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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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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Environmental and Tree News/The Treetalker

Lotsa stories this week: First, an Indonesian project, funded by the Dutch branch of Oxfam, is helping survivors of the Dec 26, 2004 Tsunami to plant Mangroves and Casuarina trees along vulnerable coastlines, which is hoped will protect residents from future disaster, revive nature and improve local livelihoods.

Indonesian Mangrove forest/photo:Eric Guinther

Indonesian Mangrove forest/photo:Eric Guinther

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

Rainforest Rescue, funded by the Arbor Day Foundation, is working with locals in Madagascar to implement reforestation, which will also help wildlife. They gather fruit seeds that have been partially digested by lemurs, planting them in nurseries for eventual replanting.

The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee has partnered with Nashville’s Metro Parks to install custom tree signs in Centennial Park that have scanable QR codes and web addresses where you can go directly to a video of a Nashville music artist, telling you about that type of tree and why it’s important to us. Including Reba MacEntire, Will Hoge, Big Kenny.

John Partipilo/The Tennessean

John Partipilo/The Tennessean

Seattle Seahawks owner Paul Allen is funding a lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior. The suit claims that allowing coal mining companies to do business on public lands without considering the environmental ramifications of doing so violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

photo: Associated Press

photo: Associated Press

The Lima, Peru climate summit talks have continued past the dates of the conference. They aim to advance a new global treaty, but the talks have been hampered by the “rich nation/poor nation issue. US’s John Kerry says, “No country should have a free pass.”

photo: Reuters

photo: Reuters

And last, but not least—for me, anyway, since my books are all about what the trees have to say . . .

Plants Can Hear You! – a video with Trace Dominguez/Discovery News from March, 2013, talking about research that has shown that plants can not only hear you, but feel you, smell you, and remember things. (So vegetarians aren’t so kind after all!)

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Environmental News from The Treetalker

Oil Train Rule Cracks Down on Transport of Flammable Materials – Following a host of oil train derailments over the past year, the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed regulatory changes to improve the safe transportation of large quantities of crude oil and ethanol by rail.

 

Federal Agencies Cut Greenhouse Gases, Increase Renewables – The federal government announced today that it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent since 2008, the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road, and that nine percent of federal government electricity is now from renewable sources.

 

Read more about all these storieshttp://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

 

christiane_ozy-6_custom-756e5e298469767c2f15f8b6b0fa968fe26dfea3-s40-c85

 

Pop-Up Books Make Environmental Science Easy-Peasy For Kids, by Melissa Pandika, for National Public Radio – “You can teach anything to children if you pitch it at the right level and use the right words,” says Christiane Dorion, a U.K.-based author. Dorion distills hefty environmental concepts into bite-sized, kid-friendly explanations. Along the way, whimsical pop-up spreads — complete with pull-tabs, flaps and booklets ­­— engage even the shortest attention spans.

 

General Mills is tackling climate change, because it’s a threat to the bottom line.The huge corporation released a new set of climate policies that Oxfam says makes it “the first major food and beverage company to promise to implement long-term science-based targets to cut emissions.” The policy states unequivocally that [they recognize] the risks that climate change presents to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods.

 

What I’ve Learned about Food and Sustainability, by Jason Clay, for World Wildlife Magazine

and a Blessed Lammas Day to us all…

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Environment, environmental agencies

Environmental News from The Treetalker

Oil Train Rule Cracks Down on Transport of Flammable Materials – Following a host of oil train derailments over the past year, the U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed regulatory changes to improve the safe transportation of large quantities of crude oil and ethanol by rail.

Federal Agencies Cut Greenhouse Gases, Increase Renewables – The federal government announced today that it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent since 2008, the equivalent of permanently taking 1.8 million cars off the road, and that nine percent of federal government electricity is now from renewable sources.

Read more about all these storieshttp://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

christiane_ozy-6_custom-756e5e298469767c2f15f8b6b0fa968fe26dfea3-s40-c85

Pop-Up Books Make Environmental Science Easy-Peasy For Kids, by Melissa Pandika, for National Public Radio – “You can teach anything to children if you pitch it at the right level and use the right words,” says Christiane Dorion, a U.K.-based author. Dorion distills hefty environmental concepts into bite-sized, kid-friendly explanations. Along the way, whimsical pop-up spreads — complete with pull-tabs, flaps and booklets ­­— engage even the shortest attention spans.

