In Africa, how trees can help both climate and incomes

In this edition: Morocco's lessons on climate-smart agriculture; managing dams gets tougher as more precipitation falls as rain not snow; the great bird count.

What we're writing

CARL MERCER/COURTESY OF UNDP
Fatima Ait Moussa looks at cosmetics and oil products made from argan nuts at her women’s cooperative .

Farming a warmer planet

Fatima Ait Moussa, in the photo above, looks at cosmetics and oil products made from argan-tree nuts at her women’s cooperative in Morocco. Africa holds lessons for how "climate-smart agriculture" can help the world respond to warming temperatures, in this case one tree at a time. // Zack Colman 

Oroville message: As climate shifts, so will water strategy

Recent safety concerns at the Oroville Dam in California centered on engineering and maintenance, as the lake poured into an emergency spillway and caused worrisome erosion. But the incident is also a reminder that dams face new challenges in managing water in an era when rains can be heavier, and less precipitation is falling as snow. // Zack Colman 

Wanted: participants for national bird count this weekend

The Great Backyard Bird Count runs from Feb. 17 to Feb. 20, with citizen-scientists (that could be you!) invited to go outside and identify all of the birds they see, for as little as 15 minutes, and report them at the bird count website. This year's count comes as new research highlights the risks of climate change for birds and animal species in general.)  // Story Hinckley

What we're reading

Carbon reduction? May depend on how you count.

A Massachusetts plan aims to cut the state's emissions, but critics say it could divert electricity production to less efficient power plants outside the state. // The Boston Globe

The unequal impacts of extreme weather

Flooding in a Texas county underscores that climate change isn't just an environmental issue – it’s also about social justice. // Yale Climate Connections

Bright future seen for solar power

A look at today's technology ... with a nod also to ancient Greek reliance on the sun. // Ars Technica

Graphic: The United States of oil and gas

Texas is big on this map, but so are gas-rich Appalachian states. // The Washington Post

What's trending

Scott Pruitt confirmed to head EPA

"To Republicans, Pruitt represented in a nominee exactly what the EPA needs: A leader who will roll back Obama’s aggressive environmental agenda and give states more power to enforce environmental laws. Democrats ... pushed to delay his vote pending the release of emails between [Pruitt's Oklahoma] attorney general’s office and industry." // Timothy Cama, writing in The Hill

Arizona plant a test of Trump’s support for coal

"The president of the Navajo Nation—whose reservation is home to both the plant and the coal mine that serves it—says his tribe opposes the plant’s closure and the loss of 800 jobs that depend on it. Now, he is calling on Mr. Trump to act on his promise to save the ailing U.S. coal industry...."  // Amy Harder writing in The Wall Street Journal

Sea ice around Antarctica hits record low

"We've always thought of the Antarctic as the sleeping elephant starting to stir. Well, maybe it's starting to stir now." // Mark Serreze, director of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, quoted by Reuters

'Sell by' changes could cut food waste

"Where manufacturers now use any of 10 separate label phrases ... they’ll now be encouraged to use only two: 'Use By' and 'Best if Used By.' " // Caitlin Dewey, writing in The Washington Post

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.