The human race has never before faced such large and complex threats. As the waters threaten to overwhelm us, we remain fixed on the immediacy of business-as-usual. We cast around for more buckets. Our impulse is to scramble for a mop, to stem the consequences of the flood rather than deal with its source. We experience a global outcome of poor human choices — a domination of small decisions.
The UN issued its Global Assessment Report on the state of the world’s biodiversity. The figures are astonishing and sobering. Extinction looms for one million species; three-quarters of land and two-thirds of oceans have been severely altered by humans; plastic pollution is up tenfold in 40 years; crops worth three-quarters of a trillion dollars could be at risk from the loss of pollinators; 25 million kilometers of new roads are expected in 30 years.
Species are vanishing up to 1,000 times faster than normal: faster than at any time in human history — the consequence of a rising human population and its resource demands. The disappearance of species is the only human impact that is truly irreversible. Extinction is eternal.
SHORT TERM SOLUTIONS
We tinker with technological fixes, weak regulations and mild incentives while we hunt for resources to replace those we depleted.
In our hurried society, we strive for short-term achievements — higher yields and higher profits, with a focus on the next quarter, next year, or next election. Eternity requires a longer view.Continue reading ARE WE SIMPLY MAD?→
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
Tropical forests are incredibly effectiveat 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 fundingdevoted 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.
The Copenhagen Accordcommits 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 countriesfor $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?
Science prevented the last food crisis. Can it save us again?
Africa’s cropland biome occupies ~38% of the photo synthetically active land area of the African continent (~19.8 M km2) and encompasses more than 90% of its rural population living in 54 countries.
Region of Interest
We must concentrate on the biomes of Africa that include forests and rangelands, but exclude deserts
Overall Region of Interest
A big, risky decision for small holder farmers is what type and how much fertilizer to applyto their crops. There is lot of uncertainty about how the crops will respond, with a risk that the farmers will even lose when they harvest and sell the produce. Testing the soil beforehand and knowing how plants will respond can play an important role in reducing this risk. But the high cost and lack of access to testing services have been major bottlenecks for farmers in developing countries.
Similarly, planners in governments, the private sector and non-governmental organizations who are working out what to supply to small holder farmers are also faced with large uncertainties on what types and combinations of inputs to supply and where, in relation to the local soils. For example, a number of agencies in Africa are designing fertilizer blending and liming programs and so need to know how strongly acid soils are and what soil micro nutrients may be limiting in different areas. Existing soil maps do not provide up-to-date information on specific soil properties that are needed to guide such decisions.
New advances in rapid, low-cost soil analytical techniquesin the laboratory that simply measure light reflecting from a soil sample are reducing the cost of measuring soil properties. Soil infrared spectroscopy allows a soil sample to be scanned in just 30 seconds and the resulting fingerprint used to predict a number of soil properties based on calibration databases. And this costs just $1 compared with at least $100 using conventional soil testing methods. With the availability of satellite imagery and from space and now unmanned aerial vehicles at ever increasing spatial resolution (250 metres to sub-metre), it is becoming possible to make high resolution soil property maps at low cost.
To successfully close the gap, we’ll need to adopt a variety of innovative strategies. We must produce more crops, while more efficiently using the food we already grow.
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.
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 demandfor 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.
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.
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.
India appears to be headed for a very great water crisis because of the inexpensive available pumps together with a large population:
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.
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.
TheSuitability Mapperenables users to identify potentially suitable sites for sustainable palm oil production in the following area:
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.
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)
Mwoto 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)
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:
More productive African farms could help both people and emissions.
Boosting the efficiency of Africa’s productive lands is not only necessary for feeding larger populations, but also a possible means of reducing emissions.
An article in the Economist, “World climate talks address agriculture” identifies the problem.
SINCE the 1960s farm production has risen fourfold in Africa. But the continent still lags far behind the gains seen in South America and Asia. The extra food has appeared largely because more land has been planted or grazed, rather than because crop yields have improved. Instead, poor farming methods progressively deplete nutrients from soils; almost all arable land in Africa lacks irrigation, for example. This is a particular problem in a continent whose population is set to double by 2050 and which faces regular droughts, floods and heat waves.
