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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Children taking Action, Dolphins, endangered species, Environment, green living, Green Movement, hydrogen fuel, invasive species, Nature, oceans, plants, Renewable Energy, self-sustainability, Uncategorized, water purification, Whales

News from The Treetalker

Invasive, native marsh grasses may provide similar benefits to protected wetlands, Science Daily, via N.C. State University

Researchers here have noticed that the Common reed, which is an invasive species, has many of the same benefits for protected wetlands as the native marsh grasses it is crowding out, such as equivalent or even better levels of carbon storage, erosion prevention and plant diversity.

A great deal of money is spent trying to eradicate it, this research could impact management strategies, since this species protects shorelines from erosion by spreading more quickly. Shoreline erosion is a major problem, with rising seas.

read more here.

Seth Theuerkauf

Photo: Seth Theuerkauf

Researchers create hydrogen fuel from seawater, Stanford University, March 18, 2019

A “Water Engine” splits the molecules in water to access the hydrogen, which is then used as alternative energy (in hydrogen powered vehicles, for instance.) However, the existing water-splitting methods rely on highly purified water, which is a precious resource and costly to produce.

Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay.

Splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen with electricity — called electrolysis — is a simple and old idea: a power source connects to two electrodes placed in water. When power turns on, hydrogen gas bubbles out of the negative end — called the cathode — and breathable oxygen emerges at the positive end — the anode.

But negatively charged chloride in seawater salt can corrode the positive end, limiting the system’s lifespan. The team wanted to find a way to stop those seawater components from breaking down the submerged anodes. They discovered that if they coated the anode with layers that were rich in magnetically negative charges, the layers repelled chloride and slowed down the decay of the underlying metal.

The surprisingly quick and simple solution is detailed in the following article, which you can read here.

H. Dai, Yun Kuang, Michael Kenney

H. Dai, Yun Kuang, Michael Kenney

Schools’ climate strike: Young people protest across EnglandBBC News, March 15, 2019Young people who have skipped school to join climate change protests across England have told the BBC there is no point in learning when their future is at risk.Thousands of schoolchildren have flooded into city and town centers across the country as classrooms around the world were abandoned for a day of demonstration. Some of their administrators were not in favor of the demonstrations, and said there would be consequences for skipping classes. One student responded, “I really don’t care what consequences they give us, it’s more important that we fight for our future. This is the world we’re going to have to live in.”Read more here

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An Elusive (Recently Discovered) Whale Is Found All Around the Worldby Karen Weintraub, for The New York Times, March 22, 2019.Researchers are learning about a newly identified species of baleen whales, tracing sightings and sounds to learn that they stay mainly in tropical waters. Salvatore Cerchio stunned the small world of whale science in 2015 when he found examples of a new species in the wild for the first time. Now, he’s mapped the habitat of that species, called Omura’s whale after Hideo Omura, a prominent Japanese whale biologist.The surprise in the new study, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, is that Omura’s whales, though little seen, are widespread across the tropical world.A researcher found a population off the northwest coast of Madagascar, where he works, and compiled reports of sightings from Japan, Australia, Brazil and off the coasts of Indonesia, among others. In total, from photographs, audio recordings, museums and documents, he identified 161 accounts of Omura’s whales in 95 locales.Technological innovation in recording devices, advances in genetic analysis — and simply knowing what to look for — seem to have led to the new insights. Scientists said the finding is a reminder of how little we actually know about what goes on in the world’s oceans.Read details here.

photo quora

Photo: Earth.com

Also, this week, “Spotlight On:” the Atlantic spotted dolphin…

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Photo: Quora

and remember, you can find all three volumes of “Secret Voices from the Forest, Thoughts and Dreams of North American Trees, on Amazon.

Make sure you buy them from me personally. There are people selling them for some outrageously high prices, which is some new weird scam. Vols 1 & 2 are $28.95, and Vol 3 is $32.95.

Vol. 3 - The East copy   cover-SV2  cover

 

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endangered species, Environment, global warming, Green Movement, habitat restoration, methane from livestock industry, Nature, Uncategorized

News from The Treetalker

Courtesy WhatWhenHow

Courtesy WhatWhenHow.com

Why large forest fires may not be a big threat to some endangered animals, January 29, 2019, ScienceDaily. Source: Oxford University Press USA

Spurred by climate change, megafires in western North America are becoming more frequent, causing speculation that endangered species will have an even more difficult surviving.

The Great Gray Owl, endangered in California, is a resident of Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest, which are areas that were badly burnt in the 2013 Rim Fire, experiencing a 104,000 acre burn.

In surveys covering a 3-year period following the fire, it was found that, rather than decreasing in number, the Grey Owls have adjusted to the terrain well, using large trees that were killed for nesting, and finding plentiful food in the rodent populations that have increased, due to more meadow area. Read the rest of the article here.

Neil Palmer:CIAT

Cattle urine’s planet-warming power can be curtailed with land restoration, January 29, 2019, Science News. Source: International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

The exceptional climate-altering capabilities of cattle are mainly due to methane, which they blast into the atmosphere during their daily digestive routine. Cattle urine is a lesser-known climate offender. It produces nitrous oxide (N2O), which has warming power far greater than that of carbon dioxide (CO2), the main driver of global warming. A new study shows that these N2O emissions can be significantly curbed by healthy cattle pastures.

In the majority of test sites, degraded pastures emitted significantly more N2O — sometimes up to three times as much, than restored pasture.

Degraded livestock land is generally characterized by overgrazing, soil compaction, loss of organic material and low levels of nutrients and soil carbon. Large-scale land restoration with improved forage grasses, rotational grazing and the addition of shrubs and trees, could significantly mitigate the negative climate effects wrought by degradation. In addition to reducing N2O emissions, restored landscapes generally contain more carbon, have healthier soils and more robust and productive livestock. Find the rest of this article here.

