Blubbery Bears and Indigenous Agroforestry in This Week’s Earth Optimism

These stories celebrate success, uncover a spark of hope, share a new idea, or might just make you feel good about Planet Earth.

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Agroforestry is an ancient, biodiversity-friendly method of growing crops. Recently, researchers have been touting the method not only for the advantages to biodiversity but as a means of climate change resilience and political resistance for local communities (The Conservation Commons even hosted a cocoa agroforestry conference this spring). Reading this story of the Indigenous Bribri women adds a key first-hand layer of perspective to agroforestry as an exceptional practice and why it needs to grow.  For Costa Rica’s Indigenous Bribri Women, Agroforestry Is an Act of Resistance and Resilience


Most of the headlines surrounding the Endangered Species Act news this week predictably focused on the negative. Let’s be sensible for a moment here: the ivory-billed woodpecker last seen in 1944 wasn’t coming back (sorry birder friends with unrealistically high hopes). To the vast majority of people, a headline that any species is now officially extinct will garner a swarm of clicks. Of course, it is still depressing no matter how long ago a species fell off the brink or what caused its demise (pause for a moment of silence... and guilt), but these headlines bury the fact that the Endangered Species Act does work. Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity, also shared this incredibly significant point about the 23 species just declared extinct, “The Endangered Species Act wasn’t passed in time to save most of these species.” So here is just one example from this week that demonstrates why the Endangered Species Act and the people who work to protect wildlife deserve a round of applause: Snail Darter, Tiny and Notorious, Is No Longer Endangered


Grist has lifted such a cool and unique topic through their Fix Solutions Lab and its new Climate Fiction Issue. If you ask someone to research how to fight climate change, where do you think they will look? Most likely, they will turn to news articles along with (we hope) scientific journals and books written by climate scientists and journalists. But what does fiction have to offer in this space? From what I’ve read in this issue – a lot. I highly recommend this particular article that raises some interesting ideas about how fiction can empower youth to join the climate frontlines:  Can Climate Fiction Deliver Climate Justice? 

This week, the Australian government gave back 400,000 acres of indigenous land to the original owners, the Eastern Kuku Yalanji Aboriginal people of the Daintree rainforest. Decolonization is critical to conservation, and here is what that looks like – landback. We know that Indigenous people and local communities have been conserving our Earth long before American scientists dubbed conservation biology a science. However, the modern-day practice still has a ways to go to catch up with and incorporate that fact. This story is a positive example of serving that recognition along with reconciliation and success for Indigenous land rights that will hopefully serve as a spark for replication of this landback in more landscapes around the globe:  Daintree Forest in Australia Is Returned to Indigenous Owners


This last story really needs no introduction. Who doesn’t love a big blubbery bear beefing up for hibernation? National Park Service gives us all a hefty dose of pure joy with Fat Bear Week. Meet the Bodaciously Bulky Bears of Fat Bear Week 2021


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