Blackrock, books, cutting pollution, Environment, Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center, Gallapagos tortoise, Glistening Inkcap, Green investing, green living, habitat restoration, Lawrence D. Fink, recycling, San Francisco, Uncategorized

odds and ends

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Diego, the Tortoise Whose High Sex Drive Helped Save His Species, Retires

With the future secured, he’s finally going home. Good job, Diego.

By Aimee Ortiz
Jan. 12, 2020

A member of the giant tortoise species indigenous to Española Island in the Galápagos in Ecuador, Diego was one of 15 tortoises in a captive breeding program at the Fausto Llerena Tortoise Center on the island of Santa Cruz.

Among the males, Diego displayed an exceptional sex drive, so much so, he’s credited with helping save his species from extinction. Approximately 40 percent of the 2,000 tortoises repatriated to Española Island are estimated to be Diego’s descendants, officials said.

Now, more than 100 years old, he is retiring, since the Galápagos National Park announced the end of the breeding program, saying an evaluation showed it had met its conservation goals. (Maybe he doesn’t want to quit now!!)

Begun in 1965, the program on Pinzón Island started with the last 2 males and 12 females, plus Diego, a 30-year old male from the San Diego Zoo who is believed to have been taken from Española Island in the 1930s.

For many years, feral goats overran the island, competing for food and destroying the habitat. Conservationists have worked to restore the island’s habitat, including the growth of cacti, which are a main source of food for the tortoises.

There are more details on the breeding program here.      And here.

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LAURENT GILLIERON-AP

Photo: Laurent Gillieron. AP

Climate Crisis Will Reshape Finance,
Andrew Ross Sorkin,

January 14, 2020

Laurence D. Fink, the founder and chief executive of BlackRock, announced Tuesday that his firm would make investment decisions with environmental sustainability as a core goal.

BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager with nearly $7 trillion in investments, and this move will fundamentally shift its investing policy — and could reshape how corporate America does business and put pressure on other large money managers to follow suit.

Mr. Fink’s annual letter to the chief executives of the world’s largest companies is closely watched, and in the 2020 edition he said BlackRock would begin to exit certain investments that “present a high sustainability-related risk,” such as those in coal producers. His intent is to encourage every company, not just energy firms, to rethink their carbon footprints.

“Awareness is rapidly changing, and I believe we are on the edge of a fundamental reshaping of finance,” Mr. Fink wrote in the letter, which was obtained by The New York Times. “The evidence on climate risk is compelling investors to reassess core assumptions about modern finance.”

In recent years, many companies and investors have committed to focusing on the environmental impact of business, but none of the largest investors in the country have been willing to make it a central component of their investment strategy.

In that context, Mr. Fink’s move is a watershed — one that could spur a national conversation among financiers and policymakers. However, it’s also possible that some of the most ardent climate activists will see it as falling short.

More details here.

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Tyler Varsell

Photo: Tyler Varsell

Climate Fwd – One Thing We Can Do: Fix Recycling
by Eduardo Garcia,

January 15, 2020

For years, we relied heavily on recycling operations in China to take our waste. But that came to an end in 2018, when Beijing barred the import of recycling materials. The result is a waste crisis that has caused at least dozens of municipalities to cancel curbside recycling programs, with many more implementing partial cuts. Huge amounts of recyclables are now going to landfills.

Experts say that we would need to implement changes across the board. Legislators may need to pass laws requiring manufacturers to use more recyclable materials, companies would need to build much-needed recycling infrastructure and people would need to recycle properly.

Cities can’t do all that. But they can play an important role.

For a possible model, consider San Francisco, which runs one of the most successful waste-management programs in the United States. Through recycling and composting, the city manages to keep around 80 percent of its waste out of landfills.

San Francisco’s program has been years in the making. In 2000, it introduced the “fantastic three” citywide curbside collection program with separate, color-coded bins for recyclables, compost and trash. In 2009, it passed a law requiring residents and businesses to separate their waste.

Other policies include bans on hard-to-recycle items including single-use plastic bags and polystyrene packaging and an ordinance requiring food vendors to use compostable or recyclable food containers.

