Archive Environmental Progress News August 2021

Stories of Inspiration

When we first started our Environmental Progress Newsletter our focus was on shining a beacon of hope by sharing stories of progress in finding and enacting solutions to global warming. Our area of activity is in biochar and reforestation, demonstrating how it can be done and is a big part of the overall solution.

Aom Kwanpirom Suksri, leading training with farmers

We frequently cover biochar in our newsletter, because we want to share and spread the information as widely as possible. We can go on and on about biochar, because it has so many applications, provides an economic boost to communities while reducing the emission of global warming gases, AND putting carbon back into the earth.

While these solutions work, they need to be enacted globally to make the biggest impact. It is a solution that will take time to grow, same as the urgent need to enact a grand scale reforestation worldwide. These are solutions that need to happen now for the benefit of the future.

Last month we turned our Newsletter over to the teens. Because we realize they are the generation that needs strong leadership to handle the impacts of our changing climate. We want to encourage them to start now, learn about the reality of what is coming, and encourage them to continue to seek a balance with our environment to reduce global warming.

So this month we are providing a role model for our youth to embrace and inspire them to realize they too can become role models for those around them. They can, and need, to make a difference.

Aom Kwanpirom Suksri

Aom Kwanpirom Suksri,
Warm Heart Director of Biochar

Her Heart Belongs to Her Community

Aom came to Warm Heart when she was 16 years old requesting help with passing the final English exam for her degree.

A relationship was established, and through our volunteers we helped her reach her goal, and she came to work for us as our Volunteer Coordinator.

Over the years Aom has excelled at defining her dreams and going for it. She has become one of Warm Heart’s most valuable assets.

Today, she is Director of Biochar, a role that she has embraced whole-heartedly. The work she is doing with Warm Heart is helping her fulfill her dream, initiating meaningful community development that will improve the health and well-being of her family, friends, and neighbors.

Phrao

Phrao is her home, and she recognizes the importance biochar plays on improving her community. Her involvement and commitment go beyond Phrao.

As Director of our Biochar Project Aom is involved in every aspect, from working side by side with the farmers to representing Warm Heart by addressing government officials and community leaders of Chiang Mai.

She has continued to expand and develop the Phrao community of biochar farmers. She works with training them, buying their biochar, turning the biochar into a valuable product, and delivering to buyers.

Mae Chaem

The biochar process

Our Stop the Smoke campaign led us to Mae Chaem, a community of corn farmers located on the other side of Doi Inthanon.

Aom was instrumental in organizing the farmers and teaching them how to turn their crop waste into biochar instead of just burning it. She coordinated the Shangri-la corporate funded Biochar Project, organizing farmers to produce biochar that was then distributed to community groups working on sustainable farming projects.

This year she is also spearheading our Agroforestry Project, working with farmers and forestry officials on the reforestation of mountain sides that have been destroyed by fires and growing corn. The project will provide farmers a new sustainable farming area, taking advantage of the benefits of the forest restoration by improving the environment and enabling farmers to grow higher value crops.

Arrival of first trees to be planted

Young Smart Farmers

Another area Aom has been instrumental in was introducing the children of Warm Heart to the Young Smart Farmer’s program. The program has flourished and now provides a good amount of food to feed all the children. But most important, it has taught the children the invaluable skill of sustainable farming, which will last them their lifetime.

Our “Young. Smart Farmers” planting new crops

Core Competency

Aom’s influence and commitment does not end with biochar. She is very involved with helping set up Warm Heart’s Core Competency project. She recognizes the value and need to help the youth develop the skills that will help them find their own way in this world to identify and pursue their own dreams.

Aom is the perfect role model, she has proven that with dedication and hard work you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Warm Heart is so thankful to have her on our team!

How One Family is Making a Difference

This family migrated to Phrao, Thailand from Myanmar over 10 years ago.

They work as daily labour for local farmers picking longan, rice planting, and so on.

When the planting and harvest season is over they have no work. So the 7 adults end up staying home and have no job.

They have 4 kids and they were all going to school, but now Covid has changed their lives.

The family is now working with Aom in our Biochar Project. They collect biomass and turn it into biochar.

Turning biomass into biochar
Collecting and bagging biochar

The family reports “We are happy to be making biochar. Because this keep us having job which mean we have income. Otherwise our life will be terrible. We rent a house, we don’t own a farm, and we have to pay a fee every year to extend our work permit to be able to stay in Thailand. As long as farmers want to get rid of biomass we now have a market for biochar. We will continue to work and make biochar.

This is a win-win situation for everyone. The family has a new source of sustainable income, the work they do is important for the environment, converting biomass into biochar eliminates smoke and helps put carbon back into the soil.

Guest Article

The (Career) Paths Towards Sustainability

By Katreena Sarmiento

Unsplash

According to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) Director Gavin Schmidt, global temperatures from the last seven years have been the warmest on record. 2010-2019 is the decade with the warmest temperatures recorded, with 2016 recorded as the warmest recorded year and 2019 as the second warmest. As greenhouse gas levels continue to increase, trends are expected to continue, and if human impact remains the same or increases over the next few years, temperature records can be expected to continue to be broken.

Besides an increase in global temperatures, other effects of global warming over the last few years include rising sea levels, altering ocean currents, and melting ice shelves. Heat records in several European countries were also broken and more countries have experienced increased instances of fire activity. Several countries have also seen above-average rainfall during the monsoon season that has led to floods causing not only destruction to property but the loss of lives as well.

