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Better Living Through Well Being

Our economy is running a Bernie Maddoff-style Ponzi scheme with the planet. We use future resources to run the present, using more than Earth can replenish. But, like any such Ponzi scheme, this works for a limited time, followed by a crash. Avoiding ecological backruptcy requires rigorous resource accounting, which is a challenging task but is doable with the right tools. So say the authors of “Ecological Footprint,” a new book that describes a metric for accounting the overall impact of human demand on nature compared to what our planet can renew - its biocapacity - and distills this into a number to represent how many Earths we use in a year.

Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability organization that pioneered the Ecological Footprint in the 1990s, uses Ecological Footprint accounting to provide action steps and assess solutions towards one-planet prosperity by placing biological resource managment at the core of decision-making processes. Earth Overshoot Day is the date used since 1971 to show the date each year when humanity’s demand on nature exceeds what Earth’s ecosystems can regenerate in that same year. Now in 2019, humanity uses nature’s resources 1.75 times faster than our planet’s ecosystem can regenerate; we are now using the equivalent of 1.75 Earths.

The public is invited to explore “Steps to #MoveTheDate,” a campaign of the global movement towards one-planet compatibility, connected to energy, food, cities, population, and planet. The assertion is that if we move the date of Earth Overshoot Day back 5 days annually, humanity can reach one-planet compatibility before 2050. The Global Footprint Network highlights opportunities for action along with an assessment of their impact on the date of Earth Overshoot Day. An example would be to replace 50 percent of meat consumption with vegetarian food. This would move the date back 15 days (10 days for the reduction of methane emissions from livestock alone). Another example, reducing the carbon component of the global Ecological Footprint by 50 percent, would move the date back 93 days.


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A new ToolKit to accelerate ocean conservation is contained in a just-released first-of-its-kind report, “Ocean Genomics Horizon Scan.” The 200-page report highlights the current use of genomic technologies and synthetic biology, potential future applications, research gaps, and the risks and considerations involved in deploying novel, transformative technology to marine conservation.

Threats such as pollution and over-exploitation from a rapidly increasing human footprint are severely impairing the integrity of marine ecosystems. Climate change exacerbates nearly all of these threats and reaches parts of the ocean still relatively untouched by anthropogenic effects. Conventional conservation measures like minimizing and eliminating pollution, limiting fishing pressure, and establishing marine protected areas are indispensable strategies to protect ecosystems. However, the pace and scale of threats to the ocean demand immediate innovation. Spanning a continuum from insight to intervention, genomic and biotech tools can provide profound new insights to augment conventional conservation strategies (fisheries management or disrupting illegal wildlife trade) and enable more complex genomic intervention, such as controlling invasive species or creating resilient coral. So far, conservation has been slow to adopt these new tools.

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Farmers and ranchers in the Unites States seek to collaborate with food makers and food industry stakeholders to save and protect our environment while nourishing an at-risk world. Studies have found that farming and ranching will play a critical role in solving climate change issues. Agricultural soils have the capacity to draw down and store carbon through the photosynthesis process. Through climate smart agriculture practices, farmers and ranchers can optimize for production, improve resiliency, minimize fertilizers and other inputs, improve water use and quality, all while storing carbon for future generations. The goal now is to outline a path forward to a more sustainable food system, and define how food systems could look in 2030.

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Other articles of interest in this Summer 2019 TMIS eNewsletter:

* The Recycle More Bags Coalition proposes a progressive timeline to increase the use of post-consumer recycled content in garbage bags and grocery bags to 20 percent for a considerable carbon emissions savings.

* PG&E weighs a new strategy to unplug in a crisis if dangerous conditions are right for it.

* Forward-thinking businesses increase the amount of energy they self-generate to ensure energy security and balance environmental and economic considerations.

* The Government of Canada is taking action to fight climate change and invest in clean economic growth.

* Nut consumption may help improve erectile function.

* First of its kind research links ultra-processed food consumption to ill health.

* Congress introduces bipartisan Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act.

* Organization reports progress on multiple fronts in the PTSD arena, including policy, research, advancing therapeutics and personalized medicine.

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I am grateful to be in a collaborative business with many talented and skilled professionals. Additional feedback and recommendations for our products and services at TM Information Services are always welcome.

- Mary Michele McLaughlin


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