San Francisco’s system is built on a highly unusual partnership with a single waste company. That company, Recology, has had a monopoly on handling San Francisco’s waste for almost 90 years. That no-bid, no-franchise-fee concession has come under harsh criticism over the years.

More here.

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Also, in “Spotlight On” –

800px-Coprinellus_micaceus_Glimmer-TintlingGlistening Inkcap

This is a common edible fungus found all over the world. It grows in dense clusters on rotting hardwood and disturbed ground sites. Under humid conditions, it can also grow indoors on rotting wood. In one instance it was discovered about four hundred feet underground in an abandoned coal mine, growing on wooden gangways and props used to support the roof. The Glistening inkcap can be highly productive, with several successive crops appearing during one fruiting season.
The entire cap surface is covered with reflective cells that look like flakes of mica, which give this mushroom its name.
It is edible, and is enjoyed in omelets and sauces. Nutritionally, it contains a very high concentration of potassium, but also accumulates heavy metals from exposure, so it should not be collected from roadsides and other areas that may be exposed to pollutants.
The scientific community has found the Coprinellus micaeus of interest since 1601, when it was the subject of a monograph by Carolus Clusius in The History of Rare Plants. As this mushroom is plentiful and easily grown in laboratories, it has often been the subject in studies of cells and the processes of spore production.
Bioactive compounds have been isolated from Coprinellus micaeus. One was found to inhibit the enzyme that aids cancer cells to resist chemotherapy, and one has been shown to have some modest potential as an antioxidant. (From Volume 1 of Secret Voices, Coastal Redwood Companions)

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And, don’t forget my books, Secret Voices from the Forest – Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, are on sale on Amazon.com. p.s. There are some weird people offering them for sale, sometimes for hundreds of dollars! Don’t be fooled. The list prices are $28.95 for Vols. 1 & 2, and $32.95 for Vol. 3.

cover    cover-SV2    Vol. 3 - The East copy

See ya later, alligator.

 

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A little more news…

NOAA Climate.gov

Our Future Depends on the Arctic
Save it from the ravages of warming and we can save the planet.

By Durwood J. Zaelke and Paul Bledsoe
The authors work for groups focused on climate policy.
Dec. 14, 2019, NYTimes California Today

Delegates from all over the world spent two weeks in Madrid, trying to work out how to reach a global goal of net zero emissions by 2050. As the United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, warned in opening the meeting: “The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling toward us.”

Perhaps nowhere is that more true than in the Arctic. The surface air there is warming at twice the global rate and temperatures over the past five years have exceeded all previous records since 1900.

A study published in Geophysical Research Letters in June described the catastrophic consequences of losing the Arctic’s reflective summer sea ice, which reflects incoming solar warming back to space, that would otherwise be absorbed by the ocean. Equal to an extra 25 years of current levels of emissions, it will push us more quickly towards catastrophic damage: more intense heat waves and coastal flooding, extinctions of species and threats to food supplies.

The heating up of the Arctic is also speeding the thawing of permafrost, causing the release of more carbon dioxide and methane, a greenhouse gas 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when measured over 20 years, along with nitrous oxide, a powerful long-lived climate pollutant.

If we are to keep the Arctic ice strong, we not only need to cut diesel emissions, limit methane emissions from landfills, and keep strict regulations on refrigerants in air-conditioners and consumer products. California has cut these emissions by more than 90% since the 1960s.

Several other geoengineering ideas are being floated, such as putting a covering of white sand over first year ice, to enhance its reflectivity, or introduce particles into the atmosphere to reflect solar radiation. There are potential risks with these procedures, and there could be experiments to see if the risks are worth the effort.

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em012617h

New Clean-Car Rules for New Mexico,
December 4, 2019, Sierra Club

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico will join 14 other states in adopting clean-car standards requiring new cars sold in the state to emit fewer greenhouse gases. The standards also mandate an increasing percentage of cars to have zero emissions.

Lujan Grisham made the announcement in September at Climate Week in New York City, where U.S. governors met to discuss states advancing ambitious climate action in the face of federal inaction. The move came on the heels of the announcement that the Trump administration is revoking California’s authority to set fuel-efficiency and greenhouse-gas standards stricter than federal standards. California and nearly two dozen other states are suing the administration over the attack.

