Amazon deforestation still high despite Brazil’s COP26 pledge

November 9, 2021 by  
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Last week at  COP26  in Glasgow, 100 countries, including Brazil, pledged to reverse deforestation by 2030. However, recent figures for October show that Brazil is nowhere near protecting the Amazon rainforest. In fact, the latest numbers are the second most appalling since scientists began measuring deforestation. The Brazilian National Space Agency (INPE) released its latest data on November 5. It showed that during October 2021, The  Amazon rainforest lost 796 km2 to deforestation. For comparison, this is more than four times the area of the Glasgow metropolitan area. Last October, the Amazon set an all-time deforestation record of 836 km2. The November 5 report shows a figure only 4.8% lower. Related: 110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030 “It is appalling to see this steady growth in  deforestation  in Brazilian Amazon, while the world is coming together to protect the world’s rainforest,” said Toerris Jaeger, secretary general of Rainforest Foundation Norway, in a statement. “Only one third of the world’s original rainforest now remains intact. We have no more square kilometers to lose.” As world leaders gather in Glasgow to try to solve the  climate change  conundrum, the deforestation pledge was one of the first positive steps. Such heavily forested nations as Canada, Russia, the U.S., U.K., Indonesia, China, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo also signed. Who knows what aerial photos would reveal about recent deforestation in these other countries? “The world will remain skeptical about  Brazil’s  promises until the country shows concrete results,” Jaeger said. “The pace of Amazon destruction needs to be reduced at the very least to comply with the country’s own 2020 climate targets.” Jair Bolsonaro’s administration hasn’t shown itself to be BFFs with the rainforest so far. During the administration’s first two years in power, Amazon deforestation rates soared to a 12-year high. The deforestation rate in 2019 and 2020 was 67% higher than the average deforestation rate a decade earlier. Via Rainforest Foundation Norway Lead image via Pixabay

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Amazon deforestation still high despite Brazil’s COP26 pledge

110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030

November 3, 2021 by  
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More than 100 leaders from around the world pledged to reverse deforestation  by 2030, in what’s being lauded as the first big achievement of  COP26 . Countries are backing up their promise with more than $19 billion in public and private funds. “We have to stop the devastating loss of our forests,” said  U.K.  Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as reported by the BBC. He called on fellow leaders to “end humanity’s long history as nature’s conqueror, and instead become its custodian.” Related: Illegal beef farmers promote deforestation in Chiribiquete National Park A total of 110 leaders signed the deforestation pledge at the two-week climate change summit in Glasgow. Signatories include heavily forested nations, such as  Brazil , Canada, Russia, the U.S., the U.K., Indonesia, China and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Businesses are hopping on the deforestation wagon. Some of the world’s biggest financial companies promised to stop investing in activities contributing to deforestation. Twenty-eight countries pledged to stop industries from chopping down trees to let animals graze or grow crops such as soy, cocoa and  palm oil . Of course, activists quickly pointed out that climate change promises have been continuously broken. Notably, a similar pledge in 2014 barely saved a twig. Climate activist  Greta Thunberg , speaking outside the CO26 venue, said a lot of “blah blah blah” was going on inside. Matt McGrath, the BBC’s environmental correspondent, raised some interesting points in his analysis. For example, how will countries be policed and held accountable for their promises? Are sovereign countries going to suddenly allow satellites to spy on their forests? How will we break the link between consumer good production and deforestation? And are governments going to actively push people to reduce their  meat  consumption, so as not to need all that soy feed and grazing land? Despite legitimate doubts, the deforestation pledge is a positive step. After all, not trying and doing nothing hasn’t worked too well. Via BBC Lead image via Pexels

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110 countries pledge to end deforestation by 2030

