Included East Africa | In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world
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In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

In case you missed it: 3 big stories from our world

The Mzima Springs at Chyulu Hills, Tsavo West National Park, Kenya. (© Charlie Shoemaker)

Editor’s note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Human Nature shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

  1. Australian rodent is first mammal made extinct by human-driven climate change, scientists say

A mouse-like creature that lived on a tiny outcrop in the Great Barrier Reef is now considered extinct due to climate change.

The story: The Bramble Cay melomys survived for hundreds of years on an island about the size of a football field before being killed off by man-made climate change, Michelle Innis reported in The New York Times last week. Climate change has caused sea levels to rise, flooding the melomys’ habitat and cutting off its access to food and shelter (and possibly even drowning the creatures), until eventually, none remained.

The big picture: The Bramble Cay melomys is the first mammal to become extinct due to man-made climate change, but it won’t be the last. Biodiversity is an essential part of the solution to climate change, and the extinction of the melomys is one example of how humans are contributing to the acceleration of climate change. “I think this is significant because it illustrates how the human-caused extinction process works in real time,” said Anthony D. Barnosky, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a leading expert on climate change’s effects on the natural world.

Read the story here.

  1. The real price of a chocolate bar: West Africa’s rainforests

More than one-tenth of the world’s chocolate bars are made of illegally produced cocoa — and Africa’s forests are being destroyed as a result.

The story: The Ivory Coast produces more than one-third of the world’s cocoa, but it does so at the expense of its forests and national parks, Fred Pearce reported for Yale Environment 360 last week. Because the majority of cocoa is grown in full sun, surrounding trees are cut down to allow for cocoa production; this decimates wildlife habitat, threatening species including elephants and primates as a result.

The big picture: Despite pressure from environmental activists to protect the country’s forests and wildlife, the government has proposed legislation to strip rainforests of their current legal protections, while also giving cocoa manufacturers control of farmer-owned land. If the proposal passes Parliament in April (which it is expected to), not only will it harm the Ivory Coast’s forests and wildlife, it could enable big companies to monopolize the crops and land of impoverished cocoa farmers.

Read the story here.

  1. White House prepares to scrutinize intelligence agencies’ finding that climate change threatens national security

A panel to assess climate change’s threat to U.S. national security is in the works. The problem? It will be led by a man who claims human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are beneficial to the planet.

The story: William Happer, a National Security Council senior director who has no background in climate science, would lead the proposed Presidential Committee on Climate Security, Juliet Eilperin and Missy Ryan wrote in The Washington Post last week. The committee would be established by presidential order in response to recent U.S. government reports and threat assessments on climate change and national security.

The big picture: Despite the direct link between climate change and national security— including natural resources, human wellbeing and infrastructure — the president has ignored reports and assessments that call attention to its threat to the United States. Experts believe this committee will be another attempt to dispute the science between climate change and the threats it possesses to humanity, especially with Happer spearheading it.

Read the story here.

Olivia DeSmit is a staff writer for Conservation International. 

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