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Diego Ibarra Sanchez

Where Eagle Feathers Fall Like Snow,
By Helen Sullivan, NYTimes Climate Forward

January 6, 2020

Adonis Al Khatib, of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Lebanon, works with students, community leaders and hunting associations to instill sustainable hunting practices. Hunting is ubiquitous in Lebanon, which has the 11th-highest rate of small-arms ownership in the world. Half to three-quarters of boys own guns, and birds can be a common target.

Among the Society’s top concerns is protecting the 2.5 billion migratory birds that pass over the country twice a year. During those journeys, 2.6 million migratory birds are shot or trapped illegally, according to BirdLife International; S.P.N.L. is that organization’s official partner in Lebanon. As other countries examine why some of their protected birds aren’t returning from migration, Lebanon has come under the spotlight.

Lebanon’s topography is dominated by two long mountain ranges. Various bird migration routes, or flyways, pass through the country; when squeezed between mountains, the routes narrow, forming bottlenecks. The bottlenecks create conditions for satisfying bird-watching, and make it easier for organizations like S.P.N.L. to conduct bird counts.

But the bottlenecks also serve hunters. At certain points throughout the country, the narrow flyways funnel birds through elevated vantage points from which hunters can get easy shots.

Assad Serhal, a founder of S.P.N.L., is a reformed hunter. The organization has lobbied Lebanon’s government for stricter anti-poaching laws, and has reintroduced a traditional Islamic system of conservation to Lebanon.

Twenty years ago, on very old military maps, he noticed areas labeled, “hima.” In Arabic, hima can mean refuge, protected area, private pasture or homeland; “Humat al-Hima” (Defenders of the Homeland) is Tunisia’s national anthem. Mr. Serhal had known vaguely of the idea, but had no idea that hima had existed in Lebanon.

He discovered that the concept dates back more than 1,000 years, with a mention in the Quran. Muhammad had designated certain areas as hima, which meant they were subject to rules about grazing, hunting or even trade. On Mr. Serhal’s maps, it turned out, hima signified communal areas. The word’s appearance gave him an idea: Perhaps he could revive its traditional meaning.

Mr. Serhal thought that, instead, hima might be accepted as a traditional concept; it also would include communities and municipalities in the design of the conservation areas. Hima wouldn’t be just about protecting nature, Mr. Serhal said; it would be “nature plus people.” When S.P.N.L. helped a community design a local hima, the group suggested additional conservation methods, like banning hunting.

The first hima was established in southern Lebanon in 2004. Today there are 25; they have been given legal status by the government and cover more land than Lebanon’s national parks. Five of the designated hima are also what BirdLife calls “Important Bird Areas,” of which there are 15 in the country.

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And in “Spotlight On”

http---cdn.cnn.com-cnnnext-dam-assets-190815135835-03-north-dakota-sunflower

 Sunflower

Our native Sunflower was domesticated and cultivated by indigenous Americans, possibly as long as five thousand years ago, when seeds were selected for the best size and shape to produce the largest crop. They were used to make flour, cooking oil, dye, and medicinal ointments. It has been suggested that the sunflower was domesticated before the maize plant. Some American Indian tribes planted sunflowers as a “fourth sister” to the combination of corn, beans, and squash.
Early Spanish explorers took seeds back to Europe around 1500. In 1716, the English granted a patent for a process of squeezing oil from sunflower seed. By 1769, sunflower oil had become a popular commodity with members of the Russian Orthodox Church, because it was one of the few oils not forbidden during Lent.
By 1830, the manufacture of sunflower oil had become a commercial enterprise, and Russian farmers were growing over two million acres of the plant. By 1880, sunflower seeds called the “Mammoth Russian” were being marketed in catalogs in the U.S.
Canada began the first government sponsored breeding program in 1930, and because of high demand for sunflower oil, production grew. More recently, because of increasing concerns about high cholesterol in the diet, demand increased further, and U.S. production took off. Today the sunflower is the most important native crop plant produced in the United States. (from Volume 2, Elm Companions)

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And again, don’t forget you can buy all three volumes of Secret Voices from the Forest, Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, on Amazon.

cover   cover-SV2   Vol. 3 - The East copy

 

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News from The Treetalker – Nov 26, 2018

Lisa Carne

photo: Lisa Carne

Saving Coral

BBC Earth, by Zoe Cormier

“So far we’ve lost half the world’s reefs, and one of the biggest threats – climate change – shows no sign of abating. Scientists say if we do nothing, 90 per cent of the world’s tropical reefs will be gone by 2050, along with all the fish, wildlife and humans that depend on them.”

