Environmental Progress News
“Let us take advantage of the opportunities presented by climate action and lay the foundations for a more prosperous and secure future for all.”
~ UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon
The 2016 Paris Climate Accord represented a huge diplomatic step forward as 168 countries agreed that we need to address climate change. However, just as reading a recipe book will not cook your dinner, reaching a diplomatic understanding that we face climate catastrophe does not change anything. The key is to do something or, to put it more bluntly, that you do something to contribute to being a part of the solution.
The UN has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals that need action (more info below).
Stop the Smoke 2018
For our part, to do something, Warm Heart Environmental Program launched the five year “Stop The Smoke Campaign” in 2017. With a grant from the Canadian Government and funds raised by groups and individual donations we reduced eCO2, black carbon and smoke emissions by replacing open field burning with biochar production. Our Year 1, 2017 campaign in Mae Chaem District was a huge success and paved the way for Year 2.
We are happy to announce that we will be doing much more in Year 2 than in Year 1. “Stop the Smoke” Campaign 2018 kicks off on November 25th, 2017. Preparations have already begun to address next year’s smoke season with a new, far more expansive biochar project.
“Stop the Smoke” Campaign 2018 features two parts:
• A 10-fold increase in production of biochar in Mae Chaem (150 to 1,500 tons) in collaboration with the District Administrator’s plans to eliminate corn waste in 5 years.
• The first field test of our small-scale, community biochar operation that we hope to replicate to hundreds of sites over the next years.
Part One: Year 1 (2017) was a total success. With public support, we raised the 1 million baht ($30,000), needed to sequester 450 tons of CO2, and avert the emission of 645 tons of eCO2 and 4.5 tons of smoke. The 2018 program in Mae Chaem will be 10 times bigger than 2017 – and will be self-funded!!
Part Two: This year, “Stop the Smoke” Campaign 2018 asks your support to launch a community-level program that can be replicated in corn growing areas all across the North to slow climate change, reduce smoke and raise local incomes. Like the Mae Chaem project, it is planned to be self-funding in its second year. Like the Mae Chaem project, “Stop the Smoke” Campaign 2018 is also designed to expand dramatically beginning in its second year!
Total cost of establishing the first prototype: 450,000 baht ($15,000.) We will launch the campaign the end of December, stay tuned!
Do Something Featured Article
How to Start a Regenerative Agriculture Movement in Your Community
By Regeneration International
The most important, although as of yet little known, new paradigm shift and set of practices in the world today is regenerative agriculture, or rather regenerative food, farming and land use. Regeneration practices, scaled up globally on billions of acres of farmland, pasture, and forest, have the potential to not only mitigate, but actually reverse global warming and, at the same time, provide solutions to other burning issues such as poverty, deteriorating public health, environmental degradation, and global conflict.
The world-changing promise of regeneration lies in the fact that a large scale increase in plant photosynthesis (i.e. drawing down CO2 from the atmosphere, releasing oxygen, but transferring a major proportion of carbon into the plant roots and soil) made possible by fundamental changes in farming, grazing and land use practices, (along with the transition to 100 percent renewable energy) across billions of acres, can drawdown enough excess CO2 from the atmosphere into our living soils, plants, and forests to reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate. (https://www.organicconsumers.org/news/soil-carbon-restoration-can-biology-do-job)
And as this great drawdown and re-carbonization of the soil and biota takes place, civilization will also reap a wide range of additional benefits: a qualitative increase in soil fertility, increased soil moisture (rainfall retention), the return of regular rainfall and weather patterns, major increases in food production, nutrient-rich food, enhanced biodiversity, rural and urban economic development, and millions of new “green” jobs.
Currently the most fundamental obstacle to scaling up regenerative practices on a global scale is the fact that only a small percentage of concerned citizens, farmers, ranchers, land managers, consumers and policy makers have ever even heard the “good news” about regeneration, much less been educated so as to understand it thoroughly. Our initial task therefore as regenerators is basic public education, to spread the message of regeneration as widely as possible, and to organize and inspire core groups, coalitions, pilot projects and policy reforms in every town, city, village, state, region and nation in the world as quickly as possible.
The following action plan is designed to jump-start this long overdue process, starting at the local level, eventually spreading into thousands of communities across the globe.
Educate yourself on the basic principles of regenerative food, farming and land use. Learn how to explain in everyday language why people all over the world are embracing regenerative food, farming and land use as a fundamental solution to climate change and related crises. Move beyond the prevalent gloom and doom talk on climate change and global warming and offer positive solutions that everyone: farmers, gardeners, landscape managers, educators, consumers, students, businesspeople, policy makers and the entire global body politic can begin to implement.
