China Reforestation Becoming A Global Model

Economic Growth Has Taken Its Toll On China’s Natural Resources

The Chinese government has payed close attention to ecological and environmental issues for years. Contrary to popular belief, sustainability and environmental protection are long-term strategies vital to the country’s health and wealth.

climate change and deforestation

China started framing environmental protection as a fundamental national policy in the 1980s. It established sustainable development as a national strategy in the 1990s. At the turn of the century, the government proposed a “Scientific Outlook on Development” that is people-centered, fully coordinated, and environmentally sustainable. Since 2012, the government has incorporated Eco-civilization into the national blueprint, which outlines a commitment to “innovative, coordinated, green, open and shared development.”

This blueprint has given great impetus to the implementation of Eco-civilization with environmental quality at its core aiming at making the skies bluer, mountains greener, water cleaner, and the ecological environment better.

President Xi Jinping has pointed out that green is gold and that moving towards a new era of eco-civilization and building a beautiful China are key to realizing the Chinese Dream of rejuvenating the nation.

Since its reform and opening-up thirty years ago, the country has seen its economy grow at an annual average of 9.8 percent. It has successfully transitioned from a low-income to a high middle-income country with significant economic achievements, almost having reached levels of industrialization and urbanization that took one to two hundred years in developed countries.

Meanwhile, China has paid a heavy environmental price, with the emergence of problems such as soot pollution, ozone depletion, fine particulate matters (PM2.5), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Pollution from different sources – production and households, urban and rural, industry and transport – appear to be intertwined with each other.

China deforestation

For years China was notorious for denuding its forests of vegetation to expand its economy. The economy grew, but water sources were tainted, air polluted and animal habitats demolished. Only a few years ago, just two percent of China’s forests were undisturbed. Deadly floods in 1998 caused by the lack of trees prompted the government to finally take action. They implemented the National Forest Conservation Program.

China banned logging in many areas and then paid farmers, who were accustomed to earning money by cutting down trees for wood, to plant trees instead. Some local citizens were paid to monitor forests and report illegal logging activity. The Chinese government claims that the conservation and reforestation plans are working.

Scientists from the University of Michigan evaluated the Chinese government’s conservation measures using images from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer. They studied data between 2000 and 2010 and found forest cover has grown rapidly in 1.6 percent of China. That may not sound like much, but it’s about 61,000 square miles. Meanwhile. 0.38 percent of the nation suffered from deforestation – that’s around 14,400 square miles.

deforestation China

The research isn’t simply a green light for China to continue every current policy. They’re importing more wood now, from countries such as Vietnam, Madagascar, and Russia, which the scientists warned causes deforestation in those other countries.

China plans to cover nearly a quarter of the country in forest by 2020, according to an announcement made via a United Nations report. The goal is part of a larger plan to build an ecological civilization that will serve as a model for future projects around the world.

“The outdated view that man can conquer nature and ignore the bearing capacity of resources and the environment should be completely abandoned,” said Zhu Guangyao, executive vice president of the Chinese Ecological Civilization Research and Promotion Association. “Conscientious efforts should be made to live in harmony with nature.”

giant panda conservation

In addition to planting, the country will also step up efforts to restore 35 percent of the natural shorelines, reclaim more than half of the desert, and increase prairie vegetation coverage by 56 percent.

“If China succeeds in implementing targets outlined in its ecological blue print, then it will have taken a major step towards shifting to a greener economy,” Achim Steiner, UNEP executive director, said.

To address the dilemmas between economic development and resource/environmental constraints, the government has most recently proposed a policy of pursuing green development and building an Eco-civilization, which involves management of the relationship between humans and nature in a comprehensive, scientific, and systematic manner. It embodies the green is gold perspective of values, development, and governance. It goes beyond and does away with the traditional development patterns and models, guiding the transformation of the production methods and the lifestyle of the entire society.

As China firmly supports and actively implements the concept and actions of sustainable development at the global level, its effort to build an Eco-civilization will make a significant contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The country’s practices and experiments to promote an Eco-civilization will not only contribute to addressing its own resource and environmental challenges but also serve as demonstrations for other developing countries that may wish to avoid the dependence on, and the lock-in effect of traditional development pathways. This is conducive to promoting the establishment of a new global environmental governance system and benefitting the noble course of sustainable development for all people, men and women.

Reforestation China via http://reliefweb.int/report/china/green-gold-strategy-and-actions-china-s-ecological-civilization

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Can Carbon-Capture Technology Fight Climate Change

Global Thermostat Turning Heads On Small Applications

By Eli Kintisch

Physicist Peter Eisenberger expected colleagues to react to his carbon capture technology with skepticism. He claimed to have invented a machine that could clean the atmosphere of excess carbon dioxide, while making the gas into fuel or storing it underground. And the Columbia University scientist knew that naming his startup Global Thermostat was not a humble beginning.

Global Thermostat’s carbon capture machine

But the reception in the spring of 2009 had been even more dismissive than he had expected. First, he spoke to a special committee convened by the American Physical Society to review possible ways of reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere through so-called air capture, which means, essentially, scrubbing it from the sky. They listened politely to his presentation but barely asked any questions.

