Categorys
Pages
Linkpartner


    Page 11234..1020..»



    LETTER: The clear-cutting of a forest that stabilized the hillside endangers us all – The B-Town Blog - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    [EDITORS NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a verified resident. It does not necessarily reflect the opinions of The B-Town Blog, nor its staff:]

    There have been several letters to The B-Town Blog recently expressing outrage at the tree removal in Burien (on SW 156th near Three Tree Point). I would like to add my thoughts.

    For those of us who live in Burien, any tree removal has special concerns. The clear-cutting of a forest that stabilized the hillside endangers us all. Is there a plan for drainage when we get deluged? This is a potential catastrophe; flooding and slides.

    As a resident to the south of the property, I saw no visible sign posted that would have allowed public comment before this damage. It is my understanding that this is a City requirement prior to any tree removal.

    Quoted from the Citys Trees, Urban Forrest Management:

    All significant trees on an undeveloped lot shall be retained. Tree removal or land clearing on an undeveloped lot for the purpose of future development is prohibited unless a land use permit is approved by the City. (19.25.120)

    Was such a plan submitted and approved by the City?

    There is not only the danger in the removal of Significant Trees, there is also the environmental factor that needs weighing in; tree value. The clean air we breathe, the canopy for shade in summer, and as a habitat for wildlife. These are critical for our quality of life. We, as a city, must adhere to a strict environmental impact plan. Do we?

    I believe most of the people who live in Burien were drawn to the area by forested beauty, shelter, and the wildlife that brings the magic. We need forested areas. Plant Trees

    The City Council must give serious thought to the impact that the clearcutting has on the environment and on the people who live in Burien and mitigate/enforce future slides/flooding in the area.

    Plant Trees

    Sincerely,Susan & Dave Woltz

    EDITORS NOTE: Do you have something youd like to share with our highly engaged local Readers? If so, please email your Letter to the Editor to [emailprotected] and, pending review andverification that youre a real human being, we may publish it. Letter writers must use their full names and cite sources as well as provide an address and phone number (NOT for publication but for verification purposes).

    Continued here:
    LETTER: The clear-cutting of a forest that stabilized the hillside endangers us all - The B-Town Blog

    Papua tribe moves to block clearing of its ancestral forest for palm oil – Mongabay.com - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    JAKARTA Indigenous people in Indonesias easternmost Papua province are protesting against a company thats preparing to raze their ancestral forest for a plantation megaproject plagued by allegations of irregularities and wrongdoing.

    Members of the Auyu tribe are demanding the government freeze the operations of PT Indo Asiana Lestari (IAL), whose 39,190-hectare (96,840-acre) concession forms one chunk of the larger Tanah Merah project that has been fought over by competing groups of investors over the past decade.

    If developed in full, the Tanah Merah project would result in the clearance of 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) of the third-largest stretch of rainforest on the planet, to be replaced with several contiguous oil palm estates run by various companies some of which are owned by unknown investors hiding behind anonymously held firms in the Middle East.

    Palm oil, used in everything from snack foods and cosmetics to biofuels, is one of Indonesias leading export commodities. But its production is associated with a range of problems, from climate change and wildfires to labor rights abuses and land grabbing.

    Besides problems with corporate secrecy, the Tanah Merah project has also highlighted the often chaotic licensing processes underpinning the industry. Some of the permits for the project were signed by a politician who was serving out a prison sentence for corruption. Others were allegedly falsified, with a signature of a high-ranking official said to have been forged on key documents.

    While the identities of some of the investors with a stake in the project remain unclear, data from Indonesias corporate registry shows that IAL is 95%-owned by Mandala Resources, a shell company registered in Kota Kinabalu, a city in Malaysian Borneo.

    The rest of the company is owned by PT Rimbunan Hijau Plantations Indonesia, which in turn is owned by a businessman from Indonesias South Sulawesi province, Muhammad Yakub Abbas, who is also IALs director.

    While IAL has yet to start clearing land, it recently informed local communities it would begin building supporting infrastructure for the project, with villagers catching sight of heavy equipment on site.

    In a phone interview, Egedius Pius Suam, a leader of the Auyu tribe, said the villagers were alarmed by the presence of the heavy equipment, as the tribe hadnt given its consent for the project.

    The company, he added, had yet to demonstrate it had obtained the required permits.

    Thats why were demanding the government and the local council to summon the company and check their permits, Egedius said. If they cant find clear permits, then Im asking for sanctions [to be applied] and for the company to leave.

    According to Frengky Hendrikus Woro, another member of the Auyu tribe, the problems with IAL began when it started approaching local communities in 2017.

    The process was led by Fabianus Senfahagi, at the time the head of a local Indigenous peoples association. Fabianus had played a role in shepherding earlier investors in the Tanah Merah project, but by 2017 he appeared to be working on behalf of IAL. Pictures posted to Facebook in mid-2016 appear to show Fabianus and Yakub, the IAL director, in Boven Digoel together.

