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Tomatin leads the way in sustainable practices in the Scotch industry

Tomatin leads the way in sustainable practices in the Scotch industry

First things first. Tomatin whisky does not contain tomatoes.

It may seem obvious to those who have heard of the brand or have at least a general idea of what single malt Scotch whisky is, but Scott Adamson, Tomatin Global Brand Ambassador, found out one day not to assume that everyone knows what Tomatin means.

“I’d taken a group of visitors around the distillery but at the end of the tour they said, ‘You’ve shown us everything, but you never showed us where you keep the tomatoes’,” he recalls, laughing. “I thought it was a joke! And that was when I realised that part of the story that we didn’t tell a lot was what the name means, which is ‘Hill of the Juniper’ in Gaelic,” he clarified.

“A couple of hundred years ago, when whisky-making in the highlands was illegal, excise officers looked for smoke to find the illegal stills, but the juniper bush, when you light it on fire, creates a non-visible smoke, so it was great for illegal whisky distillation. And the area we were in must have had a lot of that!”

These days, Tomatin is 100% legal, and prides itself on being at the forefront of sustainable practises within the Scotch whisky industry, which as a whole has pledged to reduce its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030.

In 2017, the distillery was awarded the Environment Award at the prestigious Highland & Islands Food & Drink Awards for its commitment to responsible environmental practices.

According to Adamson, in 2014, Tomatin became the first distillery in Scotland to introduce a biomass boiler (historically, the fuel used to heat up the stills, mash tun and so on tends to be oil and coal), which now contributes 80% of the distillery’s entire energy production.

Adamson assured us that changing that fuel source will not impact the spirit itself. “We’re still using the same heat, we’re just getting it from a different source. The biomass boiler uses small wooden pellets which are sustainable.

“We get these from a company which is about 30km away from the distillery, very close to us, so less travel time means less petrol or diesel used on the road,” he said.

Tomatin.

The Tomatin core range consists of the Tomatin Legacy, 12YO, 14YO and 18YO.

The distillery has also introduced a system of reed beds, or wetlands effluent treatment system, consisting of over 18,000 varieties of plants, each with unique properties able to digest the distillery’s liquid waste products.

“Usually, this waste is spread over land as a sort of fertiliser, but by using this series of reed beds, it removes impurities and at the other end you get clean water,” he said. “At the same time, we also reduce the number of tractors needed to transport the waste to and from the distillery.”

The third thing the distillery addressed was the draff, which is the residue leftover from the mashing process. “Historically, that was taken by farmers to the field for cattle feeding. Now we sell them to anaerobic digestion plants and they turn that back into energy that goes back into the public grid,” said Adamson.

The Tomatin 36YO is a stunning whisky that will linger on your palate long after you've finished the dram.

The Tomatin 36YO is a stunning whisky that will linger on your palate long after you’ve finished the dram.

“We’re not so much reducing our carbon footprint, but we ARE increasing sustainable energy in Scotland. We’re also doing research into using the by-products of whisky as fuel for cars. We’re very proud of the things that we’re doing.”

The important thing is that everything Tomatin distillery does to reduce its impact on the environment does not impact the whisky one bit. “No, it doesn’t impact the whisky at all. These measures don’t cost us more to do, and it’s good for us to do that. But the real benefit is we lessen our impact on the environment.”

Also read: Drink local, think global: Sustainable bartending is not just about straws

Of course, at the same time, Tomatin still needs to uphold its quality standards, and thankfully, its whisky still stands up to the test. During the tasting, Adamson introduced four different expressions of the whisky – the Tomatin Legacy, 12 Year Old, 14 Year Old, and 18 Year Old.

The Legacy was created by distillery general manager, Graham Eunson, who has had stints at Scapa, Glendronach, Glenmorangie and Glenglassaugh, and joined Tomatin in 2011. Eunson created three recipes and gave a sample of each recipe to each member of the staff at the distillery, to try it at home and decide which their favourite was, which then became the Legacy.

The name ‘Legacy’ celebrates the impact the distillery has had on the community of the eponymous town. The distillery was built in 1897 and after that, the previously quiet and isolated village grew to become a town due to the influx of workers and building done to support the distillery.

Matured in a combination of ex-bourbon barrels and virgin oak casks, the whisky itself has lovely notes of bourbon-influenced vanilla, coconut, along with some spicy, nutty notes from the virgin oak influence.