A few weeks later he spoke at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory in West Virginia to a similarly skeptical audience. Eisenberger explained that his lab’s research involves chemicals called amines that are already used to capture concentrated carbon dioxide emitted from fossil-fuel power plants. This same amine-based technology, he said, also showed potential for the far more difficult and ambitious task of capturing the gas from the open air, where carbon dioxide is found at concentrations of 400 parts per million. That’s up to 300 times more diffuse than in power plant smokestacks. But Eisenberger argued that he had a simple design for achieving the feat in a cost-effective way, in part because of the way he would recycle the amines. “That didn’t even register,” he recalls. “I felt a lot of people were pissing on me.”

climate change and carbon levels in the atmosphere

The next day, however, a manager from the lab called him excitedly. The DOE scientists had realized that amine samples sitting around the lab had been bonding with carbon dioxide at room temperature—a fact they hadn’t much appreciated until then. It meant that Eisenberger’s approach to air capture was at least “feasible,” says one of the DOE lab’s chemists, Mac Gray.

Five years later, Eisenberger’s company has raised $24 million in investments, built a working demonstration plant, and struck deals to supply at least one customer with carbon dioxide harvested from the sky. But the next challenge is proving that the technology could have a transformative impact on the world, befitting his company’s name.

The need for a carbon-sucking machine is easy to see. Most technologies for mitigating carbon dioxide work only where the gas is emitted in large concentrations, as in power plants. But air-capture machines, installed anywhere on earth, could deal with the 52 percent of carbon-dioxide emissions that are caused by distributed, smaller sources like cars, farms, and homes. Secondly, air capture, if it ever becomes practical, could gradually reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As emissions have accelerated—they’re now rising at 2 percent per year, twice as rapidly as they did in the last three decades of the 20th century—scientists have begun to recognize the urgency of achieving so-called “negative emissions.”

reforestation and carbon capture

The obvious need for the technology has enticed several other efforts to come up with various approaches that might be practical. For example, Climate Engineering, based in Calgary, captures carbon using a liquid solution of sodium hydroxide, a well-established industrial technique. A firm cofounded by an early pioneer of the idea, Eisenberg’s Columbia colleague Klaus Lackner, worked on the problem for several years before giving up in 2012.

“Negative emissions are definitely needed to restore the atmosphere given that we’re going to far exceed any safe limit for CO2, if there is one. The question in my mind is, can it be done in an economical way?,” he said.

A report released in April by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that avoiding the internationally agreed upon goal of 2° Centigrade of global warming will likely require the global deployment of “carbon dioxide removal” strategies like air capture. “Negative emissions are definitely needed to restore the atmosphere given that we’re going to far exceed any safe limit for CO2, if there is one,” says Daniel Schrag, director of the Harvard University Center for the Environment. “The question in my mind is, can it be done in an economical way?”

Most experts are skeptical. A 2011 report by the American Physical Society identified key physical and economic challenges. The fact that carbon dioxide will bind with amines, forming a molecule called a carbamate, is well known chemistry. But carbon dioxide still represents only one in 2,500 molecules in the air. That means an effective air-capture machine would need to push vast amounts of air past amines to get enough carbon dioxide to stick to them and then regenerate the amines to capture more. That would require a lot of energy and thus be very expensive, the 2011 report said. That’s why it concluded that air capture “is not currently an economically viable approach to mitigating climate change.”

The people at Global Thermostat understand these daunting economics but remain defiantly optimistic. The way to make air capture profitable, says Global Thermostat cofounder Graciela Chichilnisky, a Columbia University economist and mathematician, is to take advantage of the demand for the gas by various industries. There already exists a well-established, billion-dollar market for carbon dioxide, which is used to rejuvenate oil wells, make carbonated beverages, and stimulate plant growth in commercial greenhouses. Historically, the gas sells for around $100 per ton. But Eisenberger says his company’s prototype machine could extract a concentrated ton of the gas for far less than that. The idea is to first sell carbon dioxide to niche markets, such as oil-well recovery, to eventually create bigger ones, like using catalysts to make fuels in processes that are driven by solar energy. “Once capturing carbon from the air is profitable, people acting in their own self-interest will make it happen,” says Chichilnisky.

Eisenberger and Chichilnisky were colleagues at Columbia in 2008 when they realized that they had complementary interests: his in energy, and hers in environmental economics, including work to help shape the 1991 Kyoto Protocol, the first global treaty on cutting emissions. Nations had pledged big cuts, says Chichilnisky, but economic and political realities had provided “no way to implement it.” The pair decided to create a business to tackle the carbon challenge.

Germany pioneered carbon capture technology
Germany pioneered carbon capture technology to eliminate CO2 from its submarines in World War II.

They focused on air capture, which was first developed by Nazi scientists who used liquid sorbents to remove accumulations of CO2 in submarines. In the winter of 2008 Eisenberger sequestered himself in a quiet house with big glass windows overlooking the ocean in Mendocino County, California. There he studied existing literature on capturing carbon and made a key decision. Scientists developing techniques to capture CO2 have thus far sought to work at high concentrations of the gas. But Eisenberger and Chichilnisky focused on another term in those equations: temperature.

Engineers have previously deployed amines to scrub CO2 from flue gases, whose temperatures are around 70 °C when they exit power plants. Subsequently removing the CO2 from the amines—“regenerating” the amines—generally requires reactions at 120 °C. By contrast, Eisenberger calculated that his system would operate at roughly 85 °C, requiring less total energy. It would use relatively cheap steam for two purposes. The steam would heat the surface, driving the CO2 off the amines to be collected, while also blowing CO2 away from the surface.

Even if air capture were to someday prove profitable, whether it should be scaled up is another question. The upshot? With less heat-management infrastructure than what is required with amines in the smokestacks of power plants, the design of a scrubber could be simpler and therefore cheaper. Using data from their prototype, Eisenberger’s team figures the approach could cost between $15 and $50 per ton of carbon dioxide captured from air, depending on how long the amine surfaces last.

