tagged w/ Reforestation
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
David Milarch is the co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive and a pioneer in the cloning of ancient trees. He has dedicated his life to replanting the genetics of the world's ancient forests. He has led efforts to propagate more than 90 species including the world's oldest redwoods. David's work is featured in the newly released book ‘The Man Who Planted Trees’ by Jim Robbins.
Published on May 19, 2012
Embedded Full ScreenDavid Milarch is the co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive and a pioneer in the... more
Tens of millions of people may be spared droughts and floods by 2050 if Earth-warming carbon emissions peak in 2016 rather than 2030, scientists said on Sunday.
Climate researchers in Britain and Germany said emission cuts now would delay some crippling impacts by decades and prevent some altogether.
By 2050, an Earth heading for warming of 2-2.5 degrees Celsius (3.6-4.5 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100 could have two very different faces, depending on the route taken to get there, said their study published in the journal Nature Climate Change
Policies that cap Earth-warming carbon emissions in 2016 and then reduce them by five percent per year could see between 39 and 68 million people spared exposure to a higher risk of water shortages by 2050, Nigel Arnell of the University of Reading told AFP.
This is the best-case scenario, though.
In contrast, if emissions peak in 2030 and fall by five percent annually, the number who escape this risk drops to between 17 and 48 million.
Similarly, about 100-161 million people would avoid a higher risk of river flooding on the 2016-peak scenario.
This compares to 52-120 million people if emissions peak 14 years later, said Arnell, director of the university's Walker Institute on climate change.
"Basically in 2050, the 2030-peaking policy has about half to two-thirds of the benefit than the best (2016) policy," even though both lead to a similar temperature peak of about 2-2.5 deg C by 2100, he said.
"You may hit the same (temperature) point at the end of the century but... the mayhem that's been caused on the way to that point is different under the different pathways."
Under a scenario without any emissions curbs, temperatures could rise as much as 4-5.5 deg C, said the new paper which claimed to be the broadest assessment yet of the benefits of avoiding climate change impacts.
Global average warming of 4 deg C would see almost a billion people have less water in 2100 than they have now, and 330 million will be at greater risk of river flooding, Arnell told a pre-release press conference.
A peak in 2016 seems unlikely, with the world's nations aiming to adopt a new global climate pact by 2015 for entry into force only five years later.
The latest round of UN climate talks that concluded in Doha, Qatar in December failed to set pre-2020 emissions cuts for countries that have not signed up to the Kyoto Protocol that seeks to curb warming, even as scientists warned the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere continues to rise.
Three of the world's four biggest polluters -- China, the United States and India -- are among those with no binding emission limits, which cover countries responsible for only about 15 percent of the world's carbon pollution.
Many scientists believe that Earth is set for warming that will be far above the United Nations' 2 deg C target on pre-industrial levels.
"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions won't avoid the impacts of climate change altogether of course, but our research shows it will buy time to make things like buildings, transport systems and agriculture more resilient to climate change," said Arnell.Tens of millions of people may be spared droughts and floods by 2050 if Earth-warming... more
2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires, hurricanes and storms; however, tornado activity was below average
2012 marked the warmest year on record for the contiguous United States with the year consisting of a record warm spring, second warmest summer, fourth warmest winter and a warmer-than-average autumn. The average temperature for 2012 was 55.3°F, 3.2°F above the 20th century average, and 1.0°F above 1998, the previous warmest year.
The average precipitation total for the contiguous U.S. for 2012 was 26.57 inches, 2.57 inches below average, making it the 15th driest year on record for the nation. At its peak in July, the drought of 2012 engulfed 61 percent of the nation with the Mountain West, Great Plains, and Midwest experiencing the most intense drought conditions. The dry conditions proved ideal for wildfires in the West, charring 9.2 million acres — the third highest on record.
The U.S. Climate Extremes Index indicated that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record for the nation. The index, which evaluates extremes in temperature and precipitation, as well as landfalling tropical cyclones, was nearly twice the average value and second only to 1998. To date, 2012 has seen 11 disasters that have reached the $1 billion threshold in losses, to include Sandy, Isaac, and tornado outbreaks experienced in the Great Plains, Texas and Southeast/Ohio Valley.
More at the link2012 was a historic year for extreme weather that included drought, wildfires,... more
"Sign our petition to make your voice heard: we need strong climate action now!
From Alaska to Nebraska, Louisiana to New York, Americans from all walks of life are telling stories of how extreme weather is impacting their jobs, homes, and well-being.
We are asking you to make action on climate change part of your legacy. You can do this by rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline and by instructing the EPA to regulate carbon emissions. Then, in your negotiations on the fiscal cliff, push for a carbon tax, higher taxes on the rich and cuts to fossil fuel subsidies.