The Director of the Hawai’i Institute of Marine Biology says that we have learned that “putting a big seawall around the reefs” and leaving them alone doesn’t work. “We have to stop thinking that if we leave nature alone and treat it with the utmost respect that is sufficient. It’s not,” she says.

Not all hope is lost, she says: we just need to apply the science, ingenuity, manpower and – above all – money, while we still can.

“It might seem hopeless – but look at the hole in the ozone layer,” she says. “We identified the problem, acted to remove harmful gases from the atmosphere, and boom: the hole closed. That’s remarkable, and it shows that we can fix these things, we just have to start acting now.”

Read the entire article here

Larisa Bogardis

photo: Larissa Bogardis

Judge blocks controversial plan to sterilize wild horses in Oregon

From NBC News, by Daniella Silva, Nov 5, 2018

“U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman issued a preliminary injunction on Friday that stops the Bureau of Land Management from moving forward with its plan to surgically remove the ovaries of wild mares in the Warm Springs Management Area of Hines, Oregon, according to court records.”

Read the entire article here.

Timothée Brütsch

photo: Timothee Brutsch

For ants, unity is strength — and health: Ant social networks put a brake on disease spread

From ScienceDaily, 23 November 2018

“High population density, as well as frequent and close contacts between individuals, contribute to a rapid spread of diseases. To protect their colonies, ants have developed disease defense mechanisms, including adaptations to their social organization. Ants do not interact randomly with other colony members, but are organized in sub-groups according to their age and the tasks they carry out.

“How ants collectively deal with problems, such as the risk of an epidemic, could give insights into general principles of disease dynamics. Social interactions are the routes on which diseases travel and define how epidemics may spread. Basic research on ants can help us to deeper understand epidemiological processes, which can be relevant also in other social groups.”

Read the rest of the article here.

Also, if you’d like to visit my website, here is the link.

And if you are interested in my books about the sentience of North American trees, visit Amazon to purchase.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

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News from The Treetalker

Greek island Tilos on its way to becoming fully powered by renewable energy, Oct 10, 2018, Megan Treaty, for TreeHugger

This small Greek island in the Aegean Sea, home to only about 500 people year-round, but whose population doubles during tourist season, is about to show the islands around the world how to become energy independent using only renewable sources, if only on a small scale, using wind turbines, photovoltaic and a battery storage system. They are hoping to initially cover 70% of their needs, ramping it up to 100% soon.

They are currently dependent on fossil fuels that are delivered by an undersea cable, which is unreliable and is subject to tectonic activity. For the full article, click here.

tilos_greece.jpg.860x0_q70_crop-scale

How will 9 billion or 10 billion people eat without destroying the environment? By Joel Achenbach, for
The Washington Post, October 10, 2018

A sobering report published Wednesday in the journal Nature argues that a sustainable food system that doesn’t ravage the environment is going to require dramatic reforms, including a radical change in dietary habits.

The report comes on the heels of a warning from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that global leaders need to take unprecedented action in the next decade to keep the planet’s average temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels.

Global warming has typically been linked to the burning of fossil fuels, but food production is a huge and underappreciated factor, and the new report seeks to place food in the center of the conversation about how humanity can create a sustainable future.

Half the planet’s ice-free land surface is devoted to livestock or the growing of feed for those animals. That’s an area equal to North and South America combined. Rain forests are steadily being cleared for cropland. And the demand for food is increasing faster than the population: Rising income in China and many other formerly impoverished countries brings with it a higher demand for meat and other forms of animal protein. Some 70 percent of the world’s fresh water is already used in agriculture, and the demand for that water will intensify. To read the rest of the article, click here.