Mountain modern ski getaway features energy efficient design

November 3, 2021 by  
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An emergency room doctor in Denver, Colorado started with the goal of creating a ski getaway. With the location and the focus on outdoor activities, the design team at Somrak Concept + Structure expanded that idea by taking inspiration from the surrounding mountains in the positioning, layout, interior design and material selections for the home.  To create a fluid oneness with the outdoors, the home offers views from nearly every angle of every room. Many of the rooms create a natural frame around Mount Crested Butte on the horizon. Related: Colorado’s Electric Pass Lodge will be powered entirely by renewable energy “Inspiration for this design and all of our designs comes from the beautiful valley in which we live,” said Kate Somrak, co-owner of Somrak Concept + Structure. “Crested Butte is truly a slice of paradise . The mountains that surround the homes we build inspire us to bring the outdoors in through big-picture windows that capture the majestic beauty of the surrounding landscape and large floor-to-ceiling doors that open out to exterior living spaces.” Throughout the home, the team chose peaceful, neutral colors in order to allow the views to demand attention. Organic, natural materials throughout the home creates an atmosphere of serenity in a space intended to offer an escape to the stresses of daily life. The choice of American Clay for the upstairs wall exemplifies the focus on environmentally-friendly materials. Somrak described it as “a natural earth plaster product [that] offers a non-toxic alternative for residential interior wall coverings.” It also naturally absorbs moisture, making it a solid choice for bathrooms.  The selection of natural limestone for the fireplace makes a visual statement inside the home and reflects the connection to the surrounding landscape . Natural quartzite countertops further emphasize a focus on durable, long-lasting materials, which were a central theme throughout the project.  “We encourage the use of organic , natural materials that subconsciously invoke a sense of calm,” Somrak said. “It’s important to us to use natural materials whenever possible and build sustainably with high-quality techniques to ensure that what we are building will serve many generations to come. We believe that we are not just builders, we are creating spaces that relax , fulfill and become part of the memories our clients create while spending time together in their homes.” The open and flowing space was passively designed to adopt natural light throughout. Each bedroom is equipped with its own deck for a quick transfer into the outdoors.   For areas that needed a bit more illumination in a stylistic fashion, the Somrak team partnered with Sonneman lighting to bring the “mountain modern” vibe. They placed a striking Cantina LED Pendant six-light chandelier over the dining room table and two dynamic Cantina LED Pendant lights over the kitchen island. “I often use Sonneman lighting in our projects because of its understated elegance and beautiful simplicity that make a bold statement to round out our designs ,” said Ben Somrak, president of Somrak Concept + Structure.  “The number one goal is quality and ensuring that what we build will last for generations to come,” said Kate Somrak. “We pride ourselves on building tight, efficient homes that are energy efficient and sustainable for the long-term of home ownership.” + Somrak Concept + Structure  Images via Somrak Concept + Structure 

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73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

October 31, 2017 by  
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Conservation International aims to plant 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon as part of the largest ever undertaking of its kind. In what is being called the “arc of deforestation” in the Brazilian states of Amazonas, Acre, Pará, and Rondônia, as well as throughout the Xingu watershed, trees will be planted as part of a project that, in the short-term, aims to restore 70,000 acres of tropical forest. “If the world is to hit the 1.2°C or 2°C [degrees of warming] target that we all agreed to in Paris, then protecting tropical forests in particular has to be a big part of that,” said M. Sanjayan, CEO of Conservation International, in an interview with Fast Company . “It’s not just the trees that matter, but what kind of trees ,” said Sanjayan. “If you’re really thinking about getting carbon dioxide out of atmosphere, then tropical forests are the ones that end up mattering the most.” Ceasing deforestation would allow for the absorption of 37 percent of the world’s annual carbon emissions yet scientists worry that 20 percent of the Amazon may be deforested in the next two decades, in addition to the 20 percent that was deforested in the past 40 years. To combat this rapid pace of destruction, Conservation International is utilizing new, efficient planting techniques that could be applied worldwide. “This is not a stunt,” said Sanjayan. “It is a carefully controlled experiment to literally figure out how to do tropical restoration at scale, so that people can replicate it and we can drive the costs down dramatically.” Related: Hurricane Maria ravaged the only tropical rainforest in the United States The planting method used in the project is known as muvuca , which is a Portuguese word to describe many people in a small place. In  muvuca, hundreds of native tree seeds of various species are spread over every inch of deforested land. Natural selection then allows the most suited to survive and thrive. A 2014 study from the Food and Agriculture Organization and Biodiversity International found that more than 90 percent of native tree species planted using the  muvuca method germinate and are well suited to survive drought conditions for up to six months. “With plant-by-plant reforestation techniques, you get a typical density of about 160 plants per hectare,” said Rodrigo Medeiros, Conservation International’s vice president of the Brazil program and project lead, according to Fast Company . “With muvuca, the initial outcome is 2,500 species per hectare. And after 10 years, you can reach 5,000 trees per hectare. It’s much more diverse, much more dense, and less expensive than traditional techniques.” Via Fast Company Images via Depositphotos (1)

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73 million trees to be planted in largest reforestation project ever

Collaboration helps reforestation take root

October 18, 2017 by  
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More than 190 governments, businesses and civil society organizations have committed to ending commodity-driven deforestation by 2020.