Develop and hone your understanding and enthusiasm to the point where you can begin to successfully inspire and recruit others to the cause. This may take a while, but through practice and trial and error you will be able to improve your outreach and recruiting. Begin by starting conversations with people you feel comfortable talking to, people concerned about the climate crisis and related issues; but people who haven’t yet heard, or who haven’t heard much, about regeneration; before you try to speak to community, school, business, activist or church groups. Avoid for the moment wasting your time arguing with climate deniers and other dogmatists, and strive to reach out to those with an open mind. You’ll know you’re ready to go out in the community and give talks and slideshows once you can convince and inspire people—one-on-one—in your local circle of family, friends, co-workers and acquaintances.
On the regenerationinternational.org website, you will find a set of basic educational tools—articles, videos and a PowerPoint presentation—that you can study, and then share with your first circle of potential regenerators. For more in-depth study, here is an annotated bibliography and a daily newsfeed.
Step number two
Form a small core group (Circle of Regeneration) with four or five others (or more) who understand and are truly inspired by the basic principles of regenerative food, farming and land use.
Prime candidates for recruitment might be local food, church, climate, political or farm activists; concerned parents; school teachers; students; gardeners; farmers or artists. Arrange a series of potlucks or study groups to increase your core group’s understanding of the issues and to brainstorm about what groups you could possibly reach out to in order to expand your circle. Use the website and Facebook page of regenerationinternational.org to keep abreast of current developments in the global regeneration movement. Once you’ve formed a core group, register your contact information and sign up as an affiliate with Regeneration International.
Step number three
Familiarize yourself and your core group with the Global 4/1000 Initiative on Soils and Food Security, a local to international pledge to take action, signed by hundreds (and soon to be thousands) of grassroots organizations, cities, states and nations as part of the Lima-to-Paris Climate Summit agreement to sequester carbon through regenerative practices on a scale that can begin to reverse global warming.
The importance of the 4/1000 Initiative is that it is the only global local-to-national climate agreement to sequester excess carbon from the atmosphere in order to reverse climate change. Think of the 4/1000 Initiative as sort of a Global Declaration of Interdependence, an acknowledgement (and a pledge to take action) coming from a visionary segment of the world’s seven billion people (three billion farmers and rural villagers, and four billion consumers) to regenerate the earth and mobilize the global grassroots.
Regeneration activists in more than three dozen countries are now using the 4/1000 Initiative as a tool to do outreach, to enroll organizations to formally join the Regeneration Movement, and to build up coalitions to lobby town, city, county, state, and national governments to pass resolutions and ordinances in support of the 4/1000 Initiative. Regeneration International’s goal is to get 100,000 community based organizations and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to sign on the 4/1000 Initiative by 2020, and then to use this grassroots power to convince thousands of cities, states and nations of the world to do the same.
Step number four
Develop with your core group and allies a strategy and a plan of action to reach out, one-by-one, to as many groups and organizations as possible in your local area and region.
Your goal should be to map out and recruit key individuals in key groups, winning them over so that they “connect the dots” between what their organizations are already doing, and the global campaign to regenerate the earth and restore climate, soil and hydrological (water cycle) health. Target groups for discussion and recruitment should include: student groups, church groups, food, farm, climate, peace, hunger, immigration and environmental groups, and any other civic organizations with open-minded members.
Step number five
Once your local regeneration core group has carried out extensive public education in your area, built up a critical mass of organizations who have formally signed onto the 4/1000 Initiative and begun to lobby your local town, city, state or regional governmental bodies to sign on to the formal 4/1000 Initiative, please contact the Regeneration International office for further advice on how to arrange regional and national meetings, spread the Regeneration message even further, and to publicize and scale-up Regenerative pilot projects and best practices in your region. For a list of endorsed “Regeneration Hubs” or model pilot projects, see: http://www.regenerationhub.co/en/
The United Nations strategic plan focuses on key areas including poverty alleviation, democratic governance and peacebuilding, climate change and disaster risk, and economic inequality. Each area is important, interrelated, and must be addressed concurrently.
What the world needs now
Petula Clark’s message in her popular song is true today, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love, not just for some but for everyone”. Our world needs to foster a love for the Earth and all of her inhabitants to end abuse of our environment, our people, and animals.
In this month’s Environmental Progress News we are touching on 3 specific areas.
- Affordable and Clean Energy
- Life on the Land
- Climate Action
Affordable and Clean Energy
Energy is central to nearly every major challenge and opportunity the world faces today. Be it for jobs, security, climate change, food production or increasing incomes, access to energy for all is essential.
“Sustainable energy is opportunity – it transforms lives, economies and the planet.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is leading a Sustainable Energy for All initiative to ensure universal access to modern energy services, improve efficiency and increase use of renewable sources.”