(Daniel Acker:Bloomberg)

The Climate Outlook Is Dire. So, What’s Next?
By Somini Sengupta, for The New York Times, Oct. 9, 2018

A report issued Sunday by 91 scientists painted a stark portrait of how quickly the planet is heating up and how serious the consequences are. In response, the United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, warned world leaders, “Do what science demands before it is too late.”

With the world’s largest emitters of CO2 unwilling to back off on their own pollution-causing policies, and the poorer countries unable to afford to change, things look frighteningly like we’re headed for catastrophe, and a lot faster than we previously thought. For the rest of the article, go here.

rendon Thorne:Bloomberg

US states agree on plan to manage overtaxed Colorado River
By DAN ELLIOTT, Oct 10, 2018, for Associated Press News

Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River say they have reached tentative agreements on managing the waterway amid an unprecedented drought. The plans announced Tuesday, Oct. 9 were a milestone for the river, which supports 40 million people and 6,300 square miles (16,300 square kilometers) of farmland in the U.S. and Mexico. The plans aren’t designed to prevent a shortage, but they’re intended to help manage and minimize the problems.

If you are interested in reading the details of this story, go here.

Ross D. Franklin

Also, Spotlight On:

Pipsissewa
The Creek Indians called the Spotted wintergreen “pipsisikweu,” which means “breaks into small pieces,” after the belief that that it could break down gallstones and kidney stones. The plant has been employed for centuries to treat many ills, but as it is increasingly rare, it is best not to collect it from the wild.
Pipsissewa has been a traditional ingredient of root beer and is still included in several brands. The oil is a flavoring agent for dental preparations, especially if combined with menthol and eucalyptus. In the 19th century Alice Morse Earle wrote in Old Time Gardens that the word Pipsissewa is one of a few words from the Algonquin that is today used in the English language.

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OK then. Another month gone by. Who knows what will happen next, right? Stay tuned to your local real news station…or not, as you choose.

Remember, Volume Three: The East of Secret Voices has been released see my page on Amazon to buy it. Have a great week (or month)!

cover proof #1

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News from The Treetalker

WWF“What does ‘protecting people and forests,
supporting economic growth’ mean to you?”

Forest News, Gabrielle Lipton, July 12, 2018, Dateline: Indonesia

At the 2018 Asia-Pacific Rainforest Summit, Forest News spoke to the director for The Nature Conservancy about rethinking the way forests factor into development, if they are to keep giving us the things we want and need.

The initial economic growth of these countries has been fueled by harvesting and selling of timber. This area holds about 60% of the world’s population, and as people’s lifestyle improves, forested land disappears in favor of agriculture, animal husbandry and mining. This results in poor air quality because of carbon emissions.

The organizations attending the Summit are working to advance ideas about ways to help the population’s economic growth continue to expand without cutting down all the trees.

Read this article here.

Xavier Cortada

T Agitprop—12 Artists on Climate Change, by Zoe Lescaze of the New York Times, August 22, 2018

A strongly visual article about the work of 12 contemporary artists who focus on several different aspects of climate change, such as rising sea levels, or connections to other living species and our affect on them, the destruction of beautiful natural landscapes, the extraction of resources from the land, the impact of more powerful storms on society and critically endangered species and the issue of extinction.

Visit the article for a look at some of their works and their stories.

Xavier Leoty:AFP

From Angelique Chrisafis, in France, for The Guardian, August 24, 2018
Choose a Side: the Battle to Keep French Isle McDonald’s-Free

The Mayor of Ile d’Oleron, the second-biggest island off mainland france after Corsica, is a major tourist destination is leading the fight, saying the island is “not about mass consumption.” Others say, “Oleron is a beautiful place, it’s important to protect it. We don’t need McDonald’s in a place that is pioneering local organic food, sustainable development, zero waste and alternative ways of living that aren’t about mass consumption.”

The battle has been going on for 4 years. Recently, a court in Poitiers ruled that the town had no legal basis to stop McDonald’s and must let them come in or pay fines on a daily basis. The verdict on the appeal is due next month.

