tagged w/ Carbon Sequestration
One group hopes that a proliferation of the massive trees will contain rising carbon emissions. Redwoods can digest copious amounts of carbon dioxide.
By Chris Gayomali | Earth Day 2013
A recent study from Oregon State and Harvard University revealed that Earth is currently warmer than any given point in the past 11,300 years. Indeed, with 98 percent of climate scientists with degrees and facts and stuff now saying that human activity is contributing directly to rising temperatures, the question naturally becomes: What should we do?
One idea: Plant a lot of gigantic trees with a glutton's appetite for carbon dioxide. According to the Associated Press, an organization called the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive is spearheading a movement to plant California's towering redwood trees in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Germany, and other parts of the United States. The ancient trees are capable of growing to heights nearing 400 feet, or about the length of a skyscraper.
"We need to reforest the planet; it's imperative," says David Milarch, one of the organization's co-founders. "To do that, it just makes sense to use the largest, oldest, most iconic trees that ever lived."
In order to mass-produce the trees, the group is cloning redwoods that have lived for thousands of years. The AP explains:
“[The group has] developed several methods of producing genetic copies from cuttings, including placing branch tips less than an inch long in baby food jars containing nutrients and hormones. The specimens are cultivated in labs until large enough to be planted.”
The initial inventory of several thousand saplings was taken from a group of 70 redwoods and giant sequoias. According to NASA engineer Steve Craft, previous research has demonstrated that these monstrous organisms are capable of digesting much more carbon than any other tree on the planet.
Cloning and nurturing new redwoods is hardly the only creative idea put out there to fight manmade emissions. According to the Mother Nature Network, other proposals include artificial trees that suck carbon dioxide out of the air, and great ships that spew enviromentally friendly cloud formations.
Obviously, no single plan is a cure-all, but, as proponents suggest, it sure beats doing nothing. "If we get enough of these trees out there," says Milarch, "we'll make a difference."One group hopes that a proliferation of the massive trees will contain rising carbon... more
"We are welcoming today our newest entry, the “Tierras Morenas, Costa Rica” project.
This time, Tree-Nation decided to focus once more on a tropical country, where, as you know, capturing CO2 is easier and faster than in other latitudes. We have chosen Costa Rica because this country in the latest two decades managed to change its image and trends from one of the faster deforesting country to one of the leading countries in environmental protection (Source: World Bank). With this project we present you the efforts and results of one of the protagonists that actively participate in this change. We are happy to get our members involved in this transforming process of Costa Rica through sustainable practices and improved environmental services.
The project is locally managed by Community Carbon Trees (CCT), a non-profit association from Costa Rica, that works with local communities to reforest degraded cattle pastures with highly diverse native trees in critical watersheds and it is located in the Tierras Morenas Valley of San Juan de Dios.
In Costa Rica cattle farming was subsidized in the mid 1970’s causing most landowners to burn down their forest on steep lands to make room for the cows. Over the years, these thin tropical rainforest soils deteriorated and farmers were forced to encroach more and more on jungle. The rainforest started to disappear while the cattle farmers ended up with dead soil, that 30 years later creates dangerous and destructive landslides. Over the years, cattle farming became less profitable and families were forced to sell their farms or mortgage them for money.
The current scenario sees numerous Costa Rican farmers losing many of their cultural ways, displaced in cities, with no appropriate work for their skills and background. They lose their land and their sustainable ways of living. Moreover there are many little patches of rainforest isolated on particularly steep mountainsides threatening survival of all kinds of endangered animals and plants.
The project aims to restore the forests, preserve their biodiversity and manage in a sustainable way all natural resources in the area. To do so, trees must be planted in watersheds along as bare borders of rivers to prevent drying of water supplies, erosion and sedimentation of sensitive marine environments located downstream. This also allows for a better diversification of the income possibilities for the participating communities and provides employments in order to achieve a strong involvement of the residents for preservation and restoration of these habitats."
More at the link
I have been a member of Tree Nation since 2006. I now have 9 trees (Moringa Olifiera and Acacia Senegal) growing in Niger and Columbia. Tree Nation is a great way to be part of the solution to climate change, desertfication and deforestation as well as biodiversity preservation. Check out their site if you wish to become part of the solution and be able to do it from your modem to make a global change."We are welcoming today our newest entry, the “Tierras Morenas, Costa... more
A major new international study reconciles “an ensemble of satellite altimetry, interferometry, and gravimetry data sets” to determine polar ice-sheet ice loss with the highest accuracy to date. The study, “A Reconciled Estimate of Ice-Sheet Mass Balance” (subs. req’d) was published in the journal Science Thursday.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory news release explains the study’s significance:
“Both ice sheets appear to be losing more ice now than 20 years ago, but the pace of ice loss from Greenland is extraordinary, with nearly a five-fold increase since the mid-1990s,” [JPL's Erik] Ivins said. “In contrast, the overall loss of ice in Antarctica has remained fairly constant, with the data suggesting a 50-percent increase in Antarctic ice loss during the last decade.”
