Archive Environmental News April 2020

As we enter April we hope you and your family are safe and staying home to help stop the spread of the Corona Virus. It is a different world right now. It is encouraging to see the world coming together (by staying apart!) to work together to eliminate the Corona Virus threat. We hope when this is over we will be wiser and more careful with our environment. For more information about Corona Virus please visit Understanding the Corona Virus

Earth Day 2020: What Climate Actions Can Your Community Take?

Here in Northern Thailand we face a smoke problem every year. The air becomes dangerous to breath. Tourism sags. Hospitals fill with respiratory patients. People die.

While it is a local problem, the impact is global, but it is not inevitable.

This month we are highlighting 4 community organizations that are taking local climate action to fight this global crisis.

Where does the smoke come from?

The smoke comes from intentionally set fires, in our case, from two sources.

Agricultural burning – after harvest small farms must clear the crop waste from their fields to prepare for new planting. Most small farmers are very poor, and cannot afford heavy equipment to remove waste. So they simply burn it.

Forest fires – in our region, wild mushrooms are a very profitable crop, but they are hard to see in the leaf litter. After a fire, the mushrooms stand out against the black ash, so people set fires to make collection easier.


Save Chiang Mai From Burning

Blue Sky for Chiang Mai is a civic group based in Maerim Chiang Mai and founded in March 2019 to take action in response to raging forest fires and resulting air pollution threatening the health of school children.

Blue Sky works closely with local firefighters, offering them support, and providing community involvement in reporting fires.

Local firefighter heroes

The 2020 fire season has begun and Blue Sky has already ordered equipment and supplies to help the firefighters.

Cleaning the Air and the Environment

Started by Khun Amporn Boontan, this project aims to stop traditional burning and train farmers to make high quality Pyramid Compost.

Their project objectives are:

1. Stop burning and improve air quality
2. Reduce chemical fertiliser use and motivate farmers to go organic
3. Teach people to make and use their own, high-quality (Maejo University tested), low-labor Pyramid Compost
4. Improve the health of growers’ crops and their resistance to pests, diseases and fungi
5. Reduce local levels of dust through daily watering of compost
6. increase the number of organic farmers and the amount of organic produce available to consumers at reasonable prices
7. Generate new, greater, sustainable income for farmers and Pyramid Compost makers that will stimulate imitation in other communities and the natural growth of organic growing

Clean Air for Everyone

Chiang Mai Breathe Council is a civil movement of Chiang Mai citizens fighting for clean air.

Organized only on Feb. 11, the role of Chiang Mai Breathe Council is now recognized by the Office of the Governor. According to Mr. Komsan Suwanampha, the Vice Governor of Chiang Mai, the air quality and PM 2.5 issues are on the national agenda and the Cabinet is aware of the activities of Chiang Mai Breathe Council.

Issues related to pollution and air quality can now be raised directly with the Governor who is the Chief of the Single Command Strategy for responding to pollution and air quality. The Governor will act or forward the matter to Bangkok for action.

The Breathe Council hopes to unite all sectors and stakeholders to achieve a sustainable, long-term solution to the air quality problem. The Council’s action arm for fighting the haze is “We are Volunteers” that reports its activities daily at: https://www.facebook.com/wevogroup/

Chiang Mai Citylife editor Pim Kemasingki sat down in January with expat liaison for the group, Sakda Darawan. Read the interview “Breath If You Can“.

Another great article by Pim is “Clean Air For Everyone“, an edited excerpt from a talk by Michael Shafer, Founder and Director of Warm Heart Foundation at the Breath Council’s Clean Air for Everyone event at Folklife Museum on 19th January 2020.

Stop the Smoke

Stop the Smoke is Warm Heart’s own program to stop the smoke (haze) from crop waste fires before it happens. The 5 year plan aims to stop the burning by helping small farmers to start profitable, community-based, social enterprises that make biocharing more profitable than burning. 

Year one we proved that farmers are happy not to burn, if paid even the smallest amount. We trained farmers how to convert crop waste into biochar and bought the biochar for 2 baht a kilogram. They made 15,000 bags before we ran out of money!