    Frengky said that Fabianus had secured signatures from communities apparently expressing support for the project through a combination of coercion and manipulation. He said the signers did not understand what they were consenting to.

    During a meeting attended by Frengky on Aug. 19, 2017, in Ampera village, Fabianus explained to the Auyu people that the company would set aside a part of its concession for the tribe, and that locals would receive monthly payments and enjoy access to clean water and proper housing.

    According to Frengky, most community members opposed the company because they didnt want to surrender their ancestral lands and forests. During the meeting, however, they felt pressured into signing the letter, due in part to the presence of nine police officers.

    Its a pity that there are people who agree [to sign the letter] because they didnt understand, Frengky said. Many of us who live in the villages still cant read or write so in my view the company tricked them.

    Fabianus, Yakub and IAL did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

    Local activists opposing the project have received a series of threats Pusaka, an Indonesian NGO supporting Indigenous peoples rights, in November.

    Egedius himself has reported receiving death threats over his resistance to IALs plans. Now, he says, the companys presence has divided the Auyu, with some people continuing to oppose the company and others supporting it.

    Such social malaise is common in Indigenous communities where plantation firms have gained a foothold in Indonesia, research has shown.

    Before the company came, we lived a peaceful life, Egedius said. But because of its presence in our ancestral territory, we have become enemies with our own brothers and sisters.

    Though IAL has yet to start knocking down the forest, the communitys recent protests were provoked by the companys announcement that it was ready to build log ponds, which serve to store logs before they can be processed at a sawmill. Egedius characterized the log ponds as an entry point for deforestation to begin.

    In September, some 50 Auyu gathered in protest in front of government offices in Boven Digoel district, where the Tanah Merah project is located. Clad in traditional dress, they sang and danced, and held up banners demanding the government respect their rights over their tribal lands.

    [Were asking the] Boven Digoel district head and the legislative council to stop and check the activity and the permits of PT Indo Asiana Lestari, the Auyu people said in a letter submitted to the government.

    The letter accused IAL of failing to obtain the required permits and get approval from the Auyu tribe for its operations.

    IAL has already obtained a location permit, among the first in a series of approvals that plantation companies need in order to operate legally, according to Djukmarian, the head of the Boven Digoel investment agency.

    The next step is for the provincial government to approve an environmental impact assessment produced by the company. After that, the district government must sign off on an environmental permit.

    Despite the recent passage of a sweeping deregulation law that overhauls the permit process for development projects, making it unnecessary in some cases to carry out the environmental impact assessment, Djukmarian said IAL would still have to do one. That process, he said, was ongoing.

    Im now waiting for recommendation [for the environmental permit] from the provincial [government], Djukmarian said by phone.

    Responding to the Auyu peoples demand for the local government to review the companys permits, Djukmarian said the agency had been evaluating the permits of companies operating in Boven Digoel, including IAL, since mid-2017.

    A permit review is one of the key components of Jakartas freeze on new permits for oil palm plantations. President Joko Widodo signed the policy in 2018 as part of an effort to improve governance and sustainability in the countrys palm oil sector.

    A 2019 government audit found that 81% of Indonesias oil palm plantations are in breach of a range of regulations, including by not holding the required permits and encroaching into areas designated as protected.

    The moratorium policy also requires government agencies to review existing oil palm concessions for any irregularities. A similar initiative in the mining sector, concluded several years ago, resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of mining concessions. No oil palm licenses have been revoked under the current initiative, which expires this year.

    Environmentalists say the permit review is especially important to be carried out in Papua as many plantation companies are already eyeing the region as the next frontier for oil palm and logging industries after much of the rainforests of Sumatra and Borneo had been cleared to make way for plantations.

    According to data from environmental NGO Madani, in 2015, there were only five plantation permits in the region of Papua, which consists of Papua and West Papua provinces. In 2017, there were 114.

    Much of the areas earmarked for plantations are still forested. Madani data show there were still 1.7 million hectares (4.2 million acres) of rainforests within existing oil palm concessions in the Papua region that have yet to be torn down. Revoking the permits could prevent the forests from being cleared.

    Banner image: Auyu Indigenous peoples gather in protest in front of government offices in Boven Digoel district, Papua, Indonesia, where the Tanah Merah project is located. Image courtesy of Pusaka.

    See the original post here:
    Papua tribe moves to block clearing of its ancestral forest for palm oil - Mongabay.com

    D.H. Smith and Sons opens headquarters in Marshfield – Wicked Local - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Community Content| Wicked Local

    D.H. Smith and Sons, a company that provides wood waste cycling, land clearing, mulch manufacturing, power equipment and retail landscape supplies and serves both the wholesale and retail markets, has further expanded its operations with the relocation of its headquarters to 887 Plain St., Route 139, Marshfield.

    Dan Smith Jr., who founded the company in 1997, said that the Marshfield location, the site of the former Copeland Lumber Company on Route 139, seemed the perfect solution for their needs when it became clear that they had outgrown the space at their Pembroke location. They first used the site for several years to manufacture mulch and then made the decision to build their new company headquarters there.

