Planet Earth Weekly

Climate Change and Renewable Energy: Saving Our Planet for Future Generations


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Momentum for Change: Mapping for Rights

MappingForRights

Protecting our Rainforest!

“MappingForRights can improve how forests are protected and governed, making it easier to enforce illegal activities when needed.”

By Linn Smith
July 6, 2017—Momentum for Change is headed by the Climate Change branch of the United Nations. Its goal is to shine a light on the global activities which are moving the world toward a low-carbon future. It recognizes innovative solutions that address climate change and wider economic, social and environmental challenges. The solutions are called Lighthouse Activities. If you are leading a project with this objective you can apply to enter the yearly Momentum for Change Awards.

ForestLink

MappingForRights employs many women.

MappingForRights

MappingForRights is one of the winners for 2016. Specific attention is given to indigenous women, allowing them to be involved in this project. The system is based on enabling communities to map and monitor their lands through low-cost technologies, providing an online interactive map. It’s a project of the Rainforest Foundation UK and its partners in the Congo Basin.

MappingForRights puts indigenous communities on the map digitally, showing traditional lands and resources that are used to claim land rights. It also challenges harmful projects such as logging, by making all data available online, and by advocating for legal reforms. It provides communities with accurate printed maps of their lands, and allows indigenous community leaders to easily access this accurate geographical information about community lands, showing the allocation of the forests around their villages.

ForestLink

Forest Link helps monitor and protect our rainforest.

ForestLink

In 2015, the project launched ForestLink to monitor remote communities and to capture and transmit alerts on illegal logging anywhere in the world using a satellite. ForestLink shows an accurate report of illegal logging by timber or palm oil companies. The illegal activity can be collected using a tablet computer or smartphone and then transmitted to an online map via a satellite modem transmitter in as little as 20 seconds, costing about the same as a text message. This real-time monitoring of the forest transforms the way forest illegalities are documented and laws enforced, transmitting the location which leads to more targeted and effective forest protection.

Mapping for Rights

Protecting our rainforest in the Congo.

Rights of Indigenous People

MappingForRights secures the rights of the indigenous people, shifting responsibility to the local indigenous communities. The information gathered is stored in a central geographical database where it can be assessed and analyzed by experts or automatically re-broadcast for in-field verification. The reports can be searched for data related to the reports, such as name of companies involved in logging or type of infraction.

By 2017 it is expected that more than 700 communities in the Congo Basin will have mapped their lands through the MappingForRights program, mapping up to 6 million hectares (over 23,000 sq. miles) of forest land.

Protecting Our Rainforest

There is evidence that securing community rights to land and resources is one of the most effective ways to reduce poverty, halt deforestation and reduce the harmful effects of climate change. This system can improve how forests are protected and governed, making it easier to enforce illegal activities when needed.

MappingForRights

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Turning the Page on Climate Change

Climate Change, Global Warming

Climate Change Affects Everyone!

Millions of people are banding together to demand action on climate change.

By Dr. John J. Hidore

November 7, 2015—The tide has turned on recognizing global warming and climate change. The vast majority of people and governments now recognize that the earth’s environment is changing, and it is largely due to human activity.

Globally environmental change is real and action must be, and is now, taking place to slow or stop the process. Some recent and forthcoming events support the change in attitude towards recognizing climate change.

The Peoples Climate March

In 2014 the People’s Climate March was held. It was organized to persuade the United Nations to call a conference on climate change. There were public demonstrations in New York City and around the world to support action on climate change. It was billed as the largest climate change action in history. The march in New York drew more than 300,000 individuals and filled the 2 ½ mile route. Participants included people from many nations, Capuchin Franciscan monks, and Catholic nuns. An international advocacy group presented a petition containing 2.1 million signatures which demanded action towards climate change. Among the supporters were former vice-president Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon of the United Nations, and Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio. The Mayor committed New York City to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050.

