Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Kogi: The lost tribe that is trying to save the world

The Kogi - trying to save the world

Although global distribution deals for cinema and television have been signed, the Kogi want worldwide, non-commercial screenings, initiated from within farming and fishing communities, and promoted online.

Ereira says it’s also important that fishermen and farmers, young and old, will be part of the Blasket Centre’s invited audience, and their voices should be listened to as carefully in the ensuing discussion as those of the environmentalists, politicians and policy-makers.
The Kogi are afraid, he repeats, but they’re also hopeful. Aluna contains both memory and potential. Potentially, we could still work together and get things right.

The Kogi are the last surviving civilization from the world of the Inca and Aztec, and their cities are untouched by our world. The mountain they inhabit is an isolated triangular pyramid rising over 18,000 feet from the sea, the highest coastal mountain on earth. More

alunathemovie.com

The Great Change: The Climate Bums


The curve we’ve been forced onto bends so steeply, that the pace of victory is part of victory itself. Winning slowly is basically the same thing as losing outright. We cannot afford to pursue past strategies, aimed at limited gains towards distant goals. In the face of both triumphant denialism and predatory delay, trying to achieve climate action by doing the same things, the same old ways, means defeat. It guarantees defeat.

(http://peaksurfer.blogspot.com/2017/12/the-climatebums.html

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The House of the Future Is Elevated


Three months after Hurricane Harvey churned through Texas, dumping 51 inches of rain and damaging an estimated 150,000 homes, the state’s most populous county took a bureaucratic step that has huge implications for how it will deal with the risk of future flooding.

On December 5, Harris County, which surrounds the City of Houston, approved an overhaul of its flood rules, expanding them from 100-year floodplains—which have a 1 percent change of flooding in a given year—to 500-year floodplains. The new rules (which don’t apply inside Houston city limits) will compel people building houses in some areas to elevate them up to eight feet higher than before.

“We had 30,000 houses that flooded” from Harvey, said John Blount, the county engineer, who put forward the rule changes. Before the floodwaters even subsided, hundreds of county employees fanned out to survey the damage. “We went to every one of those houses and figured out how much water got in them, and then we did a statistical analysis,” Blount said.

The data was geocoded, factoring in location and neighborhood conditions, and one result was the increased elevation rule. (The county is also buying out 200 of the most vulnerable homes and hopes to buy out thousands more, but those represent a small fraction of the homes inside the floodplain.)

Harris County’s new rules are the most stringent flood-related development restrictions anywhere in the United States, according to Blount. If a future Harvey-sized deluge comes, almost all the homes in the area will be safe, he said: “Had that same event happened, at the same location but [with houses] built to the new standard, 95 percent or more would not have flooded.”

For a structure, standing water is a fearsome enemy. Even a small amount of flooding in a home can exile its inhabitants for weeks and require costly repairs. After Harvey, tens of thousands of evacuees lived in hotels or with friends as workers in their homes tore out drywall to prevent the spread of mold, which can sicken residents. And more Harveys are coming: As my colleague Robinson Meyer reported, a new MIT study concludes that Harvey-scale flooding in Texas is six times as likely now as it was in the late 20th century, and will only get more likely as this century wears on. More

Friday, December 8, 2017

Silicon Valley Wants to Solve Our Water Problems


Despite a ​lack of VC ​funds, ​there’s a ​steady flow of ​entrepreneurs. ​

Gary ​Kremen—​the founder of ​Match.com, ​former owner of ​Sex.com, and ​serial ​investor—​is into water. ​

The ​entrepreneur ​started ​investing in ​water tech ​startups a few ​years ago. ​Today ​he’s an ​elected member ​of Silicon ​Valley’​s ​water district , an ​agency that ​manages water ​and flood ​control ​for 2 million ​people. ​Earlier this ​year, he helped ​craft ​a proposal to build ​a tunnel under ​the Sacramento-​San Joaquin ​River Delta ​that could ​improve ​drinking water ​reliability for ​cities from San ​Jose to San ​Diego. ​

Following ​several years ​of ​investing in ​energy and ​solar startups, ​Kremen became ​attracted to ​water problems, ​he says, ​because ​it’s an ​issue ​that’s ​yet to be ​solved. “​Water is so, so,​ so, so hard,​” he says.​ “We need ​to focus on the ​hard things.​” ​

A small ​fraction of ​venture capital ​dollars ​currently goes ​into tech to ​manage or clean ​water. Analysis ​from research ​company ​Cleantech Group ​finds that ​total dollars ​and deal volume ​for water tech ​startups in ​2016 were down ​70 percent ​and 65 percent,​ ​respectively, ​from a ​peak in ​2013. Many ​water ​investments are ​now coming from ​family offices, ​corporate ​investors, and ​philanthropy. ​

But despite ​the investing ​challenges, ​there’s ​still healthy ​interest from ​entrepreneurs, ​who are ​drawn in ​by issues such ​as California’​s drought, the ​Flint, Mich., ​water crisis, ​climate change, ​and population ​growth. ​The number of ​tech accelerators ​focused on ​water issues ​jumped from 14 ​in 2013 to 26 ​in the first ​half of 2017, ​according to ​Cleantech Group.​

At the same ​time, water-​intensive ​industries ​looking to ​conserve ​resources ​and comply with ​regulations are ​increasingly ​turning to ​software to do ​so.

Robin ​Gilthorpe, ​chief executive ​officer of ​seven-year-​old ​WaterSmart Software Inc. , says he ​now sees “​a good steady ​flow of capital ​and entrepreneurs ​into the water ​sector.” ​His company, ​which was ​Kremen’s ​first ​investment, ​uses data to ​help water ​utilities ​improve their ​operations. ​

“Three ​years ago, ​‘digital ​water’ ​wasn’t a ​thing. ​Today ​there’s a ​lot of talk ​about it,”​ says ​Gilthorpe, who ​entered the ​field ​after a career ​in big data and ​analytics. ​

Silicon ​Valley even has ​its own water-​focused tech ​accelerator,​ ​ImagineH2O . The ​company began ​eight years ago ​and has worked ​with more than ​80 companies, ​including ​WaterSmart.​ ​Leveraging ​water data is ​one of the ​bigger trends ​for ImagineH20’​s companies, ​says its ​president, ​Scott Bryan. ​“​Entrepreneurs ​are applying ​what they ​learned in IT ​and biotech to ​the water space,​” he ​says. ​

Some argue ​that the ​greatest ​opportunity to ​invest in water ​is in ​industrial ​applications, ​not municipal ​water use. ​

The 50,000 or ​so U.S. water ​utilities are ​both highly ​regulated ​and ​conservative ​when it comes ​to buying and ​installing new ​technology.​ ​Gilthorpe ​of ​WaterSmart—​which does ​sell to ​utilities—​contends ​that these ​utilities are ​conservative ​with good ​reason. “​Water is so ​essential to ​life; you ​can’t ​take risks with ​it,” ​he says. ​

But even the ​market for ​managing ​industrial ​water has its ​challenges. In ​recent years, ​the oil and gas ​sectors have ​pulled back ​from buying ​tech that’​s used to ​manage ​wastewater. ​That has ​contributed to ​a drop in ​venture capital ​investment in ​water tech ​startups in ​recent years, ​say analysts ​at ​Cleantech Group.​

Some startups ​have managed to ​find buyers ​despite the ​difficulties. ​Earlier this ​year, ​Monsanto Co.-​owned Climate ​Corp. ​acquired a ​startup called ​HydroBio, which ​was using data ​to help farmers ​manage ​irrigation. ​Climate Corp. ​now offers the ​software ​to customers in ​Europe and ​plans to expand ​sales to ​farmers in the ​U.S.

