Category Archives: Climate Change

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

Combating Climate Change: 

Changes to agricultural practice and forestry management could cut greenhouse gas emissions, buying time to develop alternative technologies.  This can be done by farming Out Global Warming Solutions.

DEFORESTATION

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

Humanity has cut too many trees and by caused an immense desertification. The solution is quite simple: reverse the desertification and start planting trees. This solution will result in reducing the quantity of carbon dioxide in the air. It will also create valuable property that produces financial profits.

Each year, nearly 33 million acres of forestland around the world is cut down, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.  Without action now, most of the world’s tropical forests will be lost by this century’s end. During the last half century, the seemingly endless Amazon has lost at least 17% of its forest cover.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

If such losses were cut in half, it could save 500 million metric tons of carbon annually and contribute 12 percent of the total reductions in GHG emissions required to avoid unpleasant global warming, researchers recently reported in Science.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

FORESTATION

Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, trees act as carbon sinks, alleviating the greenhouse effect. There are millions of acres of tropical pastures available.

The biome encompasses 6.7 million km2 (twice the size of India) and is shared by eight countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname), as well as the overseas territory of French Guiana. 

 Tree-planting could sequester (remove from the atmosphere) around 1.1–1.6 GT of CO2 per year. That compares to total global greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to 50 GT of CO2 in 2004.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

NO-TILL FARMING

Among proposed changes: more widespread adoption of so-called no-till farming, a practice that involves leaving unharvested crop stalks and other plant matter behind in the field undisturbed by plows and other soil-agitating instruments.

Farming Out Global Warming Solutions

Basically, the carbon stored inside the remains sinks into the soil instead of being stirred up and into the atmosphere when the soil is prepared for planting using conventional means. Such no-till farming provides a double benefit for farmers: improved soils and reduced fuel use, because it negates the need to harvest the stalks with tractors and other equipment.

What are we to do?

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THE CARBON GENIE

Global Change and Politics

It’s hard to get the general public to grasp the vast size of our carbon problem, that we will not only have to stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere BUT ALSO find a way to pull vast amounts of CO2 already in the atmosphere and put the carbon genie back in the bottle.

Pick a reason for forgetting about our grandchildren who will all be living in a new world of Global Change: Ignorance; Greed; Denial; Tribalism (following the group thinking); Short-term Thinking.

Carbon GenieAt least half of our wise leaders don’t even see our carbon emissions as a serious problem. Very few leaders will support any change because no-one in power wants what would disrupt the cosy status quo.

Here are the facts: the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that a massive amount of CO2 removal will be required this century — at least 500 billion metric tons pulled back out of the air — if we are to avoid the worst of global warming. 

There is no current magical technology to absorb all the harmful CO2 in our atmosphere. But there’s worse news. There are almost no business cases for carbon removal right now. In other words, it still costs nothing to spew CO2 into the sky, so people have no financial incentive to stop dumping, let alone pay to clean up the air.  At the very least that we can do now is to require a price to be put on CO2, making it more expensive to emit.

 

Nature is our untapped solution. Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon – providing up to 30% of the solution towards climate change. Despite this, nature-based solutions only receive 2% of all funding devoted to climate solutions.

Carbon Genie

What we need is a Marshall-style construction programs, and an acknowledgment that we have to escape failed paradigms. 

We don’t have the luxury of a lot of time: the best science says we have less than 10 years to reduce carbon emissions by at least 90% if we expect civilization to deal with the possibility of extreme global warming. 

Carbon Genie

The irony is that it will take far more funds to recover from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, if we decide to wait to act. The cost and consequences of inaction are too high to risk.

Hopefully, it will not take a climate catastrophe to motivate such action, such as the drowning of some coastal city like New Orleans.

What are we to do?

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Unstable Weather

Phenomena of Unstable Weather

HEAT WAVES

The deadly weather phenomena, heat wave, is a long period of hot unstable weather. Heat waves have increased in frequency and duration in recent years and will continue to do so.