Great technological advances are being made in the alternative energy fields every day.
Smartflower has developed a solar panel that provides 40-50% more efficiency than traditional panels. It has a kinetic design, allowing it to position itself to maximize sun exposure. When the sun comes up the flower shaped panel opens up and spreads out like a flower. And like some flowers, it follows the sun throughout the day. It is virtually a portable plug and play solar panel.
Tesla and SolarCity are gearing up to release their first jointly branded product: a solar roof that charges an integrated backup power system. To be clear, this new product combo would not be a rooftop solar array or interlocking solar tiles, but rather a real rooftop made of solar panels. The system would be linked with Tesla Powerwall 2.0, the long-awaited less expensive version of the company’s innovative battery backup.
Solar power is providing electrical service to rural communities at an affordable price. Simpa Network in India utilizes a rooftop solar leasing model made possible with their patented pre-paid metering and control technology.
Econet Solar has launched a solar power device to help light up rural Africa and other areas without access to reliable electric supplies.
What does the future hold?
Researchers are studying the feasibility of open ocean wind turbines. While there are still many unanswered questions open ocean wind farms spread across 3 million square kilometers of ocean could in theory harness so much more of the atmosphere’s energy and generate all the power the world needs right now.
That still leaves all the other problems unsolved: the challenge of engineering turbines fit for the open ocean and of catering for seasonal variations in wind energy; of collecting the generated current and delivering it to the world’s cities, and the even bigger problem of the national and global politics involved. But sophisticated modeling says there is nothing on Earth to prevent it being done.
Life on the Land
Forests cover 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface and in addition to providing food security and shelter, forests are key to combating climate change, protecting biodiversity and the homes of the indigenous population.
“Thirteen million hectares of forests are being lost every year while the persistent degradation of drylands has led to the desertification of 3.6 billion hectares.
Deforestation and desertification – caused by human activities and climate change – pose major challenges to sustainable development and have affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the fight against poverty. Efforts are being made to manage forests and combat desertification.”
Scientists tell us that the main culprit in global warming is carbon in the form of CO2. This is why trees are so important and why global deforestation is a key part of global warming.
Trees remove CO2 from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. They release the oxygen (O2) back into the atmosphere for us to breathe and use the carbon (C) to build cell walls. As long as the tree is alive, it soaks up C; together trees in a forest become a “carbon sink” holding carbon that cannot contribute to global warming.
The problem with this is obvious – trees die and when they do, they rerelease the C into the atmosphere as they rot.
While planting new trees is important, it is just as important to remove dead trees and branches.
What to do with them?
Turn them into biochar!
Making biochar is carbon negative. When you make biochar from dead wood, you permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere. The biochar that remains when you finish production is pure carbon equal to 40 percent of the total carbon contained in the wood – and it is completely inert. It will never again enter the atmosphere. Put differently, for every pound of biochar you make, you remove three pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere.
Making biochar also has important indirect impacts. Large piles of rotting wood chips, for example, emit not just CO2, but methane, a greenhouse gas (GHG) 25 times as warming as CO2. Methane and other such long-term GHGs as NOx are eliminated by pyrolysis.
Cleaning up our forests can be a profitable business. Rather than cut down more trees, invest in a cheap biochar oven and make a useful, marketable product that is good for the environment.
Construction is inexpensive and easy. You will find detailed descriptions of available oven designs on our Warm Heart Biochar Oven Specs, decide which one is best for you and simply request a free plan.
The properties of biochar make it one of the most environmentally healing tools we have available to us. Let’s use it.
Climate change is now affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.
“People are experiencing the significant impacts of climate change, which include changing weather patterns, rising sea level, and more extreme weather events. The greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are driving climate change and continue to rise. They are now at their highest levels in history. Without action, the world’s average surface temperature is projected to rise over the 21st century and is likely to surpass 3 degrees Celsius this century—with some areas of the world expected to warm even more. The poorest and most vulnerable people are being affected the most.”
Be a Part of the Solution – Get Involved Locally
There are many environmental organizations around the world that offer a way for you to get involved and do something.
350.org is building a global climate movement. Our online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are coordinated by a global network active in over 188 countries.
Through research and outreach that inspire action, the Worldwatch Institute works to accelerate the transition to a sustainable world that meets human needs. The Institute’s top mission objectives are universal access to renewable energy and nutritious food, expansion of environmentally sound jobs and development, transformation of cultures from consumerism to sustainability, and an early end to population growth through healthy and intentional childbearing.
Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.
Earthworks stands for clean air, water and land, healthy communities, and corporate accountability. We work for solutions that protect both the Earth’s resources and our communities.
Resources for Our Children