Tag Archives: Copenhagen

Some thoughts and links

Hello,

Not that you’re not already busy enough, but I’ve been reading some really interesting things lately that I think are both important and enriching. No obligation to read any of these things, but in case you have an interest in expanding your environmental repertoire, read on.

Most importantly: the climate talks at Copenhagen are less than a month away. This is SO important for the future of climate legislation and the health of the globe. I found this great site, called Hopenhagen, to educate about the conference and provide a few ways to take action to ensure that the US is posed to take the strongest possible stance against climate change.

Next, I loved what Majora Carter, founder of Sustainable South Bronx, had to say about climate change in this Grist Video. She called it an “extension of the civil rights movement.” How captivating.

For those already involved: What do you think about Adam Sacks’ article “We have met the deniers and they are us” Very provocative, infuriating, and most of all, scary.

I wrote to my ecology professor about this, and his answer was important, I think.

The article is largely because he finds it necessary to attack the small efforts people are making on climate change, while not really knowing the immense work being done worldwide to address it.  He is no doubt getting the attention he is seeking, but he is not helping us move forward in my opinion.  Driving his readers to guilt and frustration—which is what I believe his article does—is not a very effective way to intensify the needed response.

My immediate reaction was to call up on Google: “Global Warming: The Complete Briefing” — a book now in its 4th edition, by my friend and colleague John T. Houghton.  I suggest you do the same… Even checking out its description on Amazon.com (which will come up on Google) and looking over the reviews will remove most, and likely all of your frustration.

So, even though there is more that can be done, these negative words are not supporting or motivating, and therefore are not useful. (In my opinion, although I’d love to hear your thoughts.)

Finally, another thing on the mind is meat. It’s hard to think of the holidays without bringing images to mind of large family feasts. I was disappointed at Thanksgiving time, however, about the lack of conversation surrounding sustainable, local and organically-raised meats, instead of the supermarket, industrial variety. I think this season would be a great time to support a local farmer and take the time and few extra bucks to buy some of his or her meat for the holidays. What do you think? Here’s a list of some CSAs in the midwest that can get some of you started with this, called the Land Stewardship Project. (and here’s a national one)

Alright, I think that’s enough for now. I would love (and have wanted) to write more, but my school schedule has been very rigorous and exhausting lately! I had a great time celebrating thanksgiving with my family and friends and now the post-thanksgiving battle til winter break begins! (Hence, getting up at 5 to write a paper!)

Anyway, I hope all is well and sorry for being so intermittent.

Love,

Jenny

Also, I recently rediscovered my first video project ever. Although I’m not so sure remembering to turn off the lights will cut it anymore, this is definitely still fun to look back on!

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Deforestation and you

I just had a really interesting lecture in my “Global Warming Debate” class about deforestation.

My studies have always been much more closely aligned with the social aspects of environmentalism, but I have enjoyed the scientific perspective presented in this class and others this semester. As I have said many times before, I am continually surprised when I learn yet ANOTHER way to be involved with climate change mitigation efforts, so I thought I’d share this one with you. If food or sustainable agriculture isn’t your thing, maybe deforestation prevention will be.

Today, we had a guest lecturer, Lisa Naughton, who spoke to us about the underestimated impacts of deforestation, programs that are being implemented to combat it, and the surrounding debate. I wanted to present some of her ideas that were presented today because I think they’re important and were well-articulated.

We learned that deforestation accounts for 20-25% of annual Greenhouse Gas Emissions (more than natural gas…!!!) and that the deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia alone (two big tropical forest nations) roughly equals the amount of greenhouse gasses as ALL transportation emissions from one year. WOW. (More stats can be learned here, or a simple google search will help as well.)

Forest clearing has a big impact on greenhouse gas emissions due to the forests’ ability to absorb and store carbon (depending on the type of forest). So, when these natural carbon stores are eliminated, all this carbon is released into the atmosphere. Because of this, keeping these forests around has large implications for climate change prevention, not to mention that by keeping them we will also maintain biodiversity, prevent increased land use for industrial agriculture, maintain many cultural sites and artifacts, regulate regional rainfall, and improve water quality (and more).

Currently reforestation and restoration projects are the only methods that are approved by Kyoto to try to combat this issue. While this is helpful, efforts to reduce deforestation are not currently approved because it is harder to quantify and create tangible evidence on the results, despite the obvious benefits of such efforts (remember, the carbon storage).

Anyway, we were introduced to the concept of REDD: Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, which is an initiative gaining support in the name of deforestation prevention. In the upcoming Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, various advocates will support “REDD Readiness” and adding deforestation prevention to become a main focus of our environmental efforts as a “simple” way to reduce overall global emissions. For example, Norway, in it’s efforts to become the first carbon neutral country, has paid $1 BILLION to keep some rain forests around (I forget where). Effectively, we’re paying these nations not to utilize these natural resources for economic gain (or, for companies like Coca Cola to come in to grow citrus for Minute Maid juice as it proposed to do in Brazil).

BUT of course keeping the forests doesn’t fix everything.

Some critiques of this line of thought are:

1. It enables Americans to continue their polluting lifestyles and uses forests in faraway lands to further remove their concerns for combating climate change because something is “being done.” In other words, it reduces incentives to lower fossil fuel use.

2. Prevents potential economic stimulus of rain forest nations who may gain jobs from companies that come in to old forest lands, not to mention the rights of pre-standing local resource users.

3. The deforestation could just be displaced elsewhere, and it’s hard to track if that does happen.

4. What if a hurricane comes and wipes out the forest? Then the wood breaks down and all the carbon is released anyway.

5. Also, although the carbon storage is substantial, when compared to the emissions of industrial countries, it’s negligible.

So, while there are downsides to REDD, there are also many benefits, as long as the initiatives are well-planned with local residents and, importantly, as long as it is not viewed as a fix for climate change.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this because I never understood the basics and implications of deforestation and now I feel that I have a better handle on it thanks to Naughton.

Any campers/hikers/biodiversity lovers out there? Maybe deforestation is the “issue” for you!

-Jenny

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