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Collaboration helps reforestation take root

In California, conservationists face off with vineyard owners

September 5, 2017 by  
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It’s vines versus old-growth forests, a biodiversity debate with consequences for steelhead trout, mountain lions and spotted owls.

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In California, conservationists face off with vineyard owners

Can business save the world from climate change?

September 5, 2017 by  
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A growing number of initiatives are giving corporations the resources to help achieve global climate goals regardless of government support.

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Can business save the world from climate change?

Brazilian federal judge blocks move to destroy huge swath of Amazon forest

September 4, 2017 by  
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Brazilian president Michel Temer recently attempted to open up a national reserve to mining companies, but a federal judge put a stop to that plan. The National Reserve of Copper and Associates, or Renca, is a 17,760-square-mile area of the Amazon forest that’s been protected since 1984, and Temer’s move was met with outcry from activists. But with the decision of judge Rolando Valcir Spanholo, the president’s bid won’t move forward – at least for now. Campaigners and activists criticized Temer’s recent endeavor to dissolve the national reserve; one opposition lawmaker said it was the “biggest attack on the Amazon of the last 50 years.” Now a federal judge approved an injunction requested by public prosecutors. Spanholo says Temer went beyond his authority when he issued the decree to abolish the protected area. He said only the country’s Congress can dissolve Renca. Related: Colombian town turns down $35B gold mine – prefers a clean environment Renca is thought to possess gold, manganese, copper, nickel, tantalum, and iron ore – and The Guardian said the judge’s decision may only offer a temporary respite for the forest. The attorney general appealed the decision. But the injunction could help put pressure on Temer, who has been criticized more than once for prioritizing economic interests above the environment . Temer withdrew his original decree. He then re-issued it including clarification on safeguards for conservation areas and indigenous territory. But environmental activists said the decree would still open up 30 percent of the region to mining companies, and was simply a marketing ploy. The New York Times described Temer as an unpopular leader who has reduced protections for the environment and cut back on the budgets for agencies that fight illegal deforestation and implement environmental laws. He’s also slashed the budget of the agency that guards indigenous communities’ rights. Via The Guardian Images via Rafael Vianna Croffi on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

July 21, 2017 by  
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Scientists have been stumped for years over why the southern Amazon rainforest ‘s rainy season begins two to three months earlier than they’d expect. But now an international team that includes researchers from NASA and Google has discovered the forest actually triggers its own rainy season, thanks to water vapor off plant leaves. The finding points to one disastrous consequence of deforestation in this part of the world: as trees are cut down, it appears there’s actually less rainfall. Monsoon winds and the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which NASA describes as a belt of converging trade winds that shifts depending on the seasons, control when the rainy season begins in many tropical locations, and the southern Amazon experiences both factors. But they don’t kick in until December or January, while the southern Amazon’s rainy season typically begins in the middle of October. Related: Scientists warn Amazon jungle faces “death spiral” To try and find out why, the team of scientists led by Jonathon Wright of Tsinghua University scrutinized data on water vapor from NASA’s Tropospheric Emission Spectrometer, aboard the agency’s Aura satellite , together with other satellite measurements, to discover clouds in the southern Amazon at the dry season’s close form via water rising from the rainforest. But the southern Amazon’s rainy season already begins nearly a month later than it did back in the 1970’s. Evidence indicates if the region’s dry season stretches longer than five to seven months, there won’t be enough rain for the rainforest to remain a rainforest – it could transition to grassy plains. But the dry season is already a few weeks shorter on average than that benchmark in parts of the southern Amazon. The new study, published by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , bolsters the idea that deforestation is partly to blame for the delayed start of the rainy season. The rainforest’s capacity to develop clouds dwindles as trees are chopped down. And if deforestation harms the forest to the point where it can’t trigger its own rainy season, the southern Amazon’s rainy season likely wouldn’t commence until December or January. Such changes could have far-reaching impacts. According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, “The loss of a major Amazonian forest ecosystem could increase Brazilian droughts and potentially disrupt rainfall patterns as far away as Texas.” Via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory Images via Center for International Forestry Research and Jay on Flickr

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Scientists discover the Amazon forest sets off its own rainy season

Episode 84: China’s clean tech assent and that Salesforce tower

July 14, 2017 by  
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In this week’s episode: Michelin, GM halt deforestation; a G20-approved guide to disclosure; and the troubling new math on carbon reduction.

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Episode 84: China’s clean tech assent and that Salesforce tower

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