Unstable Weather

Carbon Tax is not Enough!

Carbon should not flow unpriced into the atmosphere, any more than you should be allowed to toss your garbage in the street. A rising carbon tax would discourage carbon emissions in every single economic transaction, every day of the year. 

Once one major country or region adopts carbon dividends with border carbon adjustments, other countries are compelled to follow suit [to prevent paying border adjustments to countries with carbon taxes]. One by one the dominoes fall.

Since every action of a modern life involves using fossil fuel, the only way to get enough change is to send a price signal through the matrix, so that everyone from investors to car buyers to milk-drinkers will find their behavior changing automatically. Carbon pricing is also one of the tools clean tech entrepreneurs cite as key to supporting innovation.

Carbon pricing plans now cover about 12 percent of the world’s emissions — have been far from earth-shaking.  At best, a carbon tax is one arrow in a quiver full of other arrows we’re going to need to let loose in a volley.

Unstable Weather

Bill McKibben’s “Step It Up!” campaign to stop global warming.

Step It Up, a nationwide campaign to combat global warming, drew thousands of Americans concerned about climate change. Holding 1,400 events around the nation, participants in National Day of Climate Action got creative. In lower Manhattan, protesters formed a line at the place where rising sea levels are predicted to reach. But that was ten years ago. Where is this model now?

Unstable Weather

If there is a model within American memory of what must be done, it is the civil rights revolution of the 1960s.

 Will FORESTATION occur rapidly enough to avert the worst effects of a warming world? 

Unstable Weather

The 2020 gap is, according to a recent United Nations Environment Program report, the difference between global emission levels consistent with the 2°C and emission expected if country commitments are implemented. “Global emissions should not be higher than 44 Gt CO2. However the range of expected global emissions (median estimates) from the pledge cases is 52 – 54 Gt CO2 in 2020. The gap in 2020 is therefore 8 – 10 Gt CO2.”  This gap can be CLOSED by FORESTATION.

Unstable Climate

Tropical forests are incredibly effective at storing carbon – providing up to 30% of the solution towards climate change. It has been estimated that 8 – 10 Gt CO2 could be stored in tropical plantations.

Despite this, nature-based solutions only receive 2% of all funding devoted to climate solutions.

Politicians are completely overwhelmed by the sheer complexity, size and number of crises in the world at present. Politicians should not be lurching from crisis to crisis like a drunk. They lack the leadership that Winston Churchill brought to the Second World War.

Unstable Weather

The Copenhagen Accord commits developed countries to the goal of sending $100 billion per year to developing countries in assistance for climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation through 2020. If ten per cent of this went to African farmers this would be around a micro finance support of $800 per farming household per year, which could provide a powerful incentive to change.

There was also a collective commitment by developed countries for $30 billion in “new and additional” resources in 2010-2012 to help developing countries reduce emissions, preserve forests, and adapt to climate change; and a goal of mobilizing $100 billion a year in public and private finance by 2020 to address developing county needs.

Aside from saving the planet, Are Tropical Nurseries a Good Investment?

YES!

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Reforesting the Tropics

Saving Humanity: Reforest the Tropics

Buying Time to develop alternative technologiesReforesting the Tropics

Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, reforesting the tropics will act as carbon sinks, alleviating the greenhouse effect. There are millions of acres of tropical pastures available. When given proper care, orchard tropical trees bear fruit up to 50 years or more.

Reforesting the TropicsPLANT MORE TREES around the world — because… trees are carbon storage (sequestration) experts.

The United States has cut down over 50% of its original forests in the last 400 years, which would have absorbed 50% of its carbon emissions. Once carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere it stays there for a long time. About 33% continues to cause damage after 100 years.

 It is estimated by the U.S. Forest Service that all the forests in the United States, combined, sequestered approximately 309 million tons of carbon each year from 1952 – 1992, offsetting approximately 25 percent of human-caused emissions of carbon during that period in the United States.