“Water ​will continue ​to be a ​challenge in ​agriculture. ​Digital tools ​will help ​growers make ​more informed ​decisions,​” says ​Climate Corp. ​CEO Mike Stern. ​

Kremen has ​had more ​success than ​most with his ​water ​investments. In ​addition to ​putting one of ​the first ​checks into ​WaterSmart, he ​also backed ​Aquacue ​Inc., a leak ​detection ​company that ​was bought by ​Badger Meter ​Inc., as well ​as a water ​treatment ​startup called ​HydroNovation ​Inc., which was ​acquired by ​Taiwanese ​company ​KemFlo ​International ​Co.

Despite his ​investing wins,​ ​Kremen ​remains ​unusually ​focused on ​water policy. ​He plans to run ​for reelection ​to ​his ​district board ​seat in 2018. More

How to Build a City That Doesn’t Flood? Turn it Into a Sponge

The number of ​cities around ​the world is ​growing quickly.​ In her book,​ ​ Replenish: ​The Virtuous ​Cycle of Water ​and Prosperity ​ , Sandra ​Postel, the ​director of the ​Global Water ​Policy Project, ​reports that ​over the past ​35 years, the ​number of ​cities in China ​alone has ​climbed from ​193 to 653.​ ​As urban and ​suburban areas ​expand , the ​stormwater ​runoff problems ​will grow as ​well. ​

But now ​there’s a ​movement around ​the world to ​build smarter ​and “​spongier” ​cities that can ​absorb ​rainwater ​instead of ​letting it flow ​through miles ​of pavement and ​cause damaging ​floods. ​From Iowa to ​Vermont and ​from San ​Francisco to ​Chicago , urban ​infrastructure ​is getting a ​reboot. ​

Creating ​better ​stormwater ​management ​systems ​requires using ​green ​infrastructure ​elements in ​urban planning ​and restoring ​some of the ​rain-retention ​capacity that ​cities have ​lost to ​urbanization. ​These elements ​can be roughly ​broken into two ​categories: the ​man-made ​engineered ​replacements of ​the natural ​water pathways ​and the ​restorations of ​the original ​water routes ​that existed ​before a city ​was developed. ​

Man-Made ​Solutions: Rain ​Gardens, ​Bioswales, and ​Porous ​Pavements ​

Traditional ​road construction,​ made with ​asphalt, gravel ​and sand, is a ​very compacted ​structure that ​leaves little ​space between ​the particulates,​ and thus no ​room for the ​rainwater to ​seep through. ​In the ​construction ​industry that ​gap measure is ​described by ​the term “​air void,”​ which is ​typically set ​at four percent ​for the ​traditional ​pavement mix, ​says Richard ​Willis, ​Director of ​Pavement ​Engineering and ​Innovation at ​National ​Asphalt ​Pavement ​Association. ​More

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What needs to happen by COP24 to keep the Paris Agreement on track?

COP23 video: What needs to happen by COP24 to keep the Paris Agreement on track? | Carbon Brief

Carbon Brief has been talking to a range of people attending COP23, the latest annual round of international climate negotiations being held this year in Bonn, Germany.

A large proportion of the talks has been focused on making progress across a range of issues before the next COP, which is due to be held in Katowice, Poland.

These include finalising the format of the “Talanoa dialogue”, the new Fijian name for the collective stocktake (or “facilitative dialogue”) scheduled for 2018 to allow countries to assess their progress towards meeting the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Carbon Brief asked delegates what they thought needs to happen by COP24 to maintain the momentum of the Paris Agreement. More

Sicilians take aim at oil 'monster' they blame for children's birth defects


The refinery in Gela.


Everyone in the Sicilian town of Gela knows someone who has been hit by the health crisis that has gripped the town for decades.

Mortality rates are higher than elsewhere on the island, and the town has an unusually high rate of birth defects, including the highest rate in the world of a rare urethra disorder.

“There were tragedies that happened daily in the city,” said Luigi Fontanella, an Italian lawyer who began gathering testimony on the health of Gela’s 70,000 residents in 2007. “Everyone in Gela had a relative, a friend and often a child suffering from serious ailments.”

Fontanella found that hundreds of children had been born with congenital anomalies including hypospadias – the urethra disorder – cleft palates and spina bifida.

Local people have long blamed pollution. A 2011 study by the Italian health service drew a similar conclusion: dozens of babies were dying in the womb or within a week of being born every year from complications caused by environmental contamination. More

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Worst-case global warming predictions are the most accurate, say climate experts

Current predictions of climate change may significantly underestimate the speed and severity of global warming, according to a new study.

Reappraisal of the models climate scientists use to determine future warming has revealed that less optimistic estimates are more realistic.

The results suggest that the Paris Climate Agreement, which aims to keep global average temperatures from rising by 2C, may be overly ambitious.

“Our study indicates that if emissions follow a commonly used business-as-usual scenario, there is a 93 per cent chance that global warming will exceed 4C by the end of this century,” said Dr Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, who co-authored the new study.

This likelihood is an increase on past estimates, which placed it at 62 per cent. https://goo.gl/5jgsrd

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

I support renewables for climate because

'I support #renewables4climate b/c they make sense, even without #climatechange! Today, they've become more profitable than oil & coal. They're more than ecological, they're logical'—@bertrandpiccard bit.ly/2mpHjdE #COP23

The Tantalizing Dream of Blanketing the Sahara in Solar Panels


But in Germany, Gerhard Knies—a particle physicist—was inspired to ask a simple question. Fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas: their energy flowed from the sun. It took a tortuous path through plants and animals that were buried for thousands of years to get to us. The radioactive uranium that fueled nuclear power plants was also forged as a trace byproduct of nuclear fusion in stars. Would it not be easier, cheaper, and cleaner to get our energy directly from the sun?

Knies did a simple back-of-the-envelope calculation and worked out that, in just six hours, the world’s deserts receive more solar energy than the entire human race consumes in a year. The energy needs of the world could be met by covering just 1.2 percent of the Sahara desert in solar panels. Knies likely wasn’t even thinking about carbon emissions—just the fact that fossil fuels would one day run out—but climate change provides an even starker motivation for pursuing the project. And of course, it just seems so simple: Knies himself was frustrated about it, questioning, “Are we, as a species, really so stupid as to not make a better use of this resource?” https://goo.gl/HdgK74

Monday, December 4, 2017

GEF Council approves $500m work program on least developed countries and small island developing states

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) 53rd Council wrapped up today after approving a work program of more than $500 million that puts a strong emphasis on support for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

The work program, one of the largest in the current GEF funding cycle (GEF-6), spans all GEF focal areas and regions and comprises 83 projects and one programmatic approach. 101 recipient countries are set to benefit from GEF support, including 38 LDCs and 28 SIDS.

The full list of approved projects can be found in the co-chairs summary of the meeting, which also details decisions taken to approve a new gender equality policy, a revised stakeholder engagement policy, and an updated policy on ethics and conflict of interest for Council Members, Alternates and Advisers.

Closing the meeting, Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO and Chairperson, thanked participants, noting “we achieved the five things I hoped for.” Stressing that “we have built sufficient trust among ourselves so that we can tackle difficult issues in the future,” she highlighted the achievement of approving “a half-billion dollar work program… new policies, and laying the foundation for others”.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tesla just switched on the world's biggest lithium-ion battery in Australia


South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy," state Premier Jay Weatherill said at the official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, owned by private French firm Neoen.

Tesla won a bid in July to build the 129-megawatt-hour battery for South Australia, which expanded in wind power far quicker than the rest of the country, but has suffered a string of blackouts over the past 18 months.

Supporters, however, say it will help stabilize the grid in a state that now gets more than 40 percent of its electricity from wind energy, but needs help when the wind dies down.