The 12YO, on the other hand, is matured in traditional ex-bourbon barrels and Sherry casks, and is a more traditional highlands single malt – softer, fruitier and almost like a Speyside-style whisky. The 18YO is also exceptional, a multiple award-winning malt that is bursting with sweet honey notes with a hint of chocolates and citrus, and a long, lingering sweet finish.

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My favourite of the core range, however, has to be the 14YO, which is matured in a combination of Bourbon barrels and Tawny Port casks which previously held port for around 50 years. The result is a whisky that still holds that signature Tomatin soft, Highland fruitiness, but also adds cherry, dark chocolate, and nutty flavours into the mix, making for a wonderfully dessert-y, almost black forest cake-like flavour to the whisky.

Last but not least, is the Tomatin 36 Year Old, a small batch release that recently won double gold medals at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Matured in a combination of Bourbon barrels and Oloroso Sherry Butts, this truly is a wonderful whisky.

On the nose and the initial palate, there is just so much going on – a complex creaminess on the mouthfeel, with old sherry mustiness initially, but a burst of fresh guava comes through as the whisky stays longer in your mouth.

It may have a short, fruity finish, but trust me, this is a whisky that will linger on your palate, long after you’ve drained the glass.


Michael Cheang thinks Tomatin should come out with a tomato flavoured whisky, just for the heck of it. Contact him at the Tipsy-Turvy Facebook page (fb.com/MyTipsyTurvy) or follow him on Instagram (@MyTipsyTurvy) or Twitter (@MichaelCheang).

21 young people are suing the US government, claiming a constitutional right to a stable climate. Here’s what happened in court.

21 young people are suing the US government, claiming a constitutional right to a stable climate. Here’s what happened in court.

  • In 2015, 21 young people sued the federal government, claiming the US government was violating their constitutional rights by contributing to climate change despite knowledge of its dangerous consequences.
  • The Obama and Trump administrations have both attempted to get the case thrown out numerous times.
  • Yesterday, three federal judges in Portland, Oregon heard arguments about case. They will decide whether or not it can go to trial.
  • Public-health experts supported the plaintiffs claims’ that climate change contributes to significant negative health impacts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Four years ago, 21 young people sued the US government, alleging that its role in contributing to climate change violates their constitutional rights.

In the landmark lawsuit, the plaintiffs allege that their generation has already suffered and will continue to suffer the consequences of a climate breakdown – including health problems like allergies, heat stroke, and insect-borne disease. The young plaintiffs, represented by the non-profit law organization Our Children’s Trust, are asking the government to adopt policies that will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

“Our elected leaders have really dropped the ball on this one,” plaintiff Alex Loznak previously told Business Insider. “The leadership really has to come from those who are going to be impacted, and that’s us, that’s young people, that’s me and my fellow plaintiffs.”

Both the Obama and Trump administrations tried multiple times to get the lawsuit dismissed. The government’s latest legal maneuver came in the fall of last year, when the Trump administration requested a pre-trial appeal from the Supreme Court. The lawsuit was temporarily put on hold, and the Supreme Court eventually punted the decision about the appeal back to the Ninth Circuit.

Alex Loznak speaks following a court hearing in Eugene, Oregon in March 2016.

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Alex Loznak speaks following a court hearing in Eugene, Oregon in March 2016.
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Andrea Willingham/Our Children’s Trust

Now, more than six months after the original trial date, the plaintiffs’ lawyers and US government attorneys presented arguments about whether the case should be allowed to proceed in front of a panel of judges in Portland, Oregon. The judges’ decision will ultimately determine whether or not the case will go to trial.

A landmark climate change lawsuit, led by kids

Loznak and his fellow plaintiffs’ case rests on a simple though unprecedented argument: They allege that the US government has violated their rights to life, liberty, and property by engaging in actions that contribute to climate change despite long-held knowledge of its harmful consequences.

The young people – ranging in age from 11 to 23, and hailing from 10 states – aren’t asking for compensation. Instead, they want the court to compel federal agencies to end policies that directly hurt the environment (like subsidizing fossil-fuel extraction) and mandate government action that will phase out excess greenhouse-gas emissions.

The youth plaintiffs after a court hearing in Eugene, Oregon in March 2016.