More at the linkA major new international study reconciles “an ensemble of satellite altimetry,... more
Spanish researchers have discovered a novel way of removing carbon from the atmosphere - urine.
As the team points out, it's available across all human societies, and is produced in large quantities close to the pollution hubs of large cities. And, they say, their method not only captures CO2 but turns it into fertilizer.
"For every molecule of urea in urine, one mole (a chemical unit used to measure the quantity of a substance) of ammonium bicarbonate is produced along with one mole of ammonia, which could be used to absorb one mole of atmospheric CO2," says Manuel Jiménez Aguilar of the Institute of Agricultural and Fisheries Research and Training of the Regional Government of Andalusia.
After absorbing the CO2, another unit of ammonium bicarbonate, which has been used in China as a nitrogen fertilizer for 30 years, is produced.
To prevent the urine from decomposing, the team adds a small proportion of olive waste water as a preservative. The mixture, they say, can absorb several grams of CO2 per litre in a stable manner and over more than six months.
The fluid created can be inserted into domestic and industrial chimneys to increase its absorption capacity.
"In developing countries this nutrient recovery system could be implemented thanks to its environmental advantages," says Jiménez. "If urine and faeces are recycled there and then, as much as 20 litres of water per person per day could be saved and this would reduce waste water treatment costs."
Posted on August 20, 2012 - 05:20 by Emma WoollacottSpanish researchers have discovered a novel way of removing carbon from the atmosphere... more
Trees provide a service to the life of all species on Earth. They are considered the lungs of our planet, and to some scientists now its heart as well. By continuing the rapacious rate of deforestation we are now sustaining globally we are contributing not only to the destruction of the natural beauty of our only home, but the exacerbation of CO2 levels that are contributing to the following effects of climate change that can be brought down to an acceptable level through the proper remediation process of providing carbon sinks:
1. Glacier melt causing floods, mudslides, and what is now considered a dangerous effect on water supplies for billions of people who depend on those glaciers for sustenance. Also, destruction of the Arctic ice caps at a rate three times faster than scientifically predicted by the IPCC which act as the mirror and climate balance of our planet. Current CO 2 levels have now been read at 400 PPM. Without this mirror to reflect the rays of the sun we are risking passing what scientists call a "tipping point" of runaway climate change which will have catastrophic effects on this planet and our relationship to it.
2. Sea level rise due to melting ice caps and oversaturation of CO2 in our oceans. Forty eight islands have already seen the effects of sea level rise regarding destroying their homes, their traditions, and their ability to live. Many of these low lying islands are located in the Pacific and are only the first wave of islands and states to feel these effects. Scientists predict that within fifty years the Northeast coast of the United States may also be feeling these same effects due to sea level rise and some states are already seeing this happening. If we do not curtail the rate of emissions of CO2 in our atmosphere to an acceptable level (350 PPM) we risk putting millions of people in danger of experiencing the same fate. Hundreds of millions of climate refugees would be catastrophic and cause the breakdown of society as we know it.
3. Wildfires due not only in part to normal conditions we see in certain areas yearly, but now more pervasive and destructive wildfires brought on by excessive drought. Scientists now predict that wildfires will become more intense and destructive as the world warms, which will then contribute to the greenhouse gases and lack of carbon sinks that precipitate climate change causing a positive feedback loop.
These factors along with other factors such as species invasion, species extinction, change in rainfall patterns which are affecting agriculture and food production/prices and evaporation of soil moisture and lower water tables in many rivers around the world must now lead us to formulating solutions that are timely, simple, economically viable and that can improve the climate balance of our planet as well as provide much needed nutrients for our soil, water, food, sustenance, shelter, and a way to fight deforestation.
While governments of the world continue to argue and debate over the best course of action to take to mitigate and adapt to climate change that will best profit them, it is the people of America and globally who must now look beyond political solutions to moral solutions that will surely bring more positive and timely results.