"Storage can respond within a fraction of a second. It can address those stability issues very quickly without needing to resort to using large power plants," said Praveen Kathpal, vice president of AES Energy, a losing bidder to build the battery.

South Australia is now leading the world in dispatchable renewable energy," state Premier Jay Weatherill said at the official launch at the Hornsdale wind farm, owned by private French firm Neoen.

Tesla won a bid in July to build the 129-megawatt-hour battery for South Australia, which expanded in wind power far quicker than the rest of the country, but has suffered a string of blackouts over the past 18 months. More

Monday, November 27, 2017

Major new scientific research finds that organic farming can feed the world

A major new scientific report reveals how organic agriculture can help feed the world whilst reducing the enviornmental impacts, PETER MELCHETT, of the Soil Association delves into the data.

New scientific research has identified the important role that organic agriculture can play in feeding a global population of 9 billion sustainably by 2050.

Published in the journal Nature Communications, by scientists from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), the key question the research examines is: "whether producing a certain total amount of food, in terms of protein and calories, with organic agriculture would lead to higher, or lower, impacts than producing the same amount of food with conventional agriculture".

The scientists’ answer is that organic agriculture can feed the world with lower environmental impacts - if we cut food waste and stop using so much cropland to feed farm animals. The authors conclude: "A 100% conversion to organic agriculture needs more land than conventional agriculture but reduces N-surplus and pesticide use.”

https://goo.gl/iWAJfy

TEDxMasala - Dr Vandana Shiva - Solutions to the food and ecological crisis facing us today.

TEDxMasala - Dr Vandana Shiva - Solutions to the food and ecological crisis facing us today.

Friday, November 24, 2017

7th International Conference on Environmental Future


The Foundation for Environmental Conversation

Humans and Island Environments’ 6 – 20 April 2018 | Honolulu, Hawai’i


Updates: Abstract submission is now open and a dedicated conference website is now online: http://manoa.hawaii.edu/7ICEF.

Organized by the Foundation for Environmental Conservation (FEC), East-West Center, and University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, the 7th International Conference on Environmental Future (7ICEF) seeks to advance the global and multi-disciplinary conversation around environmental futures with a specific focus in 2018 on ‘Humans and Island Environments’. The conference will be held from the 16 – 20 April 2018 in Honolulu, Hawai’i, at the East-West Center’s Imin International Conference Center.

The 7ICEF aims to provide a forum for discussion and debate on the current and future issues surrounding island environments, bringing together islanders, researchers, managers, and NGOs from a broad array of disciplines and fields. The underlying questions are: how have islands aided our understanding of human-environment interactions? What are the latest directions in island biological and cultural conservation? Where should island conservation efforts be focused? and, What conservation lessons do islands have for the rest of the world?

In advance of the conference, a review article for each of 18 conference themes will be published in the journal Environmental Conservation. As papers are published they will be listed here. These papers will be presented at the conference together with other related talks, and there will be dedicated time in each themed session for discussions, and question and answers. The final day of the conference will involve workshop sessions and a webcast panel discussion bringing together some of the unifying themes and messages.

Information on the themes and speakers is available here.

For general queries regarding the conference please email icef7@foundationforec.org

Registration for the 7th International Conference on Environmental Future: Humans and Island Environments is being handled by the East-West Center.

Registration fees include access to all Conference sessions, conference materials, site visits and receptions.

Registration is now open!

REGISTER HERE

Should a healthy environment be a human right? These Norwegians think so


Greenpeace and the environmental group Youth and Nature are suing the Norwegian Government for granting Arctic oil drilling licenses.

Their argument is based on an article in the Norwegian constitution protecting the right to an environment that’s healthy and that long-term consideration be given to digging up natural resources.

Greenpeace Norway head Truls Gulowsen told Hack it all comes down to climate change and oil licenses.

"We had challenged the Norwegian state for handing out new licenses for drilling in the arctic in spite of the fact that they have signed the Paris Agreement," he said on his way to court.

"They acknowledge climate change is a problem, and they know that the world has already found more carbon, fossil carbon, than we can ever afford to burn."

He said Norway's constitution gives future generations the right to a healthy environment.

"[That] puts duties on the state to guarantee and safeguard those rights."

Brendan Sydes, lawyer and CEO of Environmental Justice Australia, says the strategy used by Greenpeace goes to a country’s legal foundation, instead of working with a country's environmental regulations. https://goo.gl/j9Ys27

How Climate Change Will Mess With Water ‘Recharge’ in Western USA


This map shows the surface area of major aquifers in the continental U.S. and Hawaii. The biggest, Ogallala in the High Plains (green), covers nearly 175,000 square miles. Photo credit: Katie Peek

As the climate warms, the dry southern regions of the Western United States will have less groundwater recharge while the northern regions will have more, researchers report.

“Our study asked what will be the effect of climate change on groundwater recharge in the Western US in the near future, 2021-2050, and the far future, 2070-2100,” says first author Rewati Niraula, who worked on the research as part of his doctoral work in the University of Arizona hydrology and atmospheric sciences department.

The new study covers the entire US West, from the High Plains states to the Pacific coast, and provides the first detailed look at how groundwater recharge may change as the climate changes, says senior author Thomas Meixner, professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.

“For the southern region of the Western US there will be a reduction in groundwater recharge, and in the northern region of the Western US we will have an increase,” says Niraula, now a senior research associate at the Texas Institute of Applied Environmental Research at Tarleton State University.

Groundwater is an important source of freshwater, particularly in the West, and is often used to make up for the lack of surface water during droughts, the authors note. In many areas of the West, groundwater pumping currently exceeds the amount of groundwater recharge. https://goo.gl/w6uhvv

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Not if the Seas Rise, but When and How High


Once you’ve read an excellent book about climate change, which Jeff Goodell’s “The Water Will Come” most certainly is, you can never unremember the facts. Elected officials may be busy arguing about whether global warming is real. But most scientists are having other arguments entirely — about whether danger is imminent or a few decades off; about whether our prospects are dire or merely grim.
“Sea-level rise is one of the central facts of our time, as real as gravity,” Goodell writes. “It will reshape our world in ways most of us can only dimly imagine.”
Goodell has little trouble imagining it. He opens “The Water Will Come” with a fictional hurricane whipping through Miami in 2037. It sweeps the Art Deco buildings of South Beach off their foundations, disgorges millions of gallons of raw sewage into Biscayne Bay and eats the last of the city’s beaches. Thousands scramble for bottled water dropped by the National Guard. Zika and dengue fever start to bloom (so much moisture, so many mosquitoes). Out rush the retirees and glamour pusses; in rush the lawyers and slumlords. Within decades, the place is swallowed whole by the ocean. What was once a vibrant city is now a scuba-diving destination for intrepid historians and disaster tourists.
The whole scenario seems indecently feasible by the book’s end.
After this year’s calamitous flooding in Houston and the Caribbean, “The Water Will Come” is depressingly well-timed, though I’m guessing all good books about this subject will be from now on. Political time now lags behind geological time: If we don’t take dramatic steps to prepare for the rising seas, hundreds of millions could be displaced from their homes by the end of the century, and the infrastructure fringing the coast, valued in the trillions of dollars, could be lost.
Unfortunately, human beings are uniquely ill-suited to prepare for disasters they cannot sense or see. “We have evolved to defend ourselves from a guy with a knife or an animal with big teeth,” Goodell writes, “but we are not wired to make decisions about barely perceptible threats that gradually accelerate over time.”
So we stick our heads in the sand. Until the sand disappears, anyway.
https://goo.gl/8wuqjb

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The world’s first “negative emissions” plant has opened in Iceland—turning carbon dioxide into stone


