Sustainability Reads: May 16- May 29

Here is some exciting evidence of the shift taking place towards a low-carbon economy: This month the entire country of Portugal ran on 100% solar energy for 4 days, the President of Chile announced Santiago’s subway system will soon run on 60% renewable energy, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology research figured out how to double the power generated from a solar panel. Solar is only getting better and more widespread, which means less greenhouse gas emissions. Of course, sustainability is much more than renewable energy. In other sustainability news from the past few weeks:

This Could Clarify WTF Food Expiration Dates Actually Mean
A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate and House seeks to standardize food expiration/sell by/use by dates across the U.S. The proposed labeling system would have two uniform and clearly distinguishable dates- one for peak quality and one for when food is unsafe to eat. We hope this bill moves forward to address the current confusing labels that contribute to perfectly good food being wasted. Authors of the bill are Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in the Senate and Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) in the House, article by Elyse Wanshel on Huffington Post.

37% of North American Birds Face Extinction
The State of North America’s Birds 2016 report says 37% of all 1,154 migratory bird species in the U.S., Mexico, and Canada are at high risk of extinction, primarily due to sea-level rise, coastal development, human activity and oil spills. The 54 species of birds living in ocean environments and the 478 species in tropical and subtropics forests face the most risk due because of small and declining populations, small ranges, and severe threats to their habitats. This comprehensive report draws attention to the need to protect habitats across the continent. Article on Ecowatch, report by The North American Bird Conservation Initiative.

Murdered After Defending Thailand’s Environment
Environmentalists are killed for standing up against coal plants, toxic waste dumping, land grabs, and illegal logging all around the world and many of these killings go unpublicized and without accountability. A new photography project by Luke Duggleby is calling attention to this problem through the photos and stories of  37 individuals that were killed in Thailand for their work protecting the environment during the past 20 years. One victim, for example, Chai Boonthonglek, 61, who was shot dead on Feb. 11, 2015, was the fourth member of his community to be murdered in five years during a dispute over land rights with a palm-oil company. The project was exhibited in Geneva this month, timed to coincide with a United Nations Human Rights Council review of Thailand’s human rights record. Some stories are explored in this article by Seth Mydans from The New York Times.

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