The world’s forests remove over one quarter (27%) of current annual human carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year, the equivalent of about 2.4 billion tons of carbon according to the latest published scientific research.

Reforesting the TropicsThe tropical zones of the world seem particularly attractive for forestation because of the high rates of productivity that can potentially be attained there, and because there appear to be large areas of land that would benefit from tree planting.

Reforesting the Tropics

TREE MATH

Young trees absorb CO2 at a rate of 13 pounds per tree each year. Trees reach their most productive stage of carbon storage at about 10 years at which point they are estimated to absorb 48 pounds of CO2 per year and one acre of trees absorbs 2.6 tons of CO2 every year.

 For every ton of new-wood growth, about 1.5 tons of CO2 are removed from the air and 1.07 tons of life-giving oxygen is produced.

POSITIVE GROWTH OF TREES IN THE TROPICS

Borial zone trees absorb 0.5 Pg C/yr compared to Temperate zone trees at 0.7 while tropical trees grow at the rate of 1.3 or 185% more efficiently year-round than trees in a temperate zone

Younger and faster growing orchards generally have higher annual sequestration rates and they are given higher personal care of proper fertilizer and water: add a further 25% increase. We conclude there is an additional (185% + 25%) or 210% increase in the value of CO2 absorption.

Reforesting the TropicsThis map shows solar-induced fluorescence, a plant process that occurs during photosynthesis, from Aug. through Oct. 2014 as measured by NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2. This period is springtime in the Southern Hemisphere and fall in the Northern Hemisphere. Photosynthesis is highest over the tropical forests of the Southern Hemisphere but still occurs in much of the U.S. Grain Belt. The northern forests have shut down for the winter.

 Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Australia), CSIRO forests researcher Dr Canadell estimate that tropical forest re-growth is removing an average of 1.6 billion tons of carbon per year. Combining the uptake by established and forest re-growth plus emissions from deforestation, the world’s forests have a net effect on atmospheric CO2 equivalent to the removal of 1.1 billion tons of carbon every year. Reforesting the TropicsReforesting the Tropics

In terms of cutting emissions a 53% reduction in 2010 emissions is equal to almost 20 Gt of CO2 emissions. For some perspective, global emissions from coal fired electricity generation were about 9 Gt CO2 in 2010.

Reforesting the TropicsThe larger predictions from climate models are due to the fact that, within these models, the more important greenhouse substances, water vapor and clouds, act to greatly amplify whatever CO2 does. This is referred to as a positive feedback. It means that increases in surface temperature are accompanied by reductions in the net outgoing radiation – thus enhancing the greenhouse warming. … Satellite observations of the earth’s radiation budget verify this fact.

VALUE OF TROPICAL TREES

Moisture created by the rain forests travel around the world. America’s Midwest is affected by the forests in the Congo which is roughly a distance of 6000 miles. Moisture from the Amazon falls as far away as Texas.

The Benefits of Tropical Trees:

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Enough Food for the Future?

Is There Enough Food for the Future?world food crisis

The new UN climate report shows that crop yields already are being adversely affected by a changing climate, and how we respond globally in creating a more resilient food system is very important now. But we also recognize that food is central to our culture and is a source of great pleasure and comfort to people. We want to ensure we tackle all aspects so that we have enough food for the future.

world food crisis

The estimate of more than 9 billion people in less than 40 years highlights a stark challenge for the global food system.

We have enough food for the roughly 7 billion people alive today, but nearly a billion are hungry or malnourished, mostly due to poverty and unequal distribution. To feed those who are currently hungry—and the additional 2 billion-plus people who will live on the planet by 2050—our best projections are that crop production will need to increase between 60 and 100 percent. “Business as usual” could lead to a doubling of demand for agricultural production.

If the population is growing by less than one-third, why would the overall demand double? Simply stated: more people have more money.