There’s a colorless, odorless, and largely benign gas that humanity just can’t get enough of. We produce 40 trillion kg of carbon dioxide each year, and we’re on track to cross a crucial emissions threshold that will cause global temperature rise to pass the dangerous 2°C limit set by the Paris climate agreement.
But, in hushed tones, climate scientists are already talking about a technology that could pull us back from the brink. It’s called direct-air capture, and it consists of machines that work like a tree does, sucking carbon dioxide (CO2) out from the air, but on steroids—capturing thousands of times more carbon in the same amount of time, and, hopefully, ensuring we don’t suffer climate catastrophe.
There are at least two reasons that, to date, conversations about direct air capture have been muted. First, climate scientists have hoped global carbon emissions would come under control, and we wouldn’t need direct air capture. But most experts believe that ship has sailed. That brings up the second issue: to date, all estimates suggest direct air capture would be exorbitantly expensive to deploy.
For the past decade, a group of entrepreneurs—partly funded by billionaires like Bill Gates of Microsoft, Edgar Bronfman Jr. of Warner Music, and the late Gary Comer of Land’s End—have been working to prove those estimates wrong. Three companies—Switzerland’s Climeworks, Canada’s Carbon Engineering, and the US’s Global Thermostat—are building machines that, at reasonable costs, can capture CO2 directly from the air. (A fourth company, Kilimanjaro Energy, closed shop due to a lack of funding.)
Over the past year, I’ve been tracking the broader field of carbon capture and storage, which aims to capture emissions from sources such as power plants and chemical factories. Experts in the field look at these direct-air-capture entrepreneurs as the rebellious kids in the class. Instead of going after the low-hanging fruit, one expert told me, these companies are taking moonshots—and setting themselves up for failure.


(https://qz.com/1100221/the-worlds-first-negative-emissions-plant-has-opened-in-iceland-turning-carbon-dioxide-into-stone/?utm_source=qzfb

Lake Catalina Is On The Verge Of Releasing Up To 9 Billion Gallons Of Water

Lake Catalina Is On The Verge Of Releasing Up To 9 Billion Gallons Of Water


Scientists recently revealed the catastrophic history of Lake Catalina, which appears primed once again to outburst billions of gallons of freshwater. Through satellite images, researchers at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark pieced together four massive outburst floods over the past 50 years.

The satellite photos show the outbursts of fresh water took place between 1966 and 2012 when ice that dammed Lake Catalina in Greenland failed. The outbursts of water are estimated to have been between 6.7 and 9 billion gallons of water released in one instance. Now, it appears the lake is primed for another catastrophic release of water in the next couple years.

The next outburst is certainly building and may happen as soon as 2018-19 - Aslak Grinsted, head of the research team.

The Lake Catalina is situated on Renland, a long and narrow island in Scoresbysund Fjord in East Greenland. What is equally as surprising as the amount of water released, is that the events were previously unknown by the scientific community and locals living in the area.


(https://www.forbes.com/sites/trevornace/2017/08/23/lake-catalina-verge-releasing-9-billion-gallons-water/

Monday, November 20, 2017

Ex-Minister Wayne Panton raises alarm on Environment

CNS): Wayne Panton said he was “disappointed” that Cayman now has an environment minister who appears to be “against the environment rather than for it”, as he raised the alarm about watering down the National Conservation Law. The former Cabinet member, who lost his seat in the May election by just a handful of votes, told CNS he had never seen such an “about-face in politics”. Just a few years ago the historic law had the unanimous backing of members, but now the example of truly “pro-Caymanian legislation” was facing an unwarranted backlash based on “fake facts”.

The former environment minister, one of the first politicians appointed to the post who was knowledgeable about conservation issues and became a true champion for the environment, said he was enormously disappointed with the recent turn of events. He said there has been a complete distortion by politicians of the legislation, which had been through significant consultation and enjoyed wide public support.

Panton said that the Legislative Assembly had voted unanimously for the law, which for the first time put the environment on a par with other considerations, such as social and economic, when it came to development but, he stressed, did not elevate it over them. He said it paved the way for conservation to be given equal weight to other factors and was designed to help balance competing interests and to ensure that the natural resources, which are fundamental to “what makes us Caymanian”, are not ignored in future planning decisions.

“But suddenly, people who voted in favour seem completely intent on repealing it or substantially watering it down,” he said, noting that the arguments to justify this rejection of the law were illogical and based on misinterpretation of the powers of the National Conservation Council and a misunderstanding of the law. https://goo.gl/SzjrVS

James Hansen - Scientific Reticence: A Threat to Humanity and Nature


Published on Nov 19, 2017James Hansen, Pam Peterson, and Philip Duffy join us to discuss how the hesitancy among scientists to express the gravity of our situation is a major block to our understanding and response to climate change, The reticence results from a combination of factors: political pressure, institutional conservatism, the desire to avoid controversy, aspiring to objectivity, etc.
But when the data and the conclusions it leads to are alarming, isn't it imperative that the alarm be transmitted publicly? Here is another facet of society's apparent inability to assess and respond appropriately to the present immense, existential threat of climate change.

How energy productivity and renewable power are saving Swiss Re millions

Good for business: how energy productivity and renewable power are saving Swiss Re millions of dollars every year | The Climate Group

As a founding member of RE100 and one year on from joining EP100, Swiss Re – a world leading reinsurer – is going above and beyond its ambitious climate action commitments. In this blog, Lasse Wallquist, Swiss Re’s Senior Environmental Management Specialist, addresses the business case for becoming more energy productive and for switching to 100% renewable power.

At Swiss Re, we’re in the business of calculating risk. We believe that by joining RE100 and EP100, we’ve made a decision to future-proof our operations against the costs of climate change down the road. In terms of emissions reduction, our strategy is to "do our best and compensate the rest". The first step of doing our best is increasing our energy productivity; a constant goal which sits at the heart of our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Neutral Programme.

We know that transitioning to 100% renewable power is an essential outcome that we need to deliver on. But, for us, it wouldn’t be sensible to ‘go renewable’ without ensuring we optimize our energy system first.

COMMITTED TO ENERGY PRODUCTIVITY
Energy productivity has always been at the forefront of our emissions reduction transition, and so far, our annual energy costs have dropped by more than US$10 million. Our commitment has been to continuously improve our energy productivity by 2% per year, and at the end of 2016, our energy productivity was halved, compared to 2005. While we’ve reached our EP100 commitment earlier than expected, the campaign continues to support us in creating awareness around ways to increase energy productivity while decreasing our energy costs and our carbon footprint.

We’ve hit our EP100 target already by, for example, decommissioning existing office buildings and moving into more energy efficient workspaces. Our new "Swiss Re Next" headquarters in Zurich has an energy productivity rate per workplace that is 80% higher compared to the former building.

Top management of many companies—due to the nature of their business—are not aware of the cost of their electricity bills. By failing to consider this crucial area of their operations, companies not only miss out on the opportunity to significantly reduce their own energy costs, but they also miss the chance to make lasting changes for a greener tomorrow. As a financial services company, energy productivity might not seem like an obvious objective for our management, but EP100 has helped us in creating awareness of energy productivity and educating our teams about opportunities to do more.


(https://www.theclimategroup.org/news/good-business-how-energy-productivity-and-renewable-power-are-saving-swiss-re-millions-dollars

Video on “Good Peatland Governance to Strengthen Economic, Social and Ecosystem Resilience


Video on “Good Peatland Governance to Strengthen Economic, Social and Ecosystem Resilience”
The UN-REDD Program convened this event on 15 November 2017, in the Fiji/Bonn climate change COP23 in order to launch the rapid response assessment, ‘Smoke on Water: Countering Global Threats from Peatland Loss and Degradation,’ and hear case studies from Indonesia, Republic of the Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Produced by Dorothy Wanja Nyingi, Ph.D., and filmed/edited by Hernán Aguilar.