    Smith and his team oversaw the design and construction of two buildings totaling 25,000 square feet, sited on the 16 acre parcel of land. In the last few years, the company has expanded its offerings and now provides services to both the wholesale and retail markets.

    One of the companys endeavors is its wood waste recycling, which began in 2015 but has expanded in the last year. D.H. Smith and Sons takes in stumps, logs, brush, wood chips and other material from the forest, from contractors, and then processes the materials through grinding, seasoning and color enhancing. Some of the logs which are brought in are sold to saw mills. The wood chips and grindings are made into premium mulch products, loam and wood chips. D.H. Smith and Sons has the onsite equipment to process all of the wood products right at their Marshfield location. Smith sees their location as ideal for contractors, landscapers and residential tree service companies who are in need of a convenient location to dispose of and recycle their wood waste and compost.

    In addition to taking in materials from contractors, the company also offers full land clearing and forestry services.

    While the initial focus of D.H. Smith and Sons was the wholesale market, the company has added a retail component to their business with its power equipment sales and service division. The company is a full-service Husqvarna Power and Construction Equipment Dealer and Service Center. Additionally, D.H. Smith and Sons sells firewood and landscape supplies to the public.

    We continue to look for additional ways to serve the public, said Smith. We have always done a brisk business with our wood waste recycling, and its great to see these products repurposed to their highest and best uses. As we have expanded our work with contractors and wholesale customers, we have also seen the benefit of offering the products and services to the public. We are pleased to add this retail component to the services and products that we offer.

    Smith said that the company hopes to host an open house later this year.

    We look forward to inviting friends, neighbors, customers and the community to come and see our operation, said Smith. We are proud of how it has turned out and are eager to show it off!

    See more here:
    D.H. Smith and Sons opens headquarters in Marshfield - Wicked Local

    Public warned against igniting forest fires – The Phnom Penh Post - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Authorities prepare to put out a fire in a forest in Mondulkiri province. Wildlife Alliance Cambodia

    The public has been urged to stop using fires to collect bees, catch animals or clear land in forests.

    In a letter dated January 20, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said burning grasses and other unsanctioned activities like harvesting forests or clearing them for agriculture or settlements increase risks of wildfires which endangers communities, especially during the dry season.

    The ministry notes that forest fires every year result in major losses of forest resources and mangroves and spread to rice paddies and villages. They cause environmental destruction which also damages rural economies and the national economy and wastes natural resources, it said.

    The ministry has demanded the cessation of logging, clearing and burning in forests and mangroves to exploit land for crops or for other purposes.

    Agriculture departments throughout the country are authorised to take legal action against anyone found burning mangrove or forest land or settling on burned lands in contravention of the law.

    Oddar Meanchey provincial agriculture department director Soth Sisokheang noted that people had traditionally burnt rice stubble after harvest every year. But this year, burning activities had declined significantly after people had learnt that burning the stubble was not as productive as ploughing it into the soil.

    After being instructed, some farmers have stopped burning rice stubble and instead plough it under the soil. It proves beneficial as it becomes fertilizer, he said.

    Sisokheang explained that most forest fires were not caused by farmers but by people who endeavoured to burn the forests to exploit the cleared land. The participation of all stakeholders is needed to ensure the work of protecting these lands is carried out strictly and efficiently, he said.

    Concerning the forest burning, more participation and collaboration are needed. I cannot do it alone, he said.

    Sisokheang added that arresting arsonists is difficult. When fires start, specialists are immediately deployed to extinguish them, but perpetrators will have already escaped.

    Koh Kong provincial agriculture department director E Meng Leang said the problems of forest fires in the province were often small scale, making it easier to intervene and extinguish them. The public had also responded cooperatively after specialists had done so and instructed them to protect the environment.

    In general, specialists must follow people bee-collectors, vine-collectors, resin-harvesters and others into the forest to ensure that they will be careful. The dry season is so dry that a wild fire can be started by a cigarette butt thrown or from fires used to collect bees. We must be careful. We need to instruct people on site in the forest, he said.

    According to forestry and fishery laws, the public, armed forces and authorities at all levels are obliged to maintain and protect forests and prevent fires. All residents are responsible for protecting the habitats of animals and fish and preserving natural environments in their respective localities.

    Under the law, anyone who intentionally causes a fire in a forest or mangrove is punishable by a prison term of three to five years or five to 10 years, respectively.

    Here is the original post:
    Public warned against igniting forest fires - The Phnom Penh Post

    Forests still major carbon store for now, but threats growing: Study – The Straits Times - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The world's forests are still soaking up billions of tonnes of planet-warming carbon dioxide (CO2) every year, a global study has found, despite millions of hectares being burned and cleared for agriculture.

    The findings show that forests remain a key brake on the pace of climate change by locking away large amounts of CO2 from industry, power stations and cars even after decades of destruction.

    But the analysis shows that some forests, especially in South-east Asia and the Amazon, are in trouble, becoming major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Unless land clearing and fires are rapidly reined in, global efforts to fight climate change could be undermined, scientists say.

