and environmental science. More than just crafting features, the independent, non-profit newsroom aims to expose inequities, offer solutions, and provide the much-needed knowledge and tools for its readers so they can help make a difference in the world.

Grist brings together a daily digest of must-read news, produces award-winning videos that are fun to watch and easy to understand, and provides a forum in which green advocates can share their thoughts. The website also rounds up an inspiring yearly list of 50 movers and shakers who are coming up with innovative solutions to help solve our global problems. 

Which websites do you follow to keep abreast of the latest climate change news? Let us know by commenting below!

Conservation talks with Kaila Ledesma Trebol

Kaila Ledesma Trebol is the Trustee Adviser for Conservation and Education of Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI). A foundation that owns and manages Danjugan Island in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, PRRCFI was established 25 years ago with a mission to inspire people to take action for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development through experiential Read More...

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Kaila swimming over Danjugan Island’s famous big table coral

Kaila Ledesma Trebol is the Trustee Adviser for Conservation and Education of Philippine Reef and Rainforest Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PRRCFI). A foundation that owns and manages Danjugan Island in Cauayan, Negros Occidental, PRRCFI was established 25 years ago with a mission to inspire people to take action for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development through experiential learning, collaborative research, nurturing partnerships, and enabling communities.

Waldo’s Friends learns about the foundation’s origins, the tireless people behind it, and their continuing efforts to inspire change through their conservation work.

Waldo’s Friends (WF): Could you share the brief history of PRRCFI and Danjugan Island?

Kaila Ledesma Trebol (KLT): In the 70s, Danjugan Island was discovered by a group of SCUBA divers from Bacolod. They leased a small beach on the island as their base camp in the 80s. Over the years, they experienced a lot of environmental threats both in Danjugan and on mainland Negros. They made efforts to work with the leaders back then. However, it was a real struggle. It was then they realized that educating the youth was a way to build the right leaders to fight for environmental conservation.
 
Back then, Danjugan was also under threat from so many extraction activities. One day, the owner of the island asked the group if they would like to buy a tree on the island for its lumber. A pair of white bellied sea eagles called this tree home, so there was no way the group would see it cut down. They asked if the island would be for sale instead. The owner agreed to sell it, but the group had no money. They had to seek assistance from Land Bank of the Philippines (for its first environmental loan) and World Land Trust in the UK to help purchase Danjugan Island for its conservation. The island is now owned by PRRCFI and is a private protected area. In 2000, the Municipal Ordinance No. 99-52 was passed declaring “the surrounding waters of Danjugan Island as a marine reserve and portions of it as marine sanctuaries.”

A white bellied sea eagle on the tree that was meant to be cut down

WF: What do you do as a part of PRRCFI?

KLT: I am part of a nine-member volunteer Board of Trustees. We are the management committee for anything PRRCFI takes on. We are responsible for making sure that all the activities and programs are in line with its vision and mission.
 
As Trustee Adviser for Conservation and Education, my work involves helping create the camp curriculum and materials, acting as resource speaker, camp staff, or just work in camp logistics. I also assist the creative department in information education material development as well as find ways to ensure the sustainability of the foundation’s operations—from a well-organised ecotourism program to enterprise development and other activities taken on to help sustain PRRCFI. Documenting biodiversity is also one of my passions on Danjugan, so I work closely with the Communications and Science & Research Departments as well.

Board of Trustees, Project and Island Staff

WF: What would you say are PRRCFI’s most effective campaigns to date?

KLT: The most effective and popular program of PRRCFI is the Marine and Wildlife Camp, for sure. The first camp began in 1991. I was one of the campers, and my father, Gerry Ledesma, was the visionary who started it all. It started with just one annual summer camp, but over the years, it gained popularity and the demand increased.
 
Today, we do multiple camps all year round (except during the typhoon season) catering to all groups and all ages. We even expanded to do family camps, so parents and children can discover and connect with nature together. The camp’s tagline was “today’s youth, tomorrow’s conservationists” because it really started with the youth. Today, however, we find that it really is not too late to become a conservationist. We have had so many lives touched by Danjugan, and so many connections have been made that we have created a family of people who really want to make a difference. And as for camp alumni, we have had many who were inspired to go into the field of natural science and environment conservation. Many testimonies have assured us that our camp program is indeed working.
 