IISD's video of the event is available at: http://enb.iisd.org/videos/climate/unfccc-cop23-side-events/good-peatland-governance-to-strengthen-economic-social-and-ecosystem-resilience/?autoplay

IISD's written and photographic coverage of the event is available at: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/cop23/un-redd/15nov.html
http://enb.iisd.org/2017/11/19/enb-video-on-good-peatland-governance-to-strengthen-economic-social-and-ecosystem-resilience/

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals

Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals | Martin Lukacs | Environment | The Guardian

Would you advise someone to flap towels in a burning house? To bring a flyswatter to a gunfight? Yet the counsel we hear on climate change could scarcely be more out of sync with the nature of the crisis.

The email in my inbox last week offered thirty suggestions to green my office space: use reusable pens, redecorate with light colours, stop using the elevator.

Back at home, done huffing stairs, I could get on with other options: change my lightbulbs, buy local veggies, purchase eco-appliances, put a solar panel on my roof.

And a study released on Thursday claimed it had figured out the single best way to fight climate change: I could swear off ever having a child.

These pervasive exhortations to individual action — in corporate ads, school textbooks, and the campaigns of mainstream environmental groups, especially in the west — seem as natural as the air we breathe. But we could hardly be worse-served


(https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/jul/17/neoliberalism-has-conned-us-into-fighting-climate-change-as-individuals

Friday, November 17, 2017

Our Socio-Economic Paradigm Is Incompatible With Climate Change Objectives

Scientist Kevin Anderson: Our Socio-Economic Paradigm Is Incompatible With Climate Change Objectives

Call for polluters to pay ‘climate damages tax’

Global civil society organizations are calling for a tax on fossil fuel supplies to fund support to people hit by climate change impacts.

Polluters should pay for homes and livelihoods wrecked by rising seas and increasingly extreme weather, campaigners argued in a statement issued alongside UN climate talks in Bonn, Germany.

Expressing frustration with slow progress made on “loss and damage” in formal negotiations, more than 50 groups and individuals backed the “climate damages tax” idea.

“We need a solution to climate change damage for my island on the front line of sea level rise and for coastal cities and communities around the world,” said signatory and Seychelles ambassador Ronny Jumeau.

“A key part of the solution is loss and damage finance – we need new sources of finance to cope with the impacts. A climate damages tax could provide a new source of finance, at scale, and in a fair way. This concept deserves to be taken forward.
http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/11/16/call-polluters-pay-climate-damages-tax/

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Resilient Transport Vital to Curb Disaster Losses in Small Island Developing States

Resilient Transport Vital to Curb Disaster Losses in Small Island Developing States

Improved policies alone could reduce the impact of natural disasters on well-being by 13 to 25% in small island countries

BONN, November 15, 2017—Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean, Pacific, Africa and Indian Ocean are among the world’s most vulnerable countries to natural disasters, and climate change is expected to greatly increase their exposure to hurricanes, storm surges, extreme winds, and flooding. A report launched today by the World Bank says the transport sector can play a central role in reducing the vulnerability of SIDS.

The report, entitled Climate and Disaster-Resilient Transport in Small Island Developing States: A Call for Action, finds that damage to roads and bridges constitutes a major share of disaster losses in SIDS, resulting in huge fiscal strains for their small economies. Transport often represents a large share of public assets in small islands, for example in Dominica transport assets are valued at 82% of GDP. In Fiji, one third of the total government budget is spent on the transport sector.

“Transport is critical to the economy and for the provision of services to remote communities,” said the Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Minister for Economy of Fiji. “Our transport infrastructure is already affected by climate change. There is an urgent need to develop tailored and climate smart solutions to improve the resilience of this sector. This report makes a valuable contribution by highlighting innovative solutions focused on small island developing states.””

https://reliefweb.int/report/world/climate-and-disaster-resilient-transport-small-island-developing-states-call-action

https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/120998.pdf

We need measures that provide practical access to finance for climate change adaptation

We need measures that provide practical access to finance for adaptation & enable us to build #ClimateChange resilience. #COP23 President @FijiPM encourages more initiatives like the insurance mechanisms launched at COP23 during Presidency Event on Loss & Damage

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change

Tropical forests used to protect us from climate change. Now, scientists say, they’re making it worse

A surprising scientific study released Thursday presents troubling news about the enormous forests of the planet's tropical midsection — suggesting that they are releasing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon to the atmosphere, rather than storing it in the trunks of trees and other vegetation.

The results, published in the journal Science, contradict prior work in suggesting that these forests — including the Amazon rain forest but also huge tropical forests in Indonesia, Congo and elsewhere — have become another net addition to the climate change problem. However, the accounting also implies that if the current losses could be reversed, the forests could also rapidly transform into a powerful climate change solution.

"The losses due to deforestation and degradation are actually emitting more CO2 to the atmosphere, compared with how much the existing forest is able to absorb," said Alessandro Baccini, the lead author of the study and a researcher at the Woods Hole Research Center. He conducted the study with fellow scientists from Woods Hole and Boston University.


(http://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/09/28/tropical-forests-used-to-protect-us-from-climate-change-a-new-study-says-theyre-now-making-it-worse/

Friday, September 22, 2017

Oil companies sued to pay for cost of rising sea levels, climate change

Oil companies sued to pay for cost of rising sea levels, climate change | Ars Technica

At least five California municipalities are suing five major oil companies, claiming in public nuisance lawsuits that the firms should pay for the infrastructure costs associated with rising sea levels due to climate change.

The latest suits announced Wednesday by Oakland and San Francisco name BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell. The cities claim the oil companies knew of the dangers of fossil-fuel-driven climate change but kept mum. The cities claim that global warming, which they say has melted ice sheets and heated sea water, has contributed to rising seas by about eight inches in California over the past decade. They say it could rise 10 feet by the year 2100.

"The bill has come due," San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera said. "It's time for these companies to take responsibility."

San Francisco's suit (PDF) claims the oil companies went on a campaign for decades to fool the public. More

Friday, September 15, 2017

WANTED: Helpers to save the planet!


Eager to contribute to climate action? And at least 18 years old?
UN Volunteers will recruit more than 650 volunteers to support the UN Climate Change Conference from 6-17 November 2017.
Registration will be open on Monday, 18 September.

Find out more about the application process on: https://www.unv.org/cop23

For more information about the COP23 please visit the UNFCCC website: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/cop-23-bonn/

****French Version****

RECHERCHE(E): Volontaires pour sauver la planète !
Tu es motivé(e) de contribuer à l'action climatique ? Et tu as au moins 18 ans ?
Le programme Volontaires des Nations Unies recrute plus de 650 volontaires pour soutenir la Conférence des Nations Unies sur les changements climatiques entre le 6-17 novembre 2017.
L'inscription sera ouverte à partir de lundi 18 septembre.

Pour en savoir plus sur le processus d'application : https://www.unv.org/cop23

Pour plus d'information sur la Cop23, visitez le site web de la CCNUCC: http://newsroom.unfccc.int/cop-23-bonn/

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Can business save the world from climate change?


"We are still in." On June 5, with these four words a group of U.S. businesses and investors with a combined annual revenue of $1.4 trillion sent a powerful message to the world: U.S. President Donald Trump may have withdrawn from the Paris agreement on climate change four days earlier, but corporate America was not following suit.