Together these bold actions would allow the U.S. to continue its recovery while reversing course on climate change. "
For some reason the source link got messed up when I posted it here but the link in the post is OK.
More at the link.https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/455/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12043... 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
Senegal's capitol city Dakar sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean on a peninsula. It's at least a thousand miles to the Sahara desert yet the air today is so thick with sand that the tops of buildings disappear in a sandy haze.
It's the worst sand storm in a year and people here are worried that climate change will cause these events to be more common. Seasons are shifting across the region. In Senegal the rainy season used to start in July or August but now it doesn't start until September. Decreased rain — along with over grazing of land — is causing an increase in deserts across the Sahel. Roughly 40 percent of Africa is now affected by desertification and according to the UN, two-thirds of Africa's arable land could be lost by 2025 if this trend continues.
Senegal is one of 11 countries in the Sahel region of Africa looking towards the same solution to the desertification problem: The Great Green Wall. The goal of the project is to plant a wall of trees, 4,300 miles long and 9 miles wide, across the African continent, from Senegal to Djibouti. African leaders hope the trees will trap the sands of the Sahara and halt the advance of the desert.
Papa Sarr is Technical Director for the Great Green Wall in Senegal: "We are convinced that once we start to plant the wall of trees dust will decrease in Dakar," he says.
Sarr sits in the passenger seat of a four-wheel drive on his way to Widou, a village he hopes will serve as a model for the Great Green Wall in Senegal. The paved roads of Dakar give way to red sand paths of the Shahel; a dry savanna transition zone between the equatorial jungles in the south and the Sahara to the north. Black and white goats meander in front of the truck and flat-topped acacia trees dot the sandy landscape. They are virtually the only vegetation in a region where the dry season can last up to 10 months.
Four hours northwest of Dakar, the village of Widou sits next to one section of Senegal's Great Green Wall. The acacia trees here are just four years old, waist high and thorny. The trees are surrounded by a firewall and a metal fence to keep out tree-eating goats. All of the trees were chosen carefully. Sarr says, "When we design a parcel we look at the local trees and see what can best grow there, we try to copy Nature."
Two million trees are planted in Senegal each year; but all of them must be planted during the short rainy season. Laborers plant acacia saplings in the sand along with animal manure for fertilizer. Sarr points to a three feet tall tree. "This one is Acacia nilotica. It produces Arabic gum used in local medicine and a fruit that can be eaten by animals."
For the project to succeed, it was crucial to plant trees that would also provide benefits for people living here. The government has ambitious plans for planting more trees but the Great Green Wall is also a development project, aimed at helping rural people.
Workers water the Widu tree nursery in Senegal's Louga region, part of the Great Green Wall. Credit: Getty Images.
In the Senegalese Sahel the dominant ethnic group is the Peuhl. Tall and lean, they wear long flowing robes of emerald green and sapphire blue. They look like jewels against the rust colored sand and brown dry grass. The women have blue tattoos on their chins and wear heavy earrings that stretch their earlobes.
Traditionally nomadic, the Peuhl are now helping tend to the trees and planting gardens. One day a week women in the area volunteer to help care for gardens full of carrots, cabbages, tomatoes and even watermelon. Guncier Yarati uses the side of her flipflop to mound the sandy soil around potato plants. "I like working here," she says. "I like working with my friends, we laugh and play while we work but what's really great is that we have more diverse vegetables. We eat the vegetables ourselves but sell them in the market too."
The closest market is about 30 miles away and before the gardens came along, it was a full day's trek in a horse-drawn cart to get fresh vegetables. Close by the potatoes, Nime Sumaso pours a jug of water over some carrots. She says, "when people came from Dakar and showed us that they could plant vegetables in their communities we saw that this would be a way to help women in our own community and so we knew the Great Green Wall project was important for us."
For the Peuhl, work is divided largely based on gender. So, while women mostly (and quickly) see the benefits of the project in their gardens, the men have a different perspective. A man's primary responsibility is to care for the family's large herds of goats and cows.
In the early morning white hump-backed cows with giant horns gather around water troughs. The Peuhl depend on their animals for subsistence, and livestock need a lot of water. Scientists say the trees of the Great Green Wall will improve rainfall and recharge the water table. So that's very welcome news for local herdsmen like Alfaca. "Planting trees is good for us," he says. "Those trees can bring water and water is our future. Water can solve our problem."