Read the article here.

Dmitry Kostyukov:NYT

Also from the New York Times:
Paris Bees at Work From Notre-Dame to the Luxembourg Gardens
Paris has seen a marked rise in urban beekeeping, with more than 1,000 hives atop landmark buildings as well as in community gardens across the city.
By Alissa J. Rubin, August 24, 2018

Hives have been on the roof of the Opera Garnier for over 30 years; there are hives on top of Notre-Dame Cathedral, and Luxembourg Gardens have been home to honeybees for over 150 years. They also give apiculture classes, with perhaps 200 people graduating every year.

Paris officials want to ensure that there will be enough bees to service the trees and flowers of the many local parks, gardens and cemeteries. “Perhaps one reason people now want to keep bees is that it’s a way of participating in the protection of the environment.”

Paris has all but ensured the relative purity of its honey by eliminating the use of pesticides in city parks and gardens, and forbidding pesticides on plantings on home terraces and roofs, as well as cemeteries.

Read the article here.

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Remember, Secret Voices from the Forest—Volume Three: The East is now available, $32.95 on Amazon.

cover proof #1

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News from The Treetalker

Focus on: the Rainbow Snake

    Highly aquatic, this beautiful snake can be found among floating vegetation in freshwater streams, along riverbanks and in cypress swamps and marshes of the coastal plain of southern North America. Not a great deal is known about

Farancia-erytrogramma-6.24.03-SRS-SC-copy-300x200

Herpsofnc.org

this non-venomous species, as it is very reclusive and spends most of its life in the water or hiding in available cover.
As an adult, the Rainbow snake eats only American eels. Landlubbers such as myself probably never consider that eels are fish, with a complicated life cycle that begins in the Sargasso Sea. Visit this page for the rest of the article.

Young gorillas are working together to destroy poachers’ traps in Rwanda

Reblogged from Eben Diskin, June 5, 2018 – visit here for the full article:

Joakim Odelberg.jpg

Photo: Joachim Odelberg


The famed Highland Gorillas of the Rwanda National Park have apparently learned how to dismantle the traps that poachers have been setting for them, and have teamed up to do the job.  Kick ass! Read the original – it’s not very long.

Bringing more Green power to the Res, with Renewable energy:

Rachel Hamalian, volunteer from Trees, Water and People, reports from Pine Ridge about the Lakota Solar Enterprises. They say this about themselves:
IMG_8173+copy
“In partnership with Trees, Water & People (TWP), Lakota Solar Enterprises founded and now operates the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC), where Native Americans from around the country come to receive hands-on training in renewable energy applications from fellow Native American trainers. RCREC’s facilities also include demonstration solar air furnaces, a solar electric system, straw bale home demonstration sites, a wind turbine, green houses and garden, buffalo from the Red Cloud herd, and wind break and shade trees. In addition to educating about the benefits of renewable energy, RCREC’s workshops are creating green jobs for residents of Pine Ridge, S.D., as well as visiting trainees from other tribes. As tribal leaders learn how to incorporate sustainable technology into housing plans, employment training, and energy strategies, the impact will increase exponentially.”

from the NY Times weekly newsletter, Climate Fwd:

from June 27, 2018, both positive and negative. Please visit the page for the stories in their entirety. The reporters are Henry Fountain, Livia Albeck-Ripka, John Schwartz and Brad Plumer

Getty images

Bad News for Ozone Layer Recovery  (Getty Images)

1)  Research by an investigative reporter from the Times, stationed in Beijing, has shown that there’s a high probability that several businesses in China are supplying and/or using CFC-11, even though it’s long been banned. This could delay the restoration of atmospheric ozone by 10 years or more.

Maine Lobster – Greta Rybus for The New York Times

2)  Apparently climate change can be bad for some, good for others. There has been a recent boom of Maine’s lobster fishery. Warming waters and conservation efforts by the lobstermen has helped the industry increase by 500%.