Meeting the problem through production alone won’t be enough, and we should explore many alternatives that focus on reducing demand for food, like changing our diets and reducing food waste and loss. Increasing crop production can be part of the solution.

What drives the demand?

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Age of Consequences

Climate Security: Building National Security

Climate change presents the greatest challenge of our time. It is a national security threat that America’s military, and militaries around the world are taking seriously. We are entering into the Age of Consequences.

Age of Consequences

Climate change alone will not cause wars, but it serves as an “Accelerant of Instability” or a “Threat Multiplier” that makes already existing threats worse. The threat of global warming for security will manifest through a range of effects: resource scarcity, extreme weather, food scarcity, water insecurity, and sea level rise will all threaten societies around the world. Too many governments are not prepared for these threats, either because they do not have the resources or because they have not planned ahead. How societies and governments respond to the increase in instability will determine whether climate change will lead to war. We’re really talking about violent events that require less organization like protests, riots and strikes.

  • The science is definitive enough for action. We cannot wait until you have 100% certainty before acting.
  • Climate change alone will not cause war, but it serves as an “accelerant of instability” that makes already existing threats worse.
  • Global threats include: migration, conflict over scarce resources, reduced food production, water insecurity, and others.
  • The military is preparing for climate change by, studying potential threats, and preparing to deploy when needed.

A perfect example of a national security treat was the Arab Spring. The terrific drought that struck that entire region in 2010 had global ramifications. It was especially disastrous for Egypt. The drought caused Russia and other exporters to end wheat exports.  Somewhat unexpected, it made a major contribution to the blossoming of the Arab Spring. The country has only been able to sustain about half its needs True, there was also a desire to embrace democracy, but that wasn’t what really drove the masses: it was the lack of wheat.

Sahel Africa

Traditionally, most of the people in the Sahel have been semi-nomads, farming and raising livestock in a system of transhumance, which is probably the most sustainable way of utilizing the Sahel. The Sahel, home to some 232 million people, comprising portions of ten (10) African countries, from left to right: [northern] Senegal, [southern] Mauritania, [central] Mali, [northern] Burkina Faso, [southern] Algeria, [southwestern] Niger, [northern] Nigeria, [central] Chad, [central] Sudan and [northern] Eritrea.

Sahel Africa

Contrast the situation in Ethiopia where these conditions are almost identical to Somali and South Sudan, which both have very poor governance. Ethiopia on the other hand is an active participant in the international climate change process of the UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change involved with risk mitigation and farmer adaptation. Generally, Ethiopia has not suffered in the same way as both South Sudan and Somali.

WHAT TO DO?

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WATER CRISIS: A CATASTROPHE

  • TODAY’S CRISIS WILL BECOME A CATASTROPHE.

water crisisIf water is not managed better…water OUR THIRSTY WORLD

As water becomes ever more scant the world needs to conserve it, use it more efficiently. Researchers from MIT predict that by 2050, more than half of humanity will live in water-stressed areas, where people are now extracting unsustainable amounts from available freshwater sources.  We can expect a water crisis that will go viral into a catastrophe if we continue with business as usual.

Many people have a strong moral aversion to paying for the life-sustaining liquid. Some feel that water is a right, and should therefore be free. Others lobby governments to subsidize its distribution to favored groups. This results in vast, but preventable waste.

To make matters worse, few places price water properly. Usually, it is artificially cheap, because politicians are scared to charge much for something essential that falls from the sky. This means that consumers have little incentive to conserve it and investors have little incentive to build pipes and other infrastructure to bring it to where it is needed most.

water scarcity

In many countries people can pump as much water as they like from underground aquifers, because rules are either lax or not enforced. But it is unsustainable: around a fifth of the world’s aquifers are over-exploited.

