Putting nature in Ecuador’s constitution. This month, Ecuador will hold the world’s first constitutional referendum in which voters will decide, among many other reforms, whether to endow nature with certain unalienable rights. Not only would the new constitution give nature the right to “exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution,” but if it is approved, communities, elected officials and even individuals would have legal standing to defend the rights of nature. — Los Angeles Times

Amazon clearing turns for the worse. Alarming figures of Amazon deforestation over the past year have all but confirmed fears that three years of declining clearing rates have been significantly reversed. In the year to the end of August, deforestation rates in the tropical rainforest have risen almost 70 per cent to 8000 square kilometres, according to preliminary measures from Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE). — Carbon Positive

I’ll huff and I’ll puff … As Gustav, Hanna, Ike, and Josephine become household names, more research has been added to the ongoing debate over the impact of climate change on hurricanes. A new study published in Nature indicates that warming seas have not increased the intensity of your everyday hurricane, but have made the mightiest storms even mightier. — Grist

Dumpster diving for profit. Why drill offshore when the real energy bonanza might be… in our landfills? Kate Kelland of Reuters has an intriguing dispatch on how high oil prices are convincing waste companies to scavenge through their rubbish dumps to find old plastic. In Britain alone, there’s potentially $100 billion worth of tossed-out plastic that could be recycled, reused, or “potentially turned into liquid fuel.” (I thought that list possibility was a joke, but, no, this is an idea very much on the make—the Pentagon is funding research into “fuel-latent plastic” that could be used first as packaging, and then turned into a substitute diesel fuel.) — The New Republic

Peter Fray

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