Our newest campaign is SWEEP (Sea Waste Education to Eradicate Plastic). It’s only a year old, but it’s one of our most ambitious and difficult projects to date. Here we create awareness of the growing plastic problem and its effects on marine life. SWEEP embarks on an awareness campaign (through coastal clean-ups and audits, mobile museum, and workshops) in the hopes to get the public to face the problem head on and hopefully find ways to cut their dependence to plastic. We created a mobile museum called “fishbolan” that tours around our partner municipalities to engage communities in creative discussions of this problem (like plastics entering the food chain).

We also opened a Wala Usik (which means “nothing is wasted” in Hiligaynon) store in Bacolod and formed partnerships with sari-sari stores (neighbourhood sundry stores) to join us in our journey toward a “wala usik” lifestyle. We also engage the local government units in helping them in their municipal action plans to really tackle the problem of solid waste management.

SWEEP team with the fishbolan mobile museum; PRRCFI SWEEP team; Sweep Walk

WF: What would you say is the best thing about working for PRRCFI?

KLT: It is being able to be in Danjugan Island, working with the most amazing people and the most dedicated team and island staff. We are just so lucky to have them. Being able to work with such an amazing team makes everything rewarding! It has become a real family.
 
Danjugan is the real uniting factor—it is a healing place. Over the years, we have strived to build a culture that respects nature and people. We strive for balance, an understanding and inclusiveness that make Danjugan such a welcoming place for those who are also open-minded about it and the experiences you allow it to give you.

WF: On the flipside, what’s the most challenging thing about working for PRRCFI?

KLT: When environmental conservation is not a priority for most leaders in this country, you can already see what we face. Yet we continue. No matter how slow the process seems to take, we just keep on doing the work that is meant to be done.
 
We are also here to support and encourage others who want to do this kind of work too. This is our way, but there are many approaches and many avenues toward conservation. We partner with others who do the things we can’t but ultimately work toward the same goal.

WF: Over the years, has there been any misconception about the work your foundation has done for Danjugan Island?

KLT: We had to battle years of notions that the marine reserve and sanctuaries were protected for our selfish agendas. For years, we had to educate that having marine protected areas are meant not just for biodiversity conservation but also for food security. This goes both ways, meaning we are for the people, too. There are fishermen around Danjugan who are allowed to fish in certain areas. This somehow is also misunderstood for some who visit. They think the whole island is protected, but our vision is “wildlife and people in harmony for a sustainable future.” What we hope to ultimately achieve is balance.

Typhoon Beach in 1991 and 2015

WF: Personally speaking, what do you love most about Danjugan Island?

KLT: Everything! It is the most unique small island because in just 43 hectares, you find so much wildlife and so many ecosystems. Plus, it was kept to keep tourism low-impact and low-volume, but with high-value and high-quality experiences. The trails on the island are easy. You would not need to trek for hours to see amazing birdlife and a cave full of bats. And if you’re lucky, even a python!
 
I never get bored on the island. It is living simply next to nature, and it has given me the best kind of work and advocacy I could ever hope for. It is like a second home since I’ve been visiting it since the 80s. I already know where the critters are, where the beautiful blue anemone is, where the school of batfishes are, when the shark pups will show up, or where the rare beach thick knee lives. I truly have a love affair with this island. I am also fortunate that I am able to give my kids the same kind of childhood my father gave me.

Some of the creatures you can find within Danjugan: Bats, shark pups, octopus, and batfishes

WF: Can you share some interesting stories about the island?

KLT: There are many! There are love stories and forever connections formed on the island. Maybe one interesting fact about Danjugan and its visitors is that they manage to come back somehow. The island contributes to changing their lives significantly. From a British volunteer who came in 1998 and came back eventually choosing to live in the Philippines to a camp volunteer who is now one of our hardworking trustees, Danjugan truly inspires.
 
There is one special story about a green sea turtle that we rescued. We found her floating, unable to dive back down. Turtles are known to get buoyancy disorders which are dangerous for them because they may get hit by boats, become easy prey, or starve as they are unable to dive down for food. Together with our kids on board the boat, we rescued her and they named her Star.