    The study, published in the Nature Climate Change journal, involved researchers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the Centre for International Forestry Research and others.

    To get a better idea of the role of forests in regulating global CO2 emissions, they came up with a method of calculating how much of the gas forests soak up naturally every year and how much of it is produced through deforestation, fires, draining of peatlands and so on.

    They found that the world's forests sequestered about twice as much CO2 as they emitted between 2001 and 2019. This "carbon sink" totalled a net 7.6 billion tonnes a year, 1.5 times more than the United States emits annually.

    In all, forests absorbed about 16 billion tonnes of CO2, or about 30 per cent of mankind's greenhouse gas emissions.

    But deforestation, burning and other damage released more than 8 billion tonnes of emissions a year, the researchers found.

    "Over the past 20 years, forests across South-east Asia have collectively become a net source of carbon emissions due to clearing for plantations, uncontrolled fires and drainage of peat soils," co-authors Nancy Harris and David Gibbs of WRI said in a blog post.

    The region has the world's third-largest stretch of tropical rainforest, yet these now emit a net 490 million tonnes of CO2 a year.

    For the Amazon too, the picture is grim. "The Amazon River basin, which stretches across nine countries in South America, is still a net carbon sink, but teeters on the edge of becoming a net source if forest loss continues at current rates," Dr Harris and Mr Gibbs said.

    Over the past four years, clearing for cattle pasture and degradation from fires have caused a big jump in deforestation and degradation in the Amazon basin.

    According to the study, the Amazon now locks away a net 100 million tonnes of CO2, or roughly twice Singapore's annual CO2 emissions, but is also a huge source of emissions. Of the world's three largest tropical rainforests, only the Congo Basin in Africa remains a strong net carbon sink, sequestering 600 million tonnes more CO2 a year than it emits.

    "Protecting the remaining forests in all three regions is critical to mitigating climate change," Dr Harris and Mr Gibbs said.

    Excerpt from:
    Forests still major carbon store for now, but threats growing: Study - The Straits Times

    D.H. Smith & Sons relocates to 887 Plain Street, Marshfield; new headquarters has 25,000 square foot of buildings, and 16 acres to accommodate… - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Published on January 22, 2021

    MARSHFIELD, MA:D.H. Smith & Sons (http://dhsmithandsons.com), a company which provides wood waste recycling, land clearing, mulch manufacturing, power equipment and retail landscape supplies, has further expanded its operations with the relocation of its headquarters to 887 Plain Street, Route 139, Marshfield.

    Dan Smith Jr., who founded the company in 1997, said that the Marshfield location, the site of the former Copeland Lumber Company on Route 139, seemed the perfect solution for their needs when it became clear that they had outgrown the space at their Pembroke location. They first used the site for several years to manufacture mulch and then made the decision to build their new company headquarters there as well.

    Smith and his team oversaw the design and construction of two buildings totaling 25,000 square feet, situated on the 16-acre parcel of land. In the last few years, the company has greatly expanded its offerings and now provides services to both the wholesale and retail markets.

    One of the companys signature endeavors is its wood waste recycling, which began in 2015 but has greatly expanded in the last year. The company takes in stumps, logs, brush, woodchips, and other organic material from contractors, and then processes the materials through grinding, seasoning and color enhancing. Some of the logs which are brought in are sold to sawmills; the wood chips and grindings are made into premium mulch products and screened for loam. D. H. Smith & Sons has the onsite equipment to process all of the wood products right at their Marshfield location. Dan sees their location as ideal for contractors, landscapers, and residential tree service companies who are in need of a convenient location to dispose of and recycle their wood waste and compost.

    In addition to taking in materials from contractors, the company also offers full land clearing and forestry services.

    While the initial focus of D.H. Smith & Sons was the wholesale market, the company has added a retail component to their business with its power equipment sales and service division. The company is a full-service Husqvarna Power and Construction Equipment Dealer and Service Center. Additionally, the company sells firewood and landscape supplies to the public.

    We continue to look for additional ways to serve the public, said Smith, adding, We have always done a brisk business with our wood waste recycling, and its great to see these products repurposed to their highest and best uses. As we have expanded our work with contractors and wholesale customers, we have also seen the benefit of offering the products and services to the public. We are pleased to add this retail component to the services and products that we offer.

    The company plans to hold an open house later in the year, dependent on when COVID-19 restrictions make it feasible and safe to do so. Dan says, Were looking forward to inviting friends, neighbors, customers and the community to come and see our operation. We are proud of how it has turned out and are eager to show it off!

    More:
    D.H. Smith & Sons relocates to 887 Plain Street, Marshfield; new headquarters has 25,000 square foot of buildings, and 16 acres to accommodate...

    Clearing the air – The River Reporter - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    By ANNEMARIE SCHUETZ

    Amongst the general chaos of January news, there was a topic that didnt really make it to the top of the story pile: In the plague year of 2020, greenhouse gas emissions went down 10 percent.