Looking for only technological solutions that require too much time to bring up to standards necessary to stabilize CO2 emissions and may not even be viable at all are not the answer now. We must have a solution now that is natural, simple, virtually inexpensive and that can give us guaranteed results. Reforestation is then the one natural method of stabilizing atmospheric CO2 that is already available to us.
More at the linkTrees provide a service to the life of all species on Earth. They are considered the... more
Fifty-five percent of global atmospheric carbon captured by living organisms happens in the ocean.
Between 50-71 percent of this is captured by the ocean’s vegetated "blue carbon" habitats, which cover less than 0.5 percent of the seabed, according to a 2009 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report entitled ‘Blue Carbon – The role of healthy oceans in binding carbon,’ one of the first documents to demystify the term.
These recent discoveries - of the efficiency of ocean vegetation in mitigating greenhouse gases and ocean ecosystems’ ability to store atmospheric carbon dioxide for millennia – has sent scientists running to probe the potential role of 'blue forest's in global efforts to lessen climate change.
An international symposium on the effects of climate change on the world’s oceans, at the Yeosu Expo 2012 being held here from May 12-Aug. 12 under the theme ‘Living Oceans and Coasts', brought together scientists and researchers to discuss the carbon management of blue forests.
"Carbon stored and taken out of the atmosphere by coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, seagrass and salt marsh is called blue carbon," explained Nairobi-based Gabriel Grimsditch of the UNEP.
"Blue carbon is important because it allows investment in protection of coastal ecosystems. These ecosystems are important for more than just carbon sequestration and storage - they provide food through fish and protect coastal populations from storms and tsunamis," he added.
Wendy Watson-Wright, executive secretary of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and assistant director-general of UNESCO, told IPS, "In order to make good policy we need good science. Not much about blue carbon is known outside the scientific community but it is of crucial importance that its huge benefits be known to policy makers and particularly local communities who take care of and derive their livelihood from this ecosystem."
In a paper presented at the symposium, ‘Vegetated Coastal Habitats as Intense Carbon Sinks: Understanding and Using Blue Carbon Strategies’, Nuria Marba Bordalba, a scientific researcher at Spain’s Mediterranean Institute of Advanced Studies, claimed that there is more carbon stored in the soils of vegetated marine habitats than the scientific community had hitherto accounted for.
An important aspect of blue carbon is that most of it is found in the soil beneath the ecosystems, not in the biomass above ground. Carbon can be stored for millennia due to sea level fluctuation, as opposed to terrestrial forests that reach the carbon saturation point earlier.
But there are risks. The flip side to blue carbon is that if these ecosystems are degraded or destroyed, the huge amount of stored carbon – sometimes accumulated over millions of years – is released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide due to oxidation of biomass and of the organic soil in which carbon may have been stored.
In fact, some key questions on the table at the symposium were: how vulnerable are coastal carbon sinks to climate change habitat degradation? And, if the habitat is destroyed, how do carbon stocks react?
"The rate of carbon emission is particularly high in the decade immediately after disturbance but continues as long as oxidation occurs," Grimsditch told IPS.
"When a wetland is drained, carbon is released, first slowly, then (at an) accelerated pace," said San Francisco-based Stephen Crooks, co-chair of the International Blue Carbon Science Working Group.
"There is now a growing realisation that we will not be able to conserve the earth’s biological diversity through the protection of critical areas alone," said Gail Chmura, associate professor at the Canadian McGill University’s Department of Geography.
The East Asian Seas region of the world has lost 70 percent of its mangrove cover in the last 70 years. A recent publication, ‘From Ridge to Reef’, by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) warned that if this pattern continues the region will lose all its mangroves by 2030.
This would be a disastrous scenario, since the region’s coast is comprised of six large marine ecosystems and supports the livelihoods of 1.5 billion people.
"On the global scale, mangrove areas are becoming smaller or fragmented and their long-term survival is at great risk. In 1950, mainland China had 50,000 hectares of mangroves. By 2001, it was down to 22,700 hectares – a 50 percent loss," Guanghui Lin, professor of ecology at the Centre for Earth System Science in Beijing’s Tsinghua University, told IPS.
Researchers currently estimate loss of mangroves, seagrass beds and salt marshes at between 0.7 to two percent a year, a decline driven largely by human activities such as conversion, coastal development and over harvesting.
"Ecological restoration is a critical tool for biodiversity conservation and sustainable development," Chmura stressed.
During the last three decades China has established 34 natural mangrove conservation areas, which account for 80 percent of the total existing mangrove areas on the mainland, according to Lin.
"One of the replicable regeneration policies is a mandatory funding from the real estate sector for mangrove regeneration," Lin said.