Star was rehabilitated in Danjugan Island. She underwent many tests and procedures, close care, hand feeding, and was even brought to a nearby clinic to get an x-ray. We were so fortunate that Dr. Nielsen Donato and Dr. Ari Barcelona treated her. Slowly, Star got better and was able to leave Danjugan’s Moray Lagoon on the 48th day of rehabilitation. It was a bittersweet day. We were all happy she was well and free, but sad as we were going to miss her.

Sea turtle Star when she was first found floating and during rehabilitation with Kaila’s daughter, Aria

WF: What’s your advice for other people involved in protecting the environment?

KLT: It’s not easy and frustrating, but the rewards are great. I always say that the stars aligned for Danjugan Island—to make what seemingly was impossible to happen, happen. Everything fell into place, from the timing and the people who got involved down to the grants. I feel our hearts have always been in the right place, but it happened with a lot of hard work. So as long as your heart is in the right place, I feel your work will come across and be heard.
 
The Philippines is so rich in natural resources. We have the rarest and most unique wildlife there is, but they are fast disappearing. We NEED more people to go into wildlife conservation. It is not easy and your heart will break many times, but when you do see an animal that is wild, free, and meant to be there, it is the best thing.

Manta Reef and aerial shot of Moray Lagoon

WF: How can people support your organisation?

KLT: You can support PRRCFI by visiting Danjugan Island or taking part in one of our camps. All proceeds of our ecotourism program go right back into conservation. It is what keeps us going and doing what we do! Visit our Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.
 
Danjugan Island is nature’s perfect classroom. With so many ecosystems and wildlife, it really is the perfect place for anyone to connect with nature.

20 things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint

Whether we are aware of it or not, we all invariably contribute to the world’s carbon footprint. Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.,” carbon footprint comes from day-to-day activities that require energy. Energy Read More...

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Whether we are aware of it or not, we all invariably contribute to the world’s carbon footprint. Defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds emitted due to the consumption of fossil fuels by a particular person, group, etc.,” carbon footprint comes from day-to-day activities that require energy. Energy is produced by the burning of fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas, which then result in greenhouse gas emissions that keep the heat trapped within the earth’s atmosphere.

Be an everyday hero by following 20 of our suggestions below to lessen your carbon footprint! 

1. Walk or ride a bicycle.

Did you know that 15% of manmade carbon dioxide comes from cars, trucks, planes, and other transportation vehicles? If you are going somewhere nearby, opt to take a stroll or ride your bicycle to get to your destination. Not only are you helping prevent global warming, but you’re also getting in some much-needed exercise for the day![/vc_column_text]

Photo by Chris Barbalis/Unsplash

2. Take care of your car.

A well-maintained vehicle benefits you and the planet. By regularly having your engine tuned, checking your oxygen sensors, and inflating your tires, your car emits fewer toxic fumes and improves its fuel use by up to 40%.

3. Drive smart.

To help you avoid traffic jams, use a GPS navigation app such as Waze or Google Maps that shows you the quickest route you can take. Also, refrain from unnecessarily stepping on the acceleration pedal and remove excess cargo (whether it’s on the roof or in your trunk) to increase fuel economy.

4. Combine trips.

Schedule a day to do all of your errands with other family members, or take turns carpooling with officemates. Air pollution will be undoubtedly less with fewer cars out on the streets. Plus, you get to save money on gas and parking fees!

5. Lessen air travel.

On average, a commercial plane produces 53.3 pounds of carbon dioxide for every mile flown. Compare that to a tree that can only absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. That’s a doozy! If you travel for work, why not schedule video chat conferences instead of face-to-face meetings? But if you really need to fly, select non-stop flights (so you have less takeoffs/landings that use up more fuel energy) and economy seats (more seats mean more passengers sharing the plane’s carbon emissions).

Photo by Jordan Sanchez/Unsplash

6. Fix air leaks.

Create a more energy-efficient house by sealing air leaks around doors, windows, vents, and electrical outlets and improving your overall insulation. Doing so can help you save up to 25% of heating costs and maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.