    There are photos out there of clean water, empty streets and smogless skies. By September, air pollution in New York dropped 50 percent, according to Tanjena Rume in Heliyon. Cars and airplanes contribute 72 percent and 11 percent of the transportation sectors emissions respectively, and lockdowns pushed the use of both into a steep decline.

    And we arent in the office as much, meaning big buildings dont need to be heated or cooled.

    The sharp drop means we can start to think about the future. For decades now, theres been a push to reduce our production of greenhouse gases.

    Were following the framework created by Project Drawdown because its useful and understandable, and you can dig deeply or just skim the surface, depending on how much you want to know.

    Drawdown is the point when greenhouse gas emissions have climbed their highest and begin shifting downward. This is the point when we begin the process of stopping further climate change and averting potentially catastrophic warming, Project Drawdown writes. It is a critical turning point for life on Earth.

    Human activities, from burning heating oil to plowing soil to driving a car, release carbon dioxide into the air. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide have been steadily rising from approximately 315 ppm (parts per million) in 1959, states science journal Nature, to 409.8ppm in 2019, according to Climate.gov.

    Landfills, electric plants and growing rice all release methane. Nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases come from cities, refrigeration systems and farmland. All of them trap heat in the atmosphere.

    Processes like photosynthesis can trap carbon dioxide in the earth, in plants, or in the ocean. Creating more sinks for greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, is one of Project Drawdowns major efforts.

    But creating sinks isnt the whole focus of their efforts. You have to cope with greenhouse gases from all angles: managing the sources of the gas, reducing existing gas and dealing with the social conditions that result in countries adding to the problemand in countries who least add to the problem yet are most affected.

    Well focus on carbon dioxide, which accounted for 81 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions in 2018, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. (Methane constituted 10 percent, and nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases made up the rest.)

    Burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation produces the most carbon dioxide equivalents. That includes running power plants for electricity.

    Drawdown wants to bring emissions to zero. To get there, theyve targeted these areas:

    The goal is to shift production and enhance efficiency, Project Drawdown says. Their solutions outline the cutting edge of power production. Alternative sources of electricity range from biomass to ocean power to geothermal to wind power. And they include nuclear energy, acknowledging the complicated dynamics.

    Last year, River Reporter covered a hydropower project in Sullivan County, NY, currently in development, that can generate up to 45 percent of the countys electrical load.

    And in Wayne County, PA, SEEDS (Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support) is full of advice on solar energy, its cost and savings. Solar farms are springing up everywhere because we have the land and the will to use it. The Highlights Foundation is on a mission to reach either net-zero or net-positive energy usage at its Boyds Mills campus. Stourbridge Project in Honesdale, PA is going solaralso covered by River Reporter. Back in Sullivan County, the government building in Liberty, NY uses solar panels.

    Check out Cornell Cooperative Extension in New York and Penn State Extension in Pennsylvania for even more information.

    Agriculture is central to Wayne and Sullivan counties. People have farmed here for centuries, and traveling indigenous people found food growing (and running around) as they passed through.

    Even in 2020particularly in 2020farmers markets connected people with the farmers that grew their food, simplifying and localizing the food supply chain.

    Wayne Countys Food Relief Fund added local produce, along with instructions on how to cook it, to their food drive. Catskill Mountainkeeper has been exploring ways to make quality farm-grown food more available while ensuring that workers are treated equitably.

    And cooperative extensions in both states have plenty of information on agriculture, food and nutrition.

    On a global level, Project Drawdown looked at land use, exploring conservation agriculture and improving nutrients in the soil and in food. Plant-heavy diets are covered, as well as ways to reduce food waste: All topics that apply here.

    Its not really something we think about. Were rural. Industry seems far away. But to Project Drawdown, industry also encompasses recycling, composting, refrigerants, methane capture in landfills and more.

    County waste services in both Wayne and Sullivan recycle, and trash hauler Waste Management picks up recycling, too. (Here's more information on what people threw out in lockdown).

    Both counties have information online about solid waste disposal (www.bit.ly/waynewaste, http://www.bit.ly/sullivanwaste). You can also ask about how methane is being dealt with.

    Its one thing if you live in a place with public transport (never mind that its in upheaval due to the pandemic). Public transportation certainly reduces the number of cars on the road, whichremember the dramatic drop in greenhouse gas emissions in 2020makes a big difference.

    Here, while MOVE Sullivan is operating in the Liberty/Fallsburg/Monticello area, and the shopping bus is still running, that still leaves a lot of the county without a public transportation option yet. This is even more true of Wayne County, where the only public transportation is a van that offers limited transport for the elderly and non-drivers.

    Establishing buses is a complicated and expensive undertaking. This might be why Project Drawdown emphasizes bicycling, carpooling and teleworking (which relies on quality broadband, and both counties are working on that.)

    Granted, right now its winter and were focused on heating our homes. Come summer, well be trying to stay cool. Heat pumps are a significant solution. Proper insulation means that the heating and cooling bills go down.