The United Nations lists climate action as the 13th goal of the 17 Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Climate change affects every continent disrupting not only natural patterns but also affecting countries’ economies, communities, and people’s daily lives. As a result, countries have adopted the Paris Agreement in November 2016, an effort where countries agree to work together to limit the global temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius and strive for 1.5 degrees Celsius. Sustainability involves acting and making choices to avoid further depletion of resources to maintain ecological balance. Besides global efforts to address climate change, individuals, especially younger generations, can also contribute to this effort through lifestyle changes and career choices. Here are some career choices that can contribute to the global sustainability effort.

Education

A career in education allows you to teach others about the importance of sustainability and its importance. You can get involved with training and teaching not only students but also communities about sustainable development, practices, and other efforts that count towards improving the climate situation and global sustainability. Besides a career in teaching, earning an associate or bachelor’s degree  in sustainability can also provide you with the foundation 

Agriculture

Sustainable agriculture means being able to provide society’s food and material needs without having to compromise the future generation’s ability to meet their own needs. It involves not only farmers or producers but everyone in the food system such as distributors, retailers, and the public as well. Modern agricultural practices have contributed to topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, degradation of multiple rural communities, and have also lowered the working conditions of farmworkers, but sustainable agriculture gives importance to care for natural and human resources and also includes championing laborers’ living and working conditions, rural community needs, and consumer health for the present and the future.

Practices in sustainable agriculture can improve water supply and quality through drought-resistant farming systems and better water conservation measures, reduce dependence on non-renewable energy sources, improve air quality by lessening pesticide drift from spraying and nitrous oxide emissions from nitrogen fertilizer use, and enhance soil quality and manage soil erosion.

Business

Starting a business and adopting a sustainable business model is another way to go for a sustainable career. Unlike traditional business models, a sustainable one is more closely related to a circular business model where a business designs a supply chain to recover and recycle materials used to produce a product, avoiding further depletion of resources and contributing to maintaining ecological balance.

Some sustainable businesses have closer ties to suppliers like farmers and communities to source materials directly from them, not only helping with their livelihood but also reducing the resources and energy spent to source materials. Besides its business value, a sustainable business can fill the growing market niche of sustainable products or services, implement internal carbon pricing strategies, remain profitable in the long run, and also give back not only to the environment but also to people and communities involved in production. 

Architecture, design, and building

Sustainable architecture involves creating healthy living environments using design strategies that lessen the negative impact on the environment by a created structure. Architects take into consideration factors like site landscape, energy consumption, and resource management in planning and use eco-friendly systems and materials in construction. Also referred to as environmental or green architecture, sustainable architecture challenges architects to not only create aesthetically superior and functional structures but also design these structures with long-term resource efficiency and minimal damage to communities in mind. Besides energy efficiency, green buildings or structures use renewable sources of energy for power, have waste management systems designed to minimize waste, and encourage eco-friendly living by reducing carbon footprints. As cities continue to expand and the demand for structures increases, having more green architects and designers is a welcome development until eventually, sustainable architecture becomes a norm.

While choosing or shifting to a sustainable career may involve more thought and time, some other ways you can contribute to global sustainability efforts are through conserving energy, reducing emissions by opting to use public transportation or bicycling, and putting the 3 R’s (reduce, reuse, and recycle) into practice. Any effort no matter how big or small, when counted in the long run is better than nothing to help make the world a more livable place in the future.

About the Author

Katreena is a scientist and a life hack specialist. She’s authored scientific journals on biotechnology and molecular biology. To take a break from scientific journals, she puts her mind into writing about lifestyle, health, and sustainability. She strongly believes that kindness makes the world go round.

Updates and Shares

We love to share information. Especially appreciate when you, our audience, shares updated, new information on a topic we have covered. This month we have updates on 3 topics, and a few links to information we think you will find valuable and inspiring.

Clothes

Our July “Teen Takeover” issue addressed the problem we have with “Fashion Consumerism”, and how the fashion industry changes so rapidly in an effort to keep us buying more and more.

Our August 2019 issue also outlined how the fashion world, a billion dollar industry, is the second most polluting business after oil, and how fashion has a direct impact on the environment.

One of the responses we received was about a really cool Non-profit that is making a difference with their fabric recycling program. Check them out! Fabscrap,0rg

Reforestation

Deforestation has had a devastating impact on our environment. It is urgent we address this issue, and push for Reforestation around the globe to bring back an ecological balance that our forests provide.

We are doing our small part with our Reforestation project near Mae Chaem. But more needs to be done.

Tree Triage has recently published a very informative article “Deforestation by the Numbers“, and with current statistics and how it impacts global warming. A must read for anyone who cares about the planet!

Plastics

We have covered the impact of plastic to our environment in several issues, including our July 2019 issue and our January 2020 issue.

SRMailing, a company that provides sustainable shipping materials, recently published a very informative article “Amazing Facts About Plastic Pollution, Things We Can Do About It“. We encourage everyone to read the article, but more important that reading it, adopt some of their ideas into your life to help reduce your footprint. This is an area we can all participate in to make a difference.


A Few Good Reads

These articles were brought to our attention and we are very happy to share the links.

Press Release: From Waste to Wealth: Converting CO2 into Butanol Using Phosphorous-Rich Copper Cathodes

Article: Carbon Offset Trading Is Taking Off Before Any Rules Are Set

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