Everyone involved in the Great Green Wall agrees that the end goal is to help rural communities. But opinions vary on how the project will best manage to do that. African leaders envision the Great Green Wall as a literal wall of trees to keep back the desert. But scientists and development agencies see it more as a metaphorical 'wall,' a mosaic of different projects to alleviate poverty and improve degraded lands.
More at the link
Click on the picture for narration about the project. Click on picture again to shut off narration.Senegal's capitol city Dakar sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean on a peninsula.... 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
Reforestation and afforestation often involves planting trees that have a proven history of commercial success, fast growth and ease of cultivation. This copies the same pattern that has seen biodiversity in crops decline around the world, as most agriculture revolves around a limited number of species. At La Pedregoza one of our objectives is to practice multispecies cultivation that includes native trees. The importance of this is obvious when one visits large teak plantations in Costa Rica, as they are usually devoid of insects, birds and local wildlife, because teak is a tree from south Asia that is not part of local niche habitats.
At La Pedregoza we rapidly focused in on the vast variety of native tree species to be found in the Orinoco River basin of Vichada, Colombia. Many of these trees have exotic qualities, be that wood, termite resistance, fruits, nuts, oils, resins or natural medicines. We soon discovered that some native trees appear to be fast growing, but that there is virtually no data available on seed germination, propagation, planting methods or best cultivation practices. During this process we learned that many species of native trees are listed in the red books of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered, vulnerable or threatened.
One of the reasons it was easy for La Pedregoza to associate with Tree-Nation is a shared concern and desire to preserve biodiversity on our planet. Some 90% of terrestrial biodiversity lives in forests. Many of those animals are niche dependent, for example everyone learns in school about Koala bears needing eucalyptus trees and giant Pandas depending on bamboo forests. At La Pedregoza we have birds, amphibians and mammals that depend on certain types of native trees for food, shelter and nesting areas. Planting native tree species soon became not just an objective for La Pedregoza and for Tree-Nation, but a passion.
Due to our wet and dry seasons we are able to collect most of our native tree seeds in the second half of the dry season and the early part of the wet season. Most trees flower in the first half of the dry season, so the best time for us to collect most native tree seeds is predictable. This does not mean it is an easy process. Monkeys, macaws, parrots and ants compete with us for the fruits and seeds of several trees that are on the endangered list. Once the rains start we experience flooding in the rainforest, with seeds falling into the water and washing away. Climbing the trees can be dangerous, as many seeds can only be found high in the rainforest canopy. This makes the seed collection process expensive, time consuming and often disappointing when seeds have already been lost.
This March and April of 2012 our foreman, Bertoldo Aldana, our plantation administrator, Oscar Forero Azabache, and I were able to collect native trees seeds from a variety of species. Some of what we collected includes 3000 Congrio seeds (Acosmium nitens), 1100 endangered Sassafras seeds (Ocotea cymbarum), 6000 Saladillo blanco (Vochysia obscura), 1200 latex producing Pendare or Salivón seeds (Parahancornia oblonga), 800 threatened latex producing Madroño seeds (Rheedia madrunno), and several hundred Moriche palm seeds (Mauritia flexuosa) to plant for use by local indigenous artisans.
The long term goal shared by La Pedregoza and Tree-Nation is to become a seed bank for native tree species. This is especially important for species that are endangered, vulnerable or threatened. It is our believe that if we can commercialize those species, by providing access to seeds, germination and planting instructions and information on growth expectations and carbon sequestration, then other plantations will start to cultivate these species. That in turn will reduce or remove the pressure the species is experiencing in natural forests, by reducing illegal logging and allowing for the species to recover over time. Commercializing a species may appear to some to be an unwelcome development, but it is a process that is most likely to prevent a species’ extinction and to have an impact on maintaining and conserving biodiversity.
Dexter B. Dombro is one of the founders of Amazonia Reforestation and of the Reserva Natural La Pedregoza in Vichada, Colombia.Dexter is a member of the IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas and is dedicated to biodiversity conservation in the Orinoco River basin.
More at the linkReforestation and afforestation often involves planting trees that have a proven... more
Africa is turning to desert. Studies show that as much as two thirds of the continent’s arable land could become desert by 2025 if current trends continue. But a bold initiative to plant a wall of trees 4,300 miles long across the African continent could keep back the sands of the Sahara, improve degraded lands, and help alleviate poverty. Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb reports from Senegal.
GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth. I'm Bruce Gellerman. Now to the West African nation of Senegal where an audacious and ambitious project is underway to create a vast forest across the African continent. It’s known as the Great Green Wall. The idea is to plant 43 hundred miles of trees through 11 African nations, from coast to coast.
The Senegalese government hopes the Great Green Wall will stop the advance of the Sahara Desert southward, but as Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb reports, others see it as a way of alleviating poverty.
