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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cutting pollution, energy efficiency, Environment, forests, global warming, Green Movement, protecting rain forests, Renewable Energy, trees, Uncategorized, windfarms

News from The Treetalker

Getty Images

Getty Images

These days, when there is some new assault on Nature occurring almost daily, I find it difficult to locate stories about the environment that can give hope. More and more, I’m seeing that it’s up to those who, like we all did in the 1960s, see problems that are urgent, and are willing to not just speak truth to Power, but to put their bodies on the line.

So my first story is about the group called “Extinction Rebellion.” They are an international “non-violent civil disobedience activist movement.” Their co-founder, Gail Bradbrook, says that the the future of the planet depends upon actions such as theirs.

They believe that governments must declare a climate “emergency,” that nations like the U.K. must legally commit to reducing carbon emissions to net zero by 2025, and that a citizens’ assembly must be formed to “oversee the changes.” (Sounds like they don’t trust government!!)

They foresee severe restrictions on flying, drastically cutting back on the consumption of meat and dairy, and a massive increase in renewable energy, to name just a few of the radical changes needed.

For more information, you can just google them, but my source on this story was the BBC.

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In other encouraging news, we find that,
“Automakers, Rejecting Trump Pollution Rule, Strike a Deal With California”
The New York Times, July 25, 2019, Coral Davenport and Hiroko Tabuchi

Ford, Volkswagen, Honda and BMW, in order to avoid having to have 2 separate operations, made a secret deal with California regulators that allow them to follow rules, increasing fuel efficiency, slightly less than the Obama standards, but still much stricter that those proposed by the Trump administration.

The Trump administration is suing California, but state officials vow to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

Lots more information on this at:

TJ Watt

T.J.Watt for U of B.C.

UBC scientists find high mutation rates generating genetic diversity within huge, old-growth trees
University of British Columbia News, Jul 8, 2019, Lou Corpuz-Bosshart

The original of this article is kind of scientific, so let me boil it down for you:

U. of British Columbia researchers studied some several-hundred-year-old Sitka spruce trees in Vancouver Island. After doing DNA sequencing, they found that a single tree, starting at the base and going all the way to the top, might have gone through up to 100,000 genetic mutations over its lifespan.

This opens a discussion of how trees evolve over time, passing on genetic changes to their offspring that may help them survive and adapt to environmental changes.

Read the story at:

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Chang W. Lee/NY Times

New York Awards Offshore Wind Contracts in Bid to Reduce Emissions,
By Ivan Penn, NYTimes, July 18, 2019

Technological advances have reduced the cost of wind turbines; as a result, NY State passed an ambitious law to reduce greenhouse emissions last month, and it has now reached an agreement for two large offshore wind projects, to be built off the coast of Long Island. They are supposed to start operation within the next five years.

More of this article at:

 

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A French Town’s Green Policies Aim to Win Over the Working Class
The NYTimes, July 25, 2019, By Constant Méheut

But Grande-Synthe, near the northern city of Dunkirk, stands out as an unlikely laboratory for working-class environmentalism. The town’s Green party mayor, Damien Carême, has a vision of “social environmentalism.” In his efforts to convince his voters that innovative green policies, such as the installation of LED bulbs in street lights, serving organic food in school cafeterias, grown by local farmers who lease their land from the government for a cut rate.

The town is one of the poorest in France, surrounded by a sprawling industrial park, filled with closed factories and apartment blocks, including France’s oldest nuclear plant.

The jury is still out on whether or not Carême’s policies will save the town, but we wish him luck.

Read more on this story at:

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Sorry it took me so long to get these posted. Just too much going on to think straight!

Vol. 3 - The East copy   cover-SV2   cover

P.S. Look for my books, Secret Voices from the Forest—Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees—Volume One: The West, Volume Two: Midcontinent, and Volume Three: The West. Coming eventually (probably in a year or two) Volume Four: Tropics and Deserts. You can find them on Amazon, by title.

