Top 3 Misconceptions About Carbon Emissions

August 10, 2020 by  
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According to climate scientists, we have the best chance of … The post Top 3 Misconceptions About Carbon Emissions appeared first on Earth 911.

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Top 3 Misconceptions About Carbon Emissions

Carbon accountability: keeping emissions low as the U.S. reopens

July 24, 2020 by  
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As global carbon emissions continue to decrease due to COVID-19, history shows that this drop may not be sustainable. The Great Depression saw a carbon emissions drop of 26% as industrial production in the United States reduced exponentially, but in the years that followed, carbon dioxide spiked to higher levels than before as production raced to catch up. Since March 2020, emissions have again dropped to record lows as cars have stayed off the roads, flights have been cancelled and factory production has reduced or ceased due to the novel coronavirus . Time reported that global carbon emissions are projected to be 7% less in 2020 than in 2019, a level not seen in at least a decade. We’ve proven that we have the power to reduce emissions substantially, but if history has taught us anything, it is that making these changes last will be a much larger environmental obstacle. Related: Coronavirus and its impact on carbon emissions Inhabitat spoke with Ford Seeman, founder and president of nonprofit Forest Founders , to get some insight on carbon accountability and the steps we need to take to ensure that history doesn’t repeat itself this time. Inhabitat: Can you help define “carbon accountability”? Ford Seeman: Carbon accountability is the concept of taking ownership for our unique carbon footprints . This includes trying to be mindful of the energy and resources we use, how they are sourced and measures to counteract their impact. [Forest Founders] offers subscription services to help offset what carbon emissions can’t be avoided. Inhabitat: What do you think the environmental and climate improvements we’ve experienced since COVID-19 say about our world? Seeman: We have seen improvements in places where we have been forced to change our behavior, like in the canals of Venice and the air above LA , but we still see disturbing trends such as carbon pollution increasing overall. Industry is the No. 1 contributor to our global carbon crisis and many of the worst industrial polluters didn’t slow down at all during COVID-19. We have still had industrial disasters, like Nornickel’s spill in the Russian permafrost and the continued flaring and leakage of natural gas across the world at almost every well pump and refining site. Even though there were points during quarantine where a huge number of the Earth’s population was locked down, we still only saw an average of 8% decline in carbon emissions. With the entirety of the U.S. on lockdown, we would have expected that number to have been greater considering our outsized carbon footprint compared to the rest of the world, but we didn’t. Andrew Yang stated in his town hall on climate change that the solution has to be at the government level. I am becoming more inclined to agree, even though it disturbs me. There is one caveat, we control who is in charge in the government. We need to demand our politicians stop taking oil money, stop these backwards oil subsidies and stand with us, with the planet’s best interests coming first. Inhabitat: How can we continue reducing carbon emissions, air pollution, etc. as we begin reopening? Seeman: We need to connect our stimulus programs to environmental reform. We need to overhaul how we produce energy and what we consider renewable . We can’t cut down old growth forests to use as fuel and consider it sustainable. Oil subsidies are a backwards tradition that impede our environmental progress. Our economy is supposed to reward the best solutions. Oil subsidies don’t allow this to happen in the energy sector. By making fossil fuel projects more profitable through subsidies, we are standing in the way of progress. Firms like Blackrock divesting from fossil fuels is an indicator that our system is broken. These firms are about making money. If they divested 10 years ago when renewables were more expensive than fossil fuels, it would have been admirable. With renewable energy being at par with fossil fuel energy production, we are just allowing economics to help progress us to a healthier energy production landscape. Subsidizing oil and gas endangers this momentum. Inhabitat: What do you think will be the biggest challenges for carbon accountability as the economy opens? Seeman: Fossil fuel subsidies and the challenges they bring create enormous challenges. We are digging up Earth’s natural carbon sinks and disturbing the natural balance. We are creating dangerous feedback loops that will soon be, if they are not already, out of our control. Inhabitat: What are some of the most important long-term solutions to climate change in your opinion? Seeman: We need to create massive R&D subsidies to create the next generation of renewable and clean technological advancements. We need to work on efficiency ratings as well as our power sources. We need to create renewable energy generators that are more effective using less harmful and evasive resources. Inhabitat: Lastly, can you tell us about your nonprofit , Forest Founders? Seeman: The core values of Forest Founders are innovation, education and empowerment. We want to create unique solutions to allow people to become carbon accountable while teaching them the importance of what the term means. We empower our members through education to help make informed decisions and impart the importance of taking a stand. This could be on a community level or country-wide level. We provide the resources that can help our members feel like they can make an important difference in this overwhelming problem. + Forest Founders Images via Patrick Hendry , David Vig and Jon Tyson

