One of the main topics of this week's eco-friendly news series: A ring-tailed Lemur looks on while cradling her two children in her arms and on her back.
Apr 10, 2024
weekly eco news

The Endangered Lemur Twins Arrived on Easter While Big Fashion Retailers Moved On Sustainability - 20th Issue

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An Easter Surprise: Critically Endangered Lemur Twins Arrived at Bridlington Animal Park

The endangered ring-tailed lemur with her two children attached and cradled by her.

Bridlington Animal Park is celebrating a heartwarming Easter surprise with the birth of not just one but two ring-tailed lemurs! These beautiful newborns mark a significant event for the park as they are the first lemurs ever born there.

“We were absolutely thrilled,” said Paul Woodward, the park's curator and director.  “We were expecting one baby, not twins, and a month early! It's a big deal for us. Double the joy!”

The twins were born to Karan, a 12-year-old lemur who came to the park in 2020.

"The mother is a natural," said Mr. Woodward. "She's been proudly showing off her babies to the visitors."

As a first-time mother, she is attentively caring for her adorable offspring. Because of their young age, the lemurs spend most of their time clinging to their mother's back, making gender identification difficult for park staff. The park intends to name the lemur twins once their gender is determined.

The birth of these twins is especially thrilling because ring-tailed lemurs are listed as "Critically Endangered" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This implies they're only one step away from extinction in the wild. 

Farming-induced habitat loss in their native Madagascar poses a significant threat to their survival. For every land loss an estimated 98% of lemur species face habitat loss, with 31% facing critical endangerment. 

Ring-tailed lemurs like the twins are a unique species. Unlike most lemurs, ring-tailed are diurnal, meaning they spend  a substantial percentage (up to 40%) of their time in the sun. You may even witness them sunbathing, or simply stretched out in the early light with their arms outstretched.

These tiny lemurs, which reach about 30-40cm (12-16 inches) in height when fully matured, are an invaluable addition to Bridlington Animal Park. The park hopes that these charming twins will motivate visitors to learn more about lemurs' situation and the significance of conservation efforts.

Sustainable fashion takes center stage

A concept illustration of sustainable fashion shows a feminine figure clothed by elements of nature signifying natural and eco-friendly materials.

Big clothing retailers like Boohoo, ASOS, and Asda have begun cleaning up their environmental acts! Following an examination by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), these corporations have agreed to be more open about their environmental claims.

These reforms mean no more ambiguous phrases like "eco" or "sustainable" without clarification. If a product is labeled as eco-friendly, it must meet specified criteria, such as including a certain amount of recycled materials.

Though there are additional details around material sourcing, labor standards etc. that would provide a more crucial and complete understanding around the sustainability of the garment, these steps are a start to helping eco-conscious consumers to shop with more confidence.  

Ultimately, these efforts are a good start as they set a good example for the entire fashion business, encouraging them to be more transparent as we move into a more eco-friendly style of living.

Sounding the Alarm on Extreme Heat: A Global Summit for Action

A globe with a thermometer showing high temperatures placed in front referencing global warming.

The world's biggest aid agencies are calling for action on a growing threat: extreme heat. This week, they will organize the first-ever global heatwave conference, to raise awareness about this "silent killer."

Heatwaves, unlike hurricanes and earthquakes, sometimes go unreported despite their fatal consequences. In 2023, a record-breaking 3.8 billion people experienced excessive heat. The summit attempts to prepare governments and organizations for this emerging threat.

The emphasis is on practical solutions. Cities such as Freetown in Sierra Leone are pioneering heat-resistant solutions. This includes mapping high-risk locations, implementing early warning systems, and establishing cooling facilities. Innovative alternatives, such as reflecting roof coatings, are also being considered.

The summit also highlights the need for better data collection. Heatwave mortality is commonly underreported, particularly in developing nations.

Organizers hope this summit will mark a turning point. They intend to launch an online resource center and a global campaign to raise awareness. The aim is to provide communities with the tools and knowledge to deal with the rising hazard of excessive heat.

Sunshine and innovation: Turning trash into fuel

The production of biofuel that could be derived from syngas.
The synthesis of ethanol biofuel. A common derivation from syngas.

Imagine a world in which hazardous industrial emissions and plastic trash are converted into clean fuel and valuable chemicals. This fascinating future could be closer than we think, owing to a breakthrough by the University of Cambridge!

They've created a solar-powered reactor that uses the sun's energy to achieve this astounding feat. The reactor extracts CO2 directly from the air or industrial sources and converts it into syngas, a vital component in renewable fuels. And there’s more: plastic garbage is transformed into valuable compounds such as glycolic acid, which is a staple cosmetic ingredient.

This technology is game-changing for a variety of reasons. First, it helps us transition from fossil fuels, which are a key cause of climate change. Second, it addresses the growing issue of plastic waste. Finally, it makes use of solar energy, which is a renewable and abundant resource.

While there is certainly a need for improvement before widespread adoption, this study provides a glimpse into a future powered by sunlight and ingenuity. Imagine a world in which we no longer use damaging fossil fuels and instead generate clean energy from the air around us!

Power through your window

A skylight with rays of sun shining through that can be captured by an organic semiconductor and turned into power.

Just picture producing clean energy through your windows! You may be surprised to learn how near this futuristic idea is. Researchers are employing organic semiconductors, a unique kind of material that can be printed on glass and stay transparent, to create solar windows.

These windows wouldn't obstruct your view, in contrast to conventional solar panels. Although they may not produce enormous amounts of electricity, they could make a substantial contribution to the energy requirements of a building, particularly in high-rises with constrained rooftop space.