 

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cutting pollution, Environment, environmental agencies, Green Movement, Renewable Energy, Solar energy, solar power, Uncategorized, water purification, Weather, Wildlife

News from The Treetalker

Large wind and solar farms in the Sahara would increase heat, rain, vegetation

September 6, 2018

Wind and solar farms are known to have local effects on heat, humidity and other factors that may be beneficial — or detrimental — to the regions in which they are situated. A new climate-modeling study finds that a massive wind and solar installation in the Sahara Desert and neighboring Sahel would increase local temperature, precipitation and vegetation. Overall, the researchers report, the effects would likely benefit the region.

read the article here.

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Map by Eviatar Bach

GOING THE DISTANCE  Painted ladies travel 12,000 km each year, farther than any known butterfly migration

By Leah Rosenbaum, June 20, 2018

Though found across the world, the orange-and-brown beauties that live in Southern Europe migrate into Africa each fall, crossing the Sahara on their journey; analysis of butterfly wings suggests that the butterflies head back to Europe in the spring. The round-trip is about 2,000 more than successive generations of monarchs are known to travel in a year. Some tenacious individuals even make the return trip in a single lifetime.

Read the article here.

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A Leader in the War on Poverty Opens a New Front: Pollution
By Kendra Pierre-Louis, Aug. 24, 2018

The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is resurrecting the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement started by Martin Luther King Jr. He sees the climate and environment as issues on par with poverty and racism.

He and Al Gore are bringing attention to the problem of coal ash, its pollution of local drinking water and the health of citizens and workers in the area.

Read the article here.

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cutting pollution, Environment, Nature, plants, Uncategorized, Wildlife

News from The Treetalker

Pollution is changing the fungi that provide mineral nutrients to tree roots, which could explain malnutrition trends in Europe’s trees.

To get nutrients from the soil, trees host fungi, known as mycorrhizal fungi, in their roots. These fungi receive carbon from the tree in exchange for essential nutrients, like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, which they gather from the soil.

A huge, 10-year study of 13,000 soil samples across 20 European countries has revealed that many tree fungi communities are stressed by pollution, indicating that current pollution limits set by European countries may not be strict enough, that they may need to lower the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus levels allowed for soil amendments. To read all of this article, click here.

Imperial College, London

Imperial College, London

Study shows evidence of convergence in bird and primate evolution.

Neuroscientists have identified the neural circuit that may underlay intelligence in birds, according to a new study. “An area of the brain that plays a major role in primate intelligence. . .transfers information between the two largest areas of the brain, which allows for higher-order processing and more sophisticated behavior. In humans and primates, these specific nuclei are large compared to other mammals.”

Birds have a similar structure that has similar connectivity, located in a different part of the brain, which does the same thing – circulates information between the cortex and the cerebellum.

The study determined that the structure in parrots is much larger than that of other birds, with the relevant structure two to five times larger in parrots than in other birds, which has developed independently, involving sophisticated behaviors such as use of tools and self-awareness. Read the rest of the article here.

Andrew Iwaniuk

Andrew Iwaniuk

From the Washington Post Energy and Environment Newsletter. July 6, 2018, Lindsey Bever reporting.

Hawaii just banned your favorite sunscreen to protect its coral reefs

According to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, coral reefs are crucial to marine and human life.

In addition to protecting sea creatures, the Smithsonian said, the reefs provide food, medication and tourism jobs, among other things — at a value of $30 billion to $172 billion per year.

Hawaii’s state lawmakers passed legislation in May that would ban skin-care companies from selling and distributing sunscreens on the islands that contain two chemicals deemed damaging to coral reefs. The chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, have significant harmful impacts on Hawaii’s marine environment and residing ecosystems.”

The bill was opposed by various companies and business associations and even some dermatologists, who worry that the ban may discourage people from wearing sunscreen at all. (Blah-blah – no surprise that Big Money doesn’t care about anything other than making more money.)

Read the full article here.

Caleb Jones:AP file

Caleb Jones/AP

From NBC News, Associated Press, June 15, 2018.

Lions and tigers and bears are increasingly becoming night owls because of us, a new study says.

Scientists have long known that human activity disrupts nature. Besides becoming more vigilant and reducing time spent looking for food, many mammals may travel to remote areas or move around less to avoid contact with people. (I know how they feel.)