If Global Thermostat can achieve anywhere near the prices it’s touting, a number of niche markets beckon. The startup has partnered with a Carson City, Nevada-based company called Algae Systems to make biofuels using carbon dioxide and algae. Meanwhile the demand is rising for carbon dioxide to inject into depleted oil wells, a technique known as enhanced oil recovery. One study estimates that the application could require as much as 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide annually by 2021, a nearly tenfold increase over the 2011 market.

That still represents a drop in the bucket in terms of the amounts needed to reduce or even stabilize the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. But Eisenberger says there are really no alternatives to air capture. Simply capturing carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants, he says, only extends society’s dependence on carbon-intensive coal.

deforestation and climate change

It’s a warm December afternoon in Silicon Valley as Eisenberger and I make our way across SRI International’s concrete research center. It’s in these low-slung buildings where engineers first demonstrated ARPAnet, Apple’s Siri software, and countless other technological advances. About a quarter mile from the entrance, a 40-foot-high tower of fans, steel, and silver tubes comes into view. This is the Global Thermostat demonstration plant. It’s imposing and clean. Eisenberger gazes at the quiet scene around the tower, which includes a tall tree. “It’s doing exactly what the tree is doing,” says Eisenberger. But then he corrects himself. “Well, actually, it’s doing it a lot better.”

After Eisenberger earned a PhD physics in 1967 at Harvard, stints at Bell Labs, Princeton, and Stanford followed. At Exxon in the 1980s he led work on solar energy, then served as director of Lamont-Doherty, the geosciences lab at Columbia. There he has taught a long-standing seminar called “The Earth/Human system.” It was in that seminar, in 2007, with Lackner as a guest lecturer, that Eisenberger first heard about air capture. After a year or so of preparation, he and Chichilnisky reached out to billionaire Edgar Bronfman Jr. “Sometimes when you hear something that must be too good to be true, it’s because it is,” was Bronfman’s reaction, according to his son, who was present at the meeting. But the scion implored his father: “If they’re right, this is one of the biggest opportunities out there.” The family invested $18 million.

That largesse has allowed the company to build its demonstration despite basically no federal support for air capture research. (Global Thermostat chose SRI as its site due to the facility’s prior experience with carbon-capture technology.) The rectangular tower uses fans to draw air in over alternating 10-foot-wide surfaces known as contactors. Each is comprised of 640 ceramic cubes embedded with the amine sorbent. The tower raises one contactor as another is lowered. That allows the cubes of one to collect CO2 from ambient air while the other is stripped of the gas by the application of the steam, at 85 °C. For now that gas is simply vented, but depending on the customer it could be injected into the ground, shipped by pipe, or transferred to a chemical plant for industrial use.

A key challenge facing the company is the ruggedness of the amine sorbent surfaces. They tend to decay rapidly when oxidized, and frequently replacing the sorbents could make the process much less cost-effective than Eisenberger projects.

None of the world’s thousands of coal plants have been outfitted for full-scale capture of their carbon pollution. And if it isn’t economical for use in power plants, with their concentrated source of carbon dioxide, the prospects of capturing it out of the air seem dim to many experts. “There’s really little chance that you could capture CO2 from ambient air more cheaply than from a coal plant, where the flue gas is 300 times more concentrated,” says Robert Socolow, director of the Princeton Environment Institute and co-director of the university’s carbon mitigation initiative.

Adding to the skepticism over the feasibility of air capture is that there are other, cheaper ways to create the so-called negative emissions. A more practical way to do it, Schrag says, would involve deriving fuels from biomass—which removes CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. As that feedstock is fermented in a reactor to create ethanol, it produces a stream of pure carbon dioxide that can be captured and stored underground. It’s a proven technique and has been tested at a handful of sites worldwide.

Even if air capture were to someday prove profitable, whether it should be scaled up is another question. Say a solar power plant is built outside an existing coal plant. Should the energy the new solar plant produces be used to suck carbon out of the atmosphere, or to allow the coal plant to be shut down by replacing its energy output? The latter makes much more sense, says Socolow. He and others have another concern about air capture: that claims about its feasibility could breed complacency. “I don’t want us to give people the false hope that air capture can solve the carbon emissions problem without a strong focus on [reducing the use of] fossil fuels,” he says.

Eisenberger and Chichilnisky are adamant about the importance of sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere rather than focusing entirely on capturing it from coal plants. In 2010, the pair developed a version of their technology that mixes air with flue gas from a coal or gas-fired power plant. That approach provides a source of steam while capturing both atmospheric carbon and new emissions. It also could lower costs by providing a higher concentration of CO2 for the machine to capture. “It’s a very impressive system, a triumph,” says Socolow, who thinks scientific advances made in air capture will eventually be used primarily on coal and gas power plants.

Such an application could play a critical role in cleaning up greenhouse gas emissions. But Eisenberger has revealed even loftier goals. A patent granted to him and Chichilnisky in 2008 described air capture technology as, among other things, “a global thermostat for controlling average temperature of a planet’s atmosphere.”

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/531346/can-sucking-co2-out-of-the-atmosphere-really-work/

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

California Drought Fueled By Climate Change

Fourth Year Of Drought Causes Worst Water Shortage Ever

Since human-caused climate change can trigger and exacerbate drought conditions, everyone wants to know if rising global temperatures is causing or contributing to the current drought in California. A new study says yes.

climate change and California drought

Scientists have suspected for some time now that a certain meteorological condition lies behind the long-lasting California drought. The persistence of a stubborn high-pressure system off the coast has been preventing storm systems from reaching California and instead deflecting them to Alaska and elsewhere.