"We Are Still In" launched with more than 20 Fortune 500 companies on board, including Google, Apple, Nike and Microsoft, as well as a host of smaller companies. The statement was coordinated by a large collective of organizations including World Wildlife Fund, Rocky Mountain Institute, Climate Mayors, Ceres and Bloomberg Philanthropies. It has grown to include more than 1,500 businesses and investors, as well as nine U.S. states, more than 200 cities and counties and more than 300 colleges and universities. More

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Images From a Warming Planet


Ashley Cooper has just spent the last thirteen years travelling to every continent on the planet to document the impacts of climate change and the rise of renewable energy. He is the only living photographer to have done so. His new book with 500 of the best images from his epic journey around the world, "Images From a Warming Planet is out now.

It came out to some great reviews, including from Jonathon Porritt who called it "an extraordinary photographic record and a powerful call to action"​ You can read the reviews, peruse the book and even purchase a copy from www.imagesfromawarmingplanet.net

The book has also just won a Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A rich person's profession? Young conservationists struggle to make it


fter two years of looking for paid work as a conservationist around Europe and four months doing unpaid work in East Africa, Levikov moved to the island of Malta to work at Greenhouse Malta. Levikov, who owes over $100,000 in student loans, described her work at the small environment NGO as “casual” and “freelancing” — some hours are paid, others are volunteer — while the group looks to secure more funding.

“The reality many of us face is that we will have to babysit, clean toilets, and serve drinks as we try to gain the experience we need in conservation to finally get that dream job,” said Levikov, a former intern at Mongabay, who just turned 30.

“I’m not blaming anyone for my current situation in which I am utterly broke and still crossing my fingers that in the near future my career will finally take off,” she told Mongabay. “Indeed I was wrong in thinking that all my hard, unpaid work would lead to something or that having a degree from a…highly-respected university would give me a leg-up.”
https://goo.gl/NdDfiF

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power - Get Involved! in a Reality Check

This weekend, former US Vice President Al Gore returns to the big screen with An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, a new film that celebrates the movement you've helped to create and generates new momentum in the most important fight of our time.

This film comes a little more than a decade after An Inconvenient Truth, the film that launched a global movement and inspired thousands of activists like you to join Vice President Gore in his mission to spread the word about the climate crisis and its solutions.

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power highlights the actions of Climate Reality Leaders like in the years since the first film, and sends a message that we can't stop now.

Now is the time for all of us to fight like our world depends on it.

This film provides a unique moment for us to gather our friends and networks and enlist them in this fight, helping to ensure that the climate crisis becomes a prominent issue for all communities in the months and years to come.

Besides taking others to see the film and sharing opportunities for local action, we can also share Vice

President Gore's new handbook for climate action. The book is a guide to making a difference and features the impactful stories of a number of Climate Reality Leaders, and is available from Amazon and other booksellers.

As this film and the accompanying handbook reach audiences across the US and around the globe, we have a powerful opportunity to build momentum and urgency around climate action at all levels of society.

Whether you take this chance to rally your community to the cause, or simply log an extra Act of Leadership in coming weeks, we know Climate Reality Leaders won't let this powerful moment pass by.

The film premieres in New York and Los Angeles this Friday, July 28, and in cities across the US on
August 4.

Not in the US? International release dates are still being revealed and updated all the time, so search your favorite movie website to find out if An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power is showing soon in your area.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

100% Clean, Renewable Energy Is Possible, Practical, Logical — Setting The Record Straight


Since 2009, Mark Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Stanford University and Senior Fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment and Precourt Institute for Energy, and more than 85 coauthors have written a series of peer-reviewed journal articles evaluating the scientific, engineering, and economic potential of transitioning the world’s energy infrastructures to 100% clean, renewable wind, water, and solar (WWS) power for all purposes by 2050, namely electricity, transportation, heating, cooling, and industrial energy uses.

These papers have helped to shift the global conversation around the possibility of completely decarbonizing the world’s energy sector through renewables. They have helped to motivate a wave of 100% renewable energy commitments by over 100 cities and subnational governments, including 35 cities in North America, 100 large international companies, and 48 countries. California, the world’s 6th largest economy, just announced its 100% by 2045 renewable target and proposed U.S. House Resolution HR540, U.S. Senate Resolution SR 632, and U.S. Senate Bill S.987 calling for the United States to go to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050. More

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Distributed Solar Is Less Expensive Than Delivered Coal Power


On March 22, 2017, Rocky Mountain Institute’s Shine Program released a request for proposals (RFP) for community-scale solar on behalf of a group of rural electric cooperatives in eastern and northern Colorado. The RFP was part of RMI’s ongoing work to develop the community-scale market nationwide.

Nearly 30 developers responded to the RFP, providing highly competitive bids. Prices for solar power purchase agreements were lower than the value of solar to the co-ops, and so solar is expected to result in economic savings for participating co-ops.

RFP results confirm that we have crossed a significant tipping point where distributed solar is not only a means to supply green energy and to promote regional economic development, but also an opportunity to decrease energy costs and to drive down bills for price-sensitive energy consumers. The Colorado RFP outcomes are informative to utilities nationwide, but particularly to co-ops and municipal utilities in Colorado and neighboring states that are contemplating solar development and are interested in joining a regional procurement opportunity. More

Friday, June 9, 2017

Ocean Conference commitments show world on track to protect over 10% of globe's Marine Areas by 2020

Ocean Conference commitments show world on track to protect over 10% of globe's #MarineAreas by 2020. #SaveOurOcean oceanconference.un.org/prjune9

The Cayman Islands must join this initiative as we are a maritime nation More
#caymancentreofexcellence

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

British territories' environment 'at risk'

Wildlife and the environment in far-flung British territories are under threat, says a report.

Environment ministers from Britain's overseas territories say the government has cut funds and been distracted by Brexit. They say there is huge confusion among government departments about responsibility for the territories.

The government calls the criticism unfair and points to its creation of large marine protection areas.

The UK holds jurisdiction over 19 British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies - parts of the British Empire that have not been granted independence or have voted to remain British territories.

Therefore, I would argue that it is time for the colonies to take more responsability and control of their environments. Editor

https://goo.gl/nCvcwz

Monday, May 22, 2017

Atlantic Crossing

Albert Bates is in London this week and on their trip across the pond they could not help but think how much more we would much prefer to have gotten here by sail.

Sadly, there is a distinct competitive advantage that favors passenger jets. If following tradewinds for an ocean crossing means devoting days and weeks for such travel, clipper ships are not coming back any time soon. Still, given the past century’s advances in materials and computing power, there are great opportunities for innovation in Atlantic crossings.

There are also some black swans that could tip the balance against flying. The three biggies are peak oil, climate weirding and cyberwarfare.

https://goo.gl/U2B7LN

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Climate change can cause both flooding and droughts


Climate change can cause both flooding and droughts. How is that possible? Learn more: bit.ly/2kY6xh6

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Climate War Room now has new .eco domain

The Climate War Room, an initiative of The Cayman Institute is committed to using a .eco domain, which is a new web address ending for anyone committed to positive change for the planet.


.eco is a new web address ending—known as a top-level domain—for anyone committed to positive change for the planet. .eco web addresses are available to any business, government, non-profit or individual working toward a sustainable future.

The .eco domain is backed by more than 50 environmental organizations including Conservation International, United Nations Global Compact and WWF and is a trusted symbol for the environmental community. www.climatewarroom.org

Towards a livable future


Humans have influenced nature since as early as the Ice Age, and over the past century our impact has become even greater with our many new technologies and a growing world population. Leiden researchers study this impact and how we can keep it within reasonable limits so that nature can be preserved. We cannot do without nature: we need it for our food and for raw materials, as well as for relaxation.