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Carbon accountability: keeping emissions low as the U.S. reopens

How Eco-tech Can Help Us Tackle Global Carbon Emissions

July 15, 2020 by  
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In recent years, global carbon emissions have been rising despite … The post How Eco-tech Can Help Us Tackle Global Carbon Emissions appeared first on Earth 911.

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We Earthlings: Local Produce = More Jobs

June 23, 2020 by  
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Reduced carbon emissions from food transport is not the only … The post We Earthlings: Local Produce = More Jobs appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Consumers Energy’s Teri VanSumeren on the company’s Clean Energy Plan

November 14, 2019 by  
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Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, committed to reduce its carbon emissions by 90 percent by 2040.

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Consumers Energy’s Teri VanSumeren on the company’s Clean Energy Plan

Norwegian Air introduces SkyBreathe app to help reduce annual CO2 emissions

October 23, 2019 by  
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True to its fame as Norway’s most sustainable airline and as the two-time International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) recipient of the “Most Fuel-Efficient Airline on Transatlantic Routes” award, Norwegian Air is ambitiously targeting a carbon emissions reduction of 140,000 tons per year. It will do so by leveraging the SkyBreathe fuel efficiency app. SkyBreathe was developed by the European Union’s Clean Sky project , the largest European research program dedicated to reducing aircraft emissions and noise levels. The SkyBreathe app analyzes entire flight operations via big data algorithms to consider air traffic control constraints, flight paths, payloads, weather conditions and other similar variables. The information is then transferred to aircraft systems, thus enhancing Norwegian Air flight paths with improved fuel efficiency . Related:  Eco-resort in Finland charges guests based on their carbon emissions “At Norwegian, we’re continuously working to find new tools to reduce both CO2 emissions and fuel consumption,” shares Stig Patey, Norwegian’s fuel savings manager. “With the SkyBreathe app, we receive large amounts of data for each flight, and this data provides relevant information about how we can fly smarter and even more efficiently.” Indeed, by determining fuel consumption, SkyBreathe assists with optimizing flight performance while saving on costs. To date, the app enables Norwegian Air to save up to 3,700 tons of fuel and reduce emissions by 11,600 tons per month. “With SkyBreathe, we receive instant feedback after each flight, where we can easily see how we have performed, what we have done well and what we can improve for the next flight ,” explains Fergus Rak, London Gatwick Airport’s base chief captain. “This is a smart tool that benefits both us and the environment.” Since 2008, Norwegian Air’s young fleet has been consistently implementing green approaches, with the ultimate goal of making the entire airline carbon neutral by 2050. In fact, ICCT analysis over the years has found Norwegian Air fuel consumption to be approximately 33% more fuel-efficient than the industry average.  Via Norwegian Images via Norwegian

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Norwegian Air introduces SkyBreathe app to help reduce annual CO2 emissions