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The youth plaintiffs after a court hearing in Eugene, Oregon in March 2016.
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Andrea Willingham/Our Children’s Trust

At yesterday’s hearing, Julia Olson, chief legal counsel for Our Children’s Trust, asked the court to “apply bedrock constitutional law and principles to a wholly new set of facts,” since this is the first time anyone has made the legal argument that a stable, safe climate is a constitutional right.

She added that current federal energy policy “puts children in harm’s way.”

“You present compelling evidence that we have a real problem,” one of the judges, Andrew Hurwitz, said yesterday in response to Olson’s arguments. “You present compelling evidence that we have inaction by the other two branches of government. It may even rise to the level of criminal neglect. The tough question for me – and I suspect for my colleagues – is, do we get to act because of that?” Hurwitz said.

The youth plaintiffs after a court hearing in Eugene, Oregon in March 2016.

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The youth plaintiffs after a court hearing in Eugene, Oregon in March 2016.
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Andrea Willingham/Our Chidren’s Trust

Jeffrey Bossert Clark, an assistant attorney general, argued on behalf of the administration that this case “is a dagger at the separation of powers,” since plaintiffs want the judiciary branch to play a role in directing policy, rather than leaving that to elected officials.

In an earlier legal filing, the Trump administration attorneys said “there is no fundamental constitutional right to a ‘stable climate system.’”

If the judges decide not to allow the case to proceed, it could be dismissed (though there would be opportunities for subsequent appeals). There’s no deadline for the panel’s decision, though.

Climate change contributes to negative health impacts

One of the linchpins in the plaintiffs’ argument is that climate change has negatively impacted their mental and physical well-being, and will continue to do so in the future.

In a May 30 letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, multiple public health officials stated that “developing fetuses, infants, and children are more biologically and psychologically vulnerable than adults to the effects of climate change.”

More frequent and longer heat waves, increasingly intense weather events like droughts and wildfires, greater exposure to infectious disease, food and water insecurity, and air pollution from fossil-fuel burning are all threats, the authors added.

The Our Children's Trust team of plaintiffs on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2017.

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The Our Children’s Trust team of plaintiffs on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2017.
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Robin Loznak Photography

The letter echoed an amicus brief that some 80 researchers and 15 health organizations filed in favor of the plaintiffs. The brief documented how people born in the US since 1995 – the plaintiffs’ generation – have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of climate change.

The brief’s authors added that the plaintiffs’ generation is “suffering – and will continue to suffer as they age – harms different from those of prior generations.” As examples, they cited the negative effects of heat, drought, severe storms, and air pollution on the group’s mental and physical health.

These young plaintiffs aren’t alone

In the four years since the plaintiffs filed their suit, youth around the world have started mobilizing in other ways to address the threat of climate change.

Read More: Millennials and Gen Z are finally gaining ground in the climate battle – here are the signs they’re winning

Protesters from the Sunrise Movement, a group of young people who advocate for climate-change policy, demonstrated outside Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office to call for a Green New Deal in 2018. Since then, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts introduced a Green New Deal resolution in the US House and Senate.

Greta Thunberg, a young Swedish climate activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, has emerged as the primary voice and face of the growing School Strike for Climate movement. On March 15, 2019, young people in more than 123 countries joined Thunberg to skip school and voice their demands for more robust climate policies and the reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

“We’re in a climate moment right now,” environmental activist and author Bill McKibben previously told Business Insider. He added, “all these things started to combine to produce this new moment where people are open to change.”

But if the plaintiffs fail to sway this panel of judges, that could set a devastating precedent for other climate suits, according to Ann Carlson, an environmental law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“That would leave the government essentially immune from being sued for policies involving climate change,” Carlson told the LA Times.

The plaintiffs also see themselves as part of a larger movement.

“It’s not just these 21 young people across the United States,” Vic Barrett, one of the plaintiffs, told the New York Times. “It’s about highlighting young people all over the United States, and the work we’re doing and the work we’re continuing to do to hold the government accountable for putting our future in jeopardy.”

There are dangerous levels of drugs in our rivers

There are dangerous levels of drugs in our rivers

Rivers worldwide are polluted with antibiotics that exceed environmental safety thresholds by up to 300 times, according to research unveiled at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry’s annual meeting on May 28, 2019.

Scientists found one or more common antibiotics in two-thirds of 711 samples taken from rivers in 72 countries, they told the meeting in Helsinki, Finland.

