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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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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 & 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.
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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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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.

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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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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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