    The materials we build with matter, too. Modern synthetics, including in furniture, burn much more quickly than hardwoods and plaster do, so you have less time to escape in a fire emergency. For example, fibreboard, a common synthetic, ignites after 50 seconds, according to the International Association of Fire and Rescue Services. They also contribute to health problems from asthma to heart conditions.

    Drawdown examines three kinds of greenhouse-gas sinks: land, water and engineered.

    Land sinks include soil and plants, which both store an enormous amount of carbon dioxide. To help them grow, we should try to reduce food waste and eat more plants, follow sustainable agricultural practices, reclaim abandoned land and protect our ecosystems.

    Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earths surface and have absorbed at least 90 percent of the excess heat generated in recent years, Project Drawdown reports. But this has consequences: Water temperatures are rising and oceans are becoming more acidic. Work is ongoing to find ways to address these problems.

    Relying on human-created sinks may be the quickest way to trap more carbon, Project Drawdown says. Pull it out of the atmosphere and trap it in something or bury it. Scientists have created a liquid metal catalyst that can turn carbon dioxide into a carbon-containing solid.

    It seems non-sustainable to rely on people to come up with ways to deal with the overheating atmosphere. But as we plant more trees or clean up the oceans, the work of scientists proceeds apace and provides an alternative. The more help, the better.

    It starts with health and educationespecially educating girlsand, Project Drawdown says, promoting family planning. Honoring the dignity of women and children through family planning is not about governments forcing the birth rate down (or up, through natalist policies). Nor is it about those in rich countries, where emissions are highest, telling people elsewhere to stop having children. When family planning focuses on health care provision and meeting womens expressed needs, empowerment, equality and well-being are the results; the benefits to the planet are side effects.

    Theres still more to be done, of course. How do war-torn countries embrace sustainability? Can poverty be eliminated at the same time? Can sustainable solutions be presented in America as a non-partisan good?

    In River Reporters sustainability coverage throughout 2021, well tackle some of these questions and pose others. Its January. Think of this as a resolution: Were working out how sustainability looks here, talking about whats being done and looking to what the future holds.

    Original post:
    Clearing the air - The River Reporter

    Lakeway council votes to annex and zone land for park to be near Crosswind community – Community Impact Newspaper - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Lakeway city council voted Jan. 19 to annex and zone land off Tomichi Trail for use as a future park. (Greg Perliski/Community Impact Newspaper)

    Lakeway City Council unanimously approved Jan. 19 the annexation and zoning of 11.03 acres in the Lakeway Highlands subdivision, clearing the way for the property to be developed at some point as a city park.

    Council members approved the measures after hearing from some residents living in the neighboring Crosswind community in Spicewood.

    Residents asked Lakeway City Council to delay action on the parcel of land, which lies east of Crosswind Drive and west of the Tomichi Trail in an area adjacent to the Rough Hollow Elementary School. Crosswind residents said time is needed to study the parks potential impact on water quality in nearby Little Rough Hollow Cove. Residents also asked the land be zoned as a greenbelt rather than parkland.

    Before voting, council members said a park with amenities such as sports fields is needed, and city staff could ensure park plans consider environmental impacts.

    There have been people buying homes there since 2006 that expected that park to be built, Lakeway Council Member Louis Mastrangelo said. I also have faith in our building and development team that they will make sure that these [park plans] meet the water quality requirements and that this park will be built to the standards we expect.

    Exact details of the parks features and topography have yet to be decided but are included as part of Lakeways larger master park plan. A draft of the park plan is under evaluation by city staff and council members.

    Council reviewed a draft of its master park plan at the meeting. The draft includes a proposal for park amenities at the Lakeway Highlands site that council annexed. The draft plan names the area annexed as Butler Park, and among the proposed amenities are sports fields, basketball courts, natural areas and playground equipment catered to people with disabilities.

    Crosswind is a community of about 85 homeowners whose lots are situated in an unincorporated area of Spicewood. The community has a lakefront park along Little Rough Hollow Cove.

    Crosswind resident Christy Muse told council members during the public hearing portion of the council meeting that keeping the land in a more natural state would be better for the water quality in Lake Travis.

    "We ask that you consider zoning this tract as greenbelt," Muse said. "It will be much better for the water quality in the lake; more sports fields are not necessary; and it will be a much gentler and neighborhood friendly transition between Crosswind and Lakeway."

    In other business, council members heard a report on the deer population within Lakeway from Kolbe Ranches & Wildlife. The report stated a survey of deer undertaken last November and December showed the population has changed very little in the past four years and is more likely to decline in number than grow.

    See the original post here:
    Lakeway council votes to annex and zone land for park to be near Crosswind community - Community Impact Newspaper

    Open burning hazard on the rise – The Star Online - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    PENANG has recorded the highest number of open burning cases in five years despite being under a movement control order since March last year.

    Penang Environment Department (DOE) director Sharifah Zakiah Syed Sahab said the state recorded 670 cases of open burning last year, compared with only 478 cases in 2019.

    Sharifah said the northeast district registered the most cases with 241 reported incidents.

    This is followed by the southwest district with 165 cases, central Seberang Prai with 151 cases and north Seberang Prai with 72 cases.