Earth Day Celebrations

Earth day celebrations have been held around the world to make the case for slowing environmental change and to protect the earth from a major catastrophe. The first Earth Day took place on April 22, 1970. It is often considered to be the beginning of the environmental movement. I had the privilege to be a speaker on that day at the University of Indiana. Earth Day Network now has participants in 192 countries. The United Nations has declared April 22 as International Mother Earth Day.

Earth Day 2015 was the 45th anniversary of the movement. Seventy-nine organizations around the world partnered in this event with more than a billion people participating in activities on this day. The overall purpose was to modify changes that are detrimental to the planet and the people on it. Many different educational activities took place. In some countries they planted sustainable trees. In Nigeria solar lanterns were made available in schools. Uganda held an International Children’s Climate Conference.

Climate Change summit

The world comes together on climate change issues.

The Coming UN Convention on Climate Change

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change will be held in Paris beginning on November 30. COP21, Conference of Parties, will be held in Paris in December. More that 190 nations are expected to take part in this conference, focusing on action towards climate change. It is expected that world leaders will create a strong global agreement to reduce greenhouse gases, with plans for action by individual countries and the group as a whole.

Paris summit on Climate change

Supporting the Paris Summit on climate change

24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth: The World is Watching

An impressive group of people and approximately 60 organizations have partnered to persuade the Paris conference to make real progress. This event will be held on November 13-14 and is to be a day of climate action and music hosted by former Vic-President Al Gore. Millions of people are banding together to demand action on climate change, with eight different sections of the event based on geographic location. The program will focus on each section as the day moves along.

There Will Always Be Deniers

In spite of the global recognition that it is time for action, there are now and always will be those that deny climate change.These same people, many of which are in positions of power, propose that we should continue the economic and environmental policies of the past. Those that support this position are rapidly losing credibility. After all, there are still those that believe evolution is not a real process and those that believe the earth is flat!


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Guatamala: The Alliance for International Reforestation

A Guatemalan Woman takes part in Reforestation

A Guatemalan Woman takes part in Reforestation

By Lin Smith AIR: A Leader in Creating Renewable Resources                   

December 28, 2013—- In November, AIR, the Alliance for International Reforestation was chosen, along with 17 others, by the United Nations, as a project that is a “beacon of hope” for our planet, (also see, The Bamboo Bike, December 16). These activities, known as the Lighthouse Activities, “Shine a light on the work being done throughout the world to build a low-carbon, resource efficient world,” stated  Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Convention on Climate Change. Not only are these activities tackling climate change, they are also generating health, financial and social benefits in the communities where they take place. “They are true beacons of hope–addressing the biggest challenge of our time.” UN Secretary-General Ban-Ke Moon said, ” These activities are helping people around the world respond to climate change.” AIR was founded in 1992 by Political Science Professor, Anne Hallum, after a visit to Guatemala where she witnessed the far-reaching effects of the loss of forest. AIR’s basic model, used since 1993, is a 5 year training program in agriculture and forestry for farmers and their children, creating tree nurseries and providing fuel-efficient wood stoves. The belief is that training local people in the community is the key to success. AIR has trained over 2,000 farmers, constructed over 800 fuel-efficient stoves, established hundreds of tree nurseries and planted over 3.7 million trees! Preventing Mud Slides Besides tackling climate change, the AIR program works to prevent mudslides. Trees have been cut down, not only for firewood, but to make room for crops, “And without realizing it, they’ve taken away their protection. Where the rainforest use to be, it is now an open space for the mud to come right on through,” said Hallum, “The farms that resulted from the clearing of the rainforest were not sustainable, because rainfall on the deforested slopes caused erosion.” Mudslides have wiped out villages and have caused many deaths in Central America. When Hallum studied the area in 1993, she discovered tree varieties that could be sustained in the environment, helping to combat poverty and cutting down on erosion. The trees replanted could provide fruit, coffee, food and medicinal herbs. Pine trees replanted on the high, steep slopes have helped to prevent mudslides, as they have long tap roots that can extend 20 feet below the surface of the land. A farmer, Jose Avelino Boc, stated, ” We learned the hard way that without trees, we are at risk, and our land is at risk.” AIR has replaced approximately 800 household open fires used for cooking, with fuel efficient stoves. The traditional household fires were inefficient and wasted large quantities of wood, plus emitted smoke throughout the houses, which have had severe health consequences for the people of Guatemala. The fuel efficient stoves are conserving 750 tons of wood a year and use bricks, cement, chimney stacks, cast iron and concrete blocks that are constructed in Central America, providing jobs as a secondary benefit to reforestation and using less wood. Reforestation and the use of less wood gives the land of Guatemala a chance to recover from the devastation of cutting down so many acres of trees for farmland and firewood. Do All You Can The Alliance for International Reforestation has created a positive change for the environment of Guatemala and our planet. It’s another force working towards ending global warming, one step at a time! “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can”… Some attribute this quote to John Wesley, others say it has never been found in his writings. The important fact is, it applies to today’s world and what needs to happen to save our planet. It’s the mantra for groups such as AIR!