General Mills is tackling climate change, because it’s a threat to the bottom line.The huge corporation released a new set of climate policies that Oxfam says makes it “the first major food and beverage company to promise to implement long-term science-based targets to cut emissions.” The policy states unequivocally that [they recognize] the risks that climate change presents to humanity, our environment and our livelihoods.

What I’ve Learned about Food and Sustainability, by Jason Clay, for World Wildlife Magazine

and a Blessed Lammas Day to us all…

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The Treetalker – environmental news

Social entrepreneur Sanga Moses founded Eco-Fuel Africa, a company that sells kilns and machines that turn food waste into briquettes of clean, inexpensive cooking fuel.

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and:  Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable way to help cut CO2 emissions and fuel use by as much as 50% on smaller cargo vessels in the shipping sector.

Leafing-Out and Climate Change – the timing of leaf out in many species is related to the length of days, rather than temperature. Some species, particularly from the southern hemisphere, have this evolutionary adaptation, as they migrate north, they may replace trees that cannot tolerate increasing heat.

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

 

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Uncategorized

The Treetalker – environmental news

 Social entrepreneur Sanga Moses founded Eco-Fuel Africa, a company that sells kilns and machines that turn food waste into briquettes of clean, inexpensive cooking fuel.

Image

and:  Wind propulsion such as kites and Flettner rotors could offer a viable way to help cut CO2 emissions and fuel use by as much as 50% on smaller cargo vessels in the shipping sector.

Leafing-Out and Climate Change – the timing of leaf out in many species is related to the length of days, rather than temperature. Some species, particularly from the southern hemisphere, have this evolutionary adaptation, as they migrate north, they may replace trees that cannot tolerate increasing heat.

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

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Uncategorized

this week on The Treetalker

Prof. Janet Westpheling

Prof. Janet Westpheling

(From now on, the stories will be about Environmental News, not just about trees, tho quite often they are closely related.)

 

The Promise of Affordable Transportation Fuels from Biomass – resistance in plants to microbial degradation evolved over millions of years, resulting in rigid cell walls that have been the key to their survival, but are a major impediment to biofuel production. Understanding and solving this issue has been the core mission of the BioEnergy Science Center. Janet Westpheling, a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, and her team of researchers succeeded in genetically engineering the organism C. bescii to deconstruct un-pretreated plant biomass. “Without any pretreatment, we can simply take switchgrass, grind it up, add a low-cost, minimal salts medium and get ethanol out the other end. This is the first step toward an industrial process that is economically feasible.”

 

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

and: Climate Change: Termites and Fungi Play More Important Role in Decomposition Than Temperature – it seems that these organisms carry out about three quarters of wood decomposition, while climate only about one quarter, contrary to the expectation that climate should be the predominant control.

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Uncategorized

this week on The Treetalker

(From now on, the stories will be about Environmental News, not just about trees, tho quite often they are closely related.)

 

The Promise of Affordable Transportation Fuels from Biomass – resistance in plants to microbial degradation evolved over millions of years, resulting in rigid cell walls that have been the key to their survival, but are a major impediment to biofuel production. Understanding and solving this issue has been the core mission of the BioEnergy Science Center. Janet Westpheling, a professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, and her team of researchers succeeded in genetically engineering the organism C. bescii to deconstruct un-pretreated plant biomass. “Without any pretreatment, we can simply take switchgrass, grind it up, add a low-cost, minimal salts medium and get ethanol out the other end. This is the first step toward an industrial process that is economically feasible.”

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

and: Climate Change: Termites and Fungi Play More Important Role in Decomposition Than Temperature – it seems that these organisms carry out about three quarters of wood decomposition, while climate only about one quarter, contrary to the expectation that climate should be the predominant control.

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Uncategorized

The Treetalker

New this week:

Salamander’s Hefty Role in the Forest
The top predator in North American forests is the woodland salamander, who lives under a rock, or a log, or any convenient dark and damp forest habitat. Only a few inches long and weighing well under an ounce, they nevertheless eat a huge number of insects termed “shredding invertebrates,” who cause leaf litter to release carbon and methane into the atmosphere more than if it were simply left on the ground to decay and be covered up by further dropping of leaves.

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New Insights into the Make-up of Tropical Forests Could Improve Carbon Offsetting Initiatives –
new studies from enhanced satellite imagery shows that not all species of tree store carbon in the same way. This is a key factor in carbon offset schemes, in which trees are given a cash value according to their carbon content, and credits can be traded in exchange for preserving trees. For further information on these stories and more, go to my site.

http://laurajmerrilltreetalker.com

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