Human and nature: a complex relationship

Humans were probably already deliberately burning down forest areas at the end of the Ice Age, in order to create a more variable landscape. Since then the world population has grown exponentially, and will continue to do so, which means that man's impact on the planet will also increase. Natural systems and cycles are becoming disrupted leading to such problems as pollution, depletion of resources and climate change. There is evidence that biodiversity plays a major role in stable ecosystems, and, besides this, nature is a valuable asset for humans because of the peace and relaxation that it can offer. The way we use the planet does not always reflect our desire to create -- and maintain -- a healthy living environment. In Leiden researchers investigate how we can bridge this gap and how we can provide a good life for ourselves without harming the planet and future generations.

What works for us?

Leiden researchers from different disciplines conduct research on nature and biodiversity, investigating such questions as what man's impact is in farmland areas, for instance. 'The Netherlands is a small country with a super-intensive agrarian culture,' Gert de Snoo explains. De Snoo, Professor of Conservation Biology, and his colleagues discovered that maintaining small areas of nature on farmland, such as wild flowers along the borders of fields, can have a positive effect on biodiversity. Ecotoxicologists conduct research on the effects of biodiversity, exploring the influence of pesticides on local biodiversity. We can also learn from the past. Archaeologists study how man influenced his living environment in the past and what the consequences were. This could be something like the erosion of areas of loess in South Limburg, a process that was started by the Romans, but that only in the 20th century led to extensive mudslides, making the land permanently unsuitable for agriculture. All these insights generate knowledge about how we can best approach our need for food while at the same time preserving the planet.

Don't exhaust nature: use it wisely

We all want so much today: we want to live in nice houses, fly all over the world and have the newest and best smartphones. All this is possible, but at the same time we are exhausting the planet because all these products and services need raw materials. Over the years Leiden has collected enormous amounts of data on raw material supplies. How do physical flows of raw materials move across the world? Where can they be found? Leiden has the world's biggest database on this issue, which makes it possible for our researchers to chart the metabolism of society. This offers insights into the best ways of using and reusing sustainable materials so we are better able to create a circular economy.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Leiden, Universiteit.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference

WHY CAYMAN? WHY NOW?

Caribbean economies suffer from some of the highest electricity prices in the world. Despite their abundance of renewable energy sources, Cayman has a relatively low level of renewable energy penetration; the economy continues to spend a large proportion of its GDP on imported fossil fuels.

The Caribbean Transitional Energy Conference (CTEC) is about building our resilience as a small nation, about diversifying our energy sector and the way that we do business.

It is about ensuring sustainable social and economic growth through strong leadership, recognising the threat of climate change and the vulnerability of islands across the world and voicing our commitment to take the measures that we can take now. More

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This grazing and cover crop system is producing some impressive numbers - By Gabe Brown


Phone calls, emails and even a few old-fashioned letters — all say the same thing. As I travel presenting at conferences and workshops, the statement comes up repeatedly.

If only I had a dollar for the number of times I had people tell me, “Gabe, you just don’t understand that our soils are not like yours.” I have learned to listen patiently (OK, sometimes not so patiently) as these people tell me all the reasons my soils are productive, and theirs are not.

When they finish, I ask them what they imagine their land looked like pre-European settlement. To this I usually receive a puzzled look.

My point is this: How is it that these lands were once healthy, functioning ecosystems? What changed between then and now? Could it be that we are the reason our land is no longer as productive as it once was? Could it be we are the reason that our soils do not function properly?

We get a lot of visitors to our ranch, more than 2,100 last summer alone. I think most come wanting a “silver bullet.” What we show them is simply how to use the principles of nature to their advantage.

I make it a point to show the difference between soils on our ranch and those of nearby operations. All have the same soil types.

The accompanying table shows soil testing results for four operations in my neighborhood. The one titled “Organic” is just that — an organic operation that is very diverse in its cropping system. The operator grows spring wheat, barley, oats, corn, sunflowers, peas, soybeans, dry edible beans and alfalfa. Natural, organic fertilizers are used. No livestock are integrated onto this cropland. More

Climate Ecoforestry

In 2008 we asked Frank Michael a tough question. Frank is a physicist, formerly with the Ames Research Center group that created the first Flying Solar Laboratory to study the sun and its “weather” and prevent astronauts from being fried by solar storms. We asked him what would happen to atmospheric carbon if everyone on earth planted a tree each day.

It was an interesting question, and one that was not easy to answer. Frank explained some of the variables to us. You would want to know what kind of trees are planted; what their lifespan will be; what happens to their carbon store when they die; the net photosynthetic productivity of the forest, by hectare, based on soils, rainfall, latitude and expected climate change; the effect of all the stored carbon in the ocean that would “leak back” into the atmosphere in response — trying to re-balance the distribution of carbon dioxide — and much more.

Nonetheless, he agreed to give it a go. Thus began a system model that Frank Michael will be presenting at the 7th World Congress on Ecological Restoration later this year in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil.

The question changed to “what amount of trees, land and biochar would be needed to return the atmosphere to ‘normal’ and how long would it take?” We know much less about paleoclimate drawdowns and feedbacks than we know about epochs of carbonization. As his calculations and his global model became more elaborate, he began to be drawn to the complexity of the social dimension. What are the potentials for unplanned reversals like deforestation, population pressure, energy demand and urban sprawl? How many of those trees would survive one year? 5 years? 100 years? Who would care for them and how would those people be compensated? How would you pay for the biochar conversion?

Frank came up with a model that we can only describe as pure genius, worthy some day of a Nobel Prize should he ever be recognized. His “step harvest” system, which we first described in The Biochar Solution, sets out a practical methodology for employing hundreds of millions of forest stewards to regenerate and revitalize neglected and abandoned “wastelands,” working with principles of ecological regeneration and patch management to stack yields while optimizing ecological functions. Rather than rely on charity, it relies on capitalism – a healthy return of investment in semi-autonomous but coordinated microenterprises. More

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Chevron is first oil major to warn investors of risks from climate change lawsuits


Big Oil’s lies about the existential risk posed by its product are now catching up with the industry and threatening profits.

For the first time, one of the major publicly owned fossil fuel companies admitted publicly to investors that climate change lawsuits poses a risk to risk to its profits.
You’re probably thinking that seems like an obvious admission. After all, 190 nations unanimously agreed in the December 2015 Paris climate deal to leave most fossil fuels in the ground because of the existential threat they pose to human civilization.

But this is Big Oil — the industry that has been denying or pretending to deny the existence of climate change for over half a century.
In the “risk factors” section of Chevron’s 2016 10-K financial performance report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) — amid a discussion of how those pesky climate rules governments are enacting might hurt demand for its product — is this sentence: “In addition, increasing attention to climate change risks has resulted in an increased possibility of governmental investigations and, potentially, private litigation against the company.” http://bit.ly/2mndUir

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Great Change: Mount Pleasant by Albert Bates

Sunday, February 19, 2017

"The problem is not our understanding of the science or the efficacy of our potential solutions. The problem is human willingness to do the right thing before its too late."

We first latched onto the notion of catastrophic climate change back around 1980 when we were a young attorney taking quixotic cases involving impossible-to-rectify injustices like cancers among atomic veterans, trespass of sacred sites or nuclear waste disposal, and shoving those insults under the noses of attorneys-general, judges and justices to try to get a reaction.

Occasionally we would finesse a surprising win and that helped attract donations to keep the enterprise running and the entertainment value high, attracting more donors, and so it went.

One such case was against the deepwell injection of toxic effluent from the manufacture of pesticides and herbicides by agrochemical companies in Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee. The effluent in question had been extracted from an aquifer and tested by State laboratories where was quickly ranked as the most concentrated poison they had ever pulled from the wild. A single green fluorescent drop killed all the fish in the tank. There were 6 billion gallons injected under Middle Tennessee from 1967 to 1980. It made Love Canal look like the kiddie pool.

https://goo.gl/gw1SCk

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Petition to UN Secretary-General to change the name of our planet from Earth to Peace


Humanity is now playing in the Major Leagues.