    South Seberang Prai had 41 cases.

    Most of the complaints received by DOE were about open burning of rubbish in residential areas, empty plots and bushes.

    Complaints about open burning are consistently increasing every year.

    This rise may be influenced by increased public awareness of environmental care, she said in a statement.

    Sharifah said the sudden increase in open burning started three years ago with 284 cases recorded in 2018.

    We discovered open burning of solid waste in industrial areas and construction sites plus open burning of plantation and garden waste in residential areas.

    Other cases involved land clearing.

    Open burning is especially hazardous during prolonged dry seasons because it contributes to haze which affects public health and reduces visibility.

    The state DOE will increase patrols in areas that registered frequent complaints.

    We will also use drones to monitor areas that are difficult to access, she said.

    Sharifah said they had issued a total of 34 compounds that can go up to a maximum of RM2,000 besides delivering 163 warning letters.

    Open burning is an offence under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974 which carries a jail term of up to five years or a maximum fine of RM500,000 or both.

    We urge all relevant parties to cease open burning and opt for environmental-friendly methods to manage domestic and garden waste, she said.

    Those who come across open burning are urged to report to DOE through its toll-free number at 1-800-88-2727 or via email to aduanpp@doe.gov.my.

    Original post:
    Open burning hazard on the rise - The Star Online

    Net zero, saving koalas and forest wars: the crucial environment battles looming in Australia – The Guardian - January 24, 2021 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The trainwreck of 2020 was not limited to a global community hit by the worst pandemic in a century. The Australian environment fared no better.

    The year started amid the continents most widespread bushfires on record. As the Guardian revealed, an estimated 3bn animals were killed or affected. Subsequent major government reports outlined the extent to which the countrys unique environment was in decline long before the fires hit.

    The damage from the fires could not be divorced from the climate crisis, which also triggered a third mass bleaching event on the Great Barrier Reef in five years. But political debate on these pressing environmental issues specifically, the need to transform conservation laws or introduce a climate plan to live up to the Paris climate agreement remained stuck as the Morrison government resisted meaningful action on both fronts.

    Will 2021 bring a change? Adam Morton and Lisa Cox look at some of the major climate and environmental questions the country will face this year.

    Scott Morrison ended 2020 notably isolated on climate change, having been embarrassed when the British and French governments rejected his push to be given a speaking slot at a global leaders climate ambition summit.

    The prime minister appeared surprised by the snub, which left him in climate pariah territory with the leaders of Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Russia. If he was surprised, he shouldnt have been: the invitation to the summit made clear only leaders offering substantial new commitments would be given a slot, and Morrison had merely flagged that Australia may not follow through on a widely condemned plan to use a carbon accounting sleight of hand to meet national emissions targets.

    A major political and diplomatic question will be how the government responds to what is certain to be escalating pressure. The US will be key. The Biden administration has no shortage of problems needing its attention, but has made clear climate is near the top of its priorities. The new president has pledged to use every tool of American foreign policy to push the rest of the world to do more. His climate envoy, John Kerry, set out the scale of the challenge for business leaders at a G20 forum, including that coal needed to be phased out five times faster than it is now.

    More than 120 countries, including the major powers of America, Asia and Europe, have mid-century net zero emissions or carbon neutrality goals, but Morrison despite calls and rising action from business leaders, investors and state governments continues to resist, and deny that Australia is out of step.

    The expectation is this can only last so long, but the message from the incoming US leadership and the climate ambition summit is that moving on the 2050 target alone will not be enough.

    The focus ahead of the November climate conference in Glasgow will increasingly be on what Australia with no meaningful policies to reduce emissions from transport or major industry and which is still promising a gas-led recovery and approving new coal projects will do before 2030 to live up to the commitment it made in Paris five years ago.

    Relying on the states to increase support for renewable energy, as many did last year, will not be enough.

    In the wake of the fires, last years official assessment of the state of Australias natural environment by Graeme Samuel, the former competition watchdog chief, could hardly have been more dire.

    An interim report in July found Australias environment was in an unsustainable state of decline, and that the national conservation laws the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act were ineffective and needed substantial change.

    Meanwhile, the auditor generals office found the government and federal environment department were failing in their duty to protect nature.

    Conservation groups were not surprised on either front. Australia has the worlds highest rate of mammal extinction due to what is widely agreed to be the failure of successive governments to protect the wildlife for which the country is renowned. Funding for environment programs was cut by more than a third after the Coalition was elected in 2013. Some was restored last year, much of it directed to congestion busting increasing the pace at which industry and business development proposals were assessed.

    The governments response was to try and fail to ram through legislation to transfer responsibility for approving major developments that affect the environment to the states and territories, barely giving lip service to the need to strengthen environmental protection.

    It is still yet to release Samuels final report, which it has been sitting on since October. That will have to change when parliament returns next month if the government lives up to its legislative requirements. It is also expected to release the national environmental standards that Samuel said were needed to accompany the devolution in assessment powers to the states.

