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?→
Congo’s Kabila chases an unconstitutional, unpopular re-election
Congo ruling party shows all signs of seeking Kabila third term
KINSHASA (Reuters) – From the sprawling capital Kinshasa to villages deep in the equatorial forests, Congo’s ruling PPRDis in full-on election campaign mode – and President Joseph Kabila’s face is everywhere.
The deadline for declaring candidates for Democratic Republic of Congo’s scheduled Dec. 23 poll is just one month away, and Kabila, 46, is officially not allowed to run again: August 8, 2018
NO SIGN OF A SUCCESSOR
But his bearded portrait smiles down from billboards and T-shirts being printed by his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), while there is no sign of a successor.
Kabila intends to bypass the constitution and run for a third term. Any such move would likely ignite chaos across the vast, mineral-rich country, which has never seen a peaceful change of power in the 58 years since independence from Belgium.
Kabila is unpopular in the capital Kinshasa and many parts of the country. A rare poll released in March showed that eight in 10 Congolese have an unfavorable opinion of him. Scores have died in protests since he refused to step down when his mandate expired 18 months ago.
Militias have proliferated, killingand displacing villagers, kidnapping foreigners and shutting down eco-tourist spots. The violence has even hit mining operations in Africa’s top copper producer and the world’s leading miner of cobalt.Continue reading CONGO’S UNPOPULAR RE-ELECTION→
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?
Consider the livelihoods of the tens of millions of vulnerable subsistence small-holder farmers around the world. In 20 to 25 years we will get to a point in some places that either it will be too hot, too dry, too wet, or too cold for the crops we are planting and you, which will be incredibly disruptive at best.
Over the last two decades, either early or late on set of rainy seasons, unexpected rainfall, declining rainfall, and extreme day and night temperature are common.
According to The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), 75% of the world’s 1.2 billion poor (defined as consuming less than one purchasing-power adjusted dollar per day) live and work in rural areas. 50% of the developing-country rural population were smallholders (farming 3 ha or less of crop land), and ≈25% were landless. The proportion of smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa was higher at 73%.
Environmental degradation in such tropical dry land areas is widespread, irreversible or appropriately referred to as “desertification”.All this, and other stressors, are seen as contributing to an increased vulnerability to drought, which in turn feeds back in to environmental degradation and conflict. There will be eventual impacts on human development indicators such as health and education.
There is a bright side:increasingly unstable weather in recent years has left many farmers more willing to try new ideas. Many are now open to adapting of using practices like crop diversification, planting date adjustment, soil and water conservation and management, increasing the intensity of input use, integrating crop with livestock and rabbits, and tree planting.
·Small-holder farmers can shift to irrigated farming in the face of climate variability.
·Small-holder farmers can hold some wealth in bank accounts, and others use micro finance credit to expand.
·Small-holder farmers can use supplementary feedfor livestock, purchased or lopped from trees in their orchards.
·Small-holder farmers can engage inrabbit accumulation as a rational form of insurance against drought.
Planting trees remains one of the most cost-effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, reforesting the tropicswill 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.
PLANT 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 theUnited States.
The world’sforests 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.
The 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.
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 efficientlyyear-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.
This 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.
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 CO2in 2010.
The 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.
More than 92 percent of all nurseries catering for villages are still located at regional and district levels. As a result, seedlings have to be transported long distances, sometimes even beyond 50 km. The inadequacy of transport is one of the major setbacks in tree-planting, in terms of both availability and cost. All efforts must be made to decentralize nurseries as much as conditions allow.
To bridge this energy supply-demand gap, a massive amount of tree-planting is needed. The natural forest is shrinking very fast, and most alternative energy sources have had no significant impact so far.
One of the main reasons tree-planting is failing among some African communities is that they are often given species only for firewood, like eucalyptus.
Weak village leadership contributes directly to delays over deciding whether to plant trees or not; and then, even if trees are planted, it can retard or neglect maintenance.
THE NEXT STEP: ORCHARDS AND BIOCHAR
Each woman farmer and their family will begin the task of preparing to plant 300 fruit and nut trees on their leased 1.5 acre farms, Every tree will need a 2- 3 feet diameter excavation, where a biochar earth mound will be built of branches.
EARTH MOUND KILN
The earth mound kiln is built in the following manner:
The bottom of the base is covered with logs forming a grate or crib on which the wood is piled vertically. The grate forms a free space between the bottom and the wood charge through which the air necessary for the carbonization process passes. The piled wood is covered with leaves and grass and then earth about 20 cm (8”) thick.
The pile has an outside stack made of steel drums, which is connected to the pile through a flue cut into the ground, running under the pile and covered with round logs. The pile has a number of air vents located around the circular base.
The carbonization process is started by introducing a torch into the firing flue opposite the stack. This type of pile is reported to be easy to operate to produce good charcoal quality with a yield of 55% charcoal to wood by volume. The pile’s volume varies from 100 to 250 m³ of wood. The whole cycle takes 24 days; four days for charging, six days for carbonization, ten days for cooling and four days for discharge.
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.
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 soiland 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here is how we begin our MECHANIZATION REVOLUTION:
An African Revolution: if agricultural mechanization equipment is sent to an African country, like Ivory Coast, it has a value of $200,000 if it was brand new. The nearly new equipment has a real value of $100,000 hypothetically. The agricultural equipment dealer or farmer working with the dealer receives a tax refund benefit at the rate of the last $1000 owed to the government; say 30%of 100,000 or $30,000 from Living Water MicroFinance Inc., a non-profit company.
The new owner,Living Water MicroFinance Inc., will sell the equipment in question in Africa and will feel indebted to the previous owner, the equipment dealer or the farmer. This indebtedness will be 50% of the net selling price. This indebtedness will be resolved in our hypothetical example, by the purchase of additional new equipment from the dealer.
If a farmer were to donate his or her used equipment there would be a largetax refund receipt and a cashcreditfrom a third party, Coop Eau Vivantein Africato a dealer of his or her choice or some other similar arrangement.
More important there will be a real contribution to poverty and famine in an underdeveloped country. We are talking about increased needed efficiency in the agricultural field, which will lead to more employment as well.
Since the need for this equipment is so high, the equipment will enter duty free and since this equipment will be sent to Africa, copies of bill of lading will be made available to the dealer or farmer. We are presently interested in exporting toCote d’Ivoire.