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News from The Treetalker

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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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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.

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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)!

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News from The Treetalker

July 20, 2018 – In her blog for Scientific American, Jennifer M. Archambault wrote about Using Herbicides to Save Endangered Snails.

The habitat of the rare, tiny Panhandle pebbles snail, which consumes algae and other microorganisms and is integral to maintaining the ecological balance in river systems, is threatened by an invasive aquatic plant called hydrilla. Introduced through the aquarium trade in the 1950s into the ponds and canals of Florida, it has worked its way into many southern states and is on the Federal Noxious Weeds list. Humans aid in its spread, as it can easily propigate from small fragments on boat motors or fishing equipment. After much field study and testing, it was found in a pilot study in the Eno River in North Carolina that, with applications of a herbicide, the hydrilla is dramatically thinning, and the snails’ population is growing. A great deal of work is left to do to control the hydrilla in the greater Southern water system, but the data gives hope. Read Jennifer’s blog post here.

From ScienceDaily, July 5, 2018. Bacteria-powered solar cell converts light to energy, even under overcast skies!

U of BC researchers have found a cheap, sustainable way to build a solar cell using bacteria that convert light to energy. Their cell generated a current stronger than any previously recorded from such a device, and worked as efficiently in dim light as in bright light. This innovation could be a step toward wider adoption of solar power in places like British Columbia and parts of northern Europe where overcast skies are common. This is great news, particularly since it’s from Canada, where the government hopefully cares about its environment more than the current administration in the U.S.

“We recorded the highest current density for a biogenic solar cell. These hybrid materials that we are developing can be manufactured economically and sustainably, and, with sufficient optimization, could perform at comparable efficiencies as conventional solar cells.” Read the article here.

Another article from ScienceDaily, June 18, 2018

Cementless fly ash binder makes concrete ‘green’
Engineers use byproduct from coal-fired power plants to replace Portland cement. It is made primarily of fly ash, a byproduct of coal-fired power plants. If you noticed an article in the NY Times this week that reported the EPA is easing standards on the disposal of toxic coal ash, this development could provide some way of cleaning up some of the messes created by these plants. Read more about this new composite, environmentally friendly material here.

Another, related article about this sustainable alternative to traditional concrete using coal fly ash is here. This article mentions that the production method doesn’t require heating, which is one of the other polluting aspects of concrete manufacture. The cement less binder also aids groundwater and mitigates flooding, because water can pass through it, unlike cement. Read this article here.

Also, Focus On the Anhinga.

This bird quickly spears a fish with its sharp bill, then flips it into the air and swallows it head first. Sometimes the Anhinga spears the fish so hard it has to return to shore to get the fish off its bill by banging the fish against a rock.
Also known as snakebird, the Anhinga sometimes swims slowly underwater stalking fish around submerged vegetation, but when hunting at the surface, it stretches its head and neck flat out on the surface of the water, above its submerged body. With head and neck stretched out, it has the appearance of a snake is gliding through the water.
The Anhinga’s feathers are not waterproofed with oils, and can get waterlogged, but this helps it stay submerged for long periods of time. Afterwards, it will perch for long periods with its wings spread to dry them. If it tries to fly with wet wings, it has difficultly getting airborne, so it has to take off by flapping energetically and running on the surface of the water.
Once in the air, it is a graceful flier and can go long distances without flapping its wings, using thermals for soaring, and can achieve altitudes of several thousand feet.

 

 

 

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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

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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:

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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:
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“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

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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. . .

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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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Positive news about trees and the environment (for a change!)

Great wall of trees keeps China’s deserts at bay, called “The Great Green Wall” – a massive belt of trees being planted across China’s arid north -“ has reportedly improved vegetation and dust storms have decreased significantly in the region, compared with other areas. Read the full text of this and other stories at my website, listed below.

Landov:Xinhua:Press Association Images)

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com
Steam to run one of Procter & Gamble’s largest paper manufacturing plants will soon be created by using peanut and pecan shells, treetops and mill waste such as sawdust. A $200 million biomass cogeneration plant, which is now under construction in Georgia, will significantly increase the Cincinnati-based company’s use of renewable energy.

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Chiefs’ Joint Restoration Projects to have Meaningful Impact on Family-Owned Forests in Oregon’s Elkhorn Mountains and Wisconsin’s Lake Superior watershed, where family forest owners are being engaged to help reduce the risk of wildfire, improve the habitats of threatened fish and animals, ensure clean water, and other critical outcomes.

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U.S. Wildlife Managers Mark Population Rise for Rare Mexican Grey Wolf, which were believed to be all but extinct in the United States in 1998 when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began reintroducing the animal to its native range. The number climbed to 109 in 2014, marking the fourth consecutive year that the population has risen by at least 10 percent.

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EU Introduces New Rules to Make Cooking Greener. The sale of energy wasting ovens and cooking hobs will be banned across the European Union, beginning Friday. The cumulative savings from the rules across the bloc would run into billions.

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Epercent percent.WildlifeService began reintroducing the animal to its native range. The number climbed to 109 in 2014, marking the fourth consecutive year that the population has risen by at least 10 percent.
EU Introduces New Rules to Make Cooking Greener. The sale of energy wasting ovens and cooking hobs will be banned across the European Union, beginning Friday. The cumulative savings from the rules across the bloc would run into billions.

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