[CITY SOUNDS, CARS]
BASCOMB: Horses pull wooden carts alongside cars on the main streets of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Dakar sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean on a peninsula. And while it’s at least a thousand miles to the Sahara desert, the air today is thick with sand. It’s the worst sand storm in a year.
[DAKAR DRIVING SOUNDS]
[SARR SPEAKING IN FRENCH]
VOICEOVER: The rainy season is becoming shorter, it used to start in July or August, now it doesn’t start until September. The climate is definitely changing.
BASCOMB: Papa Sarr says shifting seasons and climate change could make these sand storms more common but he believes there is a solution. Sarr is the technical director for the Great Green Wall in Senegal. The goal of the project here is to plant two million acres of trees. It’s part of a larger initiative to plant a nine mile wide wall of trees, across the African continent. African leaders hope the trees will trap the sands of the Sahara.
More at the linkAfrica is turning to desert. Studies show that as much as two thirds of the... more
* Fossils seen supplying 85 pct of energy demand in 2050
* Financial, human and biodiversity costs all huge
* CO2 cut, global CO2 mkt delays make 2 degree limit harder
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.
"Unless the global energy mix changes, fossil fuels will supply about 85 percent of energy demand in 2050, implying a 50 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air pollution," the OECD said in its environment outlook to 2050.
The global economy in 2050 will be four times larger than today and the world will use around 80 percent more energy.
But the global energy mix is not predicted to be very different from that of today, the report said.
Fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas will make up 85 percent of energy sources. Renewables, including biofuels, are forecast to make up 10 percent and nuclear the rest.
Due to such dependence on fossils, carbon dioxide emissions from energy use are expected to grow by 70 percent, the OECD said, which will help drive up the global average temperature by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius by 2100 - exceeding the internationally agreed warming limit of within 2 degrees.
Global carbon dioxide emissions from energy reached an all-time high of 30.6 gigatonnes in 2010, despite the economic downturn which reduced industrial production.
COST OF INACTION
The financial cost of taking no further climate action could result in up to a 14 percent loss in world per capita consumption by 2050, according to some estimates.
Human costs would also be high as premature deaths from pollution exposure could double to 3.6 million a year, the OECD said.
Demand for water could rise by 55 percent, increasing competition for supplies and resulting in 40 percent of the global population living in water-stressed areas, while plant and animal species could decline by a further 10 percent.
To prevent the worst effects of global warming, international climate action should start in 2013, a global carbon market be set up, the energy sector transformed to low carbon and all low-cost advanced technologies should be explored such as biomass energy and carbon capture.
However, a new international climate deal might not come into force until 2020 and carbon markets not linked until then, making it harder to achieve the 2 degree limit and requiring very rapid rates of emissions cuts after 2020 to catch up.
Current international emissions cut pledges fall short of what is required to limit temperature rises to safe levels so decisive action at the national level is needed, the OECD said.
More at the link* Fossils seen supplying 85 pct of energy demand in 2050
* Financial, human and... more
I have been a member of Tree Nation for going on five years now. Tree Nation is a free Internet community/organization where you can be a part of planting thousands of trees in four separate forests globally to help counter deforestation and desertfication right from your modem. Their original forest in the heart of Niger has now planted over 52,000 trees on their way to the goal of 100,000 for 2012! All total over 397,000 trees have been planted. I have several trees planted there in my name as well. There are other forests in Columbia, Nicaragua and their newest in Madagascar. This article is about a new moringa park being introduced in Niger and also about beginning to use agroforestry in their Niger plantation.
We see so much deforestation taking place in our world and so many negative effects from our behavior. This is one bright spot proving that people globally can join together in good spirit to work to make the world a better place.I hope you check it out and maybe even become part of the solution in planting trees in places where they are most needed now.
"Alongside planting trees, we are beginning to farm fruits and vegetables as we cultivate the trees planted. Our goal is twofold: to enhance the quality of the soil and the growth of the trees through agroforestry and to take advantage by selling the products farmed in the process.
So far, we have planted tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers. While the first two have yielded good results, many cucumbers have been lost owing to the pest of caterpillars. We are, however, going to continue farming the vegetables and we hope to make the most of distribution outlets in the capital of Niamey and in local markets to sell them alongside our production of Moringa leaves.
The Moringa plantation:
We have also decided to reorganise our site to open a new Moringa park. 15 metres wide, it runs alongside the channelling strip used for channelling the irrigation from the basin, which is a round 200 metres long. It will be ideally placed to take advantage of the water well and our soon-to-be-in-place micro irrigation system, by using the border irrigation technique, which involves irrigating a whole area of land at one time. As for our old park, until the irrigation system has been expanded it will only be being farmed on a seasonal basis.