The latest research found even activities like hiking and camping can scare animals and drive them to become more active at night.

Researchers analyzed 76 studies involving 62 species on six continents, including lions in Tanzania, otters in Brazil, coyotes in California, wild boars in Poland and tigers in Nepal. The study suggests that animals might be “playing it safe around people.”

Read the complete article here.

Shivang Mehta Photography

Shivang Mehta Photography

From NBC News, June 7 2018, Brandon Specktor reporting.

Climate change killed the aliens, and it might kill us too!

Professor Adam Frank, astrophysicist at the U. of Rochester, NY published a new paper in May that “aims to take a 10,000-light-year view of human-caused climate change.”

Using mathematical models based on the disappearance of the lost civilization of Easter Island, Frank and his colleagues simulated how various alien civilizations might rise and fall if they were to increasingly convert their planet’s limited natural resources into energy.

The results, as you might expect, were generally pretty grim. Of four common “trajectories” for energy-intense civilizations, three ended in apocalypse. The fourth scenario — a path that involved converting the whole alien society to sustainable sources of energy — worked only when civilizations recognized the damage they were doing to the planet, and acted in the right away.

“The last scenario is the most frightening,” Frank said. “Even if you did the right thing, if you waited too long, you could still have your population collapse.”

Read the rest of this interesting “what if?” article here.

Michael Osadciw:U of Rochester

Illustration by Michael Osadciw/U of Rochester

Also, on my “Spotlight On” page, a bit about our favorite summer plant, Poison Ivy.

poison-ivy

Again, don’t forget, Volume 3 of Secret Voices from the Forest is available now on Amazon – you can get there directly via this link.

Have a great week!

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cutting pollution, green building materials, Lyrebird, Renewable Energy, The Charter of the Forest, water purification

Positive News about Trees & the Environment

Not Just a Pretty Tail – New research has revealed that the Lyrebird, Australia’s iconic songbird, with feet like garden rakes, and an appetite for worms and soil-dwelling insects, reduces the risk of bushfire by spreading dry leaf litter and digging safe havens that help other species survive fires.
alex maisey

China will boost efforts this year to rid itself of a strong addiction to coal in a bid to reduce damaging pollution as well as cut the energy intensity of its economy, which is expected to grow at its lowest rate in 25 years. They will raise wind, solar and natural gas capacity, which will also have an effect on commodities markets for crude oil and iron ore.
A man walks over a bridge as smoke rises from chimneys of a thermal power plant in Shanghai

Moringa are known as ‘miracle’ trees because of their many uses as food and as a source of oil. Seeds from the trees are also used to purify water, and recent research has shown that the seeds can also be used for separation of different materials, applicable to mining industries.
Majority Kwaambwa

New Acoustic Insulation Material That Incorporates Fibers from Orange Tree Pruning – This research is a leading example in the field of the development of the materials commonly known as eco-friendly. Research using ground olive stones is also near completion. One of the advantages of this new material is that it will enable an agricultural sub-product such as the waste from orange tree pruning to be used, with the resulting economic benefits for the industry.

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Smithsonian Magazine reports that Canada’s Northwest Territories will be host to the biggest Morel Mushroom harvest in world history in 2015, due to recent fires.

David Cavagnaro:Visuals Unlimited:Corbis

The discovery of a rare copy of the Magna Carta came along with the unearthing of a copy of The Charter of the Forest, written only two years after the signing of the first document, in 1217. The role of The Charter of the Forest was to up forests to the common man. Before that, only the King and his nobles were allowed access to the “royal forest,” which was a full third of the country’s land.
Kent County Council

Latin American mayors convened in Buenos Aires at the C40 Latin American Mayors Forum to demonstrate bold leadership in the world’s largest cooperative effort among mayors to fight global climate change and its effects. Included in these efforts is the C40 City Clean Bus Declaration of Intent, demonstrating a commitment by C40 cities to reducing emissions and improving air quality through the introduction of low- and zero-emission buses in their fleets.

The Nation

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