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From Global Warming to Extreme Weather

From global warming to extreme weather

From global warming to extreme weather (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

By Lin Smith

December 21, 2013—-Scientists won’t say any one event causes extreme weather because weather is a product of many different factors, but they do agree with the study of probability, that extreme weather is impacted by global warming and the build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere.The fact is, scientists do know, through decades of monitoring, that if there was no global warming, global temperatures would not be rising. Computers produced these results years ago, when computers first started gathering data. Data shows what the world weather would be like if it was impacted only by natural causes, with no greenhouse gas emissions, using many different models and programs. These models have measured the atmospheric temperature increase of .9 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970, caused by carbon dioxide from fossil fuels acting like the glass of a greenhouse, holding the warm air close to the earth and not letting it escape.

Scientists using these models, have also measured the rising temperature of the oceans, which have warmed by .18 degrees Fahrenheit to a depth of 2,300 feet in the past century. This is the level at which most ocean life dwells. As global temperatures increase so do ocean surface temperatures, oceans occupying 71% of the earth’s surface. Warmer temperatures lead to greater evaporation. Water vapor drives rainstorms–and this is a variable in extreme weather.

The data collected supports the fact that burning fossil fuels creates all the conveniences which have ” made life easier” since the Industrial Revolution, but, in the long run, will make life more “inconvenient” for our children and grandchildren. Scientists predict a greater frequency of droughts, floods, heat waves, sudden drops in temperature, tornadoes, hurricanes, and severe storms. Larry West states in his article, Does Climate Change Cause Extreme Weather?, “You can’t say with certainty that any single weather event is a direct effect of global warming, but you can link climate change to extreme weather trends.”

Mario J. Molina, 1995 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry, recieved his award for establishing that CFC’s, the chemical in aerosol spray cans, were destroying the ozone layer of earth’s atmosphere. The result was the “Montreal Protocol” which entered into existence in 1989. The “Montreal Protocol” states “…certain substances can significantly deplete and, otherwise, modify the ozone layer in a manner that is likely to result in adverse effects on human health and the environment…..(this protocol) is determined to protect the ozone layer by taking precautionary measures to control total emissions of substances that deplete the ozone…” This agreement was signed by 197 states and the European Union, making it the single most successful international agreement in United Nations history.

Insert the two words ‘fossil fuels’ for CFC’s, sign a new agreement and you have the Kyoto Protocol, implemented in 2005 by the United Nations, with much political fall-out. Developing nations, such as China, (yes, it is considered a developing nation), would not be required to limit their emissions, so in 2005 the United States pulled out. The remaining 37 countries, left backing the agreement, have met their target CO2 reduction, cutting their greenhouse gases by 16%. These cuts have had little impact on the atmosphere, but these countries should serve as models for the nations that didn’t sign the Protocol, backed out of the Protocol, or didn’t produce a better solution. Worldwide emission have continued to surged by 50% since 1990, because of the earth’s worst fossil fuel offenders, China, United States, and India.