In all, over the last few months we have harvested around 200 kg of Moringa leaves. And, while we’re on the subject, we thought you might want to know that we’ve just collected our first Baobab leaves since they were planted 4-5 years ago!"I have been a member of Tree Nation for going on five years now. Tree Nation is a free... more
In the wake of the failed climate talks in Durban, South Africa; a record-breaking 5.9% increase in greenhouse gas pollution in 2010; and recent, extremely alarming reports by scientists of plumes of methane gas gushing up from the thawing sea beds of the Siberian Arctic, we find ourselves standing at the end of the road. 1
If we allow the infamous "one percent" to continue with business as usual, we will soon be arriving at civilization's last stop, climate hell. If we allow the U.S. and global fossil fuel/military industrial/corporate agribusiness economy to keep turning up the planet's delicately balanced thermostat, raising average global temperatures by two degrees Celsius or more, we will soon pass the point of no return, detonating runaway global warming. Among the catastrophic consequences of runaway global warming will be the release of a significant portion of the 1.7 trillion tons of deadly methane now sequestered in the shallow Arctic seabeds and permafrost (equivalent to twice the amount of total greenhouse gas pollution currently in the atmosphere). As the International Energy Agency warned on November 9, the world is accelerating toward irreversible climate change. We will lose the chance to avert catastrophic warming if we don't take bold action in the next five years to sharply reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; drastically increase energy efficiency in the food, transportation, utilities, and housing sectors; and safely sequester billions of tons of greenhouse gases in our soils, plants, and forests through organic soil management and permaculture practices. In other words we have approximately 1800 days left to avert catastrophe.
One of our major tasks as farmers or food consumers is to educate the public to the heretofore-undisclosed fact that the world's energy and chemical- intensive industrial food system is the major cause of global warming. That is the central message of this rather detailed essay. We go into depth and explain the details of this deadly state of affairs, because our fate and the fate of the human species depends upon rapidly changing what we farm and what we eat. The good news is that we can stop and reverse this suicidal food and farming system by taking decisive action, not only in the political policy realm and through our growing street protests and occupations; but also by voting with our farms, gardens, and forks for an organic, sustainable, and re-localized food and farming system. This new agro-ecological system will drastically reduce GHG emissions, and at the same time naturally sequester billions of tons of climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases, in our soils, plants, and trees. But the hour is late. We must jumpstart this great transition immediately.
Millions of Americans are still in denial about global warming or else waiting vainly for Washington to pass laws and regulations to alleviate the problem. Many of those aware of the crisis are calling for cap and trade, or a carbon tax, or a ban on coal and tar sands, or stronger emissions standards, and energy efficiency. A large part of the agenda for reversing global warming involves reducing fossil fuels use by 90% over the next 40 years. But with non-stop advertising from the polluters and a do-nothing, indentured congress, that gets millions from the fossil fuel industry, the likelihood of federal legislation, at least in the near future, to solve the problem appears remote. Only persistent campaigning and the encircling of the White House by 15,000 demonstrators finally got the President's attention about the dangers of the Keystone tar sands pipeline.
Of course we must stop the coal industry, natural gas fracking, the nuclear industry, and the tar sands juggernaught. We must unite a critical mass of the 99% to cut Wall Street and the corporate elite down to size and implement a 21st century New Deal that not only brings about full employment and economic justice, but also environmental and climate sustainability. But there's something else we can do, immediately, and it's as close as our back yard, our farm field, or the knife and fork in our hands.
The failed climate conferences in Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun, and Durban have concentrated most of their energy and effort on fossil fuel emissions, but very little on emissions from industrial agriculture, and the demonstrated ability of organic food and farming to cool the planet and sequester climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases. Recent research and reports, however, conclude that factory farming in the U.S. is responsible for more GHG emissions than the entire transportation and industrial sector combined; including cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, trains, boats, and factories.
The main climate and health issues with the U.S. industrial farming system are:
a) Enormous quantities of greenhouse gasses emitted from fertilizers, animals, animal feed production, animal processing, and the shipping, cooling, and freezing of all food products;
b) Huge subsidies to the wealthiest, chemical and energy-intensive farmers for growing unhealthy food;
c) Too much emphasis on meat production and other harmful, fatty foods.
Despite these serious problems, the U.S. government and big agriculture aggressively promote our factory farming system to developing countries as a solution to their hunger problems.