"The cost of seagrass restoration may be fully recovered by the total carbon dioxide captured in 50 years in societies with a carbon tax in place," Bordalba suggested.
"Seaweed production as a climate change mitigation and adaption measure (also) holds great promise because it will (contribute to) global food, fodder fuel and pharmaceutical requirements," said Ik Kyo Chung from the oceanography department of the Pusan National University of South Korea.
While acknowledging the considerable uncertainty surrounding estimates and a lack of concrete data, the UNEP report suggests that blue forests sequester between 114 and 328 teragrammes of carbon per year.
Luis Valdes, head of Ocean Science at IOC-UNESCO told IPS, "There are two sides to the blue carbon issue, one is the scientific aspect of how much carbon is actually sequestered, technology transfers and so on; the second facet is political – identifying and negotiating with developing countries, collaborating and funding for blue carbon projects."
More at the linkFifty-five percent of global atmospheric carbon captured by living organisms happens... more
The biggest trees in the world, known as the true ecological kings of the jungle, are dying off rapidly as roads, farms and settlements fragment forests and they come under prolonged attack from severe droughts and new pests and diseases.
Big trees may comprise less than 2% of the trees in any forest but they can contain 25% of the total biomass and are vital for the health of the whole forest. Credit: us-parks.com
Long-term studies in Amazonia, Africa and Central America show that while these botanical behemoths may have adapted successfully to centuries of storms, pests and short-term climatic extremes, they are counter-intuitively more vulnerable than other trees to today's threats.
"Fragmentation of the forests is now disproportionately affecting the big trees," said William Laurance, a research professor at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. "Not only do many more trees die near forest edges, but a higher proportion of the trees dying were the big trees.
"Their tall stature and relatively thick, inflexible trunks, may make them especially prone to uprooting and breakage near forest edges where wind turbulence is increased," Laurance said in this week's New Scientist magazine.
Big trees may comprise less than 2% of the trees in any forest but they can contain 25% of the total biomass and are vital for the health of whole forests because they seed large areas. "With their tall canopies basking in the sun, big trees capture vast amounts of energy. This allows them to produce massive crops of fruits, flowers and foliage that sustain much of animal life in the forests. Their canopies help moderate the local forest environment while their understory creates a unique habitat for other plants and animals," Laurance said.
"Only a small number of tree species have the genetic capacity to grow really big. To grow into giants, trees need good growing conditions, lots of time and the right place to establish their seedlings. Disrupt any one of these and you lose them."
In some parts of the world, Laurance said, populations of big trees are dwindling because their seedlings cannot survive or grow. "In southern India an aggressive shrub is invading the understorey of many forests, preventing seedlings from dropping on the floor. With no young trees to replace them, it's only a matter of time before most of the big trees disappear."
According to Laurance, it is not just the biggest trees in the world that are suffering, but also the biggest in their communities. Dutch elm disease killed off many of the stateliest trees in Britain in the 1960s and 70s, and new exotic organisms and bacterial infections, often brought in from other continents via garden centers, are threatening oak, ash and other species.
Longer lasting and more intense droughts, which are becoming more frequent in many tropical areas with climate change, are also taking their toll. Studies in Puerto Rico and Costa Rica suggest that big trees also suffer more in droughts than most other organisms.
"In rainforests droughts promote surface fires that burn through leaf litter on the forest floor. Larger trees were initially thought to survive these fires but, in fact, many die two to three years later. In cloud forests, big trees use their branches and crowns to rake the mist and capture water droplets. Global warming could push clouds up to higher elevations depriving them of sources of moisture," Laurance said.
"The danger is that the oldest, largest trees will progressively die off and not be replaced. Alarmingly, this might trigger a 'positive feedback' that could destabilize the climate: as older trees die, forests would release their stored carbon, prompting a vicious circle of further warming and forest shrinkage."
more at the linkThe biggest trees in the world, known as the true ecological kings of the jungle, are... more
CO2 is termed the Earth's biggest control knob. It hadn't been until now, because a knob implies something that someone can turn to control things. In a normal, natural world and on relatively short timescales, say tens of thousands of years, carbon dioxide is interlocked with global mean temperature and other variables. Temperatures can drive carbon dioxide levels up or down, which in turn drive temperatures further up or down.
Carbon dioxide acts as a feedback that enhances temperature changes.
This is most obvious during the transitions between glacial and interglacial periods, when temperatures rise or drop and CO2 seems to follow along like a happy puppy. What is not obvious when looking at the readings is that while orbital forcings cause the initial change in temperatures, and CO2 levels rise or fall in accordance with that initial change, the subsequent temperatures themselves also rise and fall in accordance with the changing CO2 levels.