While weather events are almost always multi-causal, the California drought is largely a result of this atmospheric weather pattern. The question is whether climate change has influenced the development, or sustenance, of this system.

Stanford Scientists Connect Dots

When destructive events happen, people want to know right then and there what’s going on— whether it’s an epidemic, riot or weather disaster. But evaluating an extreme weather event for climate change influences is a scientific process that takes several months of computer simulations and statistical techniques. Scientists from Stanford have found that the meteorological conditions that have caused the California drought are far more likely to occur in today’s warming world than in one without human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases.

California drought trend

It shows us – ironically and tragically – that the state that leads the nation in curbing greenhouse gas emissions is right now suffering more than any other from climate change. The California drought attribution studies are a subset of a larger collection of recently published studies that explain 16 extreme weather and climate events of 2013. Twenty research teams explored the causes of events such as heat waves in Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan, China, and Europe; torrential downpours in Colorado and India, a blizzard in South Dakota, and a cold spell in the United Kingdom.

The studies overwhelmingly indicated that all heat waves were largely attributable to human-caused climate change. One study even suggested that the heat wave in Korea has been made 10 times more likely due to human influence.

The extreme rainfall events in India were concluded to have been more likely in a human-influenced world, but data for assessing precipitation events is rather limited as compared to heat haves. Further, studies concluded that the extreme rainfall event in Colorado, the blizzard in South Dakota, and the cold spell in the U.K. were unlikely to have been influenced by climate change.

reforestation and carbon capture

Climate Change Happening Now

So for anyone who may still think that the consequences of climate change are in the distant future, this collection of studies suggest that human-caused climate change is right now causing a crisis in America’s most populous state and the world’s eighth largest economy.

California reminds us that climate change is a major concern for societies everywhere, and that all nations are vulnerable to extreme weather events. It’s time we roll up our sleeves and stop this, once and for all.

Source: http://www.edf.org/blog/2014/10/02/how-scientists-linked-california-drought-climate-change

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

U.S. Carbon Offset Price Hits Record High

Price Of Carbon Pollution Going Up

Carbon permits for the Northeast’s carbon market traded as high as $5.10 a ton on Monday, an all time high, following the release of federal rules that will allow states to use markets to meet new emissions targets.

The market’s benchmark December 2014 contract traded for $5.10 a ton on the IntercontinentalExchange on Monday before retreating to $5 a ton later in the day, brokers said. The market’s spot contract for June delivery also traded for $5 a ton.

climate change and deforestation

On Monday, the Obama administration released regulations calling for the power sector to cut carbon emissions 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. Under the rules, states can use cap-and-trade programs such as the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to achieve the goals.

“The market had a knee-jerk reaction to the rules this morning,” one broker said about Monday’s trading.

The release of the rules had less of an impact on California‘s carbon market where the market’s benchmark contract traded for $11.90 a metric tonne, a broker said, the same price that it settled at on Friday.

The rules, issued by Environmental Protection Agency, are expected to create an additional incentive for states to join existing cap and trade programs such as RGGI and California markets.

Despite having implemented a variety of carbon cutting measures, California could have trouble complying with the rule since it is based on the “emissions intensity” of the power it produces, not just its overall carbon emissions.

reforestation and carbon capture

In 2012, California‘s emissions intensity was 8 percent higher than it was in 2005 due to the shutdown of a large, carbon-free nuclear power plant in Southern California. The state has had to rely on natural gas-fired plants to fill the gap, which pushed California‘s emissions intensity up in recent years, counter to the national trend, said Ashley Lawson, a Point Carbon analyst at Thomson Reuters.

Washington state must make the biggest relative reductions to meet the 2030 target, according to the regulations, followed by ArizonaSouth Carolina and Oregon.

States that rely heavily on coal for electricity, including MontanaWest Virginia and North Dakota, actually have some of the least stringent targets because they are deemed to have less of an ability to transition away from coal toward lower emitting natural gas or carbon-free renewables.

The governors of Washington and Oregon earlier this year said they would move toward pricing carbon emissions, possibly by linking to California‘s carbon market.

On Monday, Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, which oversees the California market, said she believes the state will exceed its federal targets

“We look forward to working with other states, including Oregon and Washington, in a regional approach to take action to cut carbon pollution and promote the cleanest sources of energy,” said Nichols.

Source: http://www.marinelink.com/news/northeast-alltime-carbon370310.aspx

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Climate Changing But Governments Are Not

Global Warming An Industrial Experiment

By Naomi Klein

One of the most disturbing ways that climate change is already playing out is through what ecologists call “mismatch” or “mistiming.” This is the process whereby warming causes animals to fall out of step with a critical food source, particularly at breeding times, when a failure to find enough food can lead to rapid population losses.

sustainable cities and urban forestry

The migration patterns of many songbird species, for instance, have evolved over millennia so that eggs hatch precisely when food sources such as caterpillars are at their most abundant, providing parents with ample nourishment for their hungry young. But because spring now often arrives early, the caterpillars are hatching earlier too, which means that in some areas they are less plentiful when the chicks hatch, with a number of possible long-term impacts on survival.

Similarly, in West Greenland, caribou are arriving at their calving grounds only to find themselves out of sync with the forage plants they have relied on for thousands of years, now growing earlier thanks to rising temperatures. That is leaving female caribou with less energy for lactation, reproduction and feeding their young, a mismatch that has been linked to sharp decreases in calf births and survival rates.

