Switch to Renewable Energy

Storm Coming (NASA)

GR–Ode to concerned scientists: They see the danger, they blow the horns and clang the bells, and they wait. But the ramparts remain empty. They turn to their family and friends, but dreamlike their voices are too soft and none respond.

“Fifteen thousand scientists have issued a dire warning to humanity about impending collapse but virtually no-one takes notice. Ultimately, our global systems, which are designed for perpetual growth, need to be fundamentally restructured to avoid the worst-case outcome.

“For a moment, the most important news in the entire world flashed across the media like a shooting star in the night sky. Then it was gone. In November, over fifteen thousand scientists from 184 countries issued a dire warning to humanity. Because of our overconsumption of the world’s resources, they declared, we are facing “widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss.” They warned that time is running out: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.”

“This is not the first such notice. Twenty-five years ago, in 1992, 1,700 scientists (including the majority of living Nobel laureates) sent a similarly worded warning to governmental leaders around the world. In ringing tones, they called for a recognition of the earth’s fragility and a new ethic arising from the realization that “we all have but one lifeboat.”

“This second warning contains a series of charts showing how utterly the world’s leaders ignored what they were told twenty-five years earlier. Whether it’s CO2 emissions, temperature change, ocean dead zones, freshwater resources, vertebrate species, or total forest cover, the grim charts virtually all point in the same dismal direction, indicating continued momentum toward doomsday. The chart for marine catch shows something even scarier: in 1996, the catch peaked at 130 million tonnes and in spite of massively increased industrial fishing, it’s been declining ever since—a harbinger of the kind of overshoot that unsustainable exploitation threatens across the board.” –Jeremy Lent (What Will It Really Take to Avoid Collapse?).

How Many of You Switched to Renewable Energy?

In recent posts, I described the warnings of impending disaster. I didn’t expect to have an impact, and I wasn’t wrong. As Jeremy Lint points out in the article above, the media avoidance of unappetizing topics is too complete. And of course, our leaders in power avoid the subject in their subservience to wealth. My first hint that good advice for avoiding collapse would be futile was the minimal response to my discovery of the simple and inexpensive means for everyone to switch their homes from fossil fuel energy to renewable energy. Like Pangloss, I’ve remained hopeful. But I read that book, and now I’ve turned to a more practical concern; the post-anthropocene survivors, the weeds, have absorbed my attention. Today’s weed is Shepherdspurse, a foreign but familiar little mustard that feeds butterflies and yields medicines for us humans.

Brazil halves environment budget amid rising Amazon deforestation | Climate Home – climate change news

GR: Of today’s 12 lead stories in my climate newsletter, The Atmosphere News, 3 stories were either optimistic or neutral and 9 were pessimistic or bad. The ‘bad’ story below is worth noting because of the years of back-and-forth over Amazon rainforest protection. I think it illustrates what happens to nature when human problems arise. Nature may “bat last,” but it gets that last-word only after a long string of strikeouts.

Environmental budget cuts come as pressure to convert the rainforest into pasture is intensifying (Photo: Neil Palmer/CIAT)

In a bid to contain a growing budget deficit, the government has slashed the funding to enforce forest protection laws

“The Brazilian government is cutting its environment ministry budget by 51% as part of a bid to limit the country’s spiralling deficit.

“The cuts come as deforestation rates are rising, driven by demand for timber, soy and beef. The Amazon region saw a 29% increase in forest clearance last year, according to preliminary data from Brazil’s National Space Research Institute.

“It is an even steeper drop in spending than the 31% Donald Trump’s administration is proposing for the US Environmental Protection Agency.

“The environment ministry oversees the agency responsible for enforcing laws to protect the forest. Sharp spending cuts risk weakening its capacity to carry out inspections, warned NGO Observatorio do Clima.

“Other ministries hit by the austerity drive include transport, tourism and planning, budget and management. Certain programmes have been protected under the government’s “growth acceleration programme”.

“The move comes among reports that Brazilian government environment and land policy is being swayed by a dominant pro-beef caucus.” –Megan Darby (Continue: Brazil halves environment budget amid rising Amazon deforestation | Climate Home – climate change news.)

Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers

GR: Around the world, legal and illegal resource use is destroying wildlife habitat, eroding soils, and polluting water. Earth has been no match for humans, either those believing they are practicing sustainable harvest, or those just wanting wealth.

“KADEY, Cameroon, In an innovative push to combat illegal logging and the corruption that enables it, community volunteers in Cameroon are being trained to use smartphones to take geo-tagged images of freshly cut stumps and relay the information to the authorities.

“Under a partnership between the government and environmental groups, young people are using satellite-linked phones to document tree-cutting in areas where logging is not allowed.

“They can then upload the photos and make toll-free calls to report the suspicious activity, not just to the police and forest ministry, but also to the National Anti-Corruption Commission, said Bangya Dieudonne, a forestry and wildlife official in Kadey, in the country’s East Region.

“Getting these three institutions informed makes it difficult for forest exploitation criminals to bribe their way through,” he said.

“Training frontline forest defenders aims to reduce illegal deforestation, which is depriving the government of billions of CFA francs in income, hurting communities that make their living from the forest, and making the country more vulnerable to the effects of climate change, officials said.

“With corruption continuing to hamper forest management, new and stronger measures are needed, Dieudonne said.

“So far, more than 100 people have been trained as community “forest defenders” in the East Region and other areas where logging has been especially prevalent, officials said.” –The Local Africa News (More: Armed with smartphones, Cameroon forest defenders take on illegal loggers • The Local Africa News.)

We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years

GR:  Deforestation is a major cause of climate change and of biodiversity decline, extinction of amphibians, arthropods, birds, mammals, and reptiles. Economists and agritechnologists talk of reversing it now, but even in the U. S., forest harvest continues. In poorer countries, the immediate needs for cash and land for crops is not going to end with the advent of more productive crops and efficient farming methods. Such symptom treatments will not end deforestation. It will not stop until we reverse human population growth. Of course, reducing need isn’t the only problem, we might also have to control our greed, a much more difficult task.

Likouala-aux-Herbes river near in Congo-Brazzaville. The Congo Basin is the world’s second largest tropical forest. Photograph: Hope Productions/Yann Arthus Bertrand / Getty Images

“If you want to see the world’s climate changing, fly over a tropical country. Thirty years ago, a wide belt of rainforest circled the earth, covering much of Latin America, south-east Asia and Africa. Today, it is being rapidly replaced by great swathes of palm oil trees and rubber plantations, land cleared for cattle grazing, soya farming, expanding cities, dams and logging.

Rainforests are home to more than half of the world’s animals. Photograph: Getty Images

“People have been deforesting the tropics for thousands of years for timber and farming, but now, nothing less than the physical transformation of the Earth is taking place. Every year about 18m hectares of forest – an area the size of England and Wales – is felled. In just 40 years, possibly 1bn hectares, the equivalent of Europe, has gone. Half the world’s rainforests have been razed in a century, and the latest satellite analysis shows that in the last 15 years new hotspots have emerged from Cambodia to Liberia. At current rates, they will vanish altogether in 100 years.

About 12% of all man-made climate emissions now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas

A logging mill in the Amazon Basin, Peru. Photograph: Jason Edwards/Getty Images/National Geographic Magazines

“As fast as the trees go, the chance of slowing or reversing climate change becomes slimmer. Tropical deforestation causes carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, to linger in the atmosphere and trap solar radiation. This raises temperatures and leads to climate change: deforestation in Latin America, Asia and Africa can affect rainfall and weather everywhere from the US Midwest, to Europe and China.

“The consensus of the world’s atmospheric scientists is that about 12% of all man-made climate emissions – nearly as much as the world’s 1.2bn cars and lorries – now comes from deforestation, mostly in tropical areas. Conserving forests is critical; the carbon locked up in Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 150m hectares of forests are nearly three times the world’s global annual emissions.” –John Vidal (Continue reading:  We are destroying rainforests so quickly they may be gone in 100 years | John Vidal | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian.)