Year two we spent developing marketable products with the biochar. We have focused on biochar fertilizer and biochar briquettes.

This, our third year, we are testing business models for farmer social enterprises and seeking stable, core markets for biochar-based products.

Biochar ovens at work, smoke free!

We are pleased to say that we now have four social enterprises in operation and are rapidly building demand.

Warm Heart News


Update: Africa Embraces Biochar

It is simply amazing how fast farmers are grasping the many benefits of making and using biochar in Africa.

It all started with a single Nun who watched our video on how to build a biochar oven. She was so inspired that she started a movement. Today, Sister Miriam Paulette and the Warm Heart Malawi Biochar Project have trained well over 2,500 poor farmers and have just been awarded a grant by the US Embassy in Lilongwe to train twenty villages,

One of the reasons biochar is so popular and spreading like wildfire is because it works. The farmers see the incredible results when they plant their crops with biochar. These people are hungry, and can see the immediate benefits.

They are also adapting biochar into their animal feed, which is having a positive impact on the health and growth of their chickens, pigs, cows and rabbits. 

It is very encouraging to see so many farmers excited about the results of making and using biochar. The environmental impact of less smoke from crop waste burning is a side benefit for everyone. 

Right now the rains have slowed down biochar production for awhile, but when the rains come to an end biochar production will once again be setting a new standard in African agriculture as more and more farmers learn to make and use it.

The more funds we can raise for this project the more teachers we can train to help spread biochar education to farmers. 

This project is a major step for food security for millions of people. 


Update: Stop the Smoke 2020

The rains have stopped, and our teams are out making biochar from their corn waste – removing many tons of smoke from the air! Our first storage shed is ready to take in the output. Your donations have given us the momentum to attract additional groups to support our work and open markets for biochar products.

This year, we started with one new village and another village that we trained last year is making biochar as well. In Mae Wak, our new village, In Mae Wak, we have the corn waste of 130 families in huge piles ready to burn. The village set up a team of young men with 50 TLUD barrels from Warm Heart to make biochar instead of smoke. They make 500 kg, half a metric ton every day. The second village, Mae Na Chon, is also making half a ton of biochar a day.

[This daily ton equates to 5 tons of corn waste turned into biochar daily – at 6.26 kg of PM2.5 particles per ton of waste, that’s 31.3 kg of smoke that is not going into the air each day. Each of those kilograms of smoke is the equivalent of 71,429 cigarettes. In addition, greenhouse gases have been burned off before they go into the atmosphere.]

As the tourist industry is hit by the haze from the smoke – our once beautiful cities have grey skies and terrible air pollution – the local governments and hotel industry are partnering to address the issues. Warm Heart presented its program to have villages make biochar in exchange for advance commitments from business sponsors. This will help create markets for biochar and biochar products that have been a key component in the successful growth of biochar production.

Thanks to your support, we have an established program with feet on the ground and clear outcomes. Funding for additional villages to make biochar has been pledged and the specific plans are being completed.

Please tell your friends and keep the support coming in!

This is a global problem that we all share.


Can Your Town Save the World?

Yes.

Here is how your town can cool the planet and save money doing it.

The earth is heating up at an unprecedented rate. Tropical diseases are appearing in American cities. Every summer is more unbearable than the last.

Massive fires devastate our forests. Someone just sailed a pleasure boat through the once frozen “Northwest Passage” connecting the North Atlantic to the North Pacific via the North Pole.

What is being done? (Read more)

So What Can Your Community Do?

April 22 we will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The theme this year is “Climate Action”.

Reducing smoke is just one solution to help bring down global warming and find a balance of sustainability.

What issues do you face in your community?

What local programs are you working on as solutions to global warming where you live?

There is no “them” to bail you out. If not you, who do you think is going to save the earth?

Don’t try to do it alone.

Tell a friend.

Remember: With enough spoons, you can dig a hole to the center of the world.

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Donate to help Warm Heart’s “Stop the Smoke” biochar project.

Warm Heart Worldwide is a registered 501.c.3 non-profit organization in the United States, our tax exemption number is 26-2059241. All donations are tax-deductible for U.S. Taxpayers.

 

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