Scientists are studying cases of climate-related mistiming among dozens of species, from Arctic terns to pied flycatchers. But there is one important species they are missing – us. Homo sapiens. We too are suffering from a terrible case of climate-related mistiming, albeit in a cultural-historical, rather than a biological, sense. Our problem is that the climate crisis hatched in our laps at a moment in history when political and social conditions were uniquely hostile to a problem of this nature and magnitude – that moment being the tail end of the go-go 80s, the blast-off point for the crusade to spread deregulated capitalism around the world. Climate change is a collective problem demanding collective action the likes of which humanity has never actually accomplished. Yet it entered mainstream consciousness in the midst of an ideological war being waged on the very idea of the collective sphere.

This deeply unfortunate mistiming has created all sorts of barriers to our ability to respond effectively to this crisis. It has meant that corporate power was ascendant at the very moment when we needed to exert unprecedented controls over corporate behavior in order to protect life on Earth. It has meant that regulation was a dirty word just when we needed those powers most. It has meant that we are ruled by a class of politicians who know only how to dismantle and starve public institutions just when they most need to be fortified and re-imagined. And it has meant that we are saddled with an apparatus of “free trade” deals that tie the hands of policymakers just when they need maximum flexibility to achieve a massive energy transition.

climate change and deforestation

Confronting these various structural barriers to the next economy is the critical work of any serious climate movement. But it’s not the only task at hand. We also have to confront how the mismatch between climate change and market domination has created barriers within our very selves, making it harder to look at this most pressing of humanitarian crises with anything more than furtive, terrified glances. Because of the way our daily lives have been altered by both market and technological triumphalism, we lack many of the observational tools necessary to convince ourselves that climate change is real – let alone the confidence to believe that a different way of living is possible.

And little wonder: just when we needed to gather, our public sphere was disintegrating; just when we needed to consume less, consumerism took over virtually every aspect of our lives; just when we needed to slow down and notice, we sped up; and just when we needed longer time horizons, we were able to see only the immediate present.

This is our climate change mismatch, and it affects not just our species but potentially every other species on the planet as well.

The good news is that, unlike reindeer and songbirds, we humans are blessed with the capacity for advanced reasoning and therefore the ability to adapt more deliberately – to change old patterns of behaviour with remarkable speed. If the ideas that rule our culture are stopping us from saving ourselves, then it is within our power to change those ideas. But before that can happen, we first need to understand the nature of our personal climate mismatch.

tanzania children and women

Being consumers is all we know

Climate change demands that we consume less, but being consumers is all we know. Climate change is not a problem that can be solved simply by changing what we buy – a hybrid instead of an SUV, some carbon offsets when we get on a plane. At its core, it is a crisis born of overconsumption by the comparatively wealthy, which means the world’s most manic consumers are going to have to consume less.

The problem is not “human nature,” as we are so often told. We weren’t born having to shop this much, and we have, in our recent past, been just as happy (in many cases happier) consuming far less. The problem is the inflated role that consumption has come to play in our particular era.

Late capitalism teaches us to create ourselves through our consumer choices: shopping is how we form our identities, find community and express ourselves. Thus, telling people that they can’t shop as much as they want to because the planet’s support systems are overburdened can be understood as a kind of attack, akin to telling them that they cannot truly be themselves. This is likely why, of the original “three Rs” – reduce, reuse, recycle – only the third has ever gotten any traction, since it allows us to keep on shopping as long as we put the refuse in the right box. The other two, which require that we consume less, were pretty much dead on arrival.

Climate change is slow, and we are fast. When you are racing through a rural landscape on a bullet train, it looks as if everything you are passing is standing still: people, tractors, cars on country roads. They aren’t, of course. They are moving, but at a speed so slow compared with the train that they appear static.

So it is with climate change. Our culture, powered by fossil fuels, is that bullet train, hurtling forward toward the next quarterly report, the next election cycle, the next bit of diversion or piece of personal validation via our smartphones and tablets. Our changing climate is like the landscape out the window: from our racy vantage point it can appear static, but it is moving, its slow progress measured in receding ice sheets, swelling waters and incremental temperature rises. If left unchecked, climate change will most certainly speed up enough to capture our fractured attention – island nations wiped off the map, and city-drowning superstorms, tend to do that. But by then, it may be too late for our actions to make a difference, because the era of tipping points will likely have begun.

sustainable agriculture Uganda

The importance of the intensely local

Climate change is place-based, and we are everywhere at once. The problem is not just that we are moving too quickly. It is also that the terrain on which the changes are taking place is intensely local: an early blooming of a particular flower, an unusually thin layer of ice on a lake, the late arrival of a migratory bird. Noticing those kinds of subtle changes requires an intimate connection to a specific ecosystem. That kind of communion happens only when we know a place deeply, not just as scenery but also as sustenance, and when local knowledge is passed on with a sense of sacred trust from one generation to the next.

But that is increasingly rare in the urbanised, industrialised world. We tend to abandon our homes lightly – for a new job, a new school, a new love. And as we do so, we are severed from whatever knowledge of place we managed to accumulate at the previous stop, as well as from the knowledge amassed by our ancestors (who, at least in my case, migrated repeatedly themselves).