The basic formula behind a glacial termination is that something (orbital forcings) starts the increase in temperature. Actually, what really starts it is a change in the length and severity of northern hemisphere summers, without changing the overall amount of radiation reaching the planet at all. That stays fairly constant.
These seasonal changes in turn cause the ice sheets covering the northern hemisphere land masses to begin to melt. This reflects less sunlight back into space, and that really does change the amount of energy that the planet receives from the sun, which leads to warming. It also results in the release of methane, another powerful greenhouse gas, which warms the planet even further.
Then CO2 kicks in. The oceans warm. Warmer water cannot hold as much dissolved carbon dioxide and so the oceans release some CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 in the atmosphere causes warming. The increased warming causes the ice sheets to retreat further, and the oceans to warm further, and more CO2 to be released.
This continues, but with limits. There is (or had been) only so much CO2 that could make its way into the atmosphere. The system only pushes this cycle so far. The many previous glacial terminations in the past 2.5 million years (a period known as the Pleistocene Epoch) have seen lows of about 180 ppm of CO2, and highs between 250 ppm and 300 ppm.
The main point is that temperatures and CO2 are interlocked, or at least had been until now. Temperature changes had to get the ball rolling, so on a graph they will lead the way, but the two work in concert. One is not pulling a leash to drag the other along. They each push and pull the other, working their way from low to high, or high to low, as an integrated system.
CO2 does not "lag" temperature. That's a simplistic, inaccurate and indiscriminate view of a complex interaction.
Turning the Knob
Unfortunately, contrary to recent natural history, man has learned how to remove the regulator and to dial up a far higher level of CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 has become the climate's biggest control knob in the last two centuries or so, in the sense that it is in fact a control that mankind can twist, turn, tweak and, sadly, overdo.
A glacial termination happens on very, very long timescales relative to man. What we have done in the past two centuries, however, applies a change to CO2 levels — implying an equivalent change in climate — that would otherwise take nature 10 to 12 thousand years.
CO2 was once interlocked with temperature. In the past 200 years we have instead taken 337 gigatonnes of carbon out of the ground and injected it into the atmosphere and the oceans. Nature spent the better part of several hundred million years converting that carbon into new forms (coal, oil, gas) and sequestering it deep under the surface of the earth.
Man will be able to undo in 200 years what took nature hundreds of millions of years to accomplish, and in so doing, in that same time frame, we are duplicating a feat that normally takes nature 10,000 years to accomplish (i.e. increasing atmospheric CO2 levels by two thirds).
And, as an important point, we have no idea if we are capable of duplicating nature's feat of again sequestering that carbon underground. We have far too easily turned the knob in one direction, but with no capacity whatsoever to turn it in the other.
More at the linkCO2 is termed the Earth's biggest control knob. It hadn't been until now,... more
Australia's carbon tax is set to become law after the lower house of Parliament passed the government's historic but controversial set of bills to establish the world's most broadly based carbon pricing scheme.
Against last-minute efforts by the opposition to delay the passage of the bills and 11th-hour pleas for amendments by some business groups, the government passed its 18 pieces of legislation by a vote of 74 to 72 just before 10am.
The vote in the lower house, which was applauded by Labor MPs and spectators in the public gallery, was a crucial test for the government, given its wafer-thin majority. The bills will now go the Senate for debate but will pass comfortably with help from the Greens, probably next month.
After the vote, Prime Minister Julia Gillard embraced Climate Change Minister Greg Combet, who had the difficult job of steering the policy, and even exchanged a peck on the cheek with Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd, whose reported ambitions to retake the leadership are proving a headache for the Prime Minister.
The passage of the bills are a crucial victory for Ms Gillard, whose popularity has fallen steadily since last year.
Under the legislation, about 500 of the biggest carbon-emitting companies in Australia will pay a price for each tonne of carbon. Most of the biggest emitters are electricity generating firms, mining companies and heavy industry manufacturers.
To compensate households, the government is cutting income taxes and boosting payments such as pensions and other benefits, as well as offering various lump sum payments.
The average household is expected to pay about $9.90 a week in extra living costs, including $3.30 on electricity.
However this will be offset by an estimated $10.10 in extra benefits and tax breaks. The Australian scheme will cover about 60 per cent of Australia's emissions, making it the most broad-based in the world.
Shortly before the vote, Mr Combet told ABC Radio that today was the culmination of a long and often gruelling debate.