The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

September 13, 2019 by  
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The rate of world deforestation continues to accelerate, despite governments’ promises to reverse it. Now, the world loses 64 million acres a year of forested land, which is equivalent to the size of the United Kingdom, according to a new study by Climate Focus . Thirty-seven governments as well as many multinational companies, NGOs and groups representing indigenous communities have signed the New York Declaration on Forests since it sprang from the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Summit in 2014. This declaration pledged to cut the deforestation rate in half by 2020 and to end it by 2030. Unfortunately, this feel-good, non-legally binding declaration has been hugely unsuccessful. Since the declaration was penned, tree cover loss has skyrocketed by 43 percent, while tropical primary forests have been slashed. The world is now in worse shape than when the well-intended pledge was made. Some countries are making an effort. Indonesia slowed its rate of deforestation by a third between 2017 and 2018. Some countries, such as Ethiopia, Mexico and El Salvador, are determinedly planting trees. But these attempts are overshadowed by deforestation in much of Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa. Major forests in these regions saw marked decreases in tree cover between 2014 and 2018. Latin America lost the most forest by volume, but Africa experienced the greatest increase in the rate of deforestation. Of course, the recent Amazon wildfires are bringing deforestation to a whole new level. Climate scientists worry about feedback loops, where climate change makes trees drier, leading to increased flammability and more fires and carbon dioxide, which in turn makes things drier, hotter and even more flammable. “Deforestation, mostly for agriculture, contributes around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions,” Jo House, an environmental specialist at the University of Bristol, told The Guardian . “At the same time, forests naturally take up around a third of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. This natural sink provided by forests is at risk from the dual compounding threats of further deforestation and future climate change . The continued loss of primary forests at ever-increasing rates. despite their incalculable value and irreplaceability, is both shocking and tragic.” + Climate Focus Via The Guardian Image via Robert Jones

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The planet is losing an area of forest cover the size of the UK each year

How cities can improve homes

September 5, 2019 by  
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And three residential policies can promote economic development, improve health and reduce carbon emissions.

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Google promises carbon neutral shipping and recycled plastic products

August 6, 2019 by  
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In an attempt to keep up with customer demands and industry competitors, Google announced a loose plan to reach carbon neutral shipping and incorporate more recycled plastics into their Made by Google products. These gadgets include Pixel phones and Pixelbooks as well as Google Home speakers, phone cases and charging devices. Google did not give a specific timeline for carbon neutral delivery but plans to increase their use of cargo ships instead of air vessels. The company committed to include recycled plastic in 100 percent of their devices by 2022. Related: Athlete and activist runs across the US to raise awareness of plastic pollution Apple and Samsung are out-competing Google for sustainability pledges. Apple, for example, has at least 50% recycled plastic in some of their gadgets and at least 11 products with recycled aluminum. Samsung also recently pledged to increase their use of sustainable packaging. According to Anna Meegan, head of sustainability for Google, the company’s transportation-related carbon emissions decreased by 40% between 2017 and 2018. Google also promised to purchase carbon offsets for the emissions that they will not be able to reduce through strategies such as using more ships. “We are fundamentally looking to build sustainability into everything we do. It’s going to take us time to demonstrate progress,” said Meegan. Since cargo ships take longer than planes, Google will need to find ways to streamline their development and production processes so they do not lose customers due to longer wait times. Currently, only a third of all google products with public material disclosures contain recycled plastic. For example, Google Home speakers contain approximately 20 to 40% recycled plastic in their casing. Google also has a Recycling Partnership program where they provide a free shipping label to previous customers who have devices they no longer use. Google is able to collect and recycle components of the devices for future gadgets. Interested customers can check out the Partnership information here . Via CNBC Image via Andres Urena

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See the forest for more than the trees why reforestation isn’t working