More at the linkIn the wake of the failed climate talks in Durban, South Africa; a record-breaking... more
"Accelerating melting on the world’s ice sheets and other new observations have scientists concluding that even a two-degree Celsius rise in temperatures – a benchmark long seen as safe in global climate talks and other emissions reductions scenarios – could lead to an 80-foot rise in sea levels.
“The dangerous level of global warming is less than what we thought a few years ago,” said James Hansen, director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. “It was natural to think that a few degrees wasn’t so bad…. (But) a target of two degrees is actually a prescription for long-term disaster.”
Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice at a surprising clip, Hansen said, and methane hydrates – a potent source of greenhouse gas frozen beneath the seas – are starting to bubble up.
The key question for climatologists: How sensitive is the climate to increasing amounts of fossil fuel emissions. Last year humanity pumped almost 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, a half-billion tons more than 2009 and the largest jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, according to the Global Carbon Project.
See also Biggest Jump Ever in Global Warming Pollution in 2010, Chinese CO2 Emissions Now Exceed U.S.’s By 50%.
The problem, those researchers said, is the “hang time” for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, “climatically important” amounts of carbon dioxide and other compounds emitted today would continue to influence the atmosphere for thousands of years, Caldeira said.
See also Fossil CO2 impacts will outlast Stonehenge and nuclear waste
That kind of pressure, or “forcing,” on the atmosphere could be devastating, he cautioned.
About 55 million years ago a tremendous amount of methane was released into the atmosphere over a period of about 1 million years, and the planet heated by five degrees to eight degrees Celsius, or 10 degrees to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The result was an ice-free planet with sea levels 230 feet higher than they are today.
In the eons since, carbon dioxide levels dropped and the ice reformed. But humanity’s emissions have the potential to send the globe back to those conditions, Caldeira and Hansen said.
“If you doubled CO2, which practically all governments assume we’re going to do, that would eventually get us to the ice-free state,” Hansen said.
Scientists don’t expect that ice to melt quickly. Assuming the current accelerated melting continues on the world’s ice sheets and glaciers, various climate models predict the ocean would rise between 1.5 feet and 2.3 feet by century’s end, said Tad Pfeffer, a glaciologist with the University of Colorado.
But the ice melted with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at about 1,000 parts per million, Caldeira said. And he suspects that even 750 ppm, or about double today’s levels, could send the globe spiraling toward an ice-free state. Current emissions trends suggest the globe could reach that by the end of the century.
“We can’t double CO2,” Hansen added. “We would be sending our climate back to a state we haven’t adjusted to as a species.”
The time to act was a while ago, but now is much, much better than later."
•A detailed look at climate sensitivity
•Climate Experts Warn Thawing Permafrost Could Cause 2.5 Times the Warming of Deforestation
More at the link
Around 28:00 minutes into the video is information on CO2."Accelerating melting on the world’s ice sheets and other new observations... more
More than half of the timber now shipped globally is destined for China. But unscrupulous Chinese companies are importing huge amounts of illegally harvested wood, prompting conservation groups to step up boycotts against rapacious timber interests.
by william laurance
In Chinese folklore, a dragon symbolizes strength. It is an apt icon for a nation whose rise as an economic superpower has been nothing short of meteoric.
While China’s stunning economic advances have come at significant environmental cost, the boom has been a plus in a few realms. The country is investing avidly in green technologies, such as solar energy and high-tech car batteries. It has also undertaken an ambitious national reforestation program, while cracking down on illegal forest clearing and logging inside its borders. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, forest cover in China, including large areas of timber plantations, increased from 157 million hectares in 1990 to 197 million hectares in 2005.
Counter-intuitively, the expansion of Chinese forests has occurred at the same time the country has been developing an immense export industry for In its fervor to secure timber, China is increasingly seen as a predator on the world’s forests.wood and paper products. China is now the “wood workshop for the world,” according to Forest Trends, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, consuming more than 400 million cubic meters of timber annually to feed both its burgeoning exports and growing domestic demands. Production of paper products has also grown dramatically in China, doubling from 2002 to 2007.
But the rise of the Chinese dragon has a darker side. As much as half of the timber and much of the paper pulp consumed by China is imported, primarily from tropical nations or nearby Siberia. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with this — China has every right to grow economically and seek the kind of prosperity that industrial nations have long enjoyed. However, in its fervor to secure timber, minerals, and other natural resources, China is increasingly seen as a predator on the world’s forests.
China is now overwhelmingly the biggest global consumer of tropical timber, importing around 40 to 45 million cubic meters of timber annually. Today, more than half of all timber being shipped anywhere in the world is destined for China. Many nations in the Asia-Pacific region and Africa export the lion’s share of their timber to China.