Even for those of us who manage to stay put, our daily existence can be disconnected from the physical places where we live. Shielded from the elements as we are in our climate-controlled homes, workplaces and cars, the changes unfolding in the natural world easily pass us by. We might have no idea that a historic drought is destroying the crops on the farms that surround our urban homes, since the supermarkets still display miniature mountains of imported produce, with more coming in by truck all day. It takes something huge – like a hurricane that passes all previous high-water marks, or a flood destroying thousands of homes – for us to notice that something is truly amiss. And even then we have trouble holding on to that knowledge for long, since we are quickly ushered along to the next crisis before these truths have a chance to sink in.

Climate change, meanwhile, is busily adding to the ranks of the rootless every day, as natural disasters, failed crops, starving livestock and climate-fuelled ethnic conflicts force yet more people to leave their ancestral homes. And with every human migration, more crucial connections to specific places are lost, leaving yet fewer people to listen closely to the land.

air pollution Beijing

How we made the air our sewer

Climate pollutants are invisible, and we have stopped believing in what we cannot see. When BP’s Macondo well ruptured in 2010, releasing torrents of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, one of the things we heard from company chief executive Tony Hayward was that “the Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume.” The statement was widely ridiculed at the time, and rightly so, but Hayward was merely voicing one of our culture’s most cherished beliefs: that what we can’t see won’t hurt us and, indeed, barely exists.

So much of our economy relies on the assumption that there is always an “away” into which we can throw our waste. There’s the away where our garbage goes when it is taken from the curb, and the away where our waste goes when it is flushed down the drain. There’s the away where the minerals and metals that make up our goods are extracted, and the away where those raw materials are turned into finished products. But the lesson of the BP spill, in the words of ecological theorist Timothy Morton, is that ours is “a world in which there is no ‘away.'”

When I published No Logo a decade and a half ago, readers were shocked to learn of the abusive conditions under which their clothing and gadgets were manufactured. But we have since learned to live with it – not to condone it, exactly, but to be in a state of constant forgetfulness. Ours is an economy of ghosts, of deliberate blindness.

Air is the ultimate unseen, and the greenhouse gases that warm it are our most elusive ghosts. Philosopher David Abram points out that for most of human history, it was precisely this unseen quality that gave the air its power and commanded our respect. “Called Sila, the wind-mind of the world, by the Inuit; Nilch’i, or Holy Wind, by the Navajo; Ruach, or rushing-spirit, by the ancient Hebrews,” the atmosphere was “the most mysterious and sacred dimension of life.”

But in our time “we rarely acknowledge the atmosphere as it swirls between two persons.” Having forgotten the air, Abram writes, we have made it our sewer, “the perfect dump site for the unwanted byproducts of our industries … Even the most opaque, acrid smoke billowing out of the pipes will dissipate and disperse, always and ultimately dissolving into the invisible. It’s gone. Out of sight, out of mind.”

deforestation and global warming

The timeframes that escape us

Another part of what makes climate change so very difficult for us to grasp is that ours is a culture of the perpetual present, one that deliberately severs itself from the past that created us as well as the future we are shaping with our actions. Climate change is about how what we did generations in the past will inescapably affect not just the present, but generations in the future. These timeframes are a language that has become foreign to most of us.

This is not about passing individual judgment, nor about berating ourselves for our shallowness or rootlessness. Rather, it is about recognising that we are products of an industrial project, one intimately and historically linked to fossil fuels.

And just as we have changed before, we can change again. After listening to the great farmer-poet Wendell Berry deliver a lecture on how we each have a duty to love our “homeplace” more than any other, I asked him if he had any advice for rootless people like me and my friends, who live in our computers and always seem to be shopping from home. “Stop somewhere,” he replied. “And begin the thousand-year-long process of knowing that place.”

That’s good advice on lots of levels. Because in order to win this fight of our lives, we all need a place to stand.

This column first appeared in The Nation. Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate, will be published this September by Allen Lane.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/23/climate-change-fight-of-our-lives-naomi-klein

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Climate Change Skeptics Should Dump Apple Shares, Says Cook

Company Slashing Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook has bluntly told climate change skeptic investors to ditch their stocks if they do not support his pledge to slash greenhouse gas emissions, in the latest signal that the company will continue to invest in sustainable energy. According to witnesses at Apple’s annual meeting on Friday, Cook became visibly angry when questioned by a radical right-wing think tank about the profitability of investing in renewable energy.

Tim Cook and climate change

Under Cook’s leadership Apple has stepped up its commitment to curbing its environmental impact, pledging to supply 100 percent of its power from renewable sources and crack down on the use of minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that can fund war and human rights abuses.

At the meeting last week, shareholders voted down a resolution by theNational Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR) – an avid campaigner against action to tackle climate change – that would force Apple to disclose more information about the costs of its investment in tackling climate change.

However, Justin Danhof of the NCPPR pursued the line by asking Cook if Apple’s environmental investments increased or decreased the company’s bottom line. He also asked Cook to commit Apple to only investing in measures that were profitable. Cook became visibly angry at Danhof’s questions and categorically rejected the NCPPR’s climate skepticism, according to the Mac Observer’s Bryan Chaffin, who attended the event. He told shareholders that securing a return on investment was not the only reason for investing in environmental measures.

reforestation and carbon capture

“When we work on making our devices accessible by the blind, I don’t consider the bloody ROI,” Cook said, adding that the same sentiment applied to environmental and health and safety issues.

He told Danhof that if he did not believe in climate change, he should sell his Apple shares. “If you want me to do things only for ROI reasons, you should get out of this stock,” he said.