In dozens of locations, concentrations of the drugs – used to fight off bacterial infection in people and livestock – exceeded safety levels set by the AMR Industry Alliance, a grouping of more than 100 biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

Ciprofloxacin, a frontline treatment for intestinal and urinary tract infections, surpassed the industry threshold at 51 of the sites tested.

At one location in Bangladesh, concentrations of another widely-used antibiotic, metronidazole, were 300 times above the limit, the researchers said.

“The results are quite eye-opening and worrying, demonstrating the widespread contamination of river systems around the world with antibiotic compounds,” Alistair Boxall, the study lead and a scientist at the York Environmental Sustainability Institute, University of York, in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.

The widespread presence of antibiotics not only impacts wildlife, but also likely contributes to the problem of antimicrobial resistance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world is running out of antibiotics that still work, and has called on industry and governments to urgently develop a new generation of drugs.

Discovered in the 1920s, antibiotics have saved tens of millions of lives from pneumonia, tuberculosis, meningitis and a host of other deadly bacterial infections.

Overuse and misuse of the drugs are thought to be the main causes of antimicrobial resistance.

But the growing presence of antibiotics in the environment may be a key factor too, the new research suggests.

Boxall and his team looked for 14 common antibiotics across six continents.

Safety limits were most frequently exceeded in Asia and Africa, but samples from Europe and the Americas showed that the problem is global in scope.

The countries with the highest levels of antibiotic river pollution were Bangladesh, Kenya, Ghana, Pakistan and Nigeria.

Within Europe, one site in Austria had the biggest concentrations anywhere on the continent.

Frozen water samples were collected from the Danube, Mekong, Seine, Thames, Tigris, Chao Phraya and dozens of other rivers.

“Until now, the majority of environmental monitoring work for antibiotics has been done in Europe, North America and China,” said co-author John Wilkinson, also from the University of York, where the samples were examined.

“Our study helps fill this know-ledge gap with data from countries that had never been monitored before.”

River systems around world are coursing with over-the-counter and prescription drugs of all kinds, according to another study from last year.

On current trends, it estimated, the amount of pharmaceutical effluence leaching into waterways could increase by two-thirds before mid-century.

A large number of drugs found in the environment – analgesics, antibiotics, anti-platelet agents, hormones, psychiatric drugs, anti-histamines – have been detected in nature at levels dangerous for wildlife.

Endocrine disruptors, for examples, have notoriously induced sex changes in fish and amphibians. – AFP Relaxnews

The inside story of how Silicon Valley burger startup Impossible Foods is going global after its sizzling Burger King debut

The inside story of how Silicon Valley burger startup Impossible Foods is going global after its sizzling Burger King debut

To prepare for its nationwide launch next week, Impossible Foods had to change the recipe for its

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To prepare for its nationwide launch next week, Impossible Foods had to change the recipe for its “bleeding” veggie burgers.
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Courtesy Impossible Foods

When veggie burger startup Impossible Foods tried to pitch its “bleeding” patties to Burger King last year, the restaurant chain told the company it had a problem. Its system of cooking burgers – which involves broiling them over an open flame – didn’t work with the Impossible Burger. Instead of browning like a traditional meat burger, the Impossible patties crumbled and fell apart.

So Pat Brown, Impossible Foods’ founder and CEO, charged the staff at his Silicon Valley startup with creating the Impossible Burger 2.0: a second version of the patty that more closely mirrored traditional beef. While they were at it, he challenged them to make the patties juicier, healthier, cheaper to make, and even more environmentally-friendly.

That was a year and a half ago. Today, the team has surpassed every part of Brown’s request, he told Business Insider in a recent interview.

The new Impossible Burger is gluten-free, lower in fat, saturated fat, and sodium, and cheaper to make than the original. Those changes are what allowed the company to launch the first Impossible Whopper in Burger King chains in St. Louis, Missouri at the end of last month. Burger King plans to roll out the veggie option in 7,200 restaurants nationwide by the end of 2019.

“We’ve left the cow in the dust,” Brown said.

The market for a better vegetarian burger is beginning to sizzle. Rival Beyond Meat held an explosive initial public offering earlier this month. As a result, Beyond Meat’s share nearly tripled, and it’s now valued at about $3.9 billion. Impossible Burger was valued at $2 billion in a funding round this week, according to Reuters.