.water crisis

India appears to be headed for a very great water crisis because of the inexpensive available pumps together with a large population:
GROUND WATER USAGE

People do not drink much water—only a few liters a day. But putting food on their tables requires floods of the stuff. Growing 1 lb of wheat takes 125 gallons of water; fattening a cow to produce the same weight of beef involves 12 times more. Overall, agriculture accounts for more than 70% of global freshwater withdrawals. Farmers in parched places grow thirsty cash crops such as avocados, which could easily be imported from somewhere wetter.

THE COMING CRISIS

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DEFORESTATION PREVENTION

 PREVENTING DEFORESTATION

Preventing deforestation is our best chance to conserve wildlife and defend the rights of forest communities. It’s one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to curb global warming.

Worldwide, two billion hectares of land are currently degraded – an area larger than South America. Of this, 500 million hectares are abandoned agricultural land.

The amount of under-utilized and degraded land available in the region to accommodate for future agricultural expansion is estimated at 0.7-1 million hectares.

The Suitability Mapper enables users to identify potentially suitable sites for sustainable palm oil production in the following area:

degraded land

How do we prevent further deforestation?

It is still economically valuable to clear the forest for plantations. As current agricultural land becomes more and more degraded, producers move on to pristine, more productive land, with often harmful consequences such as the loss of forest cover.

If we’re going to stop deforestation, we need governments to do their part. That starts with cracking down on corruption and ensuring fair enforcement of forest conservation rules. Corruption fuels illegal logging and unsustainable forest management.

What is behind DEFORESTATION?

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MITIGATION OF EMISSIONS

MITIGATION OF EMISSIONS

water dry facts

The seriousness of carbon emissions and the resulting impacts of those emissions are starting to have a strong effect on our global environment. From the melting of glacial systems around the world to the increasing intensity of storms and droughts, never has humanity faced a greater challenge than what lies before us today. One only has to observe the historic CO2 levels over the last 800,000 years and compare those numbers to where we are today at 400 ppm to get a clear picture. We need mitigation of emissions.

ONE SMALL STEP

Replacing “three stone” stoves with pyrolytic stoves provides a health dividend equal the eradication of malaria & AIDs combined. Mitigation of the emissions is the primary aim of these innovative cook stoves.

THE COOK STOVE

* About 30% biochar production
* 3 to 4 days for a batch of charcoal production
* Continuous hot water access (pot 1)
* Highly suitable for institutional cooking and as well making biochar
* Additional heat generated by flaring the pyrolysis gases, used for cooking
* Mitigation of the emissions during the pyrolysis by flaring
* Costs about Rs. 3000 (US$45)

 biochar8

 

biochar7Mwoto TLUD Cookstove is made of sheet metal: fabricated by skilled tinsmiths. Price approx. US$20 (Kenya: $22). The primary air control permits significant turn-down of fire intensity.  (Mwoto Factories Ltd., Kampala)

degraded-land22a mwoto-stove

The Progress Ahead Dr TLUD estimates that only about 20% of what can be known about TLUD gasifiers has been discovered. 80% awaits our efforts. By 2020 there needs to be 30 million TLUD micro-gasifier istoves into the developing societies. Currently there are fewer than one million. www.Mwotostove.com

This is a good example of Mitigation of Emissions:

degraded-land27-a

Carbon Emission to be Solved

Continue reading MITIGATION OF EMISSIONS

SUSTAINABLE BIOCHAR AND GLOBAL WARMING

SUSTAINABLE BIOCHARBIOCHAR SOLUTIONS

Sustainable biochar is a powerfully simple tool to fight global warming. This 2,000 year-old practice converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security, and discourage deforestation. Sustainable biochar is one of the few technologies that are relatively inexpensive, widely applicable, and quickly scalable.

Farmers in Brazil have long known about the “black earth,” or terra preta, found over vast areas of the Amazon. In the last decade or two archaeologists have begun to realise that the terra preta was not a naturally occurring phenomenon, but had been cultivated over centuries, if not millennia.  They turned some of the wood into charcoal and then worked it back into the soil, creating an unusually rich and fertile ground.