7. Regulate your thermostat.

Lower your electricity bill while fighting global warming by keeping your thermostat lower during winter time and higher during the summer season. To stay warm, wear extra layers indoors and invest in rugs and carpets that create a soft barrier against the cold. To stay cool, wear breathable clothes and install ceiling fans that use less electricity (55 to 100 watts) compared to air conditioners (500 to 1,500 watts).

8. Choose energy-efficient appliances.

From refrigerators to washing machines to water heaters, climate-conscious companies like ENERGY Star produce slightly expensive yet highly effective appliances that use less energy to complete a required task. Having them at home or at work will result in an overall lowered electricity bill.

9. Change your light bulbs.

Replace incandescent, halogen, and compact fluorescent light bulbs with low-energy LED or CFL ones that shine brighter, last 15 times longer, and use only one-fifth of the energy of a conventional bulb.

10. Unplug and turn off.

The easiest way to reduce your carbon footprint is by switching off the lights (open the windows and let natural sunlight in!) and turning off and unplugging appliances when they’re not not in use.

11. Wash in cold water and air dry your clothes.

The Guardian surprisingly reveals that “washing and drying a load every two days creates around 440 kg of CO2e each year, which is equivalent to flying from London to Glasgow and back with 15-mile taxi rides to and from the airports.” That said, be responsible about washing your clothes. Only wash when you have enough for a full load, choose a cold wash cycle (a 10-degree temperature increase impacts the environment), use concentrated detergent, and skip the fabric softener. When you’re done, hang your clothes to dry on a line or rack instead of using a dryer, which is said to be the third most energy-hungry home appliance.

Photo by Dan Gold/Unsplash

12. Be a kitchen energy saver.

Plan all the meals you want to prepare before you start cooking. Always choose to cook your food on a stove top rather than an oven. Not only does an oven use the most energy, it also raises the temperature of the entire room. And while cooking, cover your pan with a lid to trap the heat. This lessens the amount of energy and time needed to cook your food.

13. Shop conscientiously.

Buy organic and sustainable food that has been harvested from your local farms and fisheries instead of picking imported produce. This provides much-needed support to your agricultural community and eliminates unnecessary transportation of food. Also, choose products with less packaging and bring big, reusable carrier bags whenever you shop!

When shopping for clothes, skip the trends and pick classic styles and durable pieces that you can use for longer periods of time.

14. Only buy what you need.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that 8% of greenhouse gases are caused by food waste, with 20 to 50% of the food we buy just ending up in landfills. Do the planet a favor by purchasing only what you need and storing leftovers in the freezer so they don’t spoil immediately.

15. Go the meatless and dairy-free route.

Meat and dairy products are known to create higher carbon footprints because of the more complicated process it takes to make themfrom farming and processing the animals to packaging and shipping them. Consuming produce that are low on the food chain such as vegetables, fruits, beans, and nuts reduces your carbon footprint.  

Photo by Anna Pelzer/Unsplash

16. Go paperless.

Choose to receive your utility bills, tickets, and other paper documents through email. Aside from preventing a stack of papers to grow on your desk, it eliminates the need to print the document and have someone deliver it to you. Plus, it makes it easier to search for your files just by typing in the right keywords.

17. Recycle your things.

Prevent landfills from growing by reusing what you have at home and recycling paper, plastic, glass, steel, and aluminium products. In the US alone, it is said that 29% of greenhouse emissions come from the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport, and disposal of goods.

18. Try alternative energy sources.

Solar, wind, and geothermal energy are just some of the cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. Do your research and see if there are companies that can provide these in your area. Or if you have the means and time, why not try making your own solar panels?   

19. Reduce water use.

There are so many ways in which you can save water. From skipping long hot baths to collecting rainwater for your plants to limiting the number of times you wash the car, you save gallons of this precious resource that can be used for other, more important purposes.

20. Take your reusables with you.

Say no to plastic! Stash your recyclable drinking bottle and reusable utensils (straw, fork, spoon, and knife) in a tote bag and bring them wherever you go.

Photo by Maria Ilves/Unsplash
Your carbon footprint greatly impacts the environment. Calculate your carbon footprint by logging how much energy your home uses, the car rides and plane flights you take, as well as what you purchase. We all need to do our part in protecting and caring for our planet because it’s the only one we’ve got!

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