August 6, 2019 by  
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We can all agree planting a tree is good for the environment — right? According to a recent study in Nature , the global crusade for reforestation as a remedy for climate change is largely missing the mark. So where did it go wrong? The new evidence reveals that most of the countries with large-scale tree-planting programs are actually developing tree plantations, which might help the economy but fail to sequester the carbon that the countries originally pledged to. The Bonn Challenge promises 350 million hectares of trees In 2011, the international Bonn Challenge was announced as an ambitious plan to plant 150 million hectares of trees by 2020. In 2014, more than 100 nations signed on under the New York Declaration of Forests, increasing the target to 350 million hectares by 2030. Unlike many lofty development goals, most countries are actually on track to exceed their promises, at least at first glance. In fact, the world actually has more forest cover now than it did in 1982. So, what’s the problem? Related: The ‘Billion Tree Tsunami’ is transforming northwestern Pakistan Well, the majority of countries have been using the incentives and global momentum to back monoculture farms and counting trees that will be logged within years in their Bonn Challenge totals. According to the assessment, 45 percent of trees planted were species that will be quickly harvested for paper production. Another 21 percent were tree farm species, like fruits, nuts and cocoa . Only 34 percent of trees planted were part of so-called “natural forest,” even though the original intention of the Bonn Challenge was that all hectares planted should be natural forest. “Policymakers are misinterpreting the term forest restoration [and] misleading the public,” argued the study authors, Simon Lewis of Leeds University and Charlotte Wheeler from Edinburgh University. While agroforestry trees do provide important benefits to the environment and economy, monoculture plantations (especially when farmers clear natural forests for crops) fail to provide anywhere close to the same benefit in terms of sequestration and biodiversity . The value of natural forest A general definition of a natural forest is a “multilayered vegetation unit dominated by trees, whose combined strata have overlapping crowns, and where grasses are generally rare.” In general, a natural forest will store up to 40 times more carbon than a plantation that is harvested every decade. Related: How forest bathing can profoundly improve your health and well-being More than just trees , forests are important and intricate ecosystems. They are home to incredible biodiversity and provide sanctuary and habitat for thousands of species. They are also critical to the climate, because forests maintain rainfall and prevent desertification. Because clouds accumulate over forests, places that have destroyed all of their major forests often experience low rainfall, drought, desertification and other climate-related issues. Reforestation pledges around the world Even before the Bonn Challenge, China launched a massive reforestation program in response to flooding along the Yangtze River. Despite over two decades of reforestation, the report claims that 99 percent of all trees planted have been within monoculture plantations. Related: Philippine students must plant 10 trees to graduate, new law says In Niger, after years of complying with foreign and government extension officers who advised farmers to remove trees, farmers have finally argued that native trees serve an important purpose right where they are. Trees stabilize soil, produce nitrogen, buffer strong wind and improve organic matter in the soil. As a result of the farmers’ knowledge, deforestation has decreased, although the majority of farmers now wisely plant trees that will supplement their incomes rather than simply sequester seemingly abstract carbon. Yale Environment 360 reported that in Brazil, up to 82 percent of the forest restoration work is developing monoculture plantations and not natural forests. How to plant a forest? “Get out of the way.” According to National Geographic’s investigative article, “ How to regrow a forest: Get out of the way ,” even specific efforts by the U.S. Forest Department to plant natural forests have not worked the way they were intended to. For ease of planting and eventual use as lumber, the Forestry Department had a long-term tradition of planting native trees in neat rows at 12-foot gaps. Though the majority of trees were then left to develop into natural forests, the meticulous spacing has since exacerbated fire risk. The Department now opts for more irregular spacing and species biodiversity. Although it is more time- and cost-intensive, it ends up saving the department in firefighting costs later. Similarly, in Canada, a study found that a government campaign to drain wetlands thought to be smothering spruce trees caused a fire that destroyed 2,400 homes in 2016. Under the pretense of growing larger trees to store more carbon, peatlands were systematically destroyed. However, it is now recognized that peatlands ultimately store enormous amounts of carbon naturally and were more resilient to fires. “If you take the perspective that no matter what, more trees are better, that’s going to have unintended consequences,” said Sofia Faruqi from the World Resource Institute. “In the case of the West Coast, restoration may mean removing trees from the landscape.” Turning over a new leaf on reforestation pledges According to Faruqi, policies must acknowledge both what kind of tree is planted and how the tree “jibes with the larger health of the forest, the amount of water available or the needs of local people.” As we approach the start of the United Nation’s declared Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, many forestry experts agree that reforestation solutions must be localized — both at a national level and at the individual forest level. While the need for income, especially sustainably sourced income, is paramount, cash crop trees should be planted in addition to the 350 million acres of natural forest. Tropical forests are particularly important, because they have the potential to capture more carbon than any other forest type in the world. In many equatorial regions, where there are large amounts of land available and a high need for economic stimulation, healthy tropical forests can provide jobs, support indigenous traditions and capture an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 2 billion cars off the road every year. Blanket pledges of specific tree planting targets have not worked and leave the door open for damaging misinterpretation. More research and awareness is needed to understand the importance of different ecosystems and more priority given to protecting and keeping natural ecosystems intact. The idea that any tree planted helps is simply outdated and misleading. A quote by American poet, environmentalist and farmer Wendell Berry sums it up nicely: “Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.” + Nature Via Yale Environment 360 and National Geographic Images via Michael Benz , Marc Pell , Jesse Gardner , Janusz Maniak , Steven Kamenar and Zoer Ng

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See the forest for more than the trees why reforestation isn’t working

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