Traditionally, people have used biochar and ash in their fields. This practice exists all over the world. There is a need to recognize the value and create awareness on biochar. Farmers know that wherever biomass is burnt in the field’s crop grows stronger, healthier and better.

 In East Africa, sugarcane and maize waste is normally burned in the field, as it has no other value. In-field burning returns approximately 2-5% of the original carbon to the soil and a negligible amount of NPK.  It does little to improve soil, and is considered a major source of particulate and soot emissions in the region.

Burning without oxygen can also mean burning without smoke, which leads to the idea of replacing home heating and cooking stoves with pyrolizing kilns that provide the same functions but are clean-burning, inexpensive and easy to use, and instead of generating smoke and ash.

Biochar is essentially charcoal, but burnt at a lower temperature and with a more restricted flow of oxygen; it has the potential to end the slash-and-burn cycle in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to researcher Bruno Glaser at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, a hectare of meter-deep terra preta can hold 250 tons of carbon, as opposed to 100 tons of carbon in unimproved soils. 

THAT MEANS THAT THERE IS A POTENTIAL  OF 150 TONS OF CARBON CAPTURE/ HA POSSIBLE. (THIS DOES NOT INCLUDE THE FORESTATION ON THE SAME HECTARE)

In addition, the bio-char itself increases soil fertility, which allows farmers to grow more plants, which allows more bio-char to be added to the soil. Johannes Lehman, author of Amazonian Dark Earths, claims that combining bio-char and bio-fuels could draw down 9.5 billion tons per year, or 35 Gt CO2 per year equal to all our current fossil fuel emissions.

Biochar Trenches

This is the simplest and convenient method for farmers to convert the crop residue / biomass in the farm lands into biochar trenches. All the biochar, burnt soil remains within the field could be conveniently spread by the farmer within the whole field.

It is more convenient to make such trenches after ploughing the field. Trenches perpendicular to the slopes also benefit the steep sloppy areas as water harvesting means. The entire crop residue otherwise burnt openly can be collected and dumped into these trenches lengthwise. More biomass can be added during the process. Once the trench is filled with biomass and compact, it should be covered by grass, weeds, broad leaves, etc. After covering it up, soil should be spread on the trench, a lengthy mound is created. Some water could be used to make the soil compact and for sealing the mound of biomass. A small hole is left open for lighting the biomass at one end and at the other end a very small opening is left open. Once it is lit, white smoke starts emitting at the other end. The result is a smoking mound over the trenches.  

When it smokes too much or when it cracks, too much oxygen is getting in. You must plastered more mud and earth over that part until the leak was stopped. You must keep an eye on the smoke, in order to stop the burn when it changed color. You can stop it by covering it with more earth to entirely cut off the oxygen.biochar-soil-management8

The trenches are 2 to 3 feet depth and 1.5 to 2 feet width. Small holes are to be made in a biochar along the length of the trench at every 10 to 15 feet in a biochar trench. After 24 hours the biomass is converted into biochar. Any little smoke or embers should be quenched with water or covered with soil while removing the biochar from the trench.

The alternative is to burn the biomass openly, which causes pollution and very little carbon is formed.

Over the three year study period, t was observed that the chances of seeds germination are 20% to 30% higher in the soils with biochar compared to control soils. All soil properties except pH showed significant changes. In both biochar amended and control soils, salt, manganese, and potash content showed consistent increases while phosphate content decreased.  Additional phosphate fertilizer may be needed. Organic phosphorus fertilizers come primarily from mineral sources, like rock dust or from bone sources such as steamed bone meal or fish bone meal.

biochar-soil-management23

Cacao plants planted into soil rich in biochar started producing fruits half the normal time. Plants seem to be supported for longer and there is less yellowing of leaves. 

BIOCHAR COMPOSTdegraded-land24

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