The St. Louis launch exposed a big challenge for the startup. Demand quickly exceeded supply, threatening to turn disappointed customers back on to traditional beef.

So starting in about a week, the first Impossible patties made with a final new ingredient – genetically-modified soy – will roll out. Brown anticipates the news could strike some customers as controversial. But he hopes it will help them meet another surge in demand when the burgers roll out at Burger Kings nationally in roughly 6 months.

“There are people who don’t like it, and they tend to be disproportionately vocal about it,” Brown said.

Here’s the inside story of how a Silicon Valley startup went from tempting Bay Area techies with the first high-end “bleeding” veggie patty to replacing meat burgers at fast-food chains like Burger King across the nation.

‘It lit a fire under our plans’

The Impossible Whopper was an instant hit last month.

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The Impossible Whopper was an instant hit last month.
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Burger King

The nation’s first Impossible Whoppers rolled out at the end of April to a network of Burger King restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri.

The city-wide launch was meant to be a test. Would burger lovers bite? Or would the meat-like patty fail to win over meat lovers in the second-largest meat-producing state in the country?

The veggie patties were a hit. The leadership at Burger King cheered, with some boasting that even they couldn’t tell the difference between the Impossible Whopper and the real thing.

The Impossible team panicked. Demand was quickly outpacing what their Oakland factory could supply.

Within days, other restaurants that had been selling the Impossible Burger had to turn customers away because they were out of the burgers.

Some burger joints tried appeasing people with an alternative: they offered the rival Beyond Burger, a veggie patty that’s also meant to taste like the real thing. But according to at least one report, customers who flocked to a restaurant that once offered the Impossible Burger left when they were informed the Beyond Burger was on the menu instead.

In other words, people didn’t want Beyond – they wanted Impossible.

No one felt the squeeze more than staff at Impossible Burger’s manufacturing plant in Oakland. According to Brown, the facility was originally designed to churn out a couple million pounds of Impossible “beef” each year.

Last year, demand started to rise. By the end of 2018, Impossible staff needed to turn out a million pounds of Impossible meat every month. Since launching across the globe in Hong Kong last year and then in Singapore this February, sales in Asia have risen more than three-fold, the company said. But in the US, the Burger King launch sent them scrambling.

“It lit a fire under our plans,” Brown told Business Insider.

To meet Burger King’s appetite, Brown started calling for volunteers. He asked staff to help pack and assemble patties in below-freezing temperatures as part of a series of temporary 12-hour shifts that kept the plant running around the clock. Some started at 3 a.m. One of the first people to heed the call was Brown’s 32-year-old daughter, who works in Impossible’s research and development department.

“We’re all in on this,” Brown said. “When we needed people to stack burger patties in the freezing cold, she signed up.”

Despite all their best efforts, though, Impossible wasn’t able to make enough patties to satisfy growing consumer appetites.

The startup raised a fresh $300 million from investors like Katy Perry and Serena Williams earlier this week, adding more celebrities to an already star-stacked lineup that includes Bill Gates and Richard Branson.

Impossible plans to use the funds to ramp up its manufacturing capabilities, Brown said. That will include hiring up to 50 new employees and adding a second production line this summer.

The company is also tweaking its recipe. The soy in the patties, which was added to replace wheat at the beginning of the year, will be sourced from American farmers who use genetic modification, Brown told Business Insider. That means the soy in the burgers will technically be a GMO.

Impossible’s shift from wheat to soy: more protein, no gluten, and one small problem

Impossible Foods recently swapped the wheat in its patties for soy. The new burgers will include soy made with genetic modification.

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Impossible Foods recently swapped the wheat in its patties for soy. The new burgers will include soy made with genetic modification.
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Courtesy Impossible Foods

If there’s a single thorny ingredient in Impossible’s new, higher-protein, lower-fat, and more broiler-friendly burger, it is its soy.

This wasn’t always the case. Impossible used to use wheat in its recipe, but consumer demand for gluten-free products – coupled with Burger King’s request for a burger that could be grilled over an open flame – led the company to swap it out for soy. As a result, the Impossible Burger 2.0 is significantly healthier than its predecessor. Customers say it tastes better too.

Still, Impossible Foods is no stranger to controversy. Last year, the company faced ire from activists and journalists who questioned the safety of a substance called heme in its patties. (Heme is the ingredient that allows the Impossible patties to “bleed” and imbues them with their beef-like flavor.)