The world is already 1°C warmer than it was in pre-industrial times. As it heats further, weather cycles are set to speed up, leaving wet parts of the world wetter and dry parts drier. At either end of the scale, extreme weather events will probably intensify. By 2050, even if temperature rise is successfully limited to 2°C, crop yields could slump by a fifth.
The costs of climate change already come each year to 1.5% of the continent’s GDP, according to the European Commission, and adapting to it will cost another 3% each year until 2030. This is in spite of the fact that, overall, Africa is responsible for just 4% of global emissions annually.
Soil: potential carbon sinks
Fertilizer is extremely important. We cannot feed people if soil is degraded. The production of fertilizer in a form of biochar is absolutely huge which help to absorb carbon in the soils.
Soil in a long-term experiment appears red when depleted of carbon (left) and dark brown when carbon content is high (right).
Scientists say that more carbon resides in soil than in the atmosphere and all plant life combined; there are 2,500 billion tons of carbon in soil, compared with 800 billion tons in the atmosphere and 560 billion tons in plant and animal life.
Well-nourished soils are better at absorbing carbon dioxide rather than allowing it to enter the atmosphere. But the continent’s over-grazed, over-used soil currently means Africa only stores 175 gigatons of carbon each year of the 1,500 gigatons stored in the world’s soils. Smarter farming could change all that. The world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70 percent of their original carbon stock, much of which has oxidized upon exposure to air to become CO2.
If we treat soil carbon as a renewable resource, we can change the dynamics. Restoring soils of degraded and desertified ecosystems has the potential to store in world soils an additional 1 billion to 3 billion tons of carbon annually, equivalent to roughly 3.5 billion to 11 billion tons of CO2 emissions. (Annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning are roughly 32 billion tons.)
Soil carbon sequestration needs to be part of the picture. Currently deforestation takes place where vast areas are cleared for new fields because too little grows in existing ones.
Vast areas of deforested land that have been abandoned after soil degradation are excellent candidates for replanting and reforestation using biochar from the weeds now growing there. According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, grasslands, which cover more than a quarter of the world’s land, hold 20 percent of the world’s soil carbon stock. Much of this land is degraded.
The biochar solution for small farms involves branches of fruit trees, which are cut every year to facilitate the harvest, weigh about 50 tons/ha. If this biomass is converted by pyrolysis to biochar, about 1/3 will revert to 16.7 tons of black carbon/ha and this can be mixed with compost. This will enhance the way biochar develops microbes.
If one third of the degraded land, 660 million ha, are used and every year 15 tons/ha biochar is mixed in the soil, this will be together 10 billion tons of Carbon (10 Gt carbon is equivalent to 3.7 Gt CO2) taken from the air and stored in the soil. This is the amount of fossil CO2 which is just released every year.
The only problem with this solution is the scale. Imagine what it means to use soil carbon sequestration techniques on 10% of all arable land: Millions of farmers must change their way of doing agriculture to make it happen. But the alternative — staying the course of ecological ruin — is not very appealing.
Hilly Land Sustainable Agriculture (HLSA) farming systems feature the establishment of single or double hedgerows of either leguminous tree species, shrubs or grasses seeded or planted along contour lines. Hedgerows, serving as barriers, will conserve surface soil by building up organic mass, increasing plant nutrient elements and improving the water holding capacity of the soil, thus conserving surface soil by slowing down erosion. Rocks,stubble, branches and other farm debris are piled at the base of the hedges to further reinforce the foundation of the hedgerows.
The densely planted hedgerows are pruned regularly to encourage the growth of a thick vegetative canopy and provide a continuous supply of green manure that is scattered on the planting strips between hedgerows.
Trees or shrubs alone used as hedges cannot control effectively soil erosion that can lead to flooding and mass destruction of hilly lands that took centuries to build.
Vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides) provides high biomass production for hedgerows; they have been successfully used in some parts of Thailand, Indonesia, China, and India. The grass has the potential to markedly reduce erosion and rapidly develop natural terraces on slopes with less management attention. It stays alive for 25 to 45 years without being replanted.
SO THAT OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS CAN LIVE IN DIGNITYLiving Water MicroFinance Inc. has an operating micro model in order to deliver a solution for the Carbon Tax Fund.
The Marginalization of the Poor in the Tropics
WHICH MODERN SOCIETY ITSELF HAS CREATED
We envision a world that solves the carbon emission problem by creating the tree nursery concept in Africa.
In the past four years, global prices of staples such as maize and wheat have twice hit record levels, driving hundreds of thousands of the world’s most vulnerable people further towards hunger and poverty.
The 100-year trend of falling food prices may be over and food prices may increase by 30-50 percent within decades, severely impacting on the very poor, who spend up to 90 percent of their income on food.
Domesticate indigenous fruit trees could help provide much-needed vitamins to millions of sub-Saharan Africans. The diversity of forest, fallow and agricultural margin foods can often help provide the range of micro nutrients needed for the human diet.
The trees’ natural habitats are being lost, mainly to widespread deforestation resulting from population growth, the cutting of trees for firewood or charcoal. Due to years of unsustainable farming practices, the soil across much of Africa has been degraded. African farmers only have access to 5% of the level of fertilizer per unit area of land as compared to their East Asian counterparts.
Farmers may see little incentive to intentionally grow indigenous fruits as a crop, because the trees are perceived as taking years to mature. This may be true in the wild, but not always when trees are cultivated.
With just 37% of the land, small farms produced 73% of agricultural output. Small farms are getting smaller because, with population pressure, farmers have to share access to existing land among more people while gaining no access to new land.
Land access for women is specifically part of the Millennium Development Goals. According to FAO, fewer than 2% of landholders worldwide are women. Many men can make decisions about the land on behalf of themselves and their spouses, but women cannot. Another impediment is that in giving credit, governments and banks require women to present some form of authorization from their husbands or fathers: only 10% of agricultural loans go to women.
A fresh approach both to food production and the use of natural resources is needed if we are to avoid the food crises expected to touch every country in the world by the middle of this century. We can reverse the trend by giving small farmers, especially women, the means to feed the world: with intensive/market oriented agriculture on a 1.5 acre piece of land.
The Secret is the AgroForest
Tree Nursery & Carbon Tax Fund
An Improved seed, tree and fertilizer system:
To absorb carbon dioxide in order to solve the global warming crisis
To produce more food economically in order to deal with world famine
To produce fruit, nut and fodder trees that will be used for furniture and not for burning.
To restore land by planting nitrogen-fixing trees among the fruit, nut and foliage trees
To develop organic agriculture without using chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
To provide all requirements of daily vitamin needs.
3. Micro Financing for women farmers financed by the Carbon Tax Fund: Small Farm: 1.5 acre: 500 orchard and foliage trees:
Carbon Tax Fund Support: $15/tree (brought forward) over the expected lifetime of 50 years. The $15/ton is equivalent to $0.14/US gal.
The cost of a HUG Irrigation System: $7,000,000
14,000 acres to support 9,400 farms x 500 x $1.49 (NPV) = $7,000,000
NPV: Net Present Valueof a tree is its value over its 50 lifetime of absorbing CO2 emissions at the rate of 1.5 tons/tree.
Please Note: another calculation of NPV of fruit trees living for 25 years = $0.49/tree plus $1.00/tree for maintenance:$1.49/tree. (Fruit trees are productive for 25 years and then are replaced.)
The $0.49/tree is based on $15/ton of carbon dioxide emissions. Alberta will levy a $20/ton in 2017 and increase this to $30/ton in 2018. That means the new NPVwill be $0.66/tree & $0.99/treerespectively for a total of $1.66/tree and $1.99/tree.