Odd Andersen:Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Teenagers Emerge as a Force in Climate Protests Across Europe, By Milan Schreuer, Elian Peltier and Christopher F. Schuetze, for the NYTimes, Jan. 31, 2019

Tens of thousand of children skipped school in Belgium on Thursday to join demonstrations for action against climate change, part of a broader environmental protest movement across Europe that has gathered force over the past several weeks.

In Germany, France, Sweden, Switzerland and elsewhere, activists have come together on social media to gather in large numbers and without much apparent preparation, the protests taking a different shape in each country.

In Germany, students have protested on Fridays, communicating mainly through the messaging app WhatsApp; in Belgium, they organize on Facebook and have skipped school by the thousands on four consecutive Thursdays.

Last Sunday, climate protests in Brussels swelled to an estimated 100,000 people of all ages. That same day, an estimated 80,000 took part in cities across France — more than turned out for the “Yellow Vest” protests the day before.

The climate movement has no obvious leaders or structure, but young people feel that most older people do not feel the urgency that the young do about global warming, and want their governments to take action while there is still time. For the rest of this article, click here.

Johnny Milano for The New York Times

Global Warming Concerns Rise Among Americans in New Poll, by John Schwartz, for the NYTimes, Jan. 22, 2019

Some 73 percent of Americans polled online late last year by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, said that global warming was happening, the report found, a jump of 10 percentage points from 2015 and three points since last March. This suggests that climate change has moved out of the realm of the hypothetical for a wide majority of Americans.

Americans’ growing understanding of global warming is part of a long-term trend, which is attributed to the recent increase of extreme weather events with plausible connections to a warming planet, and to the publicity that surrounded two major scientific reports on climate change last year. For more on this, click here.

Wensum Alliance

Norfolk study shows new ditches could help improve rivers, by Maggie Dolan and Nic Rigby for the  BBC.

The amount of harmful sludge entering rivers from farmers’ fields can be more than halved with special ditches, a new study by The Rivers Trust found. Its research showed only 14% of UK rivers are currently in a healthy state.

That health can be damaged by sediment containing fertilizer chemicals which can harm water quality and fish.

The study by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and the Wensum Alliance used traps (pictured) near the Blackwater – a tributary which flows into the River Wensum at Lenwade, which in turn flows through Norwich. They then tested the water downriver and found a 58% reduction in sediment year on year.

Traps were also placed near roads, which can also add pollution to waterways. For more on this, click here.

Getty Images/ Kean Collection

And, lastly, I saw this article in this morning’s Washington Post’s daily newsletter, “Today’s WorldView.”  Really fascinating.

The salient points to me were, “Scientists from University College London, U.K. estimate that 60 million people were living across the Americas at the end of the 15th Century, and that this was reduced to just five or six million within a hundred years, eliminated by introduced disease (smallpox, measles, etc), warfare, slavery and societal collapse. Vast swaths of agricultural land was then reclaimed by fast-growing trees and other vegetation. This pulled down enough carbon dioxide (CO₂) from the atmosphere to eventually chill the planet.”

Read the article at this link.

See you next time, whenever that might be! 

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books, energy efficiency, Environment, environmental agencies, global warming, Green Movement, methane from livestock industry, Rivers, self-sustainability, Solar energy, Uncategorized, Weather, Wildlife, windfarms

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

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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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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Corporate Greed, endangered species, forests, Green Movement, Mexico, Minnesota, monarch butterfly, Renewable Energy, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife

Some positive tree and environmental stories

SOME GOOD NEWS FOR MONARCH BUTTERFLY LOVERS: The number of Monarch butterflies that reached wintering grounds in Mexico has rebounded 69 percent from last year’s lowest-on-record levels, but their numbers remain very low, according to a formal census by Mexican environmental authorities and scientists released Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.

Rebecca Blackwell, AP

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) announced plans Monday to spend $2 million this fiscal year on conservation projects to save the declining monarch butterfly species.
The agency is teaming up with the National Wildlife Federation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore and enhance 200,000 acres of monarch butterfly habitat on private and public land. The population of the North American pollinator has declined by 90 percent since the 1990s, largely due to the destruction of milkweed — the primary food source of monarch caterpillars. Complete stories and links for all these stories can be found at my website – link below.

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

On a really positive note, Burlington, Vermont, the state’s largest city, recently became the first in the country to use 100 percent renewable energy for its residents’ electricity needs. In a state known for socially conscious policies, the feat represents a milestone in the growing green energy movement.

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Diver finds 10,000-year-old FOREST hidden under the North Sea. It is believed the forest, which originally stretched as far as Europe, was drowned when the ice caps melted and the sea level rose 120 meters, and may have become exposed following the stormy weather last winter. The fallen trees are now lying on the ground where they have formed a natural reef, which is teaming with colorful fish, plants and wildlife.

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Minnesota officials on Thursday put the brakes on the rapid conversion of pine forests to potato fields in the northwestern part of the state while they conduct an environmental review to get a better understanding of the potential threats to groundwater, fish and wildlife.
This is a story worth following, for as we know, big business usually gets it’s way – these guys – R.D. Offutt, the nation’s largest potato grower, supplying the fast food industry and potato chip manufacturers with potatoes commonly drowned in pesticides – has obtained permits for 32 irrigation wells in 4 counties since 2010, with applications pending to drill 35 more. The forests they intend to clear are in an area whose sandy soils are highly permeable to agricultural fertilizers. That raises the risks of nitrate contamination of waters that feed into the Mississippi River, which supplies drinking water to Minneapolis and other downstream communities.

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