China faces three criticisms by those worried about the health and biodiversity of the world’s forests. First, the country and its hundreds of wood-products corporations and middlemen have been remarkably aggressive in pursuing timber supplies globally, while generally being little concerned with social equity or environmental sustainability. For instance, China has helped fund and promote an array of ambitious new road or rail projects that are opening up remote forested regions in the Amazon, Congo Basin, and Asia-Pacific to exploitation. Such frontier roads can unleash a Pandora’s Box of activities — including illegal colonization, hunting, mining, and land speculation — that are often highly destructive to forests.
China is also a major consumer of wood pulp, which is helping to drive large-scale deforestation in places like Sumatra and Borneo. During a recent visit to Sumatra, I witnessed the felling of large expanses of native rainforests, which are being chopped up and fed into the world’s largest wood-pulp plant, located nearby, and replaced by monocultures of exotic acacia trees.
Second, China, in its relentless pursuit of timber, almost exclusively seeks raw logs. Raw logs are the least economically beneficial way for developing nations to exploit their timber resources, as they provide only limited royalties and little employment, workforce training, and industrial development. As a result, most of the profits from logging are realized by foreign timber-cutters, shippers, and wood-products manufacturers. A cubic meter of the valuable timber merbau (Intsia bijuga), for instance, yields only around $11 to local communities in Indonesian Papua but around $240 when delivered as raw logs to wood-products manufacturers in China, who profit further by converting it into prized wood flooring.
Finally, China has done little to combat the scourge of illegal logging, which is an enormous problem in many developing nations. A 2011 report on illegal logging by Interpol and the World Bank concluded that, among 15 of the major timber-producing countries in the tropics, two-thirds had half or more of their timber harvested illegally. Globally, economic losses and tax and royalty evasion from illegal logging are thought to cost around $15 billion annually — a large economic burden for developing nations. Forest ecosystems suffer serious impacts as well, because illegal loggers frequently ignore environmental controls on cutting operations.
According to a 2010 analysis by Chatham House, a respected UK think tank, illegal logging is slowly declining globally but this is despite, rather than because of, China’s influence. The report concluded that, from 2000 to 2008, China imported 16 to 24 million cubic meters of illegal timber each One report said that China imports 16 to 24 million cubic meters of illegal timber each year.year. This is an incredible figure — twice the total amount imported annually by leading industrial nations.
More at the linkMore than half of the timber now shipped globally is destined for China. But... more
Mrs Maathai was cremated in a casket made of bamboo, water hyacinth and papyrus so that no trees would be cut down
A state funeral for Nobel Peace Prize winner and environmentalist Wangari Maathai has taken place at a Kenyan national park she fought to save.
Mrs Maathai, whose Green Belt Movement planted an estimated 45 million trees in Kenya, died last month of cancer.
Thousands of mourners lined the route of the procession to the funeral in Uhuru National Park in Nairobi.
President Mwai Kibaki praised her courage, tenacity and "selfless service to the nation".
Mrs Maathai, who died on 25 September, was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2004. She won the award for her campaigns to promote conservation, women's rights and transparent government.
Mrs Maathai was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize
Because she opposed cutting down trees, her remains were placed in a bamboo-frame coffin, made of water hyacinth and papyrus reeds and draped with a Kenyan flag. After the funeral, she was cremated at a private ceremony.
"The best way we can honour her is to carry on the great work she started especially in the fields of environmental conservation, social justice, human rights and democracy," President Kibaki told the crowd at Uhuru Park, where Mrs Maathai once campaigned to stop the construction of an office tower.
In 2008, Mrs Maathai was tear-gassed at a protest against President Kibaki's plan to increase the number of ministers in his cabinet.
She became known as the Tree Mother of Africa.
More at the linkMrs Maathai was cremated in a casket made of bamboo, water hyacinth and papyrus so... more
How important are forests to our survival? Like our oceans we cannot live without them. However, we are cutting them down faster than we are replenishing them which does not bode well for the health of our environment, climate and biodiversity. But you can make a difference.
Please feel free to add anything about forests or organizations you know of making a difference. We have many trees to plant to make up even partly for the damage we have caused. Let's get started!How important are forests to our survival? Like our oceans we cannot live without... more
Deep in the Chiquitana tropical dry forest in southeast Bolivia, Noine Picanerai stands on a dirt road that cuts through lush woods. The 50,000-acre plot looks like a protected reserve. But, notes Picanerai, a woodsman in his 70s, "My people live off selling these trees." Indeed, despite the forest's pristine appearance, it's a logging concession run by an indigenous Ayoreo community. The project, along with dozens of similar forest management programs across the Amazon region north of Bolivia, are making sustainable logging a reality instead of an oxymoron. "We aren't like the other guys," Picanerai says with a toothless grin. "We make sure the forest stays standing."