"Look, it's been a very bruising political argument, that's quite right," he said. "If you fast forward 12 months' time and the legislation is through, the carbon price, emissions trading scheme, is in place and the economy is managing to deal with the reform, the cost impacts are modest as we have been saying, we'll have applied tax cuts and increases in the pensions and family tax benefits, nine out of 10 households receiving some assistance to adjust with this reform."
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has vowed to repeal the legislation if he becomes prime minister, though the government has insisted he will not be able to manage that.
The bills were passed with help from crossbench MPs Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor and Andrew Wilkie, as well as Greens MP Adam Bandt.
The lower house also passed the government's Steel Transformation Plan, which will deliver $300 million in assistance to steel makers who are considered especially vulnerable to international trade.
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/carbon-tax-bill-passes-20111012-1ljtf.html#ixzz1aa3B5sMq
More at the linkAustralia's carbon tax is set to become law after the lower house of Parliament... more
Agroforestry, the deliberate placement of trees into crop and livestock operations, can help capture substantial amounts of carbon on agricultural lands while providing production and conservation benefits. However, we currently lack tools for accurately estimating current and projected carbon values in these systems.
In North America, windbreaks are an effective carbon-capturing option. Only occupying about 2 to 5% of the land, windbreaks also help protect crops and livestock, as well as reduce wind erosion. They provide a means to increase production while reducing greenhouse gases.
James Brandle, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor, explains that unlike forests, the linear design of windbreaks creates a more open environment with different light and climate conditions. As a result, agroforestry trees usually have different characteristics than trees grown under forest conditions. New tools specifically designed for windbreak trees are needed to determine current or future amounts of carbon contained in agroforestry practices.
Researchers at the University of Florida, University of Kansas, University of Nebraska and the USDA National Agroforestry Center (NAC) have developed a model to predict the amount of carbon contained by agroforestry systems. This modeling approach uses detailed web-available data for windbreak, soils and climate.
While this research focused only on green ash windbreak growth in Nebraska, it provides a good basis for determining agroforestry's contributions in farming operations.
This research was supported by the Research Joint Venture Agreement through the USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Forest Service, and the McIntyre-Stennis Forestry Research Program at the University of Nebraska. The complete results from this study were published in the May/June 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.Agroforestry, the deliberate placement of trees into crop and livestock operations,... more
Droughts have wiped out plants that would have absorbed the carbon equivalent of all the man-made greenhouse gas emissions from the UK every year. Photograph: Patrick Pleul/EPA
Rising temperatures in the past decade have reduced the ability of the world's plants to soak up carbon from the atmosphere, scientists said today.
Large-scale droughts have wiped out plants that would have otherwise absorbed an amount of carbon equivalent to Britain's annual man-made greenhouse gas emissions.
Scientists measure the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide absorbed by plants and turned into biomass as a quantity known as the net primary production. NPP increased from 1982 to 1999 as temperatures rose and there was more solar radiation.
But the period from 2000 to 2009 reverses that trend – surprising some scientists. Maosheng Zhao and Steven Running of the University of Montana estimate that there has been a global reduction in NPP of 0.55 gigatonnes (Gt). In comparison, the UK's contribution to annual worldwide carbon dioxide emissions was 0.56Gt in 2007, while global aviation industry made up around 0.88Gt (3%) of the world total of 29.3Gt that year, according to UN data.
The researchers used data from the moderate resolution imaging spectroradiometer (Modis) on board Nasa's Terra satellite, combined with global climate data to measure the change in global NPP over the past decade.
"The past decade has been the warmest since instrumental measurements began, which could imply continued increases in NPP," wrote Zhao and Running in the journal Science.
But instead of helping plants grow, these rising temperatures instead caused droughts and water stresses, particularly in the southern hemisphere and in rainforests, which contain most of the world's plant biomass. The growth there has been curtailed by lack of water and increased respiration, which returns carbon to the atmosphere. These problems counteracted any increases in NPP seen at the high latitudes and elevations in the northern hemisphere.
Reduced plant matter not only reduces the world's natural ability to manage carbon dioxide in the atmosphere but could also lead to problems with growing more crops to feed rising populations or make sustainable biofuels.
"Under a changing climate, severe regional droughts have become more frequent, a trend expected to continue for the foreseeable future," said the researchers. "The warming-associated heat and drought not only decrease NPP, but also may trigger many more ecosystem disturbances, releasing carbon to the atmosphere. Reduced NPP potentially threatens global food security and future biofuel production and weakens the terrestrial carbon sink."