Carl de Souza:Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

3)  Brazil isn’t doing so well in it’s efforts to protect its rain forests, with more than 3 million acres cleared by ranchers, farmers and miners. Not only are fires set deliberately, to clear the land, but a severe drought last year caused the fires to spread rapidly, out of control, making the losses much worse. Double-whammy, causing levels of CO2 in the atmosphere to increase ever more.

In all the world’s tropical forests lost roughly 39 million acres of trees. This is only slightly less than the total losses from 2016. Tropical forests are shrinking overall, with losses outweighing the gains. And they’re just talking about tropical forests. . .

A

Arkansas Rig – Andrea Morales for The New York Times

4)  From a new study that came out in mid-June, in the journal Science, we see that much, much more methane (the main component of natural gas) is leaking from domestic oil and gas operations than the industry admits – nearly 2 ½ percent – you might think, “That’s not much,” but in truth, it’s enough to fuel 10 million homes for a year.

Methane has the capacity to warm the planet 80 times as much as the same amount of carbon dioxide, over a 20-year period, if it escapes into the atmosphere before being burned. If the rate of leakage rises above 4 percent, it could actually be worse for climate change than burning coal!

The good news is that most of the leakage is fixable at a relatively low cost, and the fix would pay for itself with income from the saved gas, which is estimated to be some $2 billion a year. Exxon Mobil, the largest gas producer in the country, hopes to reduce its methane emissions by 15 percent over the next year and a half.

Not sure if that’s a sufficient sense of urgency.

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That’s all the news for this posting. Don’t forget, Volume 3 of my series, Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, is brand new, and available through Amazon. Here’s the link.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

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The Treetalker

spanish-moss-and-cypress

Focus on: Spanish Moss—This familiar plant, seen draping off Live oak and Bald cypress trees all along the Gulf Coast, is not a moss at all. Rather, it is an epiphyte, which attaches itself to tree trunks and branches, rather than rooting in the soil.
However, it is not parasitic, and does not compete with its host for food. It takes in nutrients and moisture directly from air and rain, through the scales on the long gray “stems.”—thus the common name, “air plant;” but because it is so exposed, it is unable to tolerate airborne pollution or excessively cold temperatures.
It is the only member of the bromeliad family—which includes orchids and pineapples—that is indigenous to the North American continent.
Although today Spanish moss is mostly used in flower arrangements and as packing material, it was once utilized as stuffing for furniture, mattresses, automobile seats and the walls of homes as insulation. In 1939, over 10,000 tons of moss were processed for these purposes.

Environmental Happenings:— This week, some articles from the NY Times special newsletter, “Climate Fwd:” You can access the report at this link. 
The articles were written by
By John Schwartz, Brad Plumer and Livia Albeck-Ripka for the article, published on May 30, 2018.

* 1) Creating an ice rink in the deserts of Nevada? Boy, there’s an energy guzzler!

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** 2) Most of us environmentally-minded folk have heard that the methane produced by livestock accounts for 26% of all methane emissions in the U.S. (Do they consider what people might be adding to that figure?) Some scientists—of course—are trying to develop a drug to counter the problem; however, one Canadian farmer discovered, by accident, that his cows were healthier and produced less gas when they ate seaweed that had washed up on the shore. Turns out some types of seaweed contains a substance that neutralizes the methane-producing stomach enzyme.

Ah, nature always finds a way. . .

So the scientists are testing new diets, with some promising results.

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*** 3) final article in this report: “Aspirational recycling.”

You may also have heard recently that China, who has been one of the world’s main importers of recyclable waste (geez – who would WANT that job?), has recently said it will reject shipments that are more than 0.5 % impure – like, when people don’t wash things out, or put other kinds of garbage in the recycling bins – apparently messy cardboard pizza boxes are a big offender, along with all those things we think are #1’s and #2’s, but are actually #5’s or something else (like the lids of just about everything!)

So, “rinse stuff out and read the numbers in the little triangles on the bottom of the item” is the main takeaway, but do read the article.

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My new book, Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, Volume Three: The East has just come from the printer. Buy at Amazon—I’m the only one selling it!  $32.95 + shipping.

Vol. 3 - The East copy

And finally, my latest blog post, “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” in which I (sort of) express my views on current events.

For all these articles, visit my personal website.

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