That heme was made using genetic modification and, according to some activists, had not yet been proven safe to eat. Last summer, regulators at the Food and Drug Administration deemed heme safe, cooling off the controversy.

Starting last month on the heels of the Burger King launch, a new problem arose. This time, it had to do with the soy in their burgers.

For several months, Impossible had been contracting with a supplier to get GMO-free soy, or soy produced without genetic modification. Brown – who was once a Stanford biochemistry professor – said this was part of the company’s aim to avoid unnecessary public controversy: while there’s broad scientific consensus that GMOs are safe, some activists are vocal about the ingredients’ potential for harm.

Still, Impossible ran its own analysis and compared the ramifications of using GMO soy versus non-GMO soy on human health and the environment. As far as health, both ingredients were roughly the same, the company concluded. When it came to the environment, however, the GMO soy had a slight leg up, Brown said.

Some research suggests that GMO crops are linked with moderate reductions in soil erosion, meaning they could be less damaging for the planet overall. In addition, if Impossible chose to use only non-GMO soy, it’d have to import it roughly 6,500 miles from a supplier in Brazil, pushing loads of extra carbon into the air in the process.

There was a second component of the analysis that struck Brown in particular, however.

If his company failed to make enough of its product to go national, it could lose thousands of customers who, rather than opting for a vegetarian Impossible Whopper, might just get a regular beef burger instead.

“The worst thing we could do is limit the production of our product and not compete against the cow,” Brown said.

Impossible’s new recipe rolls out nationwide next week.

The gifts of life and living that nature provides us

The gifts of life and living that nature provides us

Ahead of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (IPBES) expected release of the Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services on May 6, 2019, we take a look at what Nature does for us.

On our plate

One of the main unseen roles played by Nature comes in the form of pollinating insects. As much as three-quarters of all food produced globally relies on insects to pollinate the crop – an industry upon which 1.4 billion people rely for income, according to one study.

Yet, faced with global temperature increases caused by manmade emissions and poisoned by blanket pesticide use, insects are dying en masse. This has a cascading effect up the food chain – birds, lizards and frogs that eat bugs are also dying out.

In just 30 years, Europe has lost 80% of its insect population, leading to the disappearance of some 400 million birds. In addition, the erosion of coral reefs due to warming seas imperils as much as 30% of all marine species, including the fish that half a billion people rely on to feed themselves.

In the medicine cabinet

Around half of the active ingredients in commercial medicines derive from plants or animals. Starfishes, sea urchins and periwinkles are just three of the myriad species known to have anti-cancer properties, while molecules from marine worms have proven crucial in preserving skin grafts.

But the health benefits of simply living near Nature – reducing allergies and alleviating chronic physical and mental conditions – might outweigh those provided by any drug.

One American study of 100,000 people over eight years showed those who lived within 250 metres of a green space were 12% less likely to die than those who didn’t.

Four billion people rely primarily on natural medicines for their healthcare, and 70% of drugs used for cancer are natural or bio-inspired, according to an IPBES report.

Cleaning water and airPlants and microorganisms play a vital role in providing humans with clean water for drinking and crop production, sucking out dangerous particles from rainfall and sanitising groundwater.

According to biologist Gilles Boeuf, “no waste treatment plant can ever be as good as a living swamp” for clean water production.

Forests and oceans absorb around half of all manmade greenhouse gas emissions annually, offsetting the worst excesses of global warming and providing us with clean air to breathe.

But as emissions continue to rise and the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere hit their highest in three million years, scientists warn that Earth’s natural carbon dioxide absorption ability may not be able to keep pace.

Plants are also a powerful filter against air pollution in cities. A recent study in Shanghai, China, showed that its green spaces were capable of capturing 10% of dangerous fine particles.

Another study from 2008, showed a fully-grown tree can sequester as much as 20 kilogrammes of particulate matter.

Our wallets

Much research has tried to evaluate the worth in monetary terms of the services rendered to us by Nature. One estimate puts Nature’s worth at US$125 trillion (RM517 tril) each year, corresponding to roughly half of global GDP.

Insect pollination alone is worth US$200bil (RM827bil) per annum. One study from 2010 put the cost of biodiversity loss at between US$1.35-3.1tril (RM5.58-12.8tril) annually. – AFP Relaxnews

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