Cook’s comments and visible passion over the issue are one of the strongest signals yet of his commitment to reducing Apple’s environmental footprint. He told shareholders that he wanted to “leave the world better than we found it”.

Company Serves Stakeholders, Shareholders

The NCPPR has reacted angrily to Cook’s put-down, accusing him of denying shareholders the right to know how their money is being invested. In a statement released after the meeting, Danhof accused Apple of failing to consider the long-term impacts of its environmental investments, arguing that Apple did not have the best interests of its shareholders at heart.

“Too often investors look at short-term returns and are unaware of corporate policy decisions that may affect long-term financial prospects,” he said. “After today’s meeting, investors can be certain that Apple is wasting untold amounts of shareholder money to combat so-called climate change. The only remaining question is: how much?

“The company’s CEO fervently wants investors who care more about return on investments than reducing CO2 emissions to no longer invest in Apple. Maybe they should take him up on that advice.”

However, the NCPPR did not say if it was now planning to sell its Apple shares.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/03/tim-cook-climate-change-sceptics-ditch-apple-shares

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Air Pollution Killing Beijing In Many Ways

Air Pollution Impacting Health In China

Severe air pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital “barely suitable” for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world’s second largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth. Pollution is a rising concern for China’s stability-obsessed leaders, keen to douse potential unrest as affluent city dwellers turn against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has tainted much of the country’s air, water and soil.

air pollution and global warming

Moscow Even Worse Air Quality

The report, by the Beijing-based Social Science Academic Press and the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, ranked the Chinese capital second worst out of 40 global cities for its environmental conditions, official media reported on Thursday. Moscow was rated the least hospitable, based on factors such as cost of living and security, as well as pollution.

China’s smog has brought some Chinese cities to a near standstill, caused flight delays and forced schools to shut. Beijing was hit by severe levels of pollution at least once every week, according to the 2012 Blue Paper for World Cities report. That was on top of a significant level of air pollution covering the capital for 189 days in 2013, according to city’s Environmental Protection Bureau.

reforestation and carbon capture

Though China’s record on pollution is patchy, the government said on Wednesday it would set up a 10 billion yuan ($1.65 billion) fund to fight air pollution, offering rewards for companies that clean up operations.

Overall the government has pledged to spend over 3 trillion yuan ($494.85 billion) to tackle the problem, creating a growing market for companies that can help boost energy efficiency and lower emissions.

air pollution Beijing

Beijing will also shut 300 polluting factories this year and publish a list of industrial projects to be halted or suspended by the end of April, state news agency Xinhua said. ($1 = 6.0624 Chinese yuan.)

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/12/beijing-smog_n_4777506.html?ref=topbar

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Urban Forestry Grants Awarded In Maine

State Invests In Urban Canopy

Project Canopy, the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s community forestry program, has awarded $106,243.00 in grants to local governments and municipalities, educational institutions and non-profit organizations that support community efforts to develop and maintain long-term community forestry programs.

“Project Canopy increases community awareness of the benefits of our forests and trees and  promotes community forest management practices,” Gov. Paul R. LePage said. “It also supports Maine jobs by benefiting local landscapers, nurseries, foresters and loggers.”

reforestation and forest conservation

Commissioner Walt Whitcomb highlighted that Project Canopy grants support important segments of the Maine economy. “In addition to the impact on the forest industry, these grants support Maine’s horticulture industry. That industry supports 7,826 jobs with a total annual economic impact of $286 million,” Whitcomb said. “Project Canopy supports and enhances economic growth and jobs in that growing segment of Maine’s economy as well.”

The cooperative partnership between the Department’s Bureau of Forestry and GrowSmart Maine awarded 6 Planning and Education grants and 11 Tree planting and Maintenance Grants.

Planting grants were awarded to:

  • Alna Volunteer Fire Department – $4,478
  • Town of Camden – $8,000
  • Town of Cape Elizabeth – $7,299
  • Town of Houlton – $8,000
  • Life Enrichment Advancing People (Farmington) – $2,500
  • The Longfellow School (Portland) – 4,430
  • Pleasant Hill Cemetery Association, Inc. (Freedom) – $2,822
  • Town of Rockport – $4,185
  • Town of Topsham – $8,000
  • Town of Veazie – $4,000
  • Town of Yarmouth – $7,995

Planning Grants were awarded to:

  • Androscoggin Land Trust (Canton and Jay) – $10,000
  • Lake Auburn Watershed Neighborhood Association (Auburn) – $7,230
  • City of Lewiston – $10,000
  • Town of Old Orchard Beach – $7,954
  • Vinalhaven Land Trust (Vinalhaven) – $6,850
  • Town of Wilton  – $2,500

The 2013 Project Canopy grants were selected from a total of 27 applications, with grant requests totaling $185,510.

reforestation and carbon capture

Project Canopy Assistance Grants are available to state, county, and municipal governments, educational institutions, and nonprofit organizations for developing and implementing community forestry projects and programs. Planting projects increase the health and livability of communities through sound tree planting and maintenance, while planning and education projects support sustainable community forestry management, and efforts to increase awareness of the benefits of trees and forests. All grants require a 50% match from the grant recipient.

Project canopy is funded by the USDA Forest Service Community Forestry Assistance Program. The USDA Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program was established to promote natural resource management in populated areas and improve quality of life.