Each year more than 30 million acres (12 million hectares) of the world's natural forest are cut to satisfy global demand for wood and paper products. That deforestation, which reduces the planet's carbon dioxide-absorbing foliage, causes at least a fifth of all greenhouse gas emissions today. South American forest management projects — logging that assures tree regeneration — are quietly growing into key conservation strategies in the fight against climate change. "These programs are about making the standing forest worth something to governments and communities," says Meg Symington, managing director for the Amazon for the World Wildlife Fund-USA, which supports sustainable forestry.
Bolivia, specifically its indigenous communities and their NGO advocates, has been a pioneer of this effort, and communities in Brazil, Peru and the Guyanas have jumped on board as well. The Chiquitana venture, established in 2001 in the town of Zapoco by the Ayoreos and an NGO called APCOB, with government approval and monitoring, was Bolivia's first indigenous-run forestry business. Its goal is to help save the dry forest — which is South America's second-largest eco-system behind the Amazon rain forest, but whose trees are being felled at a faster rate than others on the continent — while giving the rural poor a shot at a living wage.
Each year for 20 years, the Zapoco cooperative has license to log 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) filled with rosewood, tigerwood, caviuna and other exotic tree species for export to the U.S. and Europe. (On average about 6,000 trees are felled each year.) A tree census plots out the logging before it begins, and only mature trunks of a certain diameter are marked for chopping, while younger trees are left to grow and the healthiest of the lot are spared so their seeds can spread. "That one wasn't cut because it's got a parrot's nest," says Pedro Charupas, another Zapoco resident, motioning to a fully mature ironwood.
Such efforts are still the exception: billions of dollars worth of illegally harvested wood is estimated to enter the U.S. every year, despite 2008 legislation meant to thwart it. But as nations like the U.S. increase efforts to buy legally sourced wood, countries like Bolivia benefit due to projects like Zapoco's. Half of Bolivia's surface area, about 1.3 million acres (500,000 hectares) is forest, home to rare wood species whose value will grow as rain and dry forests alike disappear in other parts of the world. Picanerai says Zapoco often hosts visits from other indigenous communities eager to establish cooperatives. And that's why, says the elder, he's confident the seeds of sustainable logging will keep spreading.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2071694,00.html#ixzz1MjWaaHBfDeep in the Chiquitana tropical dry forest in southeast Bolivia, Noine Picanerai... more
SCIENCE SAYS WE CAN CONTAIN CO2, PRODUCE OXYGEN, RETAIN MOISTURE, AND COOL THE EARTH, ALL BY INTENSIVE WORLD WIDE PLANTING OF TREES.
You can begin to air condition the earth merely by planting as many trees in your own yard as possible. Trees absorb and hold CO2, while producing oxygen, retaining moisture and effectively cooling the air.
If we encourage our municipal, state and federal governments to intensively plant all of our highway corridors, with indigenous fruit, nut, seed and nectar producing vegetation, not only can we air condition our cities and roadways, but create green corridors which preserve and support plant and animal species in the process. Also, any arable, but yet barren public land should be intensively planted with vegetation.
Since it is our money that would be used to do this, the more of it we spend on our own welfare, the less there is to be siphoned and stolen by special interests. We should penalize corporations who are found guilty of polluting our environment by requiring them to fund the planting efforts.
It seems sequoias once populated most of North America. They are considered to be the ultimate CO2 absorbers and oxygen producers, and come in several varieties. They grow quickly, are very hardy and it takes 500 years for them to become as large as their famous for being.
Evergreens are superior because they transpire; cleaning the air and producing oxygen, continuously year around, while deciduous trees do so only seasonally. But it takes a well considered variety to sustain wildlife and please the eye while doing so.
Perhaps you might want to contact the Whitehouse and ask Mrs. Obama to lead the effort to reforest our public highways and lands, like ladybird Johnson led the highway beautification efforts, decades ago.
If you wish to read the science on this issue, or check out the organizations promoting reforestation of the earth, follow the links herewith:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbJzkDP4I1ASCIENCE SAYS WE CAN CONTAIN CO2, PRODUCE OXYGEN, RETAIN MOISTURE, AND COOL THE EARTH,... more
These are the final minutes from the documentary DIRT that explores it from its miraculous beginning to the degradation humans bring upon it, to what we can do to save it. Permaculture is one of the ways we can do this and this particular clip is not only informative but inspiring. Our alive outer skin is really the one salvation for the human species that should be getting much more attention than it is in solving so many of the problems we now face.These are the final minutes from the documentary DIRT that explores it from its... more