The researchers conclude that further monitoring will be needed to confirm whether the decrease in NPP they have observed in the past decade is an anomaly or whether it signals a turning point to a future decline in the world's ability to sequester carbon dioxide.Droughts have wiped out plants that would have absorbed the carbon equivalent of all... more
Contradicting the belief that trees will absorb more carbon dioxide as the world warms, a new study says that sub-Alpine forests in the western United States are likely to soak up less CO2 as temperatures rise and snowpack declines. Researchers at the University of Colorado found that while reduced snowpack generally advanced the onset of spring and extended the growing season, the decline in snow slashed the amount of water available to trees in summer and fall, causing them to less efficiently convert carbon dioxide into biomass. The researchers said that snow was much more effective at delivering moisture to trees than rain, and that as late as October, 60 percent of the water in the stems and needles of sub-Alpine trees can be traced back to snowmelt. That means that even if rainfall increases, the ability of sub-Alpine trees to absorb CO2 will decline if snowpack in the Rocky Mountains declines. “As snowmelt in these high-elevation forests is predicted to decline, the rate of carbon uptake will likely follow suit,” said researcher Jia Hu, whose study will be published next month in the journal Global Change Biology. Sub-Alpine forests account for roughly 70 percent of carbon storage in the western United States.Contradicting the belief that trees will absorb more carbon dioxide as the world... more
KrisCan joins David Yarrow during a biochar experiment with artist Sara Worden where David describes the benefits of biochar - from soil remediation to carbon sequestration to potential fuel source. He explains how we need to continue testing this technology to understand better how it works and that it should be an application everyone uses in their gardens to both enrich the soil food web while helping to pull carbon out of the atmosphere.KrisCan joins David Yarrow during a biochar experiment with artist Sara Worden where... more
You know that trees store carbon, but what does that really mean? How much carbon does the tree outside your window store, and how does that compare to the carbon we emit when we travel or power our homes?You know that trees store carbon, but what does that really mean? How much carbon does... more
Title of the article posted here: The great Organic myths rebutted
In response to this http://current.com/items/91178790_organic-foods-sorry-really-i-wished-it-was-true-too.htm
"Fact one: Organic farming is good for the environment"
"The Sustainable Development Commission says that organic certification represents "the gold standard" for sustainable food production. I farmed non-organically for more than 30 years, and switched to organic, mainly to try to bring back wildlife on the farm. We have far more birds, and data on hares before and after switching to organic show numbers doubled from 20 to 40. This year we found 56."
"Fact two: Organic farming is more sustainable"
"Last week's article contained several errors – for example, the statement that organic tomatoes take double the amount of energy to produce is wrong, as were the figures for different types of tomato. The information on the climate change impact of organic food omitted one of the key benefits of organic farming: storing carbon in the soil. When this is included, the climate change impact of organic food goes down by between 12 and 80 per cent. "
"Fact three: Organic farming doesn't use pesticides"
"We've never claimed this! The Soil Association's rules allow farmers to use four pesticides, with permission. Non-organic farming uses more than 300. The vast majority of organic farmers have no need for sprays. If all farming was organic, spraying would fall by 98 per cent. Organic sprays are mainly used on potatoes and in orchards. Those we allow are either of natural origin (rotenone and soft soap) or simple chemical products – copper compounds and sulphur. The active ingredients in rotenone and soft soap break down rapidly when exposed to sunlight, minimising risk to the environment. Copper and sulphur occur naturally in the soil, and most copper is applied by non-organic farmers to correct copper deficiencies. None is found in organic food."
"Fact four: Pesticide levels in conventional food are dangerous"
"Fact five: Organic farming is healthier"
"Fact six: Organic food contains more nutrients"
"Fact seven: The demand for organic food is growing"
"Long-term trials in the US found organic yields matching those from non-organic systems, with organic farming outperforming non-organic in drought years. Even with the uncertainties, in a world of increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, organic farming provides the only environmentally, or economically, sustainable system of feeding the world. Organic farming and food do not have all the answers. But solar-powered, animal and wildlife friendly, pesticide- and additive-free farming and food, is where we're heading."
Go on and read the truth at the link.
One more message from me, to all people that promote the opposite:
You don't know or
"It's difficult to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
By Upton Sinclair
http://current.com/groups/organicgreen/Title of the article posted here: The great Organic myths rebutted
In response... more
So after you paint your rooftop white, add some green to it.