Why was the Montreal Protocol a success and the Kyoto Protocol a failure? Molina believes it was because the Montreal Protocol involved only a small set of substances and it was easy to get all nations on the same page. The economies of developed countries today, have been built around fossil fuels, making economic risks higher, especially without alternatives to maintain our economies at the present levels. He states, “It’s important that people are doing more than hearing about it. People will not change unless they feel it… experience it, by the impact of food prices, and extreme weather, such as floods, tornados, hurricanes, and rising temperatures. Unless they actually see the direction global warming is taking us.” Molina suggests a course of action that would include “phasing out” substances that cause global warming and providing less expensive alternative energy.

At this point in time, there seems to be greater global impact by grassroots groups, putting pressure on universities, cities, and countries to divest in fossil fuels. If individuals and corporations have to “feel” the impact for change to happen, then this movement may provide the force necessary for the economies to reverse direction, along with waking up to the forces of nature.


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Global Population Growth

World population

The Impact of Population Growth

By John J. Hidore

Estimates of Early Population Growth

October 19, 2013—Global population is growing faster than at any time in history. We are now adding about 227,000 people per day to the planet. This adds 85,000,000 people to the planet each year. That annual increase is the same as adding the population of the United States to the planet every four years. What is astonishing in the growth data is how fast the rate of growth has been increasing. It took hundreds of thousands of years for the first billion to be reached in about 1800. The time it has taken for adding each billion has dropped rapidly. The last billion was added in just 12 years from 1999 to 2011. At the beginning of 2013 global population growth stood at a little over seven billion. The key element in driving population growth is changing technology which has increased the global food supply.

Some estimates of early human population size:
125,000                1 million years ago
1-5 million            11,000 B.C
50 million                3,000 B.C
0.5 billion                1,500 A.D.

Adding the billions:
1 billion    1800    200,000 to a million years
2 billion     1930   130 years
3 billion     1960     30 years
4 billion     1974     14 years
5 billion     1987     13 years
6 billion     1999      12 years
7 Billion     2011      12 years
.
The human population reached its highest annual growth rate of about 2 percent per year, in the early 1970’s. The growth rate in 2012 was around 1.2 %. While the rate has dropped the absolute number of humans added to the planet each year continues to be greater than in the past.

Population Growth in Asia

Today the fastest-growing countries are the developing countries. Many of the nations with the highest growth rates are in Africa and southwest Asia. China has the largest population of any country. However, India, which has a smaller population than China but has a higher growth rate, is adding 1/3 more people each year than is China. The UN projects India to surpass China as the most populous country in the world about 2028. At that time both countries will have a population of about 1.45 billion. China’s population will begin to stabilize in 2028 and India will continue to grow for some time. Most of the growth will be in developing countries, with more than half in Africa. The population in Sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double from the 2010 population of 0.86 to 1.96 billion in 2050.

Impact Of Population Growth

The key element in the future relationship between the human species and the global environment is the continued rapid growth of the human population. In 1968, Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich published the book The Population Bomb. At the time he wrote the book the human population was 3.5 billion. It has more than doubled since.
All data indications are that the population will continue to grow. How much it will grow can only be estimated and the estimates from different organizations vary. This year, 2013, the United Nations has forecasted a global population growth of 8.1 billion by 2025 and 9.6 billion for 2050.
The next billion people added to the earth will want and expect food, clothing, shelter, and some means of employment. How are these needs to be met? There are already a billion people with some degree of malnutrition. Most of the population supports themselves from agriculture. All good, and even marginal, land is already occupied, and much productive land is being removed from agriculture due to erosion and general depletion. How are these agriculturalists going to find employment? These are critical issues!
The momentum for an increasing population seems to be difficult to change. Global business thrives on population growth. It seems the options are limited. Either the human species understands what is taking place and mandates a change, or these trends will continue until some unpredictable catastrophe eliminates a substantial portion of the people now living!

Recent reports:
United Nations. 2013. World Population Prospects