In Iceland puffins get help from humans who volunteer on the Puffling Patrol to ensure that the little birds can thrive. When baby puffins, known as pufflings, hatch they usually head to the sea from their nests on shore, but when bright lights are nearby they’ll go towards the light. To get these pufflings away from dangerous lit areas like roads, factories, or other human made structures volunteers escort the birds to the water. It’s adorable and helpful.
They’re part of the Puffling Patrol, a Heimaey volunteer brigade tasked with shepherding little puffins on their journey. Every year during the roughly monthlong fledging season, kids here get to stay up very late. On their own or with parents, on foot or by car, they roam the town peeking under parked vehicles, behind stacks of bins at the fish-processing plants, inside equipment jumbled at the harbor. The stranded young birds tend to take cover in tight spots. Flushing them out and catching them is the perfect job for nimble young humans. But the whole town joins in, even the police.
No one knows exactly when the tradition started. Lifelong resident Svavar Steingrímsson, 86, did it when he was young. He thinks the need arose when electric lights came to Heimaey in the early 1900s. Saving the young birds likely began as “a mix of sport and humanity,” Steingrímsson tells me in Icelandic translated by his grandson, Sindri Ólafsson. Also, he says, people probably wanted to sustain the population of what was then an important food source.
Efforts to monitor pollution levels around the world aren’t new, but what is new is a system created by MIT’s Senseable City Lab that anyone can make. Called Flatburn, the system is designed to be put on a vehicle to monitor pollution levels throughout a city, which will provide more coverage than standard monitors. Flatburn can be 3D printed and assembled by people the world over so it will hopefully get more participation in the majority of the world.
The goal is for community groups or individual citizens anywhere to be able to measure local air pollution, identify its sources, and, ideally, create feedback loops with officials and stakeholders to create cleaner conditions,” says Carlo Ratti, director of MIT’s Senseable City Lab.
“We’ve been doing several pilots around the world, and we have refined a set of prototypes, with hardware, software, and protocols, to make sure the data we collect are robust from an environmental science point of view,” says Simone Mora, a research scientist at Senseable City Lab and co-author of a newly published paper detailing the scanner’s testing process. The Flatburn device is part of a larger project, known as City Scanner, using mobile devices to better understand urban life.
Farmers are on the front line of climate change and to some extent they are accelerating it (deforestation and extensive pesticide use), but smart farmers are fighting climate change and improving their crop yield at the same time. A very successful natural intervention farmers can use are known as praire strips. These are long thin strips of land on a farmer’s field that hosts native species and provide lots of benefits to the surrounding land. They attract insects that help crops, help retain water, and keep the soil healthy in a way that chemical interventions can’t.
Insect and bird populations are more than 2x in prairie strips compared to mono-crop fields – providing vital defense against pests and other ecosystem services
Pollinators increase at around the same rate
Prairie strips turn a veritable green desert into a thriving ecosystem
Anyone can be a gardener and you can too! All you need is a balcony or small plot of land and you can start growing your own food. To some people, the very idea of caring for other living things can be scary – what if all the plants die? Here’s the trick: start small and grow plants that can thrive in your area naturally. No green thumb is needed if you plant local.
An expert gardener has provide ten simple tips for first timers. You can do it!
2. START SMALL
If you are planning how to start a vegetable garden in your backyard then the potential size is likely dictated by what yard space you have. Some people may have grand plans when planning a kitchen garden, though if you are new to vegetable gardening then it may be best to start with a small space.
Starting with focusing on small vegetable garden ideas allows you to learn and get that satisfaction without the risk of getting frustrated by a large vegetable garden that gets weedy and out of control quickly. By starting small it means you can get a feel for how long things take to grow and nurture and the time involved in weeding, watering, fertilizing and harvesting.
It can take up more time than first expected and no-one wants to get disillusioned by turning over a huge space in their backyard to a vegetable garden that they don’t actually have the time in their busy lives to tend. If you do want to transform a large area, then it can be done slowly or sections not cultivated covered with thick cardboard or plastic to smother weeds.
Neighbourhoods in Canada are trying to change the world by focussing on their own street. Across the country there are streets of houses proving that a transition from using fossil fuels to heat and power a home is possible in a country that loves to subsidize the oil and gas industry. And yes, going green saves money too.
The Pocket Change Project provides not only an example of how to convert your neighbourhood but information on how to do it. It may seem like a daunting task to go for fully electric in a place that guzzles gas for homes, but it’s doable and with the guides from Pocket Change it’s easy.
If you’re fortunate enough to own a home then you should you do your part and cut out gas.
When it comes to reducing household emissions, Dowsett is clear-eyed about where he thinks the responsibility lies.
“We who are the affluent ones are the ones who create an outsized carbon problem; people who are less affluent do not,” he said. “I think it’s very disingenuous of us to try and impose austerity on people who are not the problem. We are the problem. We need to change,” he said, before adding with a laugh, “rant over.”
Other Pocket residents echo this sentiment. “I believe that people who are privileged enough have a responsibility to do this,” said Lori Zucchiatti O’Neill. “A lot of people can’t afford to do this, but we can afford to do this. So it’s like, full steam ahead.”