    Several questions will follow. Will the standards be designed to not just maintain but improve the state of the Australian environment? Will they be specific enough that they can be meaningfully and legally tested?

    And, given the government has rejected the push for an independent environment regulator, can the public be confident the new standards will be enforced?

    Attention will also turn to whether the Senate crossbenchers will continue to oppose the governments legislation if there are not steps to improve the monitoring and health of the countrys growing list of threatened species at least 170 of which still have no plan for their recovery.

    Australias most globally recognisable natural landmark suffered through its third major coral bleaching event since 2016 last year. Most of the damage was near the southern end around Mackay an area that was mostly left untouched in 2016 and 2017. It means reefs along the full length of the 2,300km wonder have been severely affected over the past five years.

    There are still healthy and vibrant areas and some damaged coral will recover, but a significant amount of shallow water coral died.

    As recently as a few weeks ago, there were concerns this summer might be a fourth year of severe bleaching out of six. But Prof Terry Hughes, from James Cook University, says the risk has reduced since Christmas thanks to cooler, cloudier and wetter weather, in part due to the cooling La Nina over the Pacific.

    An assessment by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggests the risk of bleaching is greatest north of Cairns, and a warmer than expected February could still change projections, but Hughes says the chance of a non-bleaching year is pretty good.

    It is a less positive story in the west. The CSIRO has forecast a marine heatwave for the Western Australian coastline early this year, with temperatures expected to hit the highest level in a decade.

    The Ningaloo Coast and Shark Bay, both world heritage listed areas, are threatened by warming ocean temperatures that could affect ecosystems and fisheries that have not recovered since a marine heatwave in 2011.

    The capriciousness of New South Wales politics was on full display last year when the deputy premier, John Barilaro, threatened, but failed to resign ostensibly over a policy designed to protect koalas, just months after the iconic species was devastated by the summer bushfires.

    A compromise deal between the governing Liberal and National parties over the koala state environmental planning policy failed. Instead, NSW reverted to an old koala policy, from 1995, with a promise to develop a new one this year.

    It meant that, despite a state inquiry finding the species was on track for extinction in NSW by 2050, nothing new has been done to improve its protection.

    Whether that can be addressed will be a test for both state and federal governments. It is linked to the broader issue of ongoing habitat destruction, one of the main threats to not just the koala, but Australian wildlife generally.

    Sussan Ley, the federal environment minister, has set an October deadline for the threatened species scientific committee to assess whether east coast koala populations have been affected enough to warrant a national endangered listing a step that should trigger greater protection.

    Meanwhile, the government continues to sanction clearing of the forests that koalas rely on. Late last year Ley approved a quarry proposal that would clear 50 hectares of koala habitat near Port Stephens in NSW.

    It is a similar story at state level. The NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, has set a target to double the states koala population by 2050, but forestry operations and mining proposals in koala and other threatened species habitat continue, and the state government has continued to weaken land-clearing laws.

    Analysts say the shift to EVs is inevitable, with new models forecast to match fossil fuel vehicles on price by as early as 2025, but Australia trails other countries in their uptake, with fewer affordable models available.

    A long-delayed Morrison government electric vehicle policy now rebadged as a broader future fuels strategy was due late last year, but has yet to be released. A leaked draft suggests it will not include direct incentives for consumers to switch to battery-powered cars.

    Other countries have seen a climate and economic advantage in moving now. Britain and Japan major countries that, like Australia, use right-hand-side drive cars announced late last year they would ban the sale of new petrol cars by 2030 and 2035 respectively and introduce incentives to drive the change.

    Australia appears headed in the other direction with no significant incentives, and with some states planning to introduce road-user charges on EVs and hybrids. Victoria and South Australia are heading down this path, and NSW is considering it.

    Academic analysis has suggested this would further deter uptake of the technology unless offset by other support. Meanwhile, national transport emissions continue to rise.

    Court decisions loom large over native forest logging in two Australian states this year, and an industry that spent much of last year under siege.

    A judgment is due next month in a case brought by the Bob Brown Foundation against Tasmanias state-owned forestry agency, arguing its native forest logging is inconsistent with federal laws. Conservationists argue the forest agreement in the state is not valid as it lacks a legally enforceable requirement that the state protect threatened species.

    It follows a similar case in Victoria last year, when a federal court judgment banned logging in 67 coupes in Victorias central highlands on the basis that the states agency, VicForests, had breached a regional forestry agreement between the state government and Canberra.

    In basic terms, the ruling challenged a controversial effective exemption from environmental laws granted to logging under the agreement. The agency is appealing.

    Major retailers are increasingly refusing to sell paper logged by agencies without forest stewardship council, or FSC, certification - and both the Tasmanian and the Victorian agencies have failed to get it.

    It means the court decisions could have significant ramifications for plans to continue native forest logging at current levels until 2030, in Victorias case, or indefinitely in Tasmania. And they could have major ramifications for threatened species protection.

    Read this article:
    Net zero, saving koalas and forest wars: the crucial environment battles looming in Australia - The Guardian

    « old entrys



    Page 11234..1020..»