Help innovators save our oldest champion trees

Archangel-Ancient-Tree-Archive 1The world has lost over 90 percent of its old growth forests. And we’ve lost 95 percent of our magnificent redwoods. Those that remain are threatened by logging and climate change-related insect epidemics.

While a number of organizations and NGOs are working on reforestation projects around the globe, one group has been striving to save the remaining “champion” ancient trees and their genetics for future generations to appreciate.

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New book shows Humans and Nature are interdependent

What Has Nature Ever Done for Us coverHumans need Nature to survive and thrive. Too often we treat Nature as a commodity, exploiting, polluting and destroying it in our unfailing drive towards “progress”.

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Upcycling the Plastic Gyres to create fuel

The Upcycle the Gyres Society wants to collect and convert ocean plastic into usable fuel

Over the past three years, I’ve written about the plastic debris or plastic gyres, in our world’s oceans.   The latest news is that the gyres are growing larger, making the need to find solutions to clean them up even more critical.

The Upcycle the Gyres Society is a new, not-for-profit that plans to upcycle floating ocean plastic debris into diesel, gasoline, and kerosene.

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SolarReserve brings sun and salt together to light up Las Vegas

Much has been written about the anticipated large solar array in the Mojave Desert, and the unexpected problems posed by the native population of endangered desert tortoise, the official reptile of the state of California.

While that is still being sorted out, SolarReserve, a Santa Monica-based company, is working on a different type of solar project.

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Water Could Sequester CO2 – if We Let It Be

A new study shows that deep underground water reservoirs have been safely storing carbon dioxide for millions of years and could possibly help slow climate change.

This kind of carbon capture and storage would be possible should scientists be able to locate ancient deep water systems thousands of meters underground, said Chris Ballentine, a University of Manchester researcher  who worked on the study.

“We want to bury carbon dioxide in the ground, that is a no-brainer,” Ballentine said. “The big question is when we put carbon dioxide into the ground, how safe is it?”

Carbon capture – seen by many around the globe as a key in the fight against global warming – could potentially keep up to one third of all GHG emissions out of the atmosphere.

This technology is, however, commercially untried and expensive, around $1 billion Euros per power plant.

Ballentine and his team analyzed how CO2 dissolved in water and how it reacted to rocks at nine natural gas fields in North America, China and Europe filled with the greenhouse gas thousands or millions of years ago following volcanic eruptions.

The researchers discovered that underground water was a major carbon sink in these fields and had been for millions of years.

Their findings, published in the journal Nature, found that most rocks do not store CO2 and that water is instead the perfect storage system.

“Our study clearly shows that carbon dioxide has been stored naturally and safely in underground water in these fields,” noted Stuart Gilfillan, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, who worked on the study.

This study reveals a larger issue – that of the developing water shortage around the globe. With so many countries seeking deeper acquifers to meet their growing population demands for water, how will we balance this against these same acquifers’ potential for GHG storage?

And perhaps an even more important question is: can we really self-manage in a way that maintains this balance?

Historically, we don’t have a very good track record for doing so. Quite the opposite in fact. The real question may be can our leaders wade through all the issues and come up with a solution that doesn’t rob Peter to pay Paul?

Gore – Stand up or Sit down?

Nobel Laureate and Environmental Activist Al Gore today called on young people to practice civil disobedience to help stop the construction of coal plants.

“We have reached the stage where it is time for civil disobedience to prevent the construction of new coal plants that do not have carbon capture and sequestration,” he said.

“For a carbon company to spend money convincing the stock-buying public that the risk from the global climate crisis is not that great,” he said, “represents a form of stock fraud.”

Currently 28 coal plants are under construction in the U.S, while another 20 have permits to begin building.

None of these have plans for carbon sequestration. The reason? It would add another 50% to their up-front costs.

Perhaps it’s simply more expedient to promote this “clean energy alternative” rather than spend stockholders money unnecessarily. Climate change isn’t their problem, is it?

Wonder what the young people have to say about that.