Source: http://www.wiscassetnewspaper.com/article/community-forestry-grants-awarded/27707

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Trees Saving Lives In Cities By Reducing Pollution

Urban Forestry A Tool Against Climate Change

In the first effort to estimate the overall impact of a city’s urban forest on concentrations of fine particulate pollution (particulate matter less than 2.5 microns, or PM2.5), a U.S. Forest Service and Davey Institute study found that urban trees and forests are saving an average of one life every year per city. In New York City, trees save an average of eight lives every year. Of course, trees also can generate additional environmental and economic benefits.

reforestation and carbon capture

Researchers looked specifically at particles less than 2.5 microns, which can increase the risk of conditions such as atherosclerosis and lung inflammation. The team calculated the likely effects of tree cover on the health of residents in 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Minneapolis.

Trees removed 4.7 to 64.5 tons of these particles from the air per year, a service worth $1.1 million to $60.1 million, the authors say. In the tropics and subtropical regions of the world, the impact is even greater because the trees are growing and breathing year round.

The researchers estimate that the reduction in pollution prevented about one death per year in each city; that figure went up to 7.6 in New York, partly because so many people live there. Trees in Los Angeles were less effective at cleaning the air because lack of rain keeps the particles from washing off leaves.

urban forests

Fine particulate air pollution has serious health effects, including premature mortality, pulmonary inflammation, accelerated atherosclerosis, and altered cardiac functions. In a study recently published on-line by the journal Environmental Pollution, researchers David Nowak and Robert Hoehn of the U.S. Forest Service and Satoshi Hirabayashi and Allison Bodine of the Davey Institute in Syracuse, N.Y., estimated how much fine particulate matter is removed by trees in 10 cities, their impact on PM2.5 concentrations and associated values and impacts on human health.

“More than 80 percent of Americans live in urban areas containing over 100 million acres of trees and forests,“ said Michael T. Rains, Director of the Forest Service´s Northern Research Station and Acting Director of the Forest Products Lab. “œThis research clearly illustrates that America´s urban forests are critical capital investments helping produce clear air and water; reduce energy costs; and, making cities more livable. Simply put, our urban forests improve people´s lives.“

Cities included in the study were Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Syracuse, NY.

reforestation

Overall, the greatest effect of trees on reducing health impacts of PM2.5 occurred in New York due to its relatively large human population and the trees´ moderately high removal rate and reduction in pollution concentration. The greatest overall removal by trees was in Atlanta due to its relatively high percent tree cover and PM2.5 concentrations.

“Trees can make cities healthier,“ Nowak said. “While we need more research to generate better estimates, this study suggests that trees are an effective tool in reducing air pollution and creating healthier urban environments.“

The removal of PM2.5 by urban trees is substantially lower than for larger particulate matter (particulate matter less than 10 microns — PM10), but the health implications and values are much higher. The total amount of PM2.5 removed annually by trees varied from 4.7 metric tons in Syracuse to 64.5 metric tons in Atlanta, with annual values varying from $1.1 million in Syracuse to $60.1 million in New York City. Most of these values were dominated by the effects of reducing human mortality; the average value per reduced death was $7.8 million. Reduction in human mortality ranged from one person per 365,000 people in Atlanta to one person per 1.35 million people in San Francisco.

Researchers used the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency´s BenMAP program to estimate the incidence of adverse health effects, such as mortality and morbidity, and associated monetary value that result from changes in PM2.5 concentrations. Local population statistics from the 2010 U.S. Census were also used in the model. i-Tree, a suite of tools developed by the Forest Service and Davey Institute, was used to calculate PM2.5 removal and associated change in concentrations in the study cities.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation´s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of our nation´s forests; 850 million acres including 100 million acres of urban forests where most Americans live. The mission of the Forest Service´s Northern Research Station is to improve people´s lives and help sustain the natural resources in the Northeast and Midwest through leading-edge science and effective information delivery.

Source: Nowak, D.J. et al. 2013. Modeled PM2.5 removal by trees in ten U.S. cities and associated health effects. 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.03.050. http://www.conservationmagazine.org/2013/06/spring-cleaning/ http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112879471/forest-service-study-finds-urban-trees-removing-fine-particulate-air-pollution-saving-lives/

climate change and deforestation

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, carbon capture, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems.

Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com

Urban Forestry Can Mitigate Climate Change

Urban Canopy Makes Cities More Efficient, Resilient

Urban forests will play an even more important role as we seek solutions to maximize the quality of life in our cities, while reducing energy consumption and maximizing the uptake of carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants.

Sacred Seedlings is a reforestation (including urban areas) and carbon offset program operated in cooperation with indigenous groups around the globe. Those who have always lived closest to the earth, and respected it the most, are putting their wisdom to work to help save the planet and their cultures for future generations.

reforestation and forest conservation

We are coordinating a global forest conservation and reforestation program that will help offset carbon build-up in the atmosphere and mitigate the effects of climate change. The program will generate numerous benefits:

  • Offset carbon in the atmosphere, reduce energy consumption and air pollution.
  • Reforest tribal lands, public lands, inner cities, and private property around the globe.
  • Preserve wildlife habitat and green spaces for communities.
  • Generate jobs for indigenous people around the globe.    

Source: http://greenercities.org/urban-forestry-and-climate-change/

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support.

reforestation and climate change solution

Sacred Seedlings is a global initiative to support forest conservation, reforestation, urban forestry, sustainable agriculture and wildlife conservation. Sustainable land management and land use are critical to the survival of entire ecosystems. Sacred Seedlings is a U.S.-based program that supports the vision of local stakeholders. We have projects ready across Africa. We seek additional projects elsewhere around the world. We also seek volunteers, sponsors and donors of cash and in-kind support. Write to Gary Chandler for more information gary@crossbow1.com