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The Waggle

Issue 73

Project Regeneration
European bison (Bison bonasus), released into the Tarcu Mountains nature reserve in Southern Carpathians, Romania. May, 2014.

European bison (Bison bonasus), released into the Tarcu Mountains nature reserve in Southern Carpathians, Romania. May, 2014.

Nature Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo

 Bringing Bison Back • Hugo Paquin

Ten years ago, bison were reintroduced in the Tarcu Mountains of Romania. No wild bison had roamed that area for at least 250 years. This month, Yale researchers released a paper that estimates that the herd’s grazing could capture up to 54,000 tonnes of carbon each year. This is approximately the equivalent of what 43.000 U.S. cars emit in a year, or roughly 10 times what that ecosystem would have normally captured. The herd counts 170 bison who graze about 48 square kilometers of grassland every year. By doing so, they help fertilize the grass and spread seeds, thereby spurring growth. They also compact the soil, which helps keep carbon in the ground. This type of success suggests that rewilding can be a legitimate tool for policymakers aiming to leverage nature-based solutions to draw down carbon from the atmosphere. What’s more, the lead author behind the new study estimates that similarly protecting and restoring only nine types of animals, including bison, wolves, sharks, wildebeest, fish, and otters in various environments, could lead to capture 6.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually, an amount roughly equal to the yearly emissions of the U.S. Learn more with our Rewilding Nexus.

 Brazil's Car-free City • Claire Inciong Krummenacher

Residents of Afuá, Brazil, riding bicycles, the only means of transportation allowed in the riverside city of Amazonia.
Nicknamed the “Venice of the Amazon” by its 38,000 residents, the Brazilian city of Afuá has been unofficially off-limits to motor vehicles since 2002 and officially banned them in 2022 despite the state governor's encouragement to expand roadways. Instead of cars, residents use a network of bicycle routes, boardwalks, and waterways to get around, with the former especially vital given the town’s location on the floodplains of Marajó Island and the severe weather brought on by the annual high water season. While there is no official measure of municipal carbon emissions available in Brazil, the ban on cars has had an undeniably positive impact on lowering emissions, decreasing traffic, and improving air quality as well as improving community safety (from 2010 to 2019, over 300,000 Brazilians died in traffic accidents, and the Amazon region experienced a fatal accident increase triple that of the national average). Although the road to carbon neutrality remains a work in progress, Afuá stands out as an example of how local leaders can successfully implement climate policies that serve their cities’ residents despite political opposition at the state and national levels. To learn more, see Urban Mobility Nexus and Net Zero Cities Nexus.

 Every Click Counts  Amy Boyer

Middenmeer, 8th of December 2023, The Netherlands. Microsoft Agriport cloud datacenter in Hollands Kroon. Aerial drone overhead view.
Microsoft Agriport cloud data center in Hollands Kroon, The Netherlands. 
How does decluttering your email archive help the climate? Data centers that underpin the internet emit about as much carbon as aviation—and they are one of the five technologies driving increased electricity demand. Less unnecessary data means lower emissions, and internet efficiency is critical for the transition to net zero by 2050. Other tips for reducing your individual internet impact include unsubscribing from newsletters you never read, limiting cloud computing, and hanging onto your smartphone as long as possible—and avoiding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which have emissions as high as some countries. At the industry level, adaptive load distribution, high-efficiency cooling, and careful monitoring and optimization all reduce both carbon footprint and operating costs. In addition, environmentally friendly buildings and the use of all-renewable energy lowers the climate impact of the internet. See our Electrify Everything Nexus for more.

 Big Victory for Small Island States Juliana Birnbaum

Port Villa, Capital of Vanuatu. After a four-year campaign by Vanuatu, the U.N. General Assembly asked the World Court to develop advisory opinions on national climate obligations.
Having done little to cause climate change, small island developing states (SIDS) across the globe are experiencing outsized impacts, potentially making some of them uninhabitable. Ninety percent of these islands are in the tropics and vulnerable to extreme weather events such as hurricanes, cyclones, droughts, and flooding. In its first climate-related judgment last week, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled that major polluters must “take all necessary measures” to control emissions and protect ocean environments. The case was brought on behalf of nine island states, which argued that big polluters’ failure to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions was causing “catastrophic harm.”  The Tribunal found that carbon emissions can be considered a marine pollutant and that parties are legally obligated to monitor and reduce them.  

The decision came just before an annual SIDS conference being held this week, aiming to generate bold action to revitalize island economies, manage disaster risk and preserve habitats. “The international community has a moral responsibility to support their efforts to fight climate change and build a resilient and sustainable future,” said Jorge Moreira da Silva, head of a UN agency involved in the conference. “Over 40% of SIDS are now on the edge of, or are already grappling with, unsustainable levels of debt. And with every major disaster, private external debt in SIDS tends to rise. Between 2016 and 2020, SIDS have paid in debt service 18 times more than what they received as climate finance.” The recent Tribunal breakthrough ruling is at least a step toward justice, providing a precedent for the growing number of climate change lawsuits to be decided in the coming year.

 Imagination in the Year of Elections George Biesmans

“What if…” is an enticing way to begin any question. It invites possibility, transformation, and imagination. With 49% of the world’s population heading to the polls this year, the Ministry of  Imagination has released an “imagination-based manifesto for times that need one.” At the heart of its efforts is the founder of the Transition Town movement, Rob Hopkins. He’s a champion of the radical imagination and the need to harness its power in shaping a regenerative future. His book “From What Is to What If” and his podcast “From What If to What Next” are a mesmerizing dive into what our world can look like if we reclaim imagination and allow it to thrive. The manifesto contains a palette of captivating ideas, such as giving doctors the power to prescribe listening to the dawn chorus, shifting to matriarchal governing methods, or calling mandatory Citizens Assemblies if a petition gets 100,000 signatures. In a week’s time, major parliamentary elections will be held in the European Union, with hundreds of millions of people actively shaping the future. With the far-right set to make gains, driven by their visions of dystopian, scarcity-driven futures, harnessing the radical imagination - with its infinite sense of possibility - could not be a more timely antidote. 

 Eden Project 100% Heated By Geothermal • Scott Hannan

The Eden Project. Their mission is to get things done in three ways: Respect, Protect, and Repair
The Eden Project, a regenerative design and education center in Cornwall, UK, just announced that its geothermal well is running at total capacity and, for the first time, heated the entire project this winter. The geothermal heat not only serves the offices, living quarters, and other facilities. It also heats the famous Biomes, home to one of the world’s largest indoor rain forests. The geothermal energy allows the plant nursery, Growing Point Nursery, to operate year-round, demonstrating regenerative sustainability and circular systems through its construction, operation, and purpose. It is a 5km well, which stands as the UK’s longest and is operated by Eden Geothermal Ltd. With the plant nursery and education facility heated geothermal over winter, Project Eden has enhanced its efforts to grow more food for the community and expand access to educational opportunities about food production, ecological restoration, and the promises of small-scale geothermal energy projects. For more, see our Geothermal Nexus.

Take Action on Nexus
Find out how to protect landscapes critical for biodiversity and carbon sequestration to maintain stable environments, cultural continuity, and a livable planet in our Land Protection Nexus

Photo Credits
1. Nature Picture Library / Alamy Stock Photo
2. A.PAES / Alamy Stock Photo
3. Hugo Kurk / Alamy Stock Photo
4. Design Pics Inc / Alamy Stock Photo
5. Michael Willis / Alamy Stock Photo

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We rely on the generous support of our fellow regenerators! Please consider making a one-time or recurring donation to keep Project Regeneration and The Waggle going. 

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