As I said in 2011, in 2016, and say again today in 2017, unless the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion protest, like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Dakota Access Pipeline protest is successful, there will be casualties, political casualties and eventually millions of human casualties. Casualties from run-away climate change, sea level rise and from conflict. Not to mention from from difficulties in feeding an ever increasing population.

Continued burning of fossil fuel, driven mainly by capitalist greed, will eventually pollute the atmosphere and the environment to the degree that is will no longer support life. What future are we leaving to our children and grandchildren and future generations? There are those scientists like James Lovelock who argues that it is too 'little too late'. http://bit.ly/2irVnAY

Even if we did suspend the burning of petroleum and coal tomorrow our coastal cities and small island developing states would continue to experience sea level rise for hundreds of years. http://bit.ly/2irRxrC

We have had now had, besides the upcoming Trans Mountain pipeline expansion protest, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's Dakota Access Pipeline protest, the election of president-elect Trump, OWS protests in 2011, protests in Brazil and Turkey, and like it or not social protests are here to stay. As Robbert Muggah said of Brazil's Protests "There is little doubt that the protests have challenged the existing social order and alerted a new generation of youth to the unacceptability of the status quo". This holds true globally. http://huff.to/2gTbl60

The political paradigm has changed. Politicians and governments and the corporate world are proving once again to be slow learners, they are resisting change rather than embracing it, and without listening to their people's protests, they will be swept away by the winds of change.

Globally we are faced with climate change, the most serious peril that has faced humanity in its brief history. However, we are faced with more than climate change, there are the life threatening CO2 levels and looming sea level rise, resource shortages and an out of control population, as well as concerns for water and food security in the years to come.

As I say frequently “failing to plan is planning to fail”.

Humanity is today playing in the major leagues. We are in a sink or swim situation. If we can keep the planet habitable by mitigating and adapting to the changing climate, switching to alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, geothermal, wave, ocean thermal and nuclear, sequester CO2 and provide the population with adequate supplies of water and food and bring the population under control, humanity may survive . Survival means, amongst all the issues above, learning to navigate successfully through a new political morass.

Warfare and conflict will also need to become a thing of the past, as climate change and energy may well exacerbate conflict situations. With a 9.5 billion global population by 2050 ensuring that everyone has adequate food and water could be problematic.

There is however, no ‘Plan B’ if we fail to resolve all the problems facing us.

When playing in the major leagues, there is no time out, there is no one that is going to offer help, let alone rescue us. Look around, the neighbourhood is somewhat sparsely populated and there are no other worlds on which humanity can survive. Even if there were other habitable worlds nearby they would in all probability belong to someone else. Neo-colonialism on an intergalactic scale may well not end well for humans.

There are, in all likelihood, other intelligent races out there somewhere, however, in the major leagues one survives on ones own. As a young civilization it is up to us to solve all our problems, to make peace among ourselves, to bring the population under control, to implement the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and resolve the inequality that is partially responsible for the protests that are occuring around the world.

We must solve our own problems. As a young race we are as children, and as such we may not be able to solve our own problems. But solve them we must. If we are able to solve the situation facing us and make it to adulthood, in the galactic meaning of the world, we may then be introduced to the neighbors. If we do not make it to adulthood we will be just another minor statistic, a failure, a insignificant footnote in the universal history book.

Humanity needs an initiative to train our young people to become Stewards of Nature and the Environment. I envision this being done by involving and employing indigenous peoples around the world to introduce our youth, at the appropriate age, to indigenous philosophy and cultural understanding of the environment and what nature provides for mankind through ecosystem services.

Let us therefore be aspirational and rename our planet, the home of the human race and many other species, as the planet PEACE

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

World's Largest Oil Company, Saudi Aramco, Apparently Mulling $5 Billion Renewable Investment

World's Largest Oil Company, Saudi Aramco, Apparently Mulling $5 Billion Renewable Investment | CleanTechnica

The world’s largest oil company, Saudi Aramco, is apparently mulling over as much as $5 billion in renewable energy investments as part of plans to diversify from crude oil production, according to people with knowledge on the matter.

According to various reports, Saudi Arabia’s national petroleum and natural gas company, Saudi Aramco, is apparently considering as much as $5 billion worth of investments into renewable energy firms as part of larger plans to diversify their operations. According to one report from Bloomberg, “banks including HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Credit Suisse Group AG have been invited to pitch for a role helping Aramco identify potential acquisition targets and advising on deals.”

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been watching the global energy market fluctuate over the last decade. The Gulf countries currently have as close to a monopoly as possible over the world’s oil resources, and dictate oil prices at their whim. But if natural gas reserves and renewable energy continue to put a dent in the need for their oil, then their businesses are going to stumble.

Subsequently, we have seen over the last few years big oil majors from the Middle East begin to diversify their portfolios, looking to renewable energy investments as a surefire way to keep themselves afloat in the long run.

Back in November of 2016, reports circulated regarding seven leading oil and gas majors looking to join forces to create a renewable energy investment fund for the development and promotion of renewable energy. The news was confirmed not long after with the creation of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI) which announced a $1 billion investment over the next ten years into renewable energy development. More

Tesla Needs Just 3 Months To Complete World's Largest Grid Storage Facility

Tesla Needs Just 3 Months To Complete World's Largest Grid Storage Facility

Tesla has just completed the world’s largest battery grid storage facility and did it all in about three months from start to finish. The installation consists of 396 Tesla Powerpack units, each with 16,000 lithium ion battery cells, for a total of 210 kilowatt-hours of capacity in each Powerpack. In total, this one 20 megawatt/80 megawatt-hour installation is equivalent to 15% of all the installed grid storage presently available in the entire world. More

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power

We have some exciting news to share. Recently, The Climate Reality Project Founder and Chairman Al Gore attended the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, for the debut of An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. The film earned a “rapturous response” at its opening-night premiere screening on January 19.

At the festival, Vice President Gore joined an esteemed panel of climate innovators to discuss the role of storytelling in the climate movement. Vice President Gore described how engagement and inspiration through storytelling can encourage climate action alongside Jeff Skoll, founder and chairman of The Skoll Foundation, scientist and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki, and Mohamed Nasheed, former president of the Maldives.

Read more about the hotly anticipated sequel to the influential, Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth here:

Sundance Film Review: ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ (Variety)
Sundance: ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ Debuts to Rapturous Response (THR)
Sundance: Al Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ has added timeliness with Trump (USA Today)
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ Review: Al Gore Drops the Mic (Again) On Climate Change (IndieWire)
Al Gore is a climate change James Bond in urgent, exhilarating ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ (Mashable) More

Saturday, January 28, 2017

What if we gave universal income to people in biodiversity hotpots?

What if we gave universal income to people in biodiversity hotpots?

Writer and professor, Ashley Dawson, argues in his new book that capitalism is behind our current mass extinction crisis. But installing universal guaranteed income in biodiversity hotspots may be one remedy.

Around five hundred years ago, Europeans brought about the invention of modern day capitalism, a system that was rooted in colonialism, slavery and environmental destruction, according to Dawson.

“Capitalism is an economic system founded on ceaseless expansion,” Dawson, who specializes in Postcolonial studies, said. “It must grow at a compound rate or it will experience convulsive economic and social crises. The contradictions of this system are patently self-evident: an economic system based on infinite expansion must inevitably crash into the natural limits of finite ecosystems.”

Although capitalism has spread over the world in the last half millennium, Dawson argues it didn’t have to be this way.

“The global expansion of capitalism was not a deepening of some inherent human drive to environmental destruction, but a complete transformation in the foundation of human societies, the substitution of an ecocidal and genocidal system for the relatively sustainable social forms that preceded it.” More