18 November 2014

Surveying São Paulo’s drought, monarch butterflies in danger, and is the chia fad sustainable?



The chia fad


Chia is one of the next “superfoods,” high in omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fiber. It’s cultivated in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico and Peru.

But does it pay off for farmers?

According to new research out of Tufts University Global Development and Environment Institute, “farmers in Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Argentina and Australia have reaped annual returns of 150 to 350 percent on their investments” from chia. Chia overproduction has hurt Nicaragua in the past. Interestingly, the United States is trying (PDF) to grow it.


São Paulo’s drought–from the air


The Washington Post’s Dom Phillips takes to the air to see the extent to which Brazil’s largest city is reeling from drought:

Reservoirs like Jaguari and Jacareí used to be lush, verdant places – playgrounds for the luxury houses built on the water’s edge. “Beautiful lakes, people on jet-skis, boating, fishing,” Van Beek said later. Not any more.



Monarch butterflies in danger, says UNESCO


UNESCO has evaluated over 200 of its World Heritage sites for signs of danger. 42 percent present a “good outlook.” Among those facing danger is the monarch butterfly biosphere reserve in Mexico. It’s threatened by deforestation and agriculture.

Nineteen of the natural heritage sites examined in the UNESCO report have critical outlook and need urgent, large-scale intervention to protect them. The UNESCO World Heritage sites that are ‘in danger’ include the Selous Game Reserve, where poaching has dramatically reduced the number of elephants.

But not all sites that are threatened are listed by UNESCO as facing danger, such as Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which is being threatened by deforestation and agricultural activities.