Green" roofs, those increasingly popular urban rooftops covered with plants, could help fight global warming, scientists in Michigan are reporting. The scientists found that replacing traditional roofing materials in an urban area the size of Detroit, with a population of about one-million, with green would be equivalent to eliminating a year's worth of carbon dioxide emitted by 10,000 mid-sized SUVs and trucks. Their study, the first of its kind to examine the ability of green roofs to sequester carbon which may impact climate change, is scheduled for the Oct. 1 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology, a semi-monthly journal.
Kristin Getter and colleagues point out in the new study that green roofs are multi-functional. They reduce heating and air conditioning costs, for instance, and retain and detain stormwater. Researchers knew that green roofs also absorb carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, but nobody had measured the impact until now.
The scientists measured carbon levels in plant and soil samples collected from 13 green roofs in Michigan and Maryland over a two-year period. They found that green roofing an urban area of about one million people would capture more than 55,000 tons of carbon, the scientists say. That's an amount "similar to removing more than 10,000 mid-sized SUV or trucks off the road a year," the article notes.
ARTICLE: "Carbon Sequestration Potential of Extensive Green Roofs"
end of excerptSo after you paint your rooftop white, add some green to it.
Built in 1980, The Mountaineer coal power plant will be the first in the world to "capture and bury some of the carbon dioxide it churns out." Taking carbon dioxide out of the air (a resources) and into the ground (another resource) creates another whole host of issues such as ground water contamination (turns the water acidic).
While this does take 90% of the carbon dioxide out of the air, you have to wonder; besides the groundwater contamination that we know about, where does the rest of that carbon go? Being the world's first coal-fired power plant to try sequestration, it's just a mater of time until we discover a whole host of new environmental problems that we are not even aware of yet.
Also, I think its interesting to see that American Electric Power (AEP) calls it "Carbon Capture & Storage." Has "sequestration" become a bad word?Built in 1980, The Mountaineer coal power plant will be the first in the world to... more
Whoa, cool. Fake plastic trees that are actually good for the environment. And speaking of that, why don't we have wind turbines along all of our freeways?
"A report published last Thursday from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) suggested that a forest of 100,000 artificial “trees” could be “planted” near depleted oil and gas reserves to trap carbon in a filter and bury it underground. The carbon suckers look more like fly swatters than actual arbors, but researchers say that once fully developed, the “trees” could remove thousands of times more carbon than a real tree."Whoa, cool. Fake plastic trees that are actually good for the environment. And... more
3 years ago
The word "REAL" has almost become an antiquated notion as we continue pushing forward into a culture of bloated, insatiable mass consumption. As it turns out, we kinda dig fake stuff. This fact comes in handy to scientists who are now singing the praises of mega fly swatter like objects called "synthetic trees." They claim that forests of these eyesores will be the answer to all of our excess atmospheric carbon dioxide woes, but it's hard to imagine the general population ever snubbing the real thing.The word "REAL" has almost become an antiquated notion as we continue... more
And yet, this administration pushes for the oxymoron 'clean coal' which is a non existant technology that will not be anywhere near functionally effective for the next twenty years, if it is even possible. This is just another scam coal companies can use to continue spewing the same amounts of CO2 while getting free credits under cap and trade for doing virtually nothing to effectively decrease carbon emissions as they must be decreased by 2020 to avoid a tipping point. And who will ultimately foot the bill? It won't be them. What a racket.
Harvard University researchers have issued a new report that confirms what many experts already feared: Stopping greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants is going to cost a lot of money.
Electricity costs could double at a first-generation plant that captures and stores carbon dioxide emissions, according to the report from energy researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center.
Costs would drop as the technology matures, but could still amount to an increase of 22 to 55 percent, according to the report, "Realistic Costs of Carbon Capture," issued this week.
These projections "are higher than many published estimates," but reflect capital project inflation and "greater knowledge of project costs," wrote researchers Mohammed Al-Juaied and Adam Whitmore.
Coal is the nation's largest source of global warming pollution, representing about a third of U.S. greenhouse emissions, equal to the combined output of all cars, trucks, buses, trains and boats.
In the U.S., coal provides half of the nation's electricity. Many experts believe that, because of vast supplies, coal will continue to generate much of the nation's power for many years to come.
Climate scientists, though, recommend that the nation swiftly cut carbon dioxide emissions and ultimately reduce them by at least 80 percent below 2000 levels by mid-century to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
Industry supporters say the key is for scientists to perfect technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants and pump those gases safely underground. But such technology has never been deployed on a commercial scale. Critics worry about the expense, safety and a host of technical hurdles.And yet